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KSR’s ‘Best And Worst Of’ UK’s Second Exhibition Game

Your University of Kentucky Wildcats wrapped up preseason play with a win over our friends from Kentucky State, 83-51, in front of 19,588 fans in Rupp Arena. You can find loads of coverage of the game all over this here website, but right now we’d like to take a moment to share the Best and Worst Of the game from the three KSR employees who were lucky enough to cover an exhibition game on a Friday night.

Best: Kahlil Whitney’s comeback performance

On Sunday evening, Kentucky freshman wing Kahlil Whitney laid an egg across the board in the team’s first exhibition matchup against Georgetown College. Finishing with zero points (0-5 shooting), zero rebounds, and zero assists, the 6-foot-7 forward failed to get anything going and looked incredibly uncomfortable in the process.

Tonight, however, Whitney turned things around in the best way possible, finishing with a game-high 15 points (7-13 shooting), five rebounds, three assists, and three blocked shoots.

More importantly, the confidence was there on both ends of the floor, taking shots on the perimeter without hesitation and playing with urgency on the defensive end of the floor.

Now if he can take some of those jumpers without his foot on the 3-point line (CURSE THE LONG TWOS), the Cats will be golden.

– Jack Pilgrim

Worst: EJ Montgomery struggles… again.

While a final statline of eight points (4-6 shooting), four rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 25 minutes isn’t horrendous – it’s actually fairly solid – it’s no secret sophomore forward EJ Montgomery did not have his best outing on Friday evening.

With Nick Richards out with a sprained left ankle, Montgomery had a clear opportunity to have the ball in his hands and shine as the team’s premiere big man. Instead, the 6-foot-10 forward got pushed around in the paint, struggled to create space, and seemed a step behind on defense.

At one point in the second half, John Calipari pulled him from the game and immediately ripped into him, with associate head coach Kenny Payne also following suit.

For a player with first-round buzz during NBA Draft workouts this offseason, Montgomery hasn’t lived up to the hype through one intrasquad scrimmage and two exhibition matchups.

We’ll see how he performs under the lights on Tuesday to open the regular season.

– Jack Pilgrim

Best: KSR caller J.T. (Heyyyyyy) sat courtside.

My favorite part of Friday night’s exhibition is completely unrelated to what happened on the basketball court. One of our all-time favorite radio show callers, J.T., got to sit courtside to watch his favorite college basketball team host his alma mater, Kentucky State University.

(Photo via @EbEbell55)

If you’re a long time listener, you know all about J.T. and you’re probably just as happy as I am to see his wish was granted with good seats to the game. He better call us on Monday to tell us all about it.

Drew Franklin

Worst: This drunk fan.

Also completely unrelated to basketball: according to Kyle Tucker, one fan in the building got a little too wasted before the game (or on the booze he smuggled in). Poor guy didn’t even get to see the second half.

I did not witness this, thankfully, but I found it to be very uncomfortable and disgusting from afar.

— Drew

Best: Fastbreak points

The much-hyped three-guard lineup might have already found its strength. Kentucky held a sizable advantage in fastbreak points, leading that category 37-6. 45 percent of the Wildcats points on the night came in transition and we have the backcourt of Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, and Johnny Juazng to thank for that. Those four combined for all 10 of Kentucky’s steals, with Maxey, Hagans, and Juzang all recording three each.

Granted, the competition was Kentucky State, and there were times were the KSU ball handlers looked more like cornerbacks instead of point guards. However, we can’t discount how quick the hands of these guards are. They are always active and disruptive, looking for an opportunity to sprint down the other end of the court. Kentucky was able to convert 30 points on 22 KSU turnovers.

If the frontcourt can’t get things rolling in the half-court offense as they did tonight, easy points will be vital in keeping the opponent from breaking out to momentum controlling runs.

– Zack Geoghegan

Worst: Three-point shooting

“We have shooters, not makers.”

Not only is that one of John Calipari’s classic cliches, but it was also incredibly true on Friday night. The ‘Cats shot only 6-22 from deep. Outside of Juzang (3-5 from deep) and Quickley (2-5), no other Kentucky player knocked down more than one three. Hagans and Maxey both went 0-3 while Whitney shot 0-2 (TAKE ONE STEP BACK, KAHLIL). Sestina did shoot 1-2, but a 27.3 percent clip from three for the team is not going to cut it against the likes of Michigan State.

Juzang is clearly the best shooter on the team and I don’t think we’ll have to worry about him going cold from deep. Likewise with Sestina. However, if Kentucky does run with guard-dominant lineups, they are going to have to make the long ball. Despite the three-point line being slightly pushed back this season, it’s still the most valuable shot in the game and Kentucky has plenty of confident guys looking to pull the trigger.

We need these shooters to turn into makers.

– Zack

Article written by Drew Franklin

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

16 Comments for KSR’s ‘Best And Worst Of’ UK’s Second Exhibition Game

  1. bigblue2284
    12:47 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

    Well player of the year candidate Maxey sure looked about average. Same story different year, no outside shooting except maybe Juzang. 27% against a below average team.

    • 4everUKBlue
      8:34 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

      Oh no, they sky is falling….

    • grammarpoliceUK
      12:58 pm November 2, 2019 Permalink

      Don’t forget the three point line moved back also. Most teams I’ve watched during exhibition season are struggling from the three point line so far.

  2. Lip Man 1
    1:11 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

    Just start calling E.J. (and Richards) the Marshmallow Men.

    • Looother
      4:26 pm November 2, 2019 Permalink


  3. MauiCat
    4:31 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

    This is a solid team….deep and athletic. But there’s not a single player on this team that will make a dent on an NBA roster next year.

    • Ned T.
      5:25 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

      Let’s talk in March.

    • JPhelps
      7:49 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

      The November versions. Like above. Bet you won’t say that in March.

    • 4everUKBlue
      8:35 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

      I don’t know about the JP, he might be smoking some Maui Wowie.

  4. dave1964
    9:03 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

    Best chance this team has is going small. Richards and EJ are a joke.

  5. JT55
    10:15 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

    We all knew they were going to struggle inside. That’s why loosing out on Blackshear will hurt all season. They will he fun to watch but unfortunately have a ceiling this year.

    • Bluehender
      10:49 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

      Defense, particularly out front and on the ball will be our strength this year. Create turnovers and get out and run. Our long range shooters are Juzang, Sestina, and Quickley. We need Richards to be a rim protector and rebounder. EJ will find himself by the end of the year. Our length will be our best weapon, especially in the passing lanes. I think we can be very good buy the end of the year, as roles become defined. I think the ceiling is very high JT55 if they learn and execute their roles. I really think Whitney and Brooks will be difference makers

    • Bluehender
      10:50 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

      By the end of the year…not buy.

  6. mashburnfan1
    10:49 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

    Tons of empty seats last night {not anything close to what it used to be}, guess even UK basketball fans won’t go if it is cold outside. Don’t give me it was a scrimmage vs Kentucky St as a reason. Is actually more reason it should have been full since they are close and had fans there as well. Even at UK fan interest is just not there, never thought I would see that in my lifetime. Some use excuse of cost but tix were cheap for this game, some use the old I can be more comfy watching on tv. I guess that is really the issue, we have become such a lazy society we can’t even go cheer our teams anymore, takes too much effort.

    • Bluehender
      10:53 am November 2, 2019 Permalink

      Were you there Mashburnfan?

    • Looother
      4:28 pm November 2, 2019 Permalink

      Yes, I saw the Mash…