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7 notes from one we can forget

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

What happened to cute, nerdy Columbia? The Ivy Leaguers were supposed to show up in their peacoats and leather satchels and look around Rupp Arena with wide eyes before retreating to the locker room in fear. That didn’t happen. Even without a vendetta, the nerds were out for revenge tonight, giving the Cats way more trouble than we anticipated. Kentucky eventually won 56-46, but it was far from the easy rout we had in mind. What was the Cats’ deal tonight? Let’s break it down.

Columbia was no cupcake

I’ll take the blame, I thought they were. Hell, I even used a cupcake graphic on the site earlier today; however, I don’t think anyone expected the Lions to sprint out to an 11-0 start. And I really don’t think many people expected Columbia to stick around for most of the game. The Lions clearly weren’t scared by the stage and 23,000+ in Rupp tonight; instead of spooking at the spotlight, they jumped in and sang a few show tunes.

We knew heading into game that Columbia was going to try to slow the game down, and they pretty much controlled the tempo in the first half. Most teams attack Kentucky from the outside, and Columbia certainly did that, making 8 of 25 threes, which Cal said surprised him. “The tape I watched, they hadn’t been great three‑point shooting team. And they started the game like they were on fire. It was 11‑0 to start the game,” Cal said.

What set Columbia apart from most of UK’s foes so far was their fearlessness in the post. Whereas most teams wet their pants when the look into the lane at UK’s bigs, Columbia wasn’t scared to get in there and fight for points and rebounds. “But here’s the other thing that kind of surprised me: They, they fought us in the post. And they fought more than our guys fought,” Cal said. “They kept us away from offensive rebounds that we could get, except for Trey, everyone else just accepted being pushed and that was it.”

Where was the energy?

UK has rarely started a game well this season. That trend was magnified tonight when UK let Columbia jump out to an 11-0 start. Caliapari seemed disgusted with his team’s lack of energy, which he said the platoon system has masked all season. “I was disappointed in the energy level,” Cal said. “That’s what the platoons have done for us. It hides all that, because instead of getting seven minutes of that, you get two.” During his radio show, Cal said he saw “signs of last year” on the floor tonight, and I’m pretty sure he meant the regular season version and not the postseason version.

Player of the game: Trey Lyles

After what I’m sure was an entertaining halftime pep talk, Kentucky was much more energetic to start the second half. What was the difference? According to Cal, Trey Lyles. “The reason I started him at half: motor. Him, he’s going. He’s starting,” Cal said of Trey, who finished with 7 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and enough hustle to fuel Calipari’s Vespa. “I thought Trey was outstanding today…He was REALLY good. Great motor, great motor.”

Other Cats picked up on Trey’s lead, including Willie Cauley-Stein, Derek Willis, and Marcus Lee. “In the second half, I thought they fought,” Cal said.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Postgame show player of the game: Derek Willis

That roar you heard across the Bluegrass in the second half was KSR postgame callers rejoicing; with Devin Booker out, it was finally Derek Willis’ time to shine. Derek has balked at opportunities at times this season, which Calipari criticized him for before the game, but today, he was ready. Derek had five points, including a huge three to push the lead to a comfortable margin with four minutes left. “What Derek did was show me ‘don’t be afraid to play me.’ Now I’m not. I’m not afraid to play him,” Cal said. “Derek was really good, defensively active, played with confidence. I thought Derek was outstanding.”

What spurred Derek on tonight? He told reporters he pretends every team is “trying to take your job or your money or your girlfriend.”

About the shooting…

Ten games in, it is not a fluke: the Cats can’t hit the broad side of a barn right now. On a team with so many great shooters and so many missed shots, what’s the problem? Calipari said Kentucky’s defense is too good at bailing the offense out. “That’s what’s kind of crazy about this. There’s no pressure for you to make them. It just makes the game a little easier on the rest of us if you do,” Cal said. He did acknowledge UK’s shooting problems as of late, joking that at the rate they’re missing shots, they need to be practicing on the blue courts and not in the Joe Craft Center; however, he’s still not worried. “If we go 10 of 17 against a team from the three, you know what that score is going to be. It’s going to be really ugly.” Also, he asked fans to please not send him any letters about the shooting woes. He knows. He’s got this.

Despite leading the team in scoring with 14 tonight, Aaron told reporters this was the game that showed him he needs to get back in the gym for more practice. “Tonight was it,” Aaron said. Leave the light on for him tonight, boys.

If Tyler and Devin don’t practice tomorrow, they’re not playing on Saturday

Of course, part of UK’s lackluster performance tonight may be due to the absence of Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker. KSR is hearing that Ulis has a small limp and Booker has a shoulder issue, with Ulis the more likely of the two to be ready in time for the game. Calipari said that if Tyler and Devin don’t practice tomorrow, they won’t play against the Tarheels on Saturday.

Send all of your healing vibes to the Joe Craft Center ASAP.

Keep calm and crush the Heels

If UK plays like this against UNC, UCLA, or Louisville, then let’s start getting worried; however, I don’t see that happening. Calipari parrot says that these games are everybody’s Super Bowl, and yes, sometimes the players have trouble getting as hyped up for teams like Columbia as they do for teams like Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville, etc. “I’m happy with my team and I’m happy this happened today. It shows us,” Cal said, tweeting later “Not one of our better efforts. Reverted a little bit but don’t overanalyze, BBN.”

Now, let’s go crush the Heels.

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.

24 Comments for 7 notes from one we can forget

  1. UK Big Board Update
    10:30 pm December 10, 2014 Permalink

    From our delusional little brother up the road:

    “UK is not beatable?
    I never have bought the hype. Of course they are talented. If we hit 70% from the free throw line we win. I read in another post that UK would have a game plan that would including trying to bully us. I cant say whether they will try that or not, but what I will say is that if they do that will last about as long as the blink of an eye. I actually think it might be the other way around.

    The cant shoot.
    They arent great free throw shooters
    They are as bad of three throw shooters as we are.
    We play better defense.

    If you think different convince me please try. UK is probably a bit better than most years but most of it is hype.

    I know many of you on here have an inferiority complex when it comes to UK and will come up with all these well thought out reasons why they win, but before you post go back and read the four posts I wrote above. I say lace up the sneakers and lets play. Only 4 out of 10 games someone suggested. Well you are smoking crack. 50/50 at worst.”

    Dear Tards,

    Bless your hearts. Never change.


    • J-Dub421
      9:36 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

      If U of L fans think their team is better defensively than we are, then they are truly delusional. Go look at all the numbers. We have the best defense in the country according to pretty much every statistic.

    • WillySpankit
      10:50 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

      “We play better defense.”- Better defense than a team that is on course to be the best defensive team in history? Yeah, okay.

      “UK is probably a bit better than most years but most of it is hype.”- And UK beats Louisville most years.

  2. rainman
    10:56 pm December 10, 2014 Permalink

    Thats enough reason right there!

  3. cats paw
    10:56 pm December 10, 2014 Permalink

    Yes most Tard fans are delusional, much like most cat fans are! There are NO teams (college or professional) that win 40 games in a row!! There are no teams that can consistently shoot, defend and be on a roll every game all year long. Having better talent doesn’t equal winning every game. Fans live and die by the last game (either we’re going 40-0 or we will get killed if we don’t shoot better). Just accept we will lose a couple games but hopefully be on a roll and win the last one we play! We very well could lose to UL, Fla, and NC if we have an off day or they are on fire, regardless if we have the better team or not.

    • UK Big Board Update
      11:15 pm December 10, 2014 Permalink


    • UK Big Board Update
      11:21 pm December 10, 2014 Permalink

      UCLA won 88 in a row at one point.
      UCONN women won 90 games in a row between 2008 and 2010 – so shut up, you are retarded.
      No intelligent fan EXPECTS this team to go 40-0, but to say it CAN NOT happen is juvenile.

    • winagain1
      11:30 pm December 10, 2014 Permalink

      I agree with CatsPaw. As much as a dream come true it would be to go 40-0..
      That task is so hard to accomplish it skates on the realm of impossibility. I think the Indiana team that went undefeated back in the day had a couple last second miracle finishes… I believe we can do it, but playing and definitely shooting like we are now?? No way. That being said.. If we do I’ll be in my glory as a UK fan because I’ve always wanted to see an undefeated UK national championship team.

    • WillySpankit
      10:44 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

      In all fairness, there are like 5 UK fans that actually think that we will go undefeated. Most realize that it is possible, but not likely. Most of the people who have said anything about it have been in the media, not the average UK fan.

  4. Leuther
    11:22 pm December 10, 2014 Permalink

    Nice summary, Mrs TT!

  5. Casper
    12:27 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

    without Tyler and Booker we can be in real trouble…

  6. plumloopy
    1:07 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

    I admit, it’s hard to imagine we can only manage 56 points, on our home floor, against Columbia and be the #1 team in the land. I hope it’s essentially motivation and hope we are a better shooting team. I recall another recent, great team that had a cold night and lost in the Elite 8 to WVU.

    • Casper
      1:43 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

      With Tyler we would have been Ok. He is a superstar and can change the game. We need him back ASAP…. Cal needs to keep sick kids away from the other players.

    • buttercup
      8:04 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

      Think the other players are catching Ulis’ limp?

    • Catsby80
      10:03 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

      dude… we beat Kansas by 32 on a neutral floor. this UK team is fine. It is SO difficult to get up and stay focused on a team like Columbia when you have UNC rolling in town this weekend. Just relax and let the good times roll. We saw this cats team do a special thing in Indy against Kansas so we know they are capable. Just let it happen, baby!

  7. RexRox
    5:29 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

    Hopefully, these were just very minor illnesses/injuries and Cal was erring on the side of caution. The whole team seemed to be in slow motion. Ulis has been able to singlehandedly snap them out of this a couple times this season already. As for loserville, Cal has always had his UK teams ready for that game, winning six of seven. The lone loss was Cal’s worst team versus rikki’s best team on their home floor, and even then only losing by three.

    Harrell might be the most overrated player in America, leading the nation in posturing, flexing and primal screams. In their first game, he hits 3/4 three pointers and 9/10 free throws. Since then, he is 0/10 three pointers and 22/44 free throws. People make too much of the fact that he has so many dunks. I mean, what 6’8″ player can’t dunk? I don’t see him being a big factor against the Cats. He can be neutralized by WCS. Throw in the fact that their other three decent players are all undersized.

    The UK team we saw last night is NOT the one we will see on the 27th. I think UNC is a greater concern than loserville.

    • Catsby80
      10:04 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

      primal screams! hahahahah I lost it on that one.. well done, sir.

  8. rockatao
    7:34 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

    isn’t the UNC game on Saturday?

  9. symphonist41169
    8:06 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

    I believe the shooting woes exist because the shooters haven’t HAD to shoot the ball well with the 7’0, 7’0, and 6’11 front line we have. They haven’t gotten a rhythm yet because they haven’t had to. It’s just like the first 2 or 3 of times you play golf in the Spring. You may be a pretty good golfer but because you haven’t played since the Fall you over-think it and don’t have a natural rhythm to your swing, reverting back bad habits that produce slicing, hooking, and shanking chip shots. The shooters will get their rhythm back by the time it counts and when they do there won’t be a college team IN THE COUNTRY that can stay with them because the front line isn’t going to regress just because the shooters improve. The game tonight showed me how ingenious the platoon system really is for this team & when it’s shaken up due to injury or illness the whole chemistry is upset. Relax, this team will be just fine. 40-0? Doubtful, but it sure is a lot of fun to think about the possibility.

  10. buttercup
    8:11 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

    Good post, Tyler. You are the best writer on here, and should tutor some of the young pups.

    So, most reasonable people will tell you 40-0 is very unlikely. Yet, when we come (relatively) close to losing one (ONLY WON BY 10! OMG!!!), people freak out. That game is a prime example of how it happens. Do you really think Michigan is worse than NJIT? Do you really think Indiana is wor…nevermind.

    This is reminder – please listen to your reasonable, sober selves and let this team develop. Our ultimate goal is not December wins.

  11. BTownUKFan
    8:34 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

    If you had been listening to Tom Leach and Mike Pratt you would know Columbia plays slow, which means less opportunities to score. The team did a pretty good job of playing defense through the entire shot clock the last 8 minutes of the game. How many shot clock violations did they have? At least 5. That is what Cal wanted out of this game. The shots will start falling, we have too many good shooters on the team for it to last.

    • blubo
      9:11 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

      they had more shot clock violations than we to’s.

  12. Frank Dux
    8:49 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

    Columbia is the #3 scoring defense in the country, so it’s no surprise we didn’t score a lot. What is surprising is how we continue to get good open looks and miss them badly.

  13. catfan74
    8:52 am December 11, 2014 Permalink

    The Platoon system does some great things, allows people to go all out, and play hard, but shooters need rhythm. I know we all been surprised when a person is heralded for “hit the big shot right off the bench”, Shooters need rhythm, and the 4 minute sprints up the floor are great for driving and throwing lobs, and do not effect the big men game at all, but it is an absolute killer for outside jump shooters. Because your time on the floor is limited, outside shooters feel pressured to “get shots” and do not set their feet and follow through. I think they will adjust and become a “decent” shooting team, but the platoon does not coincide with great shooting. It allows for great defense, but as soon as a guy gets “in the flow” he’s pulled out and sits down for 4-5 minutes