The Kentucky Wildcats post another win to start off this Thanksgiving week, defeating the Albany Great Danes 86-61.
The Great Danes came into Rupp Arena 0-4 in the win/loss column, but that didn't scare them away as their trap defense bothered the ‘Cats and forced a ton of mistakes in the first half. Kentucky also once again struggled to get going defensively, and Albany took advantage to put together an impressive half and keep the game close.
The second half proved to be too much for Albany though, as the talent gap started to show, and the defense by Kentucky started to heat up.
Once again the Cats showed some positive signs as they continue to gain some confidence, but alongside those positives are some negatives as well.
Let’s check out some risers and fallers from the win.
Oscar Tshiebwe’s offense
There has to come a point when Oscar can’t rise any higher right? Not so sure that there is.
In this win, he finished with 12 points (6/6 from the field) and 14 rebounds, continuing the rumors that he very well might be a machine.
All joking aside for this Kentucky team to go where it hopes to go come March, then Oscar is going to be a huge piece of that. Foul trouble has started to show up, but it’s obvious when he is off the floor that the ceiling of this team is drastically lowered.
Tshiebwe is easily one of, if not the best rebounder in college basketball, but it's his improving offensive game that will take this Kentucky team to another level if he can keep hitting these mid-ranger jumpers.
Just keep rebounding everything, and ripping nets with those jumpers, and he might just earn an All-American bid.
It has been said that all this team is missing is a star. Oscar might be a celebrity to the Big Blue Nation, but the star of this team is TyTy Washington. He proved it again as he went for 20 points, six rebounds, and three assists.
After struggling in the first couple of games of the season, Washington has shown why he flew up recruiting rankings in his senior season as he has shown the maturity, pace, and flow he plays the game with.
Only going to get better from here.
Kellan Grady Three’s
Grady’s shot is silky smooth. He is obviously still adapting to his role for this team, but one thing is for sure...
SHOOT THEM ALL!
This team has proven it will be hard for them to be out rebounded this season. They flexed their muscles once again, and won the rebounding battle by 24.
In this early non-conference schedule it won't affect the outcome of many games, but come SEC play not giving up those extra possessions will be huge.
After a so-so start to the season, Keion Brooks is starting to look like the stud Kentucky needed him to become a Final Four contender this season.
After going for 22 points on 9/18 shooting vs. Ohio, Brooks went for 17 points vs. Albany with a more efficient 7/11 shooting line while grabbing eight boards and blocking two shots.
If Kentucky can continue to get this kind of production out of Brooks and Tshiebwe, this may very well become one of the best frontcourts in America.
For the second game in a row the turnover bug has started to get spread around, as they turned the ball over 17 times.
It’s hard to get up for a 0-4 team, on a Monday night of Thanksgiving week, but as this team is continuing to build chemistry you would hope to see that number continuing to drop.
With Davion Mintz out due to an illness, this was a game Dontaie Allen needed to step up in to earn more playing time moving forward.
Instead, Allen finished 0/5 from the field, and all five misses were from deep. All other Kentucky shooters combined to shoot 5/10 from 3-point range, so the team was actually better shooting when it didn’t involve Allen, who was Kentucky’s best deep-range shooter last season.
Allen has struggled to find his groove thus far into the season, so he’ll need to find it in a hurry if he wants to avoid being buried on the bench.
While Kentucky is getting great production out of the starting frontcourt, the overall depth is leaving a lot to be desired.
Obviously it’s hard to gauge with Lance Ware and Jacob Toppin still out with injuries, but if those continue to linger through December, it could get rough once the Notre Dame game shows up.
Daimion Collins continues to show you a “wow” moment each night, but once Oscar gets into foul trouble, this team become vastly different and doesn't pose a threat to score from the block one bit.
It will get better as this team continues to develop, but it is a growing question mark at this point of the season.