If you just watched the first half, you could probably be convinced that Kentucky ended up losing this game, as it was far from the best. Both ends of the floor were sluggish, and if it wasn't for TyTy Washington and Oscar Tshiebwe, the Cats could have found themselves in a hole early.
The second half, however, was night and day. Energy was up and the team started to gel without Sahvir Wheeler, who missed this game after suffering a neck injury on Tuesday night.
There were some impressive individual stats across the board, but let’s check out some risers and fallers from this win.
With the absence of Wheeler, Washington has taken over primary ball-handling duties, and has impressed for the second straight game. So much so he passed John Wall for the single-game record for assists.
Washington finished the night with 17 points on 8/13 shooting. He also added 17 assists and five rebounds.
Seen primarily as an off-ball guard by most scouts, Washington’s display of his playmaking ability is only going to help his NBA Draft stock. This experience in leading the offense could also pay off come March as the games start to get tighter. The more guards you can trust, the better.
There are very few players in the country that control the paint like Oscar does. In the John Calipari era, his best comparison is likely Julius Randle, who was an absolute double-double machine.
Oscar is very much the same, as he had a double-double racked up in the first half. He finished the night with 29 points on 13/21 shooting, while also adding 17 rebounds.
With Tshiebwe in the game, this team is much more efficient and effective on both ends of the floor. It has been said plenty over the course of this season, but if this team wants to make the run it is capable of they will need Oscar at his best.
After being the star of last season's team, it has taken Mintz some time to get accustomed to his new role. With the injury to Wheeler, he has come into his own.
Finishing with 19 points on 7/10 shooting (5/7 from three), Mintz has finally found his stroke. He also added two rebounds.
In Tuesday night's game against LSU, Mintz was the reason the Cats has a shot to win it in the final minute. He took another step forward this game, as he continues to gain confidence. This team will need his production to make it through this tough SEC schedule.
Pick & Roll
The pick & roll with Oscar was pure. Even the pick & pop was working too. Let’s do more of that, and mix in some floppy action for Kellan Grady. This can clearly be a big strength with this team.
After stepping up over the last several weeks, the defense took a hit. A lot does come from the absence of Wheeler, as he applies great ball pressure out front to cause teams to get uncomfortable.
This part of this team's game will only continue to grow, but it is concerning against a team that is as poor offensively as Georgia.
The rotation has shrunk to only eight players.
From the minute distribution, it appears that Lance Ware, Dontaie Allen, Daimion Collins, and Bryce Hopkins are going to be used sparingly. Primarily in foul trouble situations. They can definitely play themselves into roles as the season continues, but they need to make the most of the minutes they do receive.