From Tom Leach…
Julius Randle joined an exclusive club in Kentucky’s win over UT-Arlington, when he recorded his fifth consecutive double-double to start the season. That’s something only Jim Andrews (seven straight in ’72), Dan Issel and Cotton Nash (five in a row for each, a feat Issel achieved twice) have accomplished in the storied history of the Kentucky basketball program.
Randle has scored 20-plus points in four of those five games and he’s getting to the free throw line at a school-record pace. So with all of those numbers Randle is racking up, a question that often pops up is “who does Julius Randle remind you of?”
I have yet to hear an answer to that question that seems to nail the comparison but there are some qualities in Randle that remind me of some Big Blue stars of the past.
Jamal Mashburn: “Mash” offered a rare combination of size along with the agility of a smaller player. He could take his man outside and score or he could him up. I don’t yet see Randle having the scoring punch on the perimeter of Mashburn but I think Randle is better on the blocks.
Kenny Walker: “Sky” is not the one you usually hear compared to Randle but the similarity I see is the effectiveness in the low post. Walker scored 20-or-more 20 times in 36 games in the ’86 season and he averaged shooting 274 free throws per season in his final two years. Walker had that quickness in the paint that made him hard to guard in the way that opponents are struggling to contend with Randle (who has had double figures in free throw attempts in four of his first five games).
Demarcus Cousins: “Cuz” was bigger but he, too, had that amazing footwork that enabled to maneuver around opponents in the low post. Randle is a better pure scorer at this similar point in their UK careers but he could use a little more that brute force mentality that served Cousins so well.
James Lee: this is an old school reference but the similarity I see with Lee, along with the fact that both are lefties, is that Lee would rip the ball off the glass and be perfectly comfortable bringing it down the floor for a dunk.
We’re still early in Randle’s rookie season but it’s fun to think about those comparisons, given how many great players have suited up at Kentucky.
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There’s not much reason to look back at a long night in Athens, Ga. The Bulldogs are arguably the most potent offense in the SEC when healthy and that was a mismatch for a Kentucky defense depleted by injuries and suspensions. And while Georgia has had a mediocre season on defense, Kentucky just doesn’t have the offense to take advantage of that, especially once it lost Jalen Whitlow, the man around whom the Cats had been building their game plans.
In our postgame interview, a dejected Mark Stoops said this would be an important week, as he looks to see which players bring their best effort in preparation for the season finale against Tennessee. A win over the Vols would give this program a shot of momentum for the offseason workouts and help the coaching staff as it tries to round out what figures to be the highest-rated recruiting class ever for UK football.
“WILDCAT PAW” HELMET STICKERS
Dyshawn Mobley. Not much in the way of praise-worthy performances for UK in this whipping down between the hedges. Mobley did have a career-best day in rushing yards, including a 69-yard sprint to paydirt and he continues to play well on special teams.
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