Saturday’s Kentucky-Virginia Tech game in Rupp Arena lived up to the billing as the two teams battled back and forth the entire afternoon. It was the Cats’ first real home test of the season and they passed it with an A+ grade, edging out the Hokies, 93-86, in a very entertaining contest.
Here are some takeaways from the action…
Virginia Tech is very good.
First and foremost, let’s commend the visiting Hokies because they played well in their first true road test of the season. They’re a top-20 team with some very good players I wouldn’t want to see again. It took everything Kentucky had to eek out the win in front of an energetic home crowd, and it was a big victory for the resume and for the team’s confidence moving forward. Great win for UK. Lots of fun those who saw it.
Calipari asked for more threes, and got more threes.
It was a little over one week ago when Calipari said he wanted to see his team take more three-pointers. “We’re trying to get to instead of 14 or 15, we want to get to about 18, 19, 17, maybe 20 every once in a while,” he said. “We don’t want more than that because that’s not who we are, but we need to have that.”
Today he got 22 three-point tries, which was well above the season average of 13 attempts per game. Even better, the Cats shot 50 percent, hitting 11 of those 22 shots from outside.
Virginia Tech is the best three-point shooting team in college basketball basketball, and they were outshined at their own game as they hit 10 of their 22 tries.
Kentucky has a triple scoring threat in Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo and Quade Green.
The trio combined for 58 of the Cats’ points and did most of the scoring in the second half to earn the victory in the end. We knew all along that Diallo and Knox would be go-to guys, but the addition of Green to the scoring group has been a very pleasant surprise. As it stands now, those are three players Kentucky can count on to get a basket.
Quade Green’s sunglasses are awesome.
Once we learned Quade Green would wear dark-tinted sunglasses in the game, it was easy to doubt his ability to hit shots with the new eyewear. I didn’t expect him to take many shots at all; turns out, the glasses did not hold him back as he went 6-for-12 from the field and made two big three-pointers.
When asked about the glasses after the game, Green said, “My glasses are a little dark but I see better in the dark.”
Also of note: Green had five assists to only one turnover.
Nick Richards and Sacha Killeya-Jones could’ve done better.
Kentucky didn’t get the best out of its two big men, but Calipari isn’t too worried about it. He noted they’re “not machines” and bad games happen from time to time.
Richards played 22 minutes to Killeya-Jones’ seven in the game, and gave up some easy buckets and surrendered some rebounds that were his to grab.
Hamidou Diallo hit a huge shot to seal it.
Let’s give a special bold sentence and section to Hamidou Diallo’s three-pointer with under a minute to go. Virginia Tech had just cut the lead to two with a three of its own, but Diallo fired right back with a dagger from the corner to put the game out of reach.
Diallo has been great these last couple games and his outside shot is looking much better. He and Knox are playing like superstars.
P.J. Washington and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also played well.
The light is coming on for Washington, who has now had two straight good games. Gilgeous-Alexander did what he’s done all season, and sent his cousin home with a loss, as he promised earlier in the week.
Up Next: UCLA and Louisville.
Buckle up, BBN!