Kentucky, fresh off an impressive performance on the road at Arkansas, returned home to try and keep momentum going as they faced a Missouri team that beat them earlier in the year. That’s exactly what the Cats did as they dominated the Tigers 87-66.
Right out of the gate the energy was there for the Cats and the defensive intensity was way up. At one-point Missouri was using an average of 26 seconds off the shot clock per possession, that’s due to some really good defense by the Cats.
Kentucky jumped out to a 16-8 lead before allowing the Tigers to climb back in it to take an 18-16 lead. With just under 6 minutes left in the half the score was tied at 26 and that’s when Kentucky took off. The Cats were getting stops and executing extremely well on offense to take a 44-32 lead into the break.
Out of the locker room, Kentucky kept the energy up and ran away with this one. By the first media timeout the lead had grew to 58-41 after a layup by Knox. Kentucky went up by 20 at the 11:45 point in the second half and was able to maintain that lead the rest of the way in what was a very encouraging performance as we get closer to March.
Thoughts on the game
Kevin Knox was on once again
After a rough stretch it looks as if Knox has figured it out. He went for 21 points on 6/13 shooting. He was constantly moving without the ball and the team was getting him the ball in spots for him to get a good shot off. If Knox can keep this up this team will be hard to beat.
Jarred Vanderbilt continues to improve
Vanderbilt has hustled every game since his return he just hadn’t figured out how he needs to play yet. Well, I believe he has figured it out. He had 11 points on 4/4 shooting and grabbed 15 rebounds for his first career double-double. He was making shots and playing good defense and adds a ton to this team’s ability to play well. He will be the difference maker as we near the end of the season.
Hamidou Diallo finally has a good performance
Hami has been struggling quite a bit to say the least, but he had a good performance in this one as he had 11 points and was 3/3 from three-point land. His confidence has seemed to be low recently and this performance should have it on the rise. I was happy for Hami to get it going and hope he can keep it up.
Kentucky shot well and defended well
At times this season Kentucky has struggled to make shots, but that wasn’t an issue in this one. The Cats were 28/51 (54.9%) from the field and shot 10/16 (62.5%) from three. Not only were they making shots, but they held Missouri to 36.2% from the field and 32.3% from three. That is a recipe for a dominating performance.
Kentucky fans should be excited
This group is finally starting to become a really good team and have had three straight performances that should have us ready for the tournament. With two games left before the SEC tournament this team is clicking and looks like a team that can make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Here are the postgame notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky is 20-9 overall and 9-7 in the Southeastern Conference. Missouri is 18-11, 8-8 in league play.
- Kentucky leads the series 11-1, including 6-0 in Lexington.
- Next for the Wildcats: Kentucky has its final home game Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Ole Miss. It will be televised on ESPN2.
In the First Half
- Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Wenyen Gabriel, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the fifth time this season. UK is 4-1 with this lineup.
- Kentucky extended its streak of 1,042 consecutive games with a 3-pointer when Hamidou Diallo connected with 16:10 on the clock.
- Trailing 5-2, Kentucky went on an 11-0 run to give the Wildcats a 13-5 lead.
- Shortly thereafter, Missouri responded with a 10-0 spurt for an 18-16 advantage.
- Tied at 26, the Wildcats closed the half with an 18-6 run for a 44-32 halftime lead.
- It is UK’s largest halftime lead since the Cats led 41-27 vs. Louisville.
- UK made 8 of 10 3-pointers in the first half, the most 3s UK has made in any half this season.
- UK made 10 of its last 12 field goal attempts of the half.
- Jarred Vanderbilt came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds in the first half, the first Wildcat to get 10 in a half this season.
- UK is 13-3 this season when leading at halftime.
In the Second Half
- UK led by as many as 25 points, the Cats’ largest lead against an SEC opponent this season.
- Kentucky notched its 10th consecutive 20-win season
- Coach John Calipari reached his 24th consecutive 20-win season, the longest streak among active coaches.
- Kentucky limited Missouri to 36.2 percent from the field.
- UK is 164-14 under Calipari when keeping the opponent under 40 percent.
- UK has scored 87 points in consecutive games, the most points UK has scored this season in SEC games.
- Six Wildcats scored in double figures, the first time that has happened since Nov. 26 vs. UIC.
- This is the third game in a row that UK had at least five players score in double figures. That’s the first time that’s happened since UK did it five straight times during the 2016-17 season vs. Duquesne, Cleveland, UT Martin, Arizona State and UCLA.
- Kentucky shot 54.9 percent from the field and is 12-0 this season when shooting at least 46.4 percent from the field.
- UK is 8-0 this season when making at least half its shots. Prior to tonight, the last 50 percent game was at Vanderbilt on Jan. 13.
- UK shot a season-best 62.5 percent from 3-point range, making 10 of 16.
- That is tied for the fifth-best 3-point percentage in a game under Calipari.
- The 10 makes are the second-most of the season.
- UK had 17 assists, the most for the Wildcats since the Dec. 16 game vs. Monmouth.
- UK had only nine turnovers. The Wildcats are 10-0 this season when making 11 or fewer TOs.
- UK won the rebounding 36-32. UK is 18-4 this season when outrebounding the opponent.
- UK is 227-5 under Coach John Calipari when the Wildcats lead by at least 10 points during the game.
- This weekend was the 40th anniversary celebration of Kentucky’s 1978 national champion team. UK honored the Wildcats at halftime.
- Kevin Knox led the Wildcats with 21 points, his eighth 20-point game of the season and sixth straight game in double figures.
- He made 8 of 8 at the foul line, equaling his season high of eight free throws made.
- Jarred Vanderbilt had his first collegiate double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
- He has scored his season-high 11 points in three straight games.
- His 15 rebounds tied the most by a Wildcat this season.
- He is averaging 11 points and 11 rebounds per game during UK’s current three-game win streak.
- With 93 rebounds in 197 minutes this season, he has an amazing ratio of one rebound per 2.1 minutes played.
- He also blocked three shots, a career high.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 14 points and a game-high eight assists.
- Quade Green netted 12 points, hitting 5 of 6 shots, including both 3-pointers.
- He has scored exactly 12 points in each game of UK’s current three-game win streak.
- PJ Washington scored 12 points, his fourth straight game in double figures, all off the bench. He added five rebounds.
- Hamidou Diallo broke a shooting slump with 11 points, including 3 of 3 on 3-pointers.
Coach John Calipari
- Calipari has a 714-202 all-time on-court record.
- Calipari is now 269-62 at Kentucky.
- Calipari is 149-8 at Rupp Arena.
- Calipari is 8-3 vs. Missouri in his career.