Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

The Good and the Bad of Kentucky’s win over Vermont

We knew coming in that Vermont was a dangerous squad; however, after Kentucky cruised to a 12-point lead in the first half, everything seemed fine…until the Catamounts clawed their way back into the game and gave us the first nail biter of this very young season. Let’s break down what went right and what went wrong in Kentucky’s 73-69 win over Vermont.

GOOD: PJ Washington

PJ Washington didn’t made any preseason award watch lists or all-conference teams, but he was Kentucky’s most impressive player tonight, leading all scorers with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Washington wouldn’t take no for an answer on the inside, and his tenacity was a welcome sight after Friday’s subdued performance.

“There were a little bit of first game jitters [vs. Utah Valley],” Washington told Mike Pratt. “This game, I tried to focus on just doing my job and coming out and playing as team. I just wanted to play hard.”

Calipari praised Washington’s performance after the game, especially his two-handed rebound in the closing moments of the game.

“I thought PJ was a beast, finally,” Cal said. “First time this year. I just called him in and said, that’s what you need to be every practice and every game.”

Before the season, Calipari said Washington was one of the alpha dogs on this squad; today, he played like it.

BAD: Three-point defense

Vermont hit 10 threes this afternoon, seven in the second half. For all of their athleticism, the Cats couldn’t stay in front of Vermont’s guards on the perimeter, a very discouraging trend, and if not for a few plays, it could have come back to burn them. Let’s work on that.

GOOD and BAD: Hamidou Diallo

Diallo finished with 16 points, but — in what might be a microcosm of Kentucky’s season — his performance was both encouraging and infuriating. For almost every good Diallo moment, there was a bewildering one, most notably a wild, flailing drive at the basket in the second half that drove Calipari nuts on the sidelines.

“How about Hami’s one-handed foot-kick-throw?” Cal said afterwards. “The game is in the balance, man! This isn’t a H-O-R-S-E shot.”

BAD: Too many missed shots around the basket

With freshmen, this may be expected, but how many gimmes has Kentucky given up over the past two games? While the Cats have zero problems getting to the basket, more often than not, they cannot finish. That’s likely due to fatigue, but it’s definitely something that needs to improve moving forward.

GOOD:  Jimmy Dykes is back

Dykes was back on the call this afternoon, and I have to say, as much as we’ve made fun of him over the years, I really missed him. We were treated to a bit of peak Jimmy when he broke out a pair of cardboard hands to demonstrate Kentucky’s ridiculous wingspan this season:

Welcome back, Jimmy.

BAD: Shooting

If we’ve learned anything in the first few games, it’s that Kentucky is prone to scoring droughts. Like the end of the first half vs. Utah Valley, the Cats were cold to end the second half, missing seven of their last eight shots.

“I was trying to figure out who we do we go to,” Cal said of his team’s dry spell at the end of the game. “I don’t know yet. Do you know? If you know, write me a note because right now, we don’t know.”

GOOD: Knox hit a clutch three

One person he can go to is Kevin Knox. After a quiet game, Knox stepped up to hit a huge three to push Kentucky’s lead back to six with three minutes left. Calipari brought that shot up twice in his postgame press conference.

“How about Kevin’s three?” Cal said. “That was big. I need to know he could make that shot…It shows me he has courage enough to make it. A couple other guys missed all their shots. Well, maybe late, I’m not going to have you shoot it.”

Big-time players make big-time shots.

GOOD: Sacha Killeya-Jones

Sacha Killeya-Jones has been a different player this season. Not only is he more confident on the floor, he’s not giving up anything, playing with so much motor that Calipari left him in during clutch time.

“Sacha played his butt off today,” Cal said. “You just saw him, the work that he’s put in. This is what he’s looking like in practice, and now he’s carrying it over to the game.”

Wenyen Gabriel only scored two points, but he had a huge defensive play in the closing moments to prevent the upset. Thus far, I am very impressed by the veterans, who are thriving in their roles.

BAD: Kentucky only won by four

If you’ve been paying attention, you knew Vermont was a formidable foe; yet, that fact provided little comfort when the lead was cut to three in the final minutes.

“You cannot play Popcorn State and learn anything,” Cal joked at the beginning of his press conference. “You gotta play good teams. Now, I didn’t realize how good this team was until I watched the tape and then I was like, ‘Who scheduled this game?’ It’s ridiculous.”

GOOD: Kentucky won

When you get past the margin and look at Vermont’s resume from last season, today’s narrow win feels a lot better. Essentially, the Cats survived a scare from a tournament team, which is more than Calipari thought would happen when he watched Vermont’s tape over the weekend.

“This is a big time win,” Calipari said on his postgame show. “This is a BIG TIME win. I watched the tape, I thought we didn’t have a chance of winning.”

Will Kentucky’s resiliency pay off vs. No. 4 Kansas on Tuesday night? Ready or not, we’re about to find out.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

30 responses to “The Good and the Bad of Kentucky’s win over Vermont”

  1. UKinIN

    Totally disagree about Jimmy Dykes. Haven’t missed him at all.

    1. BigBlueBass

      Agree…. he’s very annoying ….

    2. timewilltell

      He did say that “three eyes were looking at the replay.” Wonder if he will fly the plane this year?

  2. kycats81

    I️ could not handle 1 minute of Dykes. Please tell me it was just a nightmare.

  3. kycats81

    I️ couldn’t stand 1 minute of Dykes. Please tell me this was only a nightmare.

  4. Optional Facts

    KU by at least 12… 3 point defense and Quade’s defense is no where close yet. It’s only November though… I like my team.

    1. Sentient Third Eye

      That’s a likely outcome, though we do have multiple players who are capable of taking over and winning the game. Still, it’s awful early to count on kids this young to produce on such a big stage. In another month, yes, but it would be truly exceptional for it to happen this early.

    2. JTHinton

      Agree 100% and we’re still 4-2 in Champions Classic

  5. Kat4Life

    Hami is one of those rare players capable of keeping both teams in the game simultaneously (Think Archie Goodwin, Dirk Minnifield ) …….but he does have his moments !

    1. callitlikeiseeit

      really hope he is nothing like Goodwin

    2. timbo

      I’ve said Goodwin every game so far. Monk had a bit in him as well but he grew and matured somewhat and could better harness it. I hope Hami grows and matures rather quickly. It’s def. a fine line between wanting to make big plays and wanting to do it all/too much/being selfish. I think he’ll figure it out, he’s a smart kid.

  6. timfmiller

    Can’t imagine any UK fan welcoming Dykes back. He’s an obnoxious, odious presence who constantly makes idiotic statements, ex.) “It doesn’t matter how many 3’s you make its how many you shoot.” Really??? So if you don’t make any or many, just heaving them up “scores” you points? Must have missed that in the scoring column! The game is always won in the paint—higher percentage shots than 3 point shots! Dykes praise of Vermont was over the top and that little point guard that Dykes seems to be in love with. Vermont was not the “giant” killer they were made out to be and will only make the NCAA tourney b/c they play in a weak league and conference that will allow them to put up a lot of wins. Come March, Dykes, UK will be the tougher, better team NOT Vermont!

  7. smahurin

    I love jimmy dykes. Probably my favorite color guy.

  8. Kychopsticks

    Love the reposting of articles.

  9. ClutchCargo

    I’m glad to have Jimmy Dykes back! As goofy as he may be, that’s also one of the best things about him.

    1. Cat68

      Agree ClutchCargo. Gimme Jimmy D over Dickie V any day, ever!

    2. Kat4Life

      I like Jimmy Dykes.

  10. AGSlaters Daddy

    Could you guys please stop bullying my 8 year old son, he’s been crying in his room for hours…

    1. AGSlater

      lol. You heard him. Stop

    2. AGSlaters Daddy

      You’re grounded son! Your bed time is 9:00 PM and you were on your phone at 12:42! Enough!!!

    3. 4everUKblue

      I pray the almighty was smart enough to not allow you to have any offsprings.

  11. catsby90.1

    If Hami would quit forcing some dumb shots every now and then, he would be an animal. Hopefully his shot selection will improve throughout the year.

  12. CatFaninNC

    you forgot one:


    Shot selection. Too many bad shots is why the shooting was poor towards the end of the game.

    A few of Hami’s shots reminded me of Goodwin. Ugh! But he wasn’t the only one. You can’t just throw the ball at the basket. I’m not sure I’ve seen a team miss so many layups in a game though. Also, how about you let a couple of guys get in the paint for potential rebounds before you throw up a bad shot.

  13. BTownUKFan

    If you listened to Cal’s postgame interview with Tom Leach. They have not even taught the team 3 point defense. It will come.
    BAD (for Vermont):
    They only shot 34% from 3. 10 of 29 is not good.
    GOOD (for UK):
    Team never blinked, never flinched, never dropped their heads. Stood up to the onslaught from Vermont.

  14. Blue_Mist

    Couple of things:

    1. Hamidou’s bad defense and lack of rebounding hurt us more than a couple bad shots.

    2. The scoring drought came during a period when Kevin DID NOT TOUCH the ball. That can’t happen and us be successful.

    … but I still love this group! Coach will coach ’em! (but not enough time to keep the bad habits from burning us against Kansas)

  15. BlueHeaven

    Looking forward to what this team will be in late Feb and March but prepared for the butt whoopin they are going to get against Kansas. Worst defense I’ve seen in a long time.

  16. Sentient Third Eye

    WIth this team, the real problem on defense is they they haven’t learned to communicate yet. Guys are constantly left in compromised positions by their teammates who don’t talk to them.

  17. Catsby80

    A lot of people worried about Kansas on here… maybe the bright lights will bring out the best in this bunch… You guys think that Kansas will win by double digits, then go place a wager on it. put your money where your mouth is.

  18. ukbradstith

    JImmy D knows his stuff. Color guys with personality make the game interesting, and him being so knowledgeable is a bonus. Probably lose to KU by 10-12; that’s not negative, I think we are as good or better by the end of the year. Hami jumps before he even knows what he is going to do. He needs to slow down a little. Hopefully he’ll improve on that this year.

  19. CapitalBlue

    BAD: the technical on PJ. The initial foul by the Vermont guy wasn’t even an intentional foul in my eyes. The entire exchange was a non-incident. Play on!