After two tough battles on the road, a night at home was all the Cats needed. Kentucky cruised over South Carolina, 77-55. It wasn’t always pretty…in fact, Frank Martin may have put it best when he said “We did a heck of a job putting everyone to sleep in there,” but a 20+ win at home is always a good thing. Let’s go over the headlines:
— This may have been the Cats’ most balanced game yet, with five players scoring in double figures and the Cats holding a comfortable lead the entire game. Better yet, they shot 61.4% from the field, their highest against an SEC foe this season, and dominated the paint 42-18.
— For the second game in a row, “Uncle” Julius Mays led the way with 15 points off 4-5 from behind the arc and 3-3 from the free throw stripe. Before the game, Cal lauded Mays’ progress as a player this season, best exemplified by his career high 19-point performance against Texas A&M. Mays shot the ball with more confidence than he has all season, shaking his tail feather after each three.
— Cal said that Willie Cauley-Stein would get more minutes tonight, and Cauley-Stein delivered. In 22 minutes of play, Cauley-Stein scored 13 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. Willie’s knee seemed of no concern throughout the game; he provided his usual athletic spark and gave good pressure when the Cats pressed late in the second half. Willie said that he has to keep reminding himself that the pain in his left knee isn’t coming back and that he can go harder. Cal said that Cauley-Stein’s effort was “unbelievable” and that he wants more of his players to emulate it. Does this mean more bow ties? Please?
— Per usual, Nerlens Noel turned in a solid performance with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks. In fact, Noel broke the 100-mark in blocks, accumulating a total of 102 for the season. Along with Anthony Davis, he’s the only UK player to block over 100 shots, and ranks third in the SEC behind Davis and Shaquille O’Neal for most blocks by an SEC freshman. The only bad part of Nerlens’ performance? He continues to shank it from the free throw stripe, going 0-3 on the night. Calipari isn’t worried: “He has that will to win. If the game is on the line, he will make them.”
— Not wholly satisfied with the Cats’ performance tonight? Neither was Cal: “We shoot 60 percent, hold them to 28 percent and I’m not happy. I must be a jerk. I’ve been called worse.” Not by us, surely.
— Frank Martin wasn’t happy either. Have you ever seen him so subdued? When asked why he was so calm in the second half, Martin said “If my guys aren’t playing, I don’t see any reason why I should be losing my mind out there.” Martin was so critical of his team’s performance that he said they “just got out of their way and let them practice their dunking.”
It’s okay, Frank. I’m sure Mr. Worldwide has some wisdom for these moments.
— Although he had a quiet game with only 5 points and 6 rebounds, Kyle Wiltjer has been a catalyst for this squad’s performance since the Vandy game. After the game, Calipair said the energy in practice is completely different than it was two weeks ago, all thanks to Wiltjer.
— For the umpteenth game in a row, Alex Poythress showed us bits of Beast Mode, going 2-9 from the field for 7 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Cal said that Alex remains a work-in-progress: “Second half, you miss two dunks, you’re out. What’s wrong? You tell me you’re tired? Your leg hurts, your toenails what is it? You missed two dunks. You’ve got to come out.”
— Ryan Harrow was neither excellent nor exasperating, putting up 12 points, 4 assists and only 1 turnover in 25 minutes of play. When asked about Ryan’s play, Cal said that Ryan needs to shed his laid-back exterior and touch his teammates more. Tell me that isn’t as creepy as it sounds, Cal? “We’re talking to him all the time about the best point guards in the NBA and the best point guards in college basketball are always touching their teammates, just touch. I mean, physically, you touch them all the time. You’re always near them. You’re touching them. You’re talking to them. We’re trying to get them in that mode. It’s just not natural for him.”
“MEN LIKE BEING AROUND MEN!”
— To show you just how boring things got, the most pressing question from tonight’s game (aside from “Who is Linda Myers?”) was: why isn’t Cal wearing ties anymore? Cal said he was starting to sweat through them and that his wife likes him without one, and as any good husband would say, “I care about my wife.” He also joked that he might grow a beard. No, Cal…just, no.
— No one loves a conspiracy theory more than John Calipari. The Super Bowl power outage came up in the postgame press conference (why wouldn’t it?), with Cal claiming that had the Cats been playing, haters ’round the world would be breaking out their conspiracy theories: “What if that happened to us? You know it would have been a conspiracy.” It must have been MKG, in the mechanical room, with the candlestick.
— You know what? Less talking and more sleeping. We have a big day tomorrow. Enjoy these highlights of the game, courtesy of KyWildcatsTV: