Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.
Last night, I made my first return to Rupp Arena for a Kentucky game since 2005, when I saw Kentucky officially send off Chuck Hayes and Josh Carrier on senior night. It’s amazing how fast time flies, that just seems like a few years ago.
Needless to say, the game last night was just a tiny bit more exciting than we were expecting, and it wasn’t a good kind of surprise. Honestly, though, it’s tough to beat any team that makes 11 3-pointers, especially when one of their guys gets so hot his range becomes effectively unlimited, like Tayshaun Prince all those years ago against North Carolina. I can tell you, it’s not a pleasant experience being on the other side of that type of event.
But Kentucky showed us a great deal of grit in this game, if not a lot of skill or competent execution. They wound up in a street fight against a team that was overmatched talent-wise, and it was an exciting event to be part of if you can ignore what it took for the Wildcats to get themselves into that situation.
What it took was a bunch of mistakes by both coach and team, and for a while I thought I was going home witness to a UK loss in person in Rupp Arena, something I have thankfully never experienced. Fortunately, I still haven’t.
But that doesn’t mitigate the questions that predictably surface about this team. After looking every bit the best in the land against Michigan State, this young team has proven twice that it really doesn’t know yet what it is doing out there.
One good thing that happened is that Ashton Hagans demonstrated that he is the leader of this team, and it was his perseverance through some ugly first-half shooting that helped push Kentucky across the finish line first. Hagans ability to get into the middle of the zone and attack the rim, along with an incredible team effort at the free throw line including a perfect 12-12 from Hagans, denied Utah Valley an upset for the ages.
Nick Richards was the best player on the floor, scoring an efficient 21 points on 8-11 shooting and a perfect 5-5 from the line. But Hagans, despite his terrible propensity for turnovers, was the guy who arguably made the win happen by the force of his will. He took more hits that Joe Frazier in Manila in 1975, but he kept going and dragged the team, kicking and screaming, across the finish line.
The team will get better, hopefully soon, or every game is going to be as exciting as last night — and some of them aren’t going to end as successfully.
Tweets of the Morning
By my math, Kentucky is now 13-for-60 from 3-point range this season. That is ... not great. 21.3%, per the calculator.— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) November 19, 2019
Ah, the gift of understatement.
Random dudes making a ton of 3s in Rupp— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) November 19, 2019
- UK has navigated a difficult quarterback situation this year. What are the prospects for 2020?
- Max Duffy named Ray Guy Award semifinalist. I think he should just win by acclamation.
- Lynn Bowden Jr. one of the best stories in college football right now.
- Khalil Whitney makes a key play in Kentucky’s victory over Utah Valley.
- John Calipari’s comments after last night’s game.
- Three takeaways from Kentucky’s win over Utah Valley.
- Can Kentucky cure what’s ailing them?
- Kentucky’s 3-point shooting woes continue.
Other Kentucky sports
- For the second year in a row, UK marching band named the best of its size in the nation.
- #15 Kentucky soccer hosts Loyola of Chicago in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
- Volleyballers Leah Edmond, Madison Lilley and Gabby Curry win SEC honors.
- Gary Parrish Poll Attacks: AP voter appears to be clueless Tennessee beat Washington by double-digits.
- Cassius Winston thanks the Michigan State crowd for the support he received after the tragic loss of his brother.
- Walter McCarty has put Evansville back on the map.
- Is Mike White on the hot seat at Florida?