The Kentucky Wildcats coasted to an 86-46 victory on Monday night over the New Mexico State Aggies to start the season 1-0.
The first half was a little slower than many likely expected, especially on the offensive end of the floor. As the new group of guys are still working on building chemistry against other opponents, things started to click in the second half as the Cats crushed the Aggies 49-17.
According to John Calipari, it was due to a “tweak” he made at halftime, and he challenged the media to figure it out.
Swaggy Cal made an appearance in tonight's press conference, saying he made a "tweak" at halftime and challenging the media to identify what it was.— Tristan Pharis (@TristanUda) November 7, 2023
It's safe to say Cal feels good about his team.
(via UK Athletics) pic.twitter.com/bC7vxaGfhz
Typically, the BBN doesn’t hear the word “tweak” until conference play approaches in late December, but it appears Coach Cal likes what he has seen thus far to use the infamous word early.
So, what do we think this mysterious tweak was?
One guess was letting Reed Sheppard run the offense more, though we saw a decent amount of that in the first half.
What seemed to really turn the tide in half No. 2 was starting center Tre Mitchell running the offense. Because he’s a 3-point threat, that forces opposing bigs to guard him on the perimeter, which opens up the paint for cutters like DJ Wagner and Justin Edwards, which we saw several times in this clip by The Athletic’s Kyle Tucker. It also makes the pick-&-roll and pick-&-pop offense harder to guard.
Mitchell ended the night with five assists, but they all came after halftime.
Whatever the tweak was, it is obvious this team thrives in a five-out system and is ready to push the pace in transition every single possession. When the big men finally get healthy and can provide some rim protection, it is going to be fun to watch.
One of the more important aspects of this is how rejuvenated Coach Calipari looks. It has been a slog for the last four seasons, but it appears everything seems to be heading in a positive direction, including the interactions of John Calipari with the media and fanbase.
Kentucky Basketball is fun again. Let’s go win No. 9.