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Are we down on the Cats or high on Bubba Parham?

Kentucky’s Sunday night game against VMI was closer than anyone expected. The Cats entered the game as a 34-point favorite out in the desert, against a team ranked last in the SoCon preseason poll, but had to fight until the very end to escape with a victory in Rupp Arena.

The game gave fans reason to worry about Kentucky’s young team, but it also gave us an opposing player who will be remembered for years: Bubba Parham.

The 5-foot-11 Parham scored 35 points against the much more talented Wildcats, well above his average of 18 points per game. It’s a new career-high for the sophomore from Georgia and it’s a performance that puts Parham’s name among the likes of David Robinson, Elston Turner and Chris Jackson, who have three of the best games by an opposing player in Rupp Arena. The Admiral went for 45 in Rupp in 1987; Turner dropped 40 in a Texas A&M upset in 2013; and Jackson had 41 for LSU in 1990. Parham’s career day isn’t too far behind.

If only he could’ve found one more three-point make, Parham would’ve matched Rupp Arena’s highs for three-pointers made and attempted. He hit 10 of his 16 tries, just a shot short of the record 11 made (Corey Allmond, Sam Houston State, 2009) and 17 attempted by an opponent.

As a team, VMI went 19 for 38 from outside, which is a record for the most three-pointers by an opposing team in Rupp Arena. It’s a stat that suggests Kentucky’s defense didn’t close out on shooters, but sometimes a team is just scorching hot, and that was the case Sunday night. Many of the Keydets’ outside shots were over outstretched hands. I think one of Parham’s almost hit the air duct in the ceiling before finding the net. It was an incredible display of shooting by the enemy.

UK assistant Kenny Payne wasn’t amused, though. After the game, he said, “Historically, we’ve been one of the best three-point defenses in the country. When a team comes in here and knows their only way of beating us is from the three-point line, it’s a little bit discouraging.”

So there’s the question for fans: How discouraged are we by UK’s performance?

It was predicted to be a rout, but VMI hung around for 40 minutes. On one hand, we can sit back and admire what we witnessed by Parham and his teammates… because it was something to see. But on the other hand, it’s another game that has us wondering what kind of team Kentucky is.

It wasn’t good enough for Payne. We know that much. He was very disappointed in how Kentucky defended VMI’s shooters. Free throw shooting (29-for-35) and rebounding (43-26) were two positive takeaways he named in the postgame interview, but it wasn’t the defense of a potential championship team, he said.

A few other positive takeaways are PJ Washington’s performance. He had 19 points and 18 rebounds to lead his team for a second straight game. It’s good to see he is back on track. UK also got good things out of Quade Green and Reid Travis, while cutting down on turnovers as a team.

We should probably have more of a Kenny Payne mindset and be discouraged that Kentucky couldn’t stop the shooting. But having been there to witness it, I can’t help but give a lot of credit to VMI for its hot hand.

Consider my a Bubba Parham fan, but also a little bit concerned about Kentucky at this point in the year.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

25 Comments for Are we down on the Cats or high on Bubba Parham?



  1. michaelb
    8:54 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

    I want a Bubba Parm jersey !
    Hey this team has to drive coach completely nutzo. Defense is nothing more than an afterthought with this team . Especially the back court d. These guys don’t even care either . It shows that it clearly doesn’t bother them to watch a player do whatever he wishes .



  2. Bigblue7982
    8:55 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

    I’m not down on our cats bubba couldn’t miss even hitting stupid contested 3’s.



  3. N-UR-i
    8:56 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

    We just aren’t a great team. We will struggle in conference and be a bubble team no one wants to play in the tournament…..again



  4. michaelb
    8:57 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

    If we didn’t hit our free throws this woulda been a big fat “L”



  5. michaelb
    9:05 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

    These guys are just not concerned about defense @ the perimeter. How does cal let them get by with that ? Anyone can clearly see that it doesn’t even bother them. for the people that say “they were just on fire “. I’m not just talking about this game . They also slashed to the front of the rim tonight 30% of the time as well. Gotta understand 1/2 of our opponents are “on fire” when they play us . Gotta figure something out . Coach always does though , it will eventually work itself out



    • ClutchCargo
      12:10 am November 19, 2018 Permalink

      You realize it’s November, right? We’ll be fine.



  6. Jiminy Crickets
    9:12 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

    It’s cool for a 5-11 guy to get hot, but if UK is a top-anything team you shut him down, keep ball out of his hands, make him run and fight to his spots. Nope he had ball any time he wanted it, and no one that guarded him thought getting in his face was a good idea. They played off him to prevent him driving, while he kept jacking up 3s



    • Truth_Hurts
      9:20 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

      Yes a lot of people in the comments are not realizing this. They’re just like he was really hot. There was a reason he was so hot and it was poor defense.



    • michaelb
      9:39 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

      Yep



    • Jiminy Crickets
      7:14 am November 19, 2018 Permalink

      Take him off the team, the rest of that VMI team that lost to Pitt by 40 still hit 9 threes. It was a pitiful defense, that allowed him to get hot and go crazy, not the other way around. I never said sky was falling. The question of the article was more impressed with him, or worried about D. After 4 games I’m not worried about the D, I’m straight scared for it



    • ClutchCargo
      12:12 am November 19, 2018 Permalink

      I was a freshman at UK in 1986. We have been lit up by a visiting player each and every season since before then. The sky isn’t falling.



    • BBNDan7
      6:04 am November 19, 2018 Permalink

      The 38-1 team got lit up by Stephan Moody, the John Wall team got lit up by that kid from South Carolina. It happens, people are allowed to have crazy games.



  7. Aar
    9:38 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

    First, i’m now a huge Bubba Parham fan! That young man was grinning from ear to ear in the postgame interviews. I hope there are many great things in his future.

    As far as the Cats, I ain’t concerned. The tougher they have it now, the better they’ll be in January, February and March. This will not be a record setting team but I really enjoying watching them develop as players and as a team. The lest 5 minutes of the first half was the first “UK Basketball” of the season. Much has already been said of the 3 best players of the evening. I loved the progress made by Johnson and Montgomery, too. Yes, it was Johnson’s worst statistical game but, man, did he defend – both 1:1 and team. Then he was gassed and never recovered. He just learned how much more fit he has to be at this level. Likewise, I hadn’t seen Montgomery sweat yet. Tonight, he played hard on both ends and was gassed after 3 minutes. 3 blocks, hard fought rebounds and lots of hustle in the first half. Add Herro as the 3rd Frosh who learned about conditioning at this level today. He’s learning how to get open but didn’t have the legs under him to get off quality shots. All three will be in shape by mid-December. It’s no coincidence that the best three players on the floor against a Princeton-derived, pass-intensive offense were veterans.

    Despite Unconscious Bubba Pelham, I thought the Cats’ individual and team defense made good progress with all of the bad, late clock VMI shots today. It was too bad that so many “threes with a prayer” dropped for them. Just another great learning opportunity for these Cats.



  8. chris43
    9:39 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

    We just aren’t very good right now. Doesn’t even look like the same team from the Bahamas. Hoping they get it together soon or it’s going to be a long season. I truly think the talent is there BUT there isn’t enough effort, ball movement, defense, and team ball.



  9. henderblue
    10:50 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

    Not worried. It’s early. We get everyone’s best shot. We’ll be fine



  10. Chacosrule
    11:23 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

    I was there, and this looks like a round of 32 team. Hopefully I’m wrong as usual.



  11. makeitstop
    11:28 pm November 18, 2018 Permalink

    I’m not worried yet… the straight line drives and inability to get over a screen are troubling bc we have some guys who allegedly have been there before. Problem is we saw the Bahamas and thought “just like 2015” and clearly the competition wasn’t the same. They’ll be good. But there isn’t a KAT or Booker (or Fox) on this team, and it’s a good test of what life after one and done will look like. Bunch of good ball players who will make NBA rosters but no stars. Good enough to win in college? Should be. I think.



  12. RH980
    12:14 am November 19, 2018 Permalink

    I’m down on this team but mainly down on Cal. Can’t believe there’d come a day I would say I wish Pitino was coaching these guys. The dribble drive is a joke. Short of having Wall, Fox, Bledsoe…the shit doesn’t work. Quickley, Hagans not Green are not fast enough to beat any team to the basket. Moreover most every Cal team can’t shoot. Thank goodness we were home with the Rupp refs to bail us out tonight. 35 Fts to like 5 or 6 for them. What a joke. Yes they shot most of the time from the outside but this UK team is nowhere near that careful in their defense.
    Again Cal’s team are almost always lacking in shooters. When we match up against a team with size we are usually outmatched bc we can’t shoot and rely on rebounding and easy lay ups/dunks to win. PJ is still not adept at using the glass and overall has little touch around the basket. He was 6/12 with basically no shots outside 6’. Herro gambles and misses most of the time. The trio of Hagans Montgomery and Quickley are abysmal shooters. Tonight Cal started Herro, Montgomery and Quickley. I’m not sure if he did that to get them more playing time bc it was against a mid major team or bc of the merit they showed in practice but they couldn’t have been much worse. Collectively they went 3/15 for 17 total pts, had 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Zion Williamson meanwhile was 10/12 the other night with 10 rebounds and 2 assists. Zion > 3 of our freshmen combined. Meanwhile Quade and Reid Travis played great coming off the bench. Off the bench!!!!
    So again I’m mostly down on Cal. We will be another middling team once conference play starts up – we’ll hit a “stride” in “late Feb/March in time fo get a 4 seed and lose in the Elite Eight — all with the second best recruiting class for this year and also two leftover guys from the second best recruiting class of last year.
    It could certinaly be worse in the grand scheme of things but it’s just a bit depressing…to know we are so overmatched in talent and coaching by Duke.

    Consider me unimpressed. I would love to be wrong and I will gladly eat crow should we began to shoot well.



    • 4everUKblue
      6:59 am November 19, 2018 Permalink

      We have some of the best fans in the country and then we have fans like this one. I doubt seriously if anyone cares if you’re impressed or not RH.



    • zoupman
      7:42 am November 19, 2018 Permalink

      Cats will be fine. Cal is a tremendous coach. I was at the game, dude was throwing up rainbows with guys on him.



  13. Brad
    4:06 am November 19, 2018 Permalink

    Every year early in the year we struggle with straight line drives and by march every year we are one of the best defensive teams in the country. John wall team didnt guard early, knight team didnt, davis covered for our perimeter guys in 2012. Only team that was special in November defensively was 2015. Relax people



  14. michaelb
    9:21 am November 19, 2018 Permalink

    How come I don’t remember mr almonds 11 3s?



  15. bigbluehank
    10:25 am November 19, 2018 Permalink

    Guys, it’s only November! It isn’t fair to be critical of the team so early on, according to the coach. Fans have to accept the fact that Cal will put a subpar product on the floor until January or February; and if you don’t agree with this method, you apparently aren’t a true fan! But on the flip side, if you don’t come out to support this team as they struggle against less-than-stellar competition, Cal wild admonish you! It’s a win-win for him!



  16. bigbluehank
    10:34 am November 19, 2018 Permalink

    will*