To be honest, I don't think any of us expected what we saw in the first half. Not because any of us doubted the talent, but more that we never believed John Calipari would let his team play this way. It was awesome.
With a current eight-man rotation that features all eight players who thrive in a five-out system, they took it to the Kansas Jayhawks. After weathering an early storm, the Cats pushed the tempo and the lead. Led by Rob Dillingham and Adou Thiero, Kentucky opened up the lead heading into the half, 48-41.
The second half was another elite display of college basketball this early in the season. Both teams continued to play at a high level. Both teams responded back after a run by the opposing squad.
Unfortunately for the Cats, the lack of a big man cost them in the long run, as Hunter Dickinson became to much in the final minutes for Kentucky to overcome.
Despite the loss, there were plenty of positives to take away from this game.
I like my team. Let’s ride.
If you asked me this in the first half, it had to be Rob Dillingham. Obviously, Antonio Reeves led the way in scoring with 24, but it’s Adou Thiero that helped keep this Kentucky team in the fight all night.
He finished the evening with 16 points on 5/10 shooting from the field and 1/3 of three. He also added 13 rebounds and one assist.
The storyline heading into the night was obviously the lack of big man to match up the Kansas frontcourt. Thiero took the matchup personally and shined. Whether it be his effort on the offensive glass or his ability to run the floor in transition, one thing became very clear this evening... Thiero is going to be a major contributor to this team immediately.
Vibes are very, very good. pic.twitter.com/wRZ51NpbCy— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) November 15, 2023
Kentucky is starting DJ Wagner, Antonio Reeves, Justin Edwards, Adou Thiero and Tre Mitchell against Kansas.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) November 15, 2023
Two freshmen, a sophomore and two seniors doesn't feel as super-young as the Cats are overall.
3 minutes in and already hate Hunter Dickinson— Barstool Kentucky (@BarstoolUK) November 15, 2023
Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham enter the game and momentum shifts completely— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) November 15, 2023
9-0 Kansas becomes a tie ballgame at 11-11
Reed Sheppard Effect— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) November 15, 2023
Rob Dillingham has a healthy amount of DGAF in his game. That's big on a stage like this.— Chris Fisher (@ChrisFisher247) November 15, 2023
WHAT A RUN!!!!!— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) November 15, 2023
I may have pulled something jumping up in the air
I am just going to repeat what one player on Kentucky’s bench said:— Tristan Pharis (@TristanUda) November 15, 2023
“ROB IS THAT MOTHERF***ER”
Rob Dillingham with 16 points, shooting 4 of 5 from three… pic.twitter.com/HIcbfwWU8Q
This team is still missing a #6 overall recruit we haven’t seen yet and a professional 7’ Croatian player— General Tshiebwe (@GeneralTshiebwe) November 15, 2023
If Kentucky is doing this against the No. 1 team in the country without its three seven-footers...what is this team's ceiling?— Jacob Polacheck (@PolacheckKSR) November 15, 2023
John Calipari on Monday: "We're going to find out who are the dogs on this team."— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) November 15, 2023
Adou Thiero and Rob Dillingham on Tuesday: pic.twitter.com/VqHmFYwtA6
It appears DraftKings likes what it sees from UK… pic.twitter.com/MUldqNhSzY— T.J. Walker (@TJWalkerRadio) November 15, 2023
Those two misses by Tre Mitchell were big. Had a chance to get the lead back to 10.— Steven Peake (@StevenPeakeKSR) November 15, 2023
Jayhawks and their fans back into it.
John Calipari is riding with the wrong guys. Play who got you there in the first half.— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) November 15, 2023
To many miscues late flame out a great performance by the Cats! We need a marquee win for our team and fans confidence. Good talking to everybody it’s been a minute.Looking forward to the next game. We are better this early than I thought we would be..— Roger Harden (@HardenRoger) November 15, 2023
You know me, I am all in on this squad, and I am not gonna overreact to a game in November— Matt Sak BBN (@MattSakR2NG) November 15, 2023
But damn this has just felt inevitable in big games recently pic.twitter.com/n6OymgLQpJ
Terrific effort despite having no inside shot blocking with Big 3 still sidelined. This team is going to be very good. And sooner rather than later. Will go into SEC play with no more than 2 losses. UK should actually go up a few notches in next week’s AP poll.— Oscar Combs (@wildcatnews) November 15, 2023
Kentucky may have lost tonight, but they pushed the #1 team in the country to the final minute and fought like hell.— Tristan Pharis (@TristanUda) November 15, 2023
A Kentucky team that is down three NBA caliber seven-footers and played five freshman in their first big time college game.
I like this team.
I'm afraid we will hear about this on repeat when Cal decides to go back to two 7-footers at his first opportunity and have a team shoot 15 3s a game. https://t.co/JvE4TUGuK3— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) November 15, 2023
Wild stat. Kentucky was only out rebounded by 4 overall and had 6 more offensive rebounds than Kansas. You have to be proud the way they fought.— Berkley’s Pops ™️ (@BrandoAKing) November 15, 2023
Full strength Kentucky will be fun to see.
Kentucky scored 84 points against a very good defensive team despite DJ Wagner & Justin Edwards combining to shoot 1-18 from the field and Antonio Reeves shooting 3-17 from 3.— Brandon Ramsey (@BRamseyKSR) November 15, 2023
I'm leaving this one with a lot more positive feelings than negative ons. However, losing is the WORST!