The Kentucky Wildcats got back on track this Thanksgiving Eve, as they returned to Rupp Arena and stomped the North Florida Ospreys, 96-56.
Despite last week’s struggles, the Cats acted like they never missed a beat in the first half. After a nice little back-and-forth to start the game by North Florida, the Cats got a couple stops, and then the flood gates opened.
Offensively, Kentucky looked like a completely different squad than they did last week. Playing with pace and dictating the tempo allowed the Cats to jump out to a 54-23 lead heading into the locker room.
The second half was not much more to talk about, as the Cats remained in cruise control for the remainder of the game.
In what was a much-needed ‘get right’ game for the Cats, there isn't much more you could ask for in today’s win.
Kentucky will return to action Nov. 29th as they host the Bellarmine Knights, in what will be a fun game against Scott Davenport’s squad.
Now, let’s take a look at a few things to know from today’s win over North Florida:
A fire has been lit
Outside of the play on the court, you could tell the players were taking on the attitude of their head coach this evening.
From the tip, John Calipari was invested on both ends of the floor, bringing energy and guidance to help his players figure out the next step. After what was a low energy effort in Spokane just a few days ago, you could tell Coach Cal was going to ensure it didn't happen again.
The Hall-of Fame coach obviously believes in this team, but they clearly needed a fire to be lit in hopes of reigniting what we saw in the Bahamas this summer and against the cupcake teams early this season.
Offense shows some life
The word ‘offense’ has been like a foreign language to the Big Blue Nation over the last few weeks in both Football and Basketball. After a poor performance on the offensive end against Gonzaga, the Cats showed a sign of life erupting in Rupp against the Osprey.
A big difference in today's game was the pace of play. The Cats pushed the tempo in transition, which led to the opportunity for the dribble drive to really come into play.
Now, obviously against North Florida, this is what you would hope to see, but play with this tempo and limit turnovers and Sunday might look vastly different.
Reeves joins the starting lineup
After the first five games of coming off the bench Antonio Reeves joined the starting lineup tonight, and dominated.
Coming out of the summer, it was obvious Reeves had the juice to be a go-to scorer for the Cats, and today was just another feather in that cap. Don't be shocked to see him take over this role from here on out.
Perhaps Reeves will be more comfortable in a starting role vs. coming off the bench, though he’s done well in both roles against lesser competition. Here’s to hoping this is the start of him becoming an impact player vs. Kentucky’s biggest opponents.
Speaking of lineups, junior forward Lance Ware was out today due to an illness, so hopefully he’ll be back when the Casts return to action next Tuesday vs. Bellarmine.
It’s all going to be okay
Although the Cats have to start winning these big-time matchups, one thing is still true; this team is going to be just fine. With some chemistry starting to build, you can see the potential on both ends of the floor starting to come into form.
With a matchup against Michigan just over a week away, it won't be long before we see what this team can do against a Power-Five opponent. But after today's showing on both ends of the floor, fans should be excited to see them go to work.
Patience is the key. This team has a world of potential, but they have a ways to go before we start to really see it vs. quality opponents, so bare with them.
Now, let’s celebrate the win and enjoy the rest of our Thanksgiving week!