Coming into the week of games in the Bahamas, it was believed that Saturday night against Mega Bemax would be the toughest opponent the Kentucky Wildcats would face, and just by looks, this team looked to be the real deal.
Out of the gate, the game was extremely physical, and Kentucky rose to the occasion and didn’t back down from the physicality, but instead they exceeded what they were facing.
The game was close for the first few minutes, but once Kentucky hit their stride, they began to pull away from the Serbian team. Great ball movement and good decisions helped push Kentucky to a commanding lead.
Quade Green and PJ Washington led the way in the first half with 9 points each, but Reid Travis and Keldon Johnson were right behind them with 8 each.
Kentucky seems to get more and more comfortable on the floor as each game passes and they are a lot of fun to watch. Kentucky pulled out to a big lead over Mega Bemax and went into halftime with a 47-29 lead.
After the break, Kentucky continued to execute well and never let Mega Bemax back into it.
The Cats battled all night and really took the physicality to a new level. Bemax tried to hit them in the mouth early, and Kentucky came back with an even bigger punch Bemax didn’t know how to handle as the Cats cruised to a 100-64 win.
Thoughts on the game
PJ Washington was outstanding
PJ, fresh off surgery to fix his pinky that he injured last season, looked fantastic in this one. He has completely transformed his body and looks like a different person on the floor. PJ was blocking shots and rebounding, as well as converting at a high level on the offensive end of the floor.
He finished with a team high 20 points and completed the double-double with 12 rebounds. He also had 4 steals and 4 blocks to lead the team in both categories.
Quade Green continued to shoot the ball well
Green struggled in the first game shooting the ball and has been spending a lot of time in the gym working on his shot after the games, and it has paid off for him.
Tonight, he went 4/6 from the floor for 10 points and dished out 3 assists.
Green struggled on defense last season but improved as the year went on. One thing that has stood out to me is how much better he looks on that end of the floor. He is staying in front of his guy and as he continues to work on this he could become a good defender.
Nick Richards played well yet again
As we all know, Richards has been a big talking point in the Bahamas with how well he has played. Many wondered how he would do against the talented bigs that Mega Bemax had.
Well, he answered the bell.
Richards finished with 15 points on 3/4 shooting and had 9 rebounds. Last season, Richards was a good free-throw shooter and in this one he went 9/11 from the line, and that must make Cal happy knowing he has a big he can count on at the foul line.
Keldon Johnson is showing his complete game
In the first game, Johnson struggled to finish and was looking to destroy the rim with some of the dunks he attempted. As the week has progressed, Johnson has gotten better each game.
In this one, he had 16 points on 7/8 shooting and had some highlight plays with the lobs he was catching. He also continues to bring it every possession on defense and is really making life hard for anyone he guards.
Johnson is a special talent and he is going to be fun to watch this season. He’s also likely Kentucky’s best NBA prospect. If he keeps improving, he could easily be a top-10 pick by the time next year’s draft comes around.
This team is fun!
The thing that stands out the most to me is just how much fun they are to watch play. In previous years we loved the team, but they weren’t exactly fun to watch. That is NOT the case for this group.
This team is playing fast, having fun playing with each other, and they are going to make some insane highlight reels as the year progresses. They’ve gotten better in all three games we’ve seen in the Bahamas, as it’s clear this team’s potential is only beginning to be tapped into.
Kentucky will have one more game in the Bahamas before they head back to Lexington. Sunday, they play Team Toronto at 4 pm EST on the SEC Network.
Now, here are the postgame notes from UK:
- Kentucky started Quade Green, Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson, PJ Washington and Nick Richards for the third straight game.
- UK, as it did the first two games, got off to a fast start. Ignited by a Green layup to start the game, the Wildcats ran out to an early 7-2 lead. After Mega Bemax answered with five straight, Kentucky reeled off eight consecutive points and a 19-1 overall run, ignited by 3-pointers from Quickley and Green.
- The Wildcats were great defensively against a physical team. UK held Mega Bemax without a field goal for 10:38 of game time (17:37 to 6:49).
- After the game was tied 7-7, UK outscored Mega Bemax 40-22 the rest of the first half.
- Kentucky had more free throws (11) than Mega Bemax had points (10) midway through the first half.
- The Wildcats limited Mega Bemax to 8 of 34 from the field, a paltry .257 percentage.
- Green (nine points), Washington (nine points, six rebounds), Reid Travis (eight points, four rebounds) and Johnson (eight points) starred for Kentucky in the first half.
- Johnson came out firing in the second half. He scored seven points in the first 3:45 of the second half, all of the emphatic variety. After knocking down a 3-pointer, he threw down two powerful dunks, including an alley-oop slam from Green.
- The Wildcats led by as many as 39 points (97-58).
- After a quiet first half, Tyler Herro caught fire once again and scored 12 points. He made both of his 3-point attempts in the second stanza.
- Richards also had a strong second half with 11 points after halftime.
- The Wildcats reached the 100-point threshold for the first time in the Bahamas.
- Ashton Hagans reached that point for UK with a breakaway layup with 29 seconds to go.
- UK is averaging 92.0 points through three games.
- Kentucky made 7 of its 14 3-point-attempt. After UK shot 7 of 12 from behind the 3-point arc in game two of the Bahamas trip, UK has shot 54 percent from long range in the past two games.
- Six Wildcats scored in double figures for the second game in a row.
- UK led for all but 20 seconds of the game.
- The Wildcats won the battle of the glass again, although by the slimmest margin of the Bahamas trip, outrebounding Mega BeMax 48-44.
- PJ Washington recorded the first double-double by a Wildcat in the Big Blue Bahamas with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
- He was also a menace defensively, racking up game highs in both blocks (4) and steals (4).
- Keldon Johnson scored 16 points on an efficient 7-of-8 day from the floor.
- Quade Green scored 10 points and went 4 of 6 from the floor.
- After going 1 of 11 in the first game, Green has made 8 of 10 shots over the last two games.
- Tyler Herro scored in double figures for a third straight game with 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
- He continues to lead Kentucky in scoring in the Bahamas with an 18.0 average.
- Nick Richards scored 15 points with a 9-for-11 night from the line.
- He just missed out on a double-double with nine rebounds.
- The Wildcats were plus-32 on the scoreboard with Richards on the floor, the best mark on the team.
- He’s averaging 14.7 points and shooting 82.4 percent from the floor and 84.2 percent from the line over the three games.
- Immanuel Quickley had another solid floor game with 12 points, five assists and no turnovers.
- He’s registered 14 assists with no turnovers through three games.