The Cats kept up the intensity after knocking off the No. 1 team in the country Tuesday night. Despite missing a starter, Kentucky thoroughly dominated this game from start to finish.
Next up, Kentucky will take on former Cat Walter McCarty and his Evansville Aces squad on Tuesday night in Lexington. Also, let’s get a big win tomorrow against the Tennessee Volunteers!
EJ Montgomery was OUT for the game
Montgomery hasn’t had the best start to the 2019-20 season and it didn’t get any better Friday night.
Apparently, EJ suffered an ankle injury against the Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday night. We hadn’t heard any information about it until tonight, but, hopefully, it’s nothing serious.
Kentucky didn’t need EJ against the Colonels tonight, and they probably won’t need him for several weeks. But they will need him in the long run. He is vital to this team’s success.
After seeing multiple players already banged up, I just pray that this isn’t just the beginning of a bad luck, injury-riddled season.
Tyrese Maxey still couldn’t crack the starting lineup
Maxey had one of the most impressive performances in the country against the Spartans on Tuesday night. However, that wasn’t enough to propel him into the starting lineup.
Despite putting up 26 points and five rebounds, as well as nailing a couple of daggers to knock off the No. 1 team in the rankings, Maxey was relegated to sixth-man duty again tonight.
The starting five consisted of Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, Kahlil Whitney, Nate Sestina, and Nick Richards. There’s probably a good reason for this. My thought is Coach Cal likes Hagans and Quickley to start the game because they’re veterans.
This is probably to help avoid a slow start and to get out and running as quickly (no pun intended) as possible. The combination of offense and defense is solid with that lineup. And it allows the Cats to have a big time spark off the bench.
Or, maybe it’s just because he’s the best cheerleader on the team. The dude stands up and cheers every single time one of his teammates does something positive. It’s awesome, really.
Will the real Nick Richards please stand up?
That’s the question Kentucky fans begged to be answered for the last two years. Well, they have their answer.
Richards has looked great through the first two games of the season, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
His jump hook is impossible to block, or even guard for that matter. If he can consistently knock that down, it’ll take this team to a whole new level.
Everyone raved about his defense Tuesday against Michigan State, and he continued to display his talent on that end of the floor tonight.
He’s confident. He’s a veteran. And he’s starting to look like a key piece for a national title contender.
It’s probably not the best idea to press this team
EKU learned this the hard way. I know, it’s their style to press all game long, but, man, you cannot press a team like these Cats.
With two or three point guards in the lineup the majority of the time, it’s just not a good idea to press this team. Hagans consistently would just sprint past defenders and find teammates for open looks.
It’s one thing to try and run with a superior team. It’s another to literally try to make them run and do exactly what they’re built to do. Here’s just one example. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Kentucky breaks the press ending with a Nick Richards dunk. pic.twitter.com/aeIyY7aC7z— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) November 9, 2019
We’ve seen opposing teams press in the past, mainly due to Kentucky’s youth, but I don’t think we’ll see much more of it after tonight. It’s probably not the best idea.
The defense is really, really good
We knew this after watching UK smother MSU the other night, but my goodness, it was on full display tonight.
It’s possible for teams to come out slow and lazy, especially in a game like this, but these guys did not slow down at all.
Defense will be this team’s calling card all year long. When the shots aren’t falling, the defense will hold up. And when the offense is clicking, watch out.
Cal said this was one of the most advanced teams he’s had on the defensive end at this point in the season. He’s had a lot of good defensive teams in the past, but after watching two games, I think I believe him.
Ashton Hagans is the floor general
Hagans was a bit timid on the offensive end in terms of scoring, but he did just about everything else.
Hagans controlled the offense all night long. He consistently broke the press. He set up teammates time and time again for open looks. He rebounded the ball. And he was a defensive menace.
His overall statistics might get overlooked at times, but he looks excellent in the lead guard role. He’s exactly what this team needs.
I didn’t like how shy he was shooting and attacking the basket, but his vision was impeccable. He’s arguably Kentucky’s best player all around.
Joey Gatewood was in attendance
You may have heard of Kentucky’s most recent quarterback target — Joey Gatewood. Gatewood was a top-50 player in his class and is currently looking for a new school after leaving the Auburn Tigers.
He’s a freak athlete, standing at 6-5 and almost 240 pounds. This would arguably be the best recruit Mark Stoops has brought to Lexington since he’s with the program.
Gatewood walked just minutes after the game started led by Terry Wilson and Vince Marrow. The Cats are putting on the full court press, and a commitment may not be far off.
Keep a lookout for this one.
All in all, this game was a nice return to Rupp Arena after their impressive showing Tuesday night. They didn’t come out slow, but rather, they came out ready to play.
And they took care of business.
This is going to be a fun year, BBN, so strap in for the ride!