With a 1-6 recording coming into the matchup, UK had the chance to restart their season, so to speak with the start of SEC play.
Despite showing signs of the same issues, including 18 turnovers, there were several bright spots in the win. Kentucky controlled the paint by blocking 10 shots on the night, four of those by Isaiah Jackson.
Kentucky was without the services of freshman Terrence Clarke due to a lingering ankle injury. The young Wildcats also had to play without their head coach for the last few seven minutes of the game after he was ejected.
After a back-and-forth game that went down to the wire, it took double-overtime to decide a victor. Kentucky showed what coaches and fans have waited for all season — fight and determination that resulted in a gritty win.
This will forever be known as the Dontaie Allen game, but there were so many positives as a team that can be built upon heading into the remainder of conference play.
Bottom line is that it’s going to be difficult to beat this Kentucky if they make 11 three-pointers like they did tonight in Starkville.
But more importantly, Kentucky now has something to build on after going over a month without winning.
The hometown kid came in and delivered!
After what seems like a lifetime of debate, Kentucky native Dontaie Allen finally got his opportunity against Mississippi State and he took full advantage of it.
The former Mr. Basketball knocked down seven threes on his way to 23 points. His minutes were the most of his career but I have a feeling that will be eclipsed very soon.
His impressive showing included hitting a go-head three pointer to put the Cats up 56-55 with under four minutes to play. He followed that up with a ridiculously clutch three to give UK the lead with under two minutes.
The Big Blue Nation had all but begged Calipari to give Allen his chance and it was publicly acknowledged on this week that he was going to get some minutes.
I’m not sure a fan base has ever been vindicated quite like the Big Blue Nation was tonight. It’s clear that Dontaie Allen is good enough to get his opportunity on a team full of players who are all figuring things out.
It’ll be interesting to see how Allen is kept in the mix after the return of Terrence Clarke.
In a season full of disappointment — Dontaie Allen raining threes sure was fun to watch. I’d imagine that his folklore type performance will be enough to reengage many members of the Big Blue Nation.