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6 Leftovers From a Statement Win Over Duke

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

After 48 hours of fun and a white-knuckled flight home, I am back in Nashville. I’ve been on a lot of fun trips the past few years, but watching Kentucky beat down Duke in a city full of Cats fans definitely ranks high on the list. Add in two five-star commitments in a 24-hour span — three in six days if you count De’Aaron Fox — and this may go down as one of the better weeks of the Calipari Era, which is really saying something. Before I surrender to my Tempurpedic mattress, here are some thoughts on it all.

It was Tyler Ulis’ night

On a night most predicted would be Jamal or Skal’s coming out party, Tyler stole the spotlight. After splitting time with Andrew Harrison last season, Ulis showcased that he’s the captain now, turning in 18 points, 6 assists and 0 turnovers in 40 minutes (that’s right–he played the whole game). As a result, the rest of the world is finally catching on to how special he is and after the game, Coach K all but got down and worshipped at his feet. I don’t think he was just being gracious in defeat, either; Coach K seemed genuinely impressed by Ulis, calling him a winner with a heart five times bigger than most. We all know how great Tyler is, but sometimes it takes hearing it from somebody else — one of the most respected names in the sport, nonetheless — to fully appreciate it.

Beating Duke is the best

There’s just something special about Kentucky vs. Duke. College basketball doesn’t get more elite than it did during last night’s showdown of the defending national champions and the team that should have been the defending national champions. Two Hall of Fame coaches, a long and loaded history, enough five-stars to fill a galaxy, and fans who care more about the sport than anything else. Add in the United Center and a national audience and it was a BIG NIGHT, which is why it was so satisfying to see Kentucky step up to the plate and kick some ass. After a rocky start, the Cats ran circles around Duke, looking every bit the superior squad. After 1992, that will never get old.  I’m not going to say beating Duke is more fun than beating Louisville, but after dealing with their fans all over Chicago, it might be 1A.

What Wisconsin game?

Okay, maybe that’s reaching a bit too far, but if last night’s win did anything for me, it exorcised last year’s demons. With every Tyler Ulis dish, Jamal Murray drive, or Marcus Lee dunk, I moved further past last season’s heartache. Gone are the flashbacks to that numb night in Indianapolis and the depressing drive home. In its place are no-look passes, dipsy-doos, lobs, and dunks. Only so many things can get a fanbase like the BBN off the floor after last season, but this team is fun enough to do it.

© Dennis Wierzbicki

© Dennis Wierzbicki

More fun to watch than last year?

Listen, few things will top last season. The Bahamas trip, seven NBA players, platoons, the Kansas and UCLA beatdowns, Willie’s slams, Karl, Devin, all of it was amazing. Kentucky didn’t just beat teams, they crushed them behind three seven-footers and an impenetrable defense. In terms of style, it wasn’t always the prettiest or most exciting basketball to watch; it’s certainly not as pretty or exciting as what’s happening on the court with this group. Last year, the Cats pounded teams with a sledgehammer; this year, they’re picking locks with precision. Sometimes it’s sloppy and yeah, they can definitely improve in the post, but give me that trio of scrappy guards over anyone. If it takes a loss or two to figure it out, so be it. As we learned, perfection can be overrated.

When Worldwide Wes wants the bar to stay open, it stays open

After watching the end of Michigan State/Kansas, we headed to the team hotel bar for a nightcap. The team has already left town, but plenty of movers and shakers were still there, making for some excellent people watching. Even though bars in Chicago don’t close until 2 a.m. or so, the staff at the bar called last call around midnight, which did not sit well with one Worldwide Wes. Wes and his well-dressed posse rolled in and, when they heard the bar was getting ready to close, took action.

“Let’s see if we can keep this party going,” Wes said, strolling up to the bar with resolve. Minutes later, servers started circulating again, as did Wes, who bought a round for every UK fan in the bar. All while talking on a beat up flip phone circa 1998.

A statement was made

What a week. In the past six days, Kentucky has landed three five-star recruits and beaten one of its arch rivals who just so happens to be the defending national champion. Duke was riding a wave of momentum into this season that had some pundits hitting send a little too early on their “Coach K is beating Calipari at his own game” columns (looking at you, Ian O’Connor).

Last night, Kentucky made a statement. Even though they didn’t win the title last year and lost seven players to the NBA, the Cats’ dominating win over Duke reminded the country that Kentucky is still the most important program in college basketball. This morning, Calipari’s newly-minted #1 recruiting class reminded everyone they’re likely to stay that way, too.


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.

16 Comments for 6 Leftovers From a Statement Win Over Duke

  1. KevinM
    8:30 pm November 18, 2015 Permalink

    MTT/Drew, I think its time you pulled out the Swaggy Cal pics. Coach is hotter than butter on a baked potato!

  2. plumloopy
    8:42 pm November 18, 2015 Permalink

    Any links to the #1 class ranking? Scout still had us at #2 when I looked this afternoon.

  3. AaronsBalls
    8:48 pm November 18, 2015 Permalink

    There are only 6 leftovers here. You owe us one

    • Mrs. Tyler Thompson
      8:50 pm November 18, 2015 Permalink

      D’oh. Whoops. Another: Rosebud on Rush is one of the best restaurants in Chicago.

    • ukjaybrat
      7:44 am November 19, 2015 Permalink

      lol. i didn’t even notice until i got here. good call AaronsBalls

  4. UK Big Board Update
    11:36 pm November 18, 2015 Permalink

    cats paw November 17, 2015 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
    Like It (0)
    but ill help you all out here for future knowledge. if Duke plays us again, pick Duke! they will not miss that many 3’s again. Hate all u wish but i can fill this thread full of my predictions that are generally 100% on! and thats why i get under your skin so much!!

    • ukjaybrat
      7:46 am November 19, 2015 Permalink

      wow, he was right about the getting under our skin… but mostly because he’s obnoxious and flat out wrong. and pretending to be a uk fan…

  5. Angelo
    11:46 pm November 18, 2015 Permalink

    Nice work Tyler!!!

  6. Leuther
    11:46 pm November 18, 2015 Permalink

    Mrs, TT – Ya gotta love http://WWW...

    • Leuther
      11:48 pm November 18, 2015 Permalink

      Ya gotta love World Wide Wes…

    • UK Big Board Update
      12:01 am November 19, 2015 Permalink

      I’d rather him than Andre McGee…. lol 😉

  7. UK Big Board Update
    12:13 am November 19, 2015 Permalink

    Stives November 16, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Permalink | Reply
    Like It (0)
    Believe Duke wins this game. Not there yet on defense. Different result if played later in season.

    54Meeks November 16, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink
    Like It (0)
    You are a fool. Stives is making a prediction based on his opinion and what he’s seen from both teams. Duke was playing walk-ons/3rd stringers for over half of the 2nd half in both games.This has nothing to do with pride. If all you want is pride and no rationality go watch the football team go sub .500 season after season with the rest of the hopeless homers.

    WatchinginCali November 16, 2015 at 3:19 pm | Permalink | Reply
    Like It (0)
    Duke by 9. Too much outside shooting for the (current state) perimeter defense. Skal is good, not great. Jamal is bad early, strong late. AP is a no-show and Lee in foul trouble, so we lose the rebounding battle. I think this team will take awhile to come together. Will be strong late in the year.

    cats paw November 17, 2015 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
    Like It (0)
    but ill help you all out here for future knowledge. if Duke plays us again, pick Duke! they will not miss that many 3’s again. Hate all u wish but i can fill this thread full of my predictions that are generally 100% on! and thats why i get under your skin so much!!

    And here is your winner for comment that couldn’t have been any more incorrect….

    54Meeks November 16, 2015 at 3:33 pm | Permalink | Reply
    Like It (0)
    How the Cats win:
    Guards hit open perimeter shots/Contain Brandon Ingram. Skal stays out of foul trouble. Bench (Poythress, Willis, Matthews) plays very well.
    How the Cats lose:
    No answer on defense for Brandon Ingram. Lots of fouls are called but Duke has deeper/more talented bench. Skal/Lee get in early foul trouble which leaves no one to protect the rim and Humphries will struggle trying to guard Duke in pick and rolls.

    Duke 77- Cats 68

  8. RC
    8:40 am November 19, 2015 Permalink

    I’ve watched big chunks of UNC’s first 3 games (as I live in NC) and let me say this- without Marcus Paige they are nowhere near the #1 team in America. I really wish we played them this year. Our schedule is loaded. No matter what happens in March with this team we’ll definitely be prepared.
    Go Cats!