The Kentucky Wildcats rolled the Morehead State Eagles in the season opener on Wednesday, winning 81-45. The Cats dominated the game from the tip to the final buzzer, looking very impressive in spurts.
There were contributions from several players, with seven players scoring seven or more points. There were 10 guys in Kentucky’s early rotation on Wednesday, and after watching how they played together it would be tough to settle on the seven or eight players that Coach Cal will settle on down the stretch.
Granted that Morehead State is not a Power 5 program, Kentucky started the season off looking better than any Wildcats team we have seen in a while. While some things were impressive as expected, there were also some pleasant surprises. Here are a few things you need to know about Kentucky’s opening day victory.
Even when the game was still in question in the first half, John Calipari still played 10 guys. Davion Mintz did a great job as the backup point guard and shot really well. Lance Ware, Jacob Toppin, and Dontaie Allen came in and did some good things. It was great to see Allen back on the court for the first time in almost two years. And Cam’Ron Fletcher...well, more on him in a minute.
I am pretty sure that Coach Cal is not going to play 10 (let alone 11 when Keion Brooks comes back) guys night in and night out. I look for him to settle into an eight man rotation, as usually. But the good news is that, when injury or foul trouble comes along, there are more players down the bench that can come in and contribute in major ways. This is the deepest team Kentucky has had since 2014-2015, and maybe the most talented as well.
I believe the only team with championship-caliber talent in Lexington since 2015 has been the 2016-2017 group with De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, and Bam Adebayo. I believe this group will be as, if not more, talented than this group.
Kentucky gets top recruits every season. For some, it takes time to develop or adjust to the college games. Others do not turn out to be the playmakers we saw in AAU highlights. And some, to be honest, have been busts.
Isaiah Jackson lives at the rim it appears pic.twitter.com/HUgZ1BybII— Cats Coverage (@CatsCoverage_) November 25, 2020
I am here to tell you that Terrence Clark, BJ Boston, and Isaiah Jackson are the real deal. They are incredibly athletic, skilled, and they all play so hard. That is not to diminish the play of others that stood out. Olivier Sarr had a strong second half and showed some of what we expect from him. Askew and Mintz both looked ready to run the show. But there was one guy who jumped out much more than expected.
Olivier Sarr’s first points as a Kentucky Wildcat.pic.twitter.com/i1RPNFJxbj— Olivier Sarr News (@OlivierSarrFans) November 26, 2020
We expected the top guys to come in and produce. We knew Sarr could contribute at a Power 5 level. Some of the shooters hit some shots, and some of the role players played their roles.
But Cam’Ron Fletcher brought some things that I did not expect. He hit a three-pointer right out of the gate, scored in transition, and even nailed a mid-range jumped. He rebounded, distributed, and fought the entire time he was in the game. Not only will he be able to contribute on the court, but his energy will be contagious and push his teammates to continue fighting as well.
Pray for a vaccine
I am not saying this team is going to win a national title or even go to the Final Four. But I can promise you that this team is going to be more and more fun to watch as they continue to gel and play together.
We should all hope that this season happens as planned, and an effective vaccine is the biggest key to that happening. If it does, this Kentucky team is going to take us all for a heck of a ride.
Now, let’s celebrate win No. 1 of the new season!