A lot has happened already this weekend in college basketball, and even more specifically in the world of Kentucky college basketball. Here’s a quick look at some of “The Good,” “The Bad,” and “The Ugly” from the weekend:
> Alex Poythress: He went for a double double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. He smiled. He pounded his chest. He played with great energy. He attacked the basket. He made his teammates happy. He made his coach happy. He made the fans happy. Most importantly? I think he made himself happy.
> Kyle Wiltjer’s free throws: Down the stretch, if you look at the play-by-play, it’s a series of 1 for 2 free throw attempts by Kentucky. The Cats couldn’t seal the deal from the free throw line until the final 2 attempts when Kyle Wiltjer and Poythress sunk both of their free throw attempts to ice the game for Kentucky. Wiltjer answered the question of: “who does Calipari want on the line with the game on the line?” The inbound play was clearly designed for the ball to find Wiltjer’s hands. He delivered.
> Calipari’s late game coaching decision: On a day when we watched the coach down the road (Pitino, not Brian Lane…he’s perfect) botch a decision in the final seconds of the game, electing to hold for a last second shot when DOWN 1 (seriously, why would you do that?)… it was nice to see John Calipari make a good coaching decision late in the game. With Kentucky up 3, instead of giving LSU a chance to steal the momentum by coming down and hitting a 3 to send the game to overtime, Calipari chose to foul LSU and put them on the free throw line. LSU missed one, Kentucky rebounded and Wiltjer hit 2 to finish the Tigers.
> John Robic and his hair: The hair looked good, as always. And it looked even better when it dramatically pulled Nerlens Noel off the court to avoid a late game technical foul.
> Randall Cobb: Randall Cobb and his beautiful green eyes and graphic Wildcat t-shirt came strolling into Rupp Arena and he received a hero’s welcome. Not only does Big Blue Nation love Randall Cobb dearly, but the feeling seems to be completely mutual. According to those in attendance, the place was electric for Cobb when he marched out to be the “Y.” That couldn’t have been a bad thing for the 4-star UK football recruits to see either…
> Archie when he passed: We all give Archie Goodwin a lot of grief for not passing the ball. But let’s give credit when it’s due… When Archie Goodwin passed the ball last night, great things happened. He hit Ryan Harrow in transition with a beautiful pass for a lay-up. He had a few nice drives and kick outs to the open man for 3-pointers (one to Julius Mays sticks out). He’s not a bad passer when he decides to do so…
> Jarrod Polson: Jarrod Polson may have looked like he was going to foul out of the game at one point, but he once again was able to give Kentucky good minutes off the bench. He even hit a circus shot lay-up that had the look of an Eric Bledsoe-esque play from back in the day. I think it’s safe to say that this kid could play serious minutes at a ton of other Division I schools. We are lucky to have him contributing to our team, especially this season.
> Florida is really, really good: Florida keeps taking care of business and they have looked good while doing so. Florida is 6-0 in conference play and they are currently riding an eight game winning streak. Florida being really good is perhaps a blessing and a curse (more on that later…), but their stability as a top-10 team allows Kentucky an opportunity for a signature win against a top-10 team…something no other SEC school can offer right now.
> Louisville lost for the 3rd straight game: #LLL1C4. Look, I’m never going to complain when Louisville loses 3 games in a row.
> Shaquille O’Neal watched Dakari Johnson play this weekend: You know that had to be cool for that kid, who will be a Wildcat next season.
> The Football recruits got to see Rupp get loud: Even though Rupp getting loud meant that Kentucky forfeited a comfortable lead late in the game, the crowd sounded pretty good (at least from the TV). Rupp did it’s best to will the team to a win and the football recruits likely got to see an electric atmosphere from Big Blue Nation.
> Nerlens Noel is still a blocking machine: Nerlens Noel notched another 6 blocks last night. Noel now sits at 83 blocks in 19 games, only 8 shy of Anthony Davis’ 91 in that time span.
> Alex Poythress from the free-throw line: Poythress was 8-10 from the free throw line. Compared to some of the numbers from the rest of the team, that’s wonderful.
> Balanced first half offense: If you read the play-by-play from the first half, the spread of the wealth on offense was quite impressive. All of Kentucky’s major contributors were scoring and seeing the ball. (stay tuned for the second half balance of play, which will NOT make the “Good” list)
> Deangelo Yancey verbals to Purdue: Deangelo Yancey was a WR who committed to Joker Phillips while he was still at Kentucky. We learned that Yancey de-committed from Kentucky. Apparently Yancey has verbally committed to Purdue. It’s good to see that he found a good place after a coaching change initially sidetracked his plans.
> Marcus McWilson: Mark Stoops and his staff appear to be halfway to flipping McWilson, a 4-star DB, from Nebraska to Kentucky. McWilson de-committed from Nebraska earlier today, and says he plans to announce his decision on either Thursday or Friday of next week. Kentucky is the current leader. #StoopsEffect
> Archie when he didn’t pass: As good as some of his passes were, the frustration with Goodwin driving to the lane and attempting ill-advised lay-up attempts without looking for the open teammate still exists.
> Second half run: Kentucky was up by as many as 11 with 6 minutes to play. Thanks in some part to some questionable calls by the refs, but also in large part due to defensive lapses and turnovers, Kentucky allowed LSU to climb back into the game.
>Too much Goodwin/Harrow and not enough Poythress/Wiltjer: Between the Alabama game and the first half of the game yesterday, it’s obvious that getting the ball into the hands of Kyle Wiltjer and Alex Poythress on a consistent basis on the offensive end was working. In the second half yesterday, the ball wasn’t finding either of those guys on a consistent basis. The offense revolved around Goodwin and Harrow instead. Goodwin and Harrow combined for 23 shots last night, while Poythress/Wiltjer/Noel combined for a total of only 22 shots.
> NC State put a beat down on North Carolina in front of Julius Randle: First they painted a mural. Then they had College Game Day come to town. Then they put a beat down on North Carolina in front of an electric crowd. I’m not sure how serious Randle’s interest is in NC State, but they couldn’t have asked for a much better result when hosting the young man on campus this weekend.
> Guard play is still lacking: Kentucky’s two main guards, Goodwin and Harrow, combined for a total of 3 assists in last night’s game. In comparison, they turned the ball over 6 times between the two of them.
> 3-point shooting touch: Julius Mays was 2-4, which was a pretty good clip for him. Kyle Wiltjer and Mays both struggled to convert on a few wide open three pointers though that might have extended the lead in big moments.
> UL signee scores 68 points: For the late night crowd, you may have noticed a lot of Tweets about UL signee Terry Rozier. Rozier dropped 68 points in a multiple overtime thriller in the Louisville Hoops Fest. I guess the good news is that we will likely have the #1 recruiting class to counter Rozier…
> Ken Pomeroy is predicting 75-71 win for Ole Miss: KenPom crunches the numbers better than anyone in the business. He is predicting a narrow win for the Rebels on their home court Tuesday.
> Free throw percentage: 67.9% on the night. We made 1 of 2 on many occasions last night when we could have extended the lead to a 2 possession game.
> Texas A&M since beating Kentucky: Texas A&M has lost 4 straight games since coming into Rupp and beating Kentucky. The Aggies have dropped games to Florida, Alabama, LSU and Georgia. Guess who hasn’t score 40 points since then either?
> Marshall Henderson from Ole Miss and his taunting: Marshall Henderson is the new player to love to hate in the SEC. The media has fallen in love with the GIF of him popping his jersey. I wish Ole Miss was visiting Rupp this year. I think the student section might have a field day with Henderson.
> Florida is really, really good: I mentioned this in “The Good” portion as well. Florida being good is a good thing because it means Kentucky has a chance to pick up a win against a top-10 team. The bad news is that Florida is looking like one of the best teams in the country right now, perhaps deserving of a #1 seed. The task to beat them at home OR on the road, is proving to be much more difficult with each passing day.
> Tubby shaved his mustache: I’m not going to say that shaving the mustache is the reason why Tubby’s Minnesota team is currently on a downward spiral, but I’m not prepared to say that shaving the mustache isn’t the reason either.
> Archie Goodwin was 5-9 from the free throw line: If Archie is going to consistently drive the ball to the basket and try to get fouled, he has to hit his free throws. He got to the line 9 times, which is great. But he needs to be shooting at a much higher clip to make the most of those opportunities.
> The flagrant foul on Julius Mays when we quickly went from up 11 to up 5 in a matter of 30 seconds: SEC refs are not the best.
> Careless turnovers around 3-4 minute mark: Kyle Wiltjer’s careless cross court pass that led to a lay-up is the one that sticks out the most, but Kentucky had a few bad turnovers in the final minutes of the game– giving LSU every opportunity to chip away at the lead.
> The SEC: Just look at the SEC scoreboard from yesterday. It makes about as much sense as Jodie Foster’s Golden Globe speech.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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