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Kentucky beats Lamar: 6 things to know and postgame banter

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The Cats continue to show improvement, and here comes Tyrese Maxey.

Tyrese Maxey Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats handled the Lamar Cardinals Sunday night by a final margin of 81-56.

Kentucky came out ready to play. After taking a dominating 15-2, UK let the Cards back in it. But they came back with a big 22-2 run to go into the half up 41-21.

UK slowed down a bit in the second half, but all in all, it was a solid performance. They led by as many as 25, but some hot-shooting by the Cardinals made the score look more respectable.

Next up, the Cats have some time off before facing the UAB Blazers on Friday night.

Fast start

The Cats came out with the same starting five, despite players returning from injury.

It didn’t matter. They came out ready to play and despite giving up a lead to begin the game, they answered with a huge run of their own.

Kentucky got out to a 15-2 lead before squandering it to a 19-19 tie late in the second half.

However, they bounced right back with a 22-2 run to end the first half and show their dominance. The three-point shooting in the first half was not only a high for a half with seven threes, but it was a season high.

That was in large part due to the man with an entire section dedicated to him below.

Tyrese Maxey has awoken

The tantalizing freshman awoke from his slumber for a huge game Sunday night.

After struggling following his 26-point performance against the nation’s top team on opening night, Maxey went off against Lamar.

He hit four first-half threes and continued to score at will in the second half.

Maxey might be inconsistent, but he has the ability to light it up on any given night. He reminds me a bit of Malik Monk with his microwave scoring.

Three-point shooting has clearly become a focal point

It’s no secret Kentucky has struggled from deep so far this season. However, that’s clearly become a focal point for UK moving forward.

Coming into Sunday night with only six threes made as a high for a single game so far, the Cats set a season high for threes just in the first half with seven.

That increases in the second half as Kentucky looked to erase any negative memories of their poor shooting.

UK has several capable three-point shooters, so it was only a matter of time before the Cats’ offensive slump ended.

It did just that Sunday night and that’s in large part due to the shooting from behind the arc.

EJ Montgomery has a sweet stroke

EJ Montgomery hasn’t exactly exceeded expectations to this point, but he does have a nice stroke.

He isn’t afraid to pull up from midrange or shoot the occasional three and, honestly, I don’t hate it when he does.

His issues stem from his inability to finish at the rim, but that seems more mental than anything. I expect that to change over time.

But for now, enjoy that sweet stroke from outside.

Kahlil Whitney has to be a two-year player, right?

Kahlil Whitney was ranked as the Cats’ highest ranked recruited on some sites coming into this season, but that’s clearly a long-term projection.

Whitney has elite athleticism and defensive potential, but he packs any basketball IQ whatsoever and can’t shoot.

His midrange game isn’t bad, but his shot is ugly. He also isn’t the quickest other than running in a straight line.

There are worse problems than having a multi-year guy that was expected as a one-and-done, but he probably shouldn’t be in the starting lineup.

Shooting strokes are hard to fix, but sometimes a project player is better than a guy that leaves after a year.

Stay patient, BBN. Whitney’s ceiling is probably something like Hamidou Diallo, but that isn’t terrible if he’s surrounded by shooters. Give him time.

The Cats might return a lot

It’s well know that Cal is bringing in a huge recruiting class — maybe the best ever — next fall.

The only issue with that is that there will be a lot of players that return after this season.

There have been rumblings that Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery are gone no matter what, and the same is probably true of Hagans.

Assuming Maxey is gone, to go with Nate Sestina, that leaves Immanuel Quickley, Whitney, Johnny Juzang, and Keion Brooks as guys that could return.

That’s a lot, especially for a guard/wing heavy recruiting class, but experience is never a bad thing.

However, attrition could be and that’s a possibility with so much talent on one roster. Some guys aren’t meant to be in Lexington and that’s okay. Next season’s team will be LOADED.

It was a solid showing from Kentucky. While the defense came to play, the offense disappeared at times in the second half.

But it’s another win and some marked improvement over the last couple of weeks.

It’s hard to focus on basketball during rivalry week, but we’ve got Thanksgiving and one more game this week before taking on the Louisville Cardinals.

Go Cats and happy Thanksgiving!