Can I get a hell yes? Kentucky’s 87-66 rout over Missouri tonight was exactly what the doctor ordered. For once, the Cats dominated from start to finish, giving the Big Blue Nation a much-needed feel-good romp heading into the final stretch of the season. You could hear the relief in John Calipari’s voice afterwards.
“Right before your eyes, we’re becoming a better team,” Calipari said, reminding reporters that it took the team some time to gel once Jarred Vanderbilt joined them. “We’re starting to play and figure it out. I’m proud of them.”
Most promising of all? Kentucky’s offense. The Cats had 87 points off 55% from the floor and a staggering 62.5% (10-16) from three-point land. Eight of those threes came in the first half.
“In March, you’ve got to be able to score more than 60 [points],” Cal said. “There was a time this season that 62 was a big number. I told these guys, you can’t win in that tournament. You’ve got to be able to get 75, 80 on the board vs. a good team because they may get the same on you.”
How close is Kentucky to becoming a team that could make a run in March?
“Getting closer. Getting closer. PJ [Washington] becomes that beast of a guy. Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander] is doing, and Quade [Green]’s wanting to do it. Now, because he’s playing the way we need him to play, not the way he was playing in high school. This is how you need to play. All of a sudden you have guards that can kind of talk and do it. Jarred gives you that too.”
The team reportedly held a players-only meeting following the four-game losing streak, which could explain why practices have been so much better as of late.
“I told them yesterday, we practiced and I was at ease with the practice,” Calipari said on the postgame radio show. “You know why? I’m not fighting anybody anymore. For three months, I was fighting guys on how to play this game, how to play with each other. Now, they’re saying, how do we play with each other?”
With March around the corner, I finally like my team.