I would not have characterized yesterday’s game against the Alabama Crimson Tide as must win, but twas as damn close to it. The Kentucky Wildcats prevailed 81-71 in their most complete game since December against the Louisville Cardinals.
Quade Green finally looked like himself weeks after recovering from a back injury. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s defense in the final three minutes of the game was tremendous as he forced three Tide turnovers. And Jarred Vanderbilt finally found some scoring as he had eleven points and was one rebound shy of a double-double.
The rest of the team-Nick Richards, Kevin Knox, Wenyen Gabriel, P.J. Washington, and Hamidou Diallo- all had their positive moments and not one player did anything to hurt the team. The Cats did not have to rely on one player to bail them out or score 30 points to win.
Is this a turning point for the Cats? They looked loose yesterday and the energy was as high as its been. John Calipari didn’t do as much yelling and screaming as he usually does.
I’m not ready to declare this team on its way just yet. There are still four tough, three very tough, games left on the schedule. If Kentucky can somehow pull out a win against Arkansas on Tuesday night, then that will do a lot to convince the fans and the players that they have found their way.
The main thing is that we can all take a sigh of relief for a moment for the NCAA tournament looks more certain than it did.
Tweets of the Day
Devin Booker won the three point contest and set the record in points.
Donovan Mitchell won the slam dunk contest and remains the favorite for Rookie of the Year. Never forget Rick Pitino said Mitchell needed to come back to Louisville another year and run the point. He wasn’t ready for the pros.
College basketball is better off without Rick Pitino’s selfishness.
Kentucky’s poise in desperation was the biggest win | SEC Country- There were multiple times in the four game losing streak that Kentucky could have and should have won. But their like of poise and execution down the stretch doomed them. Yesterday they showed both against Alabama that also had their backs against the wall.
Avery Johnson believes in a UK run | WDRB- Calipari raised some eyebrows last week when he said he still believes Kentucky could make a Final Four run. While Johnson stopped short at Final Four, he still thinks this team is dangerous.
They’re still a dangerous team,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “When you have the length and the depth and the size that they have, you’re going to be dangerous. They can go far. Their last four games weren’t against teams from the YMCA ... Hungry is a good way (to describe how Kentucky played). Sometimes desperate.
Kentucky takes one away from Alabama | Coachcal.com- John Calipari said, correctly, in his press conference that Kentucky gave away some wins this season and now it was time for them to take some away from other teams. Cal feels like they took one from Alabama.
Jarred Vanderbilt was the X-Factor | Courier-Journal- Vanderbilt continues to earn minutes. In only his tenth game of college basketball, he finally started to look comfortable. He missed some easy layups early in the game but he never got down on himself. He kept fighting and the shots fell in the end. If he can continue to mature into a factor, Kentucky is a completely different team.
Kentucky looks impressive as skid is snapped | CBS- Consider this:
On Saturday, with Gilgeous-Alexander playing as a sidekick in the offense to Green, Kentucky was able to neutralize Alabama’s top-10-ranked defense. Calipari deployed Knox, Vanderbilt and Washington with those two for much of the second half and it was when those five were on the floor that Kentucky put its foot down on the Tide. The Wildcats were responsible with the ball, active on the glass (hello: 20 offensive rebounds) and made 21 of their 28 free throws.
I really like the lineup of Green running the point, SGA at the two, Knox, at the three, Vanderbilt at the four, and P.J. Washington at the five. You have four scorers on the floor and three guys 6-9 or taller for rebounding. This is a unit that can run, defend, shoot, handle the ball, and grab boards. Expect to see this combination more and more. Especially in late game stretches.
Wildcats earn first sweep of the season | UK Athletics- The baseball team was down 5-0 early to USC Upstate but they fought back to win 6-5 thanks to some fancy hitting in extra innings. The third game was much easier Justin Lewis gave up no runs, only allowing two hits, and striking out nine in six innings. They are 3-0 on the season.
Autumn Hume throws no hitter in first career start | UK Athletics- The softball Cats also won yesterday behind some fancy pitching from Autumn Humes. They won 2-0 against North Dakota State. After a two loss start to the season, they now have won four in a row.
Asia Sedit wins SEC title | UK Athletics- Congrats to Seidt who won the SEC title in the 100 meter backstroke. She earned bronze last year.
North Carolina routes Louisville in the Yum! Center | WDRB- It was 93-76 in the end but the Tar Heels led by as much as 19 points. The Cardinals cut the game to a seven point deficit a couple of times but they couldn’t defend the three point line to save their lives. UofL does not have one Quadrant 1 victory and their tournament hopes hang on by a thread of their last four games at Duke, vs. Virginia, at Virginia Tech, and at North Carolina State. Yikes.
Bob Huggins ejected at Kansas | CBS- Stop me if you heard this one before: Kansas was down big at home only to come back and win thanks to helpful officiating. Bob Huggins did what every coach that ever coached at Lawrence wanted to do and he went off. The free throw disparity was 35-2 in favor of Kansas. I would have been tossed as well. West Virginia led by 12 with 11 minute to go.
Team USA ends medal drought | Sporting News- John-Henry Krueger won the silver in men’s speed skating and Nick Goepper won silver in men’s ski freestyle slopestyle.