On Saturday, the Kentucky Wildcats pulled off a much-needed win against the Alabama Crimson Tide 81-71. This was their 18th win of the season and moved their record to 18-9.
The Cats are coming off of the worst stretch of basketball we’ve seen in the Calipari era. No team before this had even lost three in a row under our coach, but this young team had lost four.
Prior to this win, the big question was if the Cats could still make the NCAA Tournament if they lost. Luckily for the players and fans alike, this team got back in the win column to put the worries to bed, for now at least.
Coming into this game, Kentucky knew that Collin Sexton was going to be the player they needed to keep in check. This was a HUGE job that was left up to the guards to complete, and they delivered in a big way.
Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander came up in the clutch defensively. Although on the scoreboard it seemed as if Shai barely played, his defense was truly phenomenal.
Green was right there with Shai and played maybe his best game yet as a Wildcat. Offensively he showed why it’s so hard to keep him on the bench, and then on the defensive end, he put in work locking down Sexton.
Green was arguably the best player in this game finishing with 12 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and no turnovers to go with his stellar defense. This performance showcased the true talent he brings to this team and what he’s capable of doing when he’s with the right players on the court.
The best lineup the Wildcat’s had all game was when they put Quade at the point and Shai at the 2. When those two were in the game together, they could have Shai run the offense, Quade was able to get open easier, and both could lock down Sexton.
Another guard, Hamidou Diallo, added 8 points of his own with four rebounds, but the starting guard didn’t show up in crunch time as much as Green and Shai.
Kentucky is in a good, but tough situation with too much of a good thing. Many fans have been calling for Calipari to bench Hami for Green to put in at the point and put Shai at the 2. The offense runs very well through them and their playmaking abilities help push the talent of this team to their maximum playing level.
Even though the proof was laid out in front of our fearless leader, Coach Cal will not be “tweaking” the starting guards any time soon. After the game, Cal was asked about what he will do with Hami after seeing what the team did with him off the court.
The answer was pretty clear.
Although, he also went on, talking about the bigs, to say that the player giving the most effort and playing the best will be on the court.
I believe Coach Calipari knows what he is doing, so if he’s telling us that then I’m with Hami too. With Hamidou staying in the starting lineup, let’s hope he can be the player we hoped he would be before the season started.