Thirty-five point wins are usually snooze fests, but not with this team. Kentucky beat UT-Martin 111-76 in one of the more fun “cupcake games” I can remember. Kentucky did everything Kentucky does well: fly down the floor, punish the Skyhawks in transition, and score lots and lots of points. How ridiculous was tonight’s win? Kentucky crossed the 100-point mark with 8:12 left in the game, and by the end, scored more points than any team in the Calipari Era. As Cal said afterwards, “We were good today.”
Let’s break it down.
1. Malik Monk had his own dunk contest in the second half
Malik Monk put on a show around the 15-minute mark in the second half, throwing down two tremendous dunks back-to-back:
The Malik Monk Show ðŸŽ¥ pic.twitter.com/24GvzcZRfD
– Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) November 26, 2016
Monk finished with a career-high 26 points (10-17) and seven assists. He started the game off cold from the outside, but eventually warmed up, hitting two threes; however, everyone will be talking about his dunks in the morning. Kid is a freak of nature, and college basketball is taking notice.
“I don’t think it’s any secret how athletic Malik is,” UT-Martin coach Anthony Stewart said. “Right now, the way he’s playing, it’s pick your poison.”
“What I love about Malik, he want from an antsy player to being comfortable on the court,” Cal said. “He was really good today, like, holy cow. Like, okay.”
2. Bam Adebayo punished the rims and owned the boards
Bam had 15 points and 12 rebounds, only his second double-double of the season. It seems odd to say this about a player like Bam, but you can tell he’s still finding his way in the post, struggling at times to finish, but when he gets a path to the basket, watch out:
– Dave Scott (@Finna_Go_HAM) November 26, 2016
3. Isaiah Briscoe sat out a second straight game
After taking a hard fall and injuring his back vs. Duquesne, Isaiah Briscoe sat out a second straight game tonight; however, to be fair, he didn’t do a lot of sitting. Like he did vs. Cleveland State, Briscoe spent most of the game on his feet coaching and cheering on his teammates. Calipari said Briscoe will get an MRI tonight because they’re surprised his back is still bothering him. Cross your fingers for good results.
Speaking of injuries…
4. Derek Willis sprained his right thumb
Willis had to leave the game early in the second half with a hand injury, which Calipari said is a sprained thumb on his right hand. No word on the severity yet.
5. Everyone ate
Six Kentucky players finished in double figures: Monk (26), Fox (16), Bam (15), Gabriel (15), Killeya-Jones (12) and Mulder (12). In a stat that should make John Calipari happy, the Cats had twice as many assists (24) as turnovers (12). And just think, all of this is happening without one of the Cats’ best floor generals in Isaiah Briscoe.
6. Wenyen Gabriel had another great game
Gabriel got the starting nod over Derek Willis tonight and played like it, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds. The more I see of Gabriel, the more I like him. The more I see of him, the more I also think he’ll be gone after this year. He’s that good.
7. Dominique Hawkins played like a man fighting for a spot in the rotation
Hawkins started in place of Briscoe tonight and made the most of the opportunity, turning in six points, nine assists (a career high), four rebounds, one steal, and only one turnover. In the past few games, Mychal Mulder has moved past Hawkins in the rotation, but Dominique made a case for himself tonight, especially on the defensive end. Hawkins could be Kentucky’s best perimeter defender, and was so pesky on defense at one point that he got kicked in the face by accident.
“I definitely take pride in my defense,” Hawkins said. “I have confidence I can guard the best player.”
Mulder played well today too, hitting 4-5 threes. He even defended and rebounded, which Calipari said means he can keep him in.
8. Believe it or not, Kentucky didn’t start the game well
Blame it on the turkey if you want, but Kentucky was sluggish out of the gates tonight, letting the Skyhawks stick around for a good part of the first half. You have to give UT-Martin credit though; the Skyhawks were NOT scared by the bright lights at Rupp, hitting all sorts of shots early on and giving Kentucky a little bit of a fit with their zone, which Calipari said he was happy his team got to face.
“What [UT] Martin plays is zone. They play all kind of different zones,” Cal said. “They got our best today. The way we moved today – look, I kind of like coaching against zone.”
Of course, the Skyhawks had no chance once Kentucky kicked it into another gear.
9. The second half was the most fun I’ve had watching Kentucky basketball since the 2014-15 season
As Kentucky fans, we’ve been spoiled with good basketball, especially during the Calipari era. The second half tonight was probably the most fun I’ve had watching a team since the 38-1 season, and even then, this team’s style of play is way more fun than that group’s. The schedule’s about to get real — as Calipari noted, the next four games will be infinitely more difficult than the last four — but there’s no denying that Kentucky looks really good right now. In fact, tonight, this team became the first since 1947-48 to win its first six games by 21 points or more.
Calipari put it best when he ended his postgame presser by leaning into the mic and telling reporters, “I LOVE my team.”
And it’s only November.
10. The team leaves for the Bahamas bright and early tomorrow morning
We’ll also be up bright and early to get you ready for the Louisville game. Catch some winks and we’ll see you in the morning. We’ve got a football game to win.