The Kentucky Wildcats walk away with a much-needed win against the Missouri Tigers. Kentucky blew the Tigers away beating them by 21 points with a score of *87-66. Although their star freshmen, Michael Porter Jr. did not play the game was still up in the air on who would take the win. Let’s recap:
The First Half- Kentucky guards came to play
Coach Cal started Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox, Nick Richards, and Wenyen Gabriel. He quickly switched this after the group went scoreless over the first 3 minutes. Cal subbed in PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt for Gabriel and Richards creating some instant offense. The group quickly went on a 13-2 run over a 3-minute span. After Knox and Shai were taken out Mizzou went on a run of their own tying it up 16-16.
Although all of the Cats were playing some great lockdown defense, the guards were the players who truly showed up on the offensive side in the first half. At the half: Quade Green had 10 points and 2 assists, Diallo had 8 points, Shai had 8 points/3 rebounds/4 assists, and Vanderbilt led both teams in rebounds with 10.
To top it all of Hami ended the quarter with a vicious dunk and a dagger three to put the Cats up 44-32 over the Tigers.
There was a great moment during half-time where the 1978 Kentucky Championship team was honored for their 40 year anniversary. Coach Joe B. Hall was present and gave a tremendous speech over the true character of his players and what it meant for all of them to be champions. Everyone in the arena stood and paid their respects to the team that gave us an unforgettable win against those Duke Blue Devils.
The Second Half Cats
Kevin Knox (The player of the game) led the charge starting and finishing the second half off red hot all around the court, with a steal turning into a dunk on the other end for Kentucky and a 3 to put Kentucky up 52-38. Knox finished the game 21 points.
Hot Hand Hami hand himself a game as well tearing apart the Tigers defense ending with 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. It’s really great to see him putting in shots after Cal told the world “I’m with Hami”. Shai put in work as well with 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists. Shai led both teams in assists.
Vanderbilt blew up the boards keeping up his same rhythm from the first half. He finished the game with his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 15 rebounds. This is the kind of game we need to see from him in March. When he’s attacking the boards like this there isn’t another guard I’d rather have out there.
Brad Calipari put the real dagger in the game hitting a late corner three to seal away the game.
The Missouri Tigers, while playing some good defense, weren’t able to stop the great ball movement Kentucky had throughout the entire game. This win has to be credited to the defense that the Tigers could not break through and the guards that they could not stop.
This could have gone to several different players, but Kevin Knox gets the nod thanks to his latest 20+ point outing. After putting up a dud at Mizzou, Knox made sure to make his presence felt in this one, scoring a team-high 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting. 16 of those came in the second half as Kentucky hammered the Tigers in front of a rocking Rupp Arena crowd.
Perhaps the most impressive line was Knox going 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. He’s now scored 18 or more points in four of his last five games.
Here is the final box score from Saturday:
Enjoy some highlights, courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV:
*After the game ended, UK announced that there was a scoring error and the final score was 87-66.