Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.
Well, a lot has happened since I last had the privilege of writing in this space — Kentucky managed a road victory against the Georgia Bulldogs (expected, but never easy) and a very impressive road victory at Auburn in spite of an unconscionably bad late-game call by the officials assessing a flagrant-1 foul to PJ Washington on a play where he was clearly going for the ball and the contact was indisputably not excessive. I know this has been rehashed here endlessly, so let’s just leave that there.
So Kentucky is now on a 4-game winning streak including two home and two road victories. Before the season began, nobody would’ve been particularly impressed by this, but given the up-and-down nature of the team when the play really matters, it’s worth mentioning.
But the SEC this year has no easy games, and tonight, the Wildcats face yet another significant challenge, this time at home against the #22 Mississippi St. Bulldogs. MSU has been a surprise this season, and Ben Howland’s team has delivered some solid work, although they have yet to face anyone in KenPom’s top 20. Their best win of the season so far has been against Florida (KenPom #23) in Starkville, but they have notably had only one “bad” loss — on the road at South Carolina (KenPom #105).
A quick look at tonight’s contest:
- MSU is solid on both sides of the ball, but they have not been as good defensively as Kentucky.
- Speaking of defense, UK has really ramped up their defensive effort. Despite Auburn getting hot late, the Wildcats really put the clamps on their smoking offensive efficiency for 85% of the game. Maintaining that effort will be key tonight.
- MSU shoots the three well and frequently, so running them off the line will be important.
- MSU does not get to the line often, so Kentucky must do so, and continue to shoot a high percentage.
- In conference play, UK has been a poor offensive rebounding team, last in the league. That has to change, and tonight would be a good night to do so.
- If Kentucky is to have a chance in March, they must begin to become more efficient offensively. The current lack of efficiency falls mostly on poor 3-point shooting.
- Kentucky is turning the ball over less and taking it away more. That needs to continue tonight.
Let’s get this done.
Tweets of the Morning
Kentucky begins another massive week tonight against Mississippi State at Rupp Arena. Wildcats also host Kansas on Saturday. Two more opportunities to again move the needle. #BBN— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 22, 2019
Seems that season-opening loss to Duke is still lingering in the minds of some.
"We've got a chance to make a statement. A MAJOR statement."— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 22, 2019
We made one Saturday, and now we have another must-see chapter in #TheJourney to show you how we did it. #DreamBIG pic.twitter.com/0IjGfv4tjg
- Tyler Herro is the SEC Freshman of the Week.
- MSU seeks another elusive SEC road victory. Let’s hope it eludes them again.
- Surging Kentucky giving Mississippi State its full attention. Seems like a good idea…
- Is Kentucky finally finding its groove? Consider:
A team that can own the paint and the glass like that on the road against a top-16 caliber opponent [like Auburn] is going to be a handful for anybody on a neutral court in March.
Yes, but can UK bring that every night? We can’t wait to find out…
- Kentucky does Kentucky things, with a twist.
- Why Mississippi State has a special opportunity against Kentucky.
- SI has Kentucky as one of five on the rise.
Other Kentucky sports
- Congratulations to UK Cheer on their 24th UCA National Championship, their 4th in a row!
- Men’s tennis falls to #18 Notre Dame, then defeats Duke.
- Top swimmer verbals to Kentucky for 2020.
- Reaching #1 is rare for SEC teams outside of UK. Congratulations to Tennessee, they absolutely deserve it. Now if we can only take it away from them…
- Ole Miss looks for road win in Tuscaloosa tonight. This is a big chance for the Crimson Tide to make an impression on the selection committee, especially after beating Kentucky at home.
- How did this weekend’s drama affect the projected NCAA Tournament seeds?
- 2020 class standouts.
- No. 11 Tar Heels beat down #10 Virginia Tech.