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Kentucky’s first exhibition had plenty of teachable moments

When asked about Transylvania yesterday, Immanuel Quickley vowed Kentucky would “go at their necks 110 percent.” The Cats beat the Pioneers 94-66 tonight, but that’s not exactly what happened. 

Let me be clear: it’s not worth getting worked up about an exhibition game, especially one your team wins by 28 points. However, there’s no denying the Cats looked a step slow, a bit sloppy, and a far cry from the team we came to expect after the Bahamas trip and two months of Swaggy Calipari quotes. Let me be clear again: it’s fine. In fact, it’s probably a good thing. If there’s one thing this game gave John Calipari, it was an arsenal of teachable moments.

“It’s a great lesson,” Cal said. “It will be a great teaching tape.”

So, what was Kentucky’s problem tonight? Seven players finished in double figures and the Cats shot 56.9 percent from the floor, but were only 1-13 from three-point land. They turned the ball over 14 times but had 13 assists. Tyler Herro, the team’s leading scorer in the Bahamas, had only four points off 1-8 from the floor, 0-4 from three. Starting point guard Immanuel Quickley only had three points. Quade Green hit the only three of the night, but a team that made 26-68 threes in the Bahamas looked as cold as the ice cream in Rupp.

“We’ve got to make some threes,” Cal said. “One for thirteen? And this might be my best shooting team in a while. One of the things I told them is, we don’t rely on three-point shooting. There are teams that do; we don’t. We can go 1-13 and still score a lot of points because that’s how we play. But that is the one thing that gives us a gap. If you make ten or eleven threes here, then we’re winning pretty big.”

On the defensive side, the Cats gave up way more than their fair share of straight line drives and let Transy hit nine threes, which Calipari chalked up to the Pioneers simply wanting it more.

“What they ended up doing and showing these guys is if the other team plays harder than you, you’re not going to look good. And it doesn’t matter what level it is. You’ve gotta figure out, how hard is this guy playing? I’ve gotta play harder than he plays. You’ve gotta come in the game with an idea of, I’m going to make him chase me, I’m not chasing him.”

All of those problems and Kentucky still won by 28 points, so let’s focus on the positive stats. Sixty-two of Kentucky’s 94 points came in the paint, a testament to an impressive performance by the frontcourt. Kentucky won the rebounding battle 52-18. Reid Travis had his first double double as a Wildcat with 12 points and 10 boards. EJ Montgomery was close behind with 14 points — a team high — and nine rebounds, looking like a cut above most players on the court. Quade Green scored seven straight points in the second half to increase Kentucky’s lead to 28, at the time its largest of the night.

“I liked what Quade did away from the ball,” Cal said of his sophomore guard. “Exactly what I want him to do: Gets baskets, get a couple assists, you know, shoot a three.”

All of Kentucky’s errors are fixable and there’s no doubt that Calipari will fixate on them over the next week. Rare will be the game that Tyler Herro only scores four points. As Calipari continues to install his defense, there will be fewer mistakes. But the effort?

“I thought there were times that Transy played harder than we did individually,” Cal said on postgame radio. “We have a long way to go.”

With time to do it.


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.

7 Comments for Kentucky’s first exhibition had plenty of teachable moments

  1. cking
    10:46 pm October 26, 2018 Permalink

    If we play defense like this against Duke then we are going to get SMOKED…

    Zion & RJ are going to Steamroll us if we can’t get in front of them…they will get 30 points a piece.

    Ps: can we EVER get a guy to put up some 3s like the Transy kids…Jesus.

    • mashburnfan1
      10:57 pm October 26, 2018 Permalink

      All the talk about what a great defender Johnson is….???? He looked slow and people I could guard were going by him with ease.

    • wyatts1
      11:03 pm October 26, 2018 Permalink

      Just tell me which one of our wildcats you would trade for one of their transy players?? I’ll wait….
      NONE! Is the correct answer lol, look we won by 28 while our top scorer only went 1-8. We will be fine in a week from Tuesday when we play duke, this team seems to arise to the talent level of our competition. We will destroy duke but if you believe otherwise then please go place a bet on dUKE, but leave your UK fan card at the door. I watched the game in the ncaa tourney when dUKe beat us, when Christian stomped Timberlake, so after that idc if it’s hop scotch, tic tac toe, or shoots and ladders, dUKe will never get the benefit of the doubt in any contest, in any event, EVER!!
      Maybe I’m bitter still but F*#€ dUKe!

    • cking
      11:13 pm October 26, 2018 Permalink

      I sure hope your right about Duke, but after watching the defense of our wings..especially Johnson..I am very concerned. I don’t think Mean Mugs or Reid can contain Zion…

      If we let him get to the rim like we did Transy then we can all just move on..

      It’s time to get in the Gym

    • catsarerunnin
      7:17 am October 27, 2018 Permalink

      And we’re only one (exhibition) game into the season and the doubters or trolls are already at it. Yes the basketball season has officially started.

    • bigbluebanana
      8:40 am October 27, 2018 Permalink


  2. timtim1960
    1:59 pm October 27, 2018 Permalink

    Man really wanted to go against someone other than yourselves. That was terrible defense . Rolling to the rim with ease . Transy had inside out offence which the cats never had . Why cal has Richards chasing guards on switches out at the top of the key for 10 years now is unnerving to say the least . I dont understand it why the big is out at the top of the key. While a guard blows by unchallenged to the rim is just poor coaching . Why you have to get your team to play hard after saying you are tired of playing against yourself sis beyond me . Transy out played us . Period . They didn’t play like they did in Bahamas. Duke by 20 if we don’t step up .