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Late First Half Run Propels Kentucky Past Hofstra, 96-73

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Playing in a strange setting against an unusual opponent, Kentucky ended the strange first half with authority.

The Cats were knifing through the Hofstra zone at will, shooting over 50% at the Barclays Center, but they couldn’t contain Hofstra on the defensive end.  From missed rebounds to slow rotations, Kentucky allowed the Pride to hang around until the final media timeout of the first half.

Beginning at the 3:39-mark, Kentucky silenced Hofstra for six minutes.  Malik Monk capped off a 12-0 run with a deep contested three just before the final horn.  The run that put the game out of reach extended to 21-1, until the Pride scored from the block with 17:09 remaining in the second half.

At the heart of Kentucky’s run was the hometown kid, Isaiah Briscoe.  With family and friends in the stands, Briscoe hit his first six shots to score 15 before half.  Hofstra couldn’t play zone because of Briscoe.  It wasn’t because he was knocking down threes, it was because of his ability to drive through the zone from the free throw line and finish at the rim.

Briscoe didn’t lead the team in scoring, but he’s the reason they pulled away, finishing with 19 points on 8-of-11 shots, 6 assists and 2 rebounds.

Calipari described Kentucky’s game-fining run simply: “We made some shots.  We defended better.”  He added, “We’ve got a long ways to go.”

There have been stranger things, but a Sunday afternoon first half struggle vs. Hofstra at the Barclays Center is one of the stranger Kentucky basketball games I’ve ever watched.  Here are a few noteworthy moments with a side of analysis.

Never Worry About Malik Monk

A bit of a gun, when his shots aren’t falling the immediate reaction is to pump the brakes.  His reaction: “I got this.”

Monk started 1-of-6 from behind the three-point line.  He followed that up by hitting three in a row.  Monk finished with a team-high 20 points and 4 assists, including this beautiful lob to Bam Adebayo.

They actually converted a lob to Bam. I can’t believe it either.

Bam’s Camp Cal Experience Will NOT be Fun

I do not envy what John Calipari is going to do to Bam Adebayo during winter break, but he needs it, maybe more than any other player on the team.

It’s easy to “oh” and “ah” at Bam’s physique.  He has all of the tangibles you want with a big man, including a soft hook shot, but the intangibles need work.  Bam’s lack of awareness is noticeable on both ends of the floor.  On defense he’s a step slow, often going for a difficult block instead of rotating to rebound.  Offensively, on more than one occasion he cut right into a driving teammate.

Bam will be fine.  He’s never played with guards this good.  This early experience is invaluable.  If you think it’s fun watching him now, just wait until he figures things out.

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

A Stupid Technical

The “hanging on the rim” technical is the dumbest rule in sports.  Bam got his second one of the early season for trying to grab a rebound while hanging on the rim.  I only think it’s a technical because refs like to make the “T” motion.  Hanging on the rim gives players time to ensure they have a safe landing spot.  It should not be a penalty.  Today’s circumstances warrant a change in possession, but not a technical.

Now that I’m finished with a mini-rant, one more weird thing that happened today: Hofstra had two lane violations in the first half.

Willis, Mulder were Beasts on the Boards

Derek Willis led the team in rebounding.  Fact.  However, that isn’t the most impressive Derek Willis rebounding fact.  Hofstra’s Lithuanian-born center Rokas Gustys entered the game as the nation’s leading rebounder.  Willis and Gustys each finished with 8 rebounds.

Even though Willis isn’t physically built to be an exceptional rebounder, when he is in the zone, he’s arguably Kentucky’s best rebounder.

“When he’s in the zone” is an important premise.

You knew as soon as you saw him today that he was ready to ball, but sometimes he’s hesitant and plays without that signature Bullitt County grit and aggressiveness.  Maybe it’s because he started over Wenyen Gabriel, maybe it’s because he had a delicious pregame meal.  Whatever it is, he needs to do it more often.

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Mychal Mulder still hasn’t found consistency in his jump shot, but he rebounds so well it doesn’t matter.  He had five today, but the stats don’t accurately reflect the impact he had on the game.  Three of those rebounds came when the game was tight in the first half.  Hofstra was hanging around because of second-chance points (they had 19 offensive rebounds); Mulder took away those opportunities to help Kentucky sprint out to a big lead by halftime.

Cal’s Highest Scoring Team?

For the first time in school history Kentucky has scored at least 87 points in nine of their first ten games of a season.  They currently average 94 points per game.  The most a Calipari team has ever averaged per game was 79.4 a season ago.

Sacha Killeya-Jones’ Best Game

Killeya-Jones is beginning to become comfortable on the court.  He only played nine minutes but managed to touch almost every statistical category: 4 points, 2 offensive rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal.  Before today, SKJ struggled to find his touch against physicality.  Today he stood strong in the post on both ends of the floor.  I think it’s safe to say he was UK’s best defender in the post.

I appreciate Killeya-Jones’ fundamental approach.  He’s still coming into his own, but once he figures out how to fit in, I’m curious where he will fit in Kentucky’s lineup, especially when Wenyen and Isaac Humphries are struggling.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

20 Comments for Late First Half Run Propels Kentucky Past Hofstra, 96-73

  1. Ridge Runner
    6:43 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

    Nice summary with good points, Nick.

  2. EdC
    7:16 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

    The thing that really annoyed me about the technical is that Hofstra’s gigantic James Bond viillian had 2 worse rim hangs before they got Bam and Bam had more reason to think somebody might undercut him.

  3. WeareBBN
    7:30 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

    He got the T cause he tried to make a play while hanging on the rim, he tried to grab the ball. If you noticed it was a very late whistle and that is why, would not have been a T otherwise. My only complaint with BBN is the constant whining about officiating and most of the time wrongly so.

    • truebluefootballfan
      7:49 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

      There are some fans who exaggerate the poor officiating, but, if you don’t think handful of refs out there do not have it in for our cats then you should do a lil research. You are right, Bam’s T was legit but Edc is correct as well. The “James Bond villain did two chin ups in the first 5 mins of the game and there was no call….

    • UK Big Board Update
      8:29 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

      You missed the point (of course): it shouldn’t be a technical, period.

    • truebluefootballfan
      8:54 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

      I didn’t miss the point…. I, like you and almost everyone else who cares in the least bit believe that it shouldn’t be a technical, but I made my statement in light of what the rules are and not would they should or “shouldn’t” be. So clearly you missed the point. (Of course)

    • WeareBBN
      8:56 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

      Actually it should be a tech, there is no reason for it in the game unless when safety is a concern. It is a rule and Bam needs to learn the rule, it is actually seldom called but he tries to make a play while hanging which gives him an unfair advantage so it is a great call. Lets just get rid of rules because people are going to do it anyways. Going 80 on the interstate should not be illegal because lots of people do it. Shooting someone should not be illegal because people do it every day.

    • UK Big Board Update
      5:13 am December 12, 2016 Permalink

      trueblue: my comment was for WeareBBN. I totally agree with your point.

      YouarenotBBN: No, it shouldn’t be technical – which means FT’s and the ball back – for hanging on the rim. It should be a turnover, just like a travel or step out of bounds. Your analogies were humorous, though, especially since I think you actually believed them. You truly are a dumbass. Please, keep posting. Its hilarious.

    • Catsby80
      8:35 am December 12, 2016 Permalink

      UKBBU – serious question. Why are you always so hostile on these message boards? I get on here on a routine basis and constantly see you harassing people with people who have different opinions than you. I understand that there are trolls (looking at you, catspaw) that clutter these message boards, but why attack people who appear to be UK fans?

      Regardless of your opinion on whether Bam’s play should or should not be a technical, under the current rules it IS a technical. I believe that is all WeAreBBN was pointing out.

    • UK Big Board Update
      12:26 pm December 12, 2016 Permalink

      If you read his comments, he always plays the other side versus UK and its fans. Right down to siding with the officials over the fans. He’s a sneaky troll. Uses kind of a “bait and switch” approach.

  4. Skeeter Valentine
    7:31 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

    The thing with the rim hanging techs is that Bam reaches for the ball while still hanging on the rim. That is an unsportsmanlike advantage. If he doesn’t reach for the ball, those ring hangs don’t get called for a tech.

    • Nick Roush
      8:25 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

      As noted in my words above. Regardless, the overall point is that technical for hanging on the rim is stupid. Just make it a violation. No reason to make it count as a personal foul.

  5. BigBlue4Three
    8:22 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

    Glad someone else noticed the rebounding contribution that Willis and Mulder made, because if you listen to Cal on the post game he’s still picking on Willis and said he should have had 12 rebounds. Definitely easy to see that Willis and Mulder are Cal’s whipping boys.

    It’s a given that when Briscoe throws a ball out of bounds or steps on the baseline, Cal will immediately yell at Willis and take him out of the game. Humphries miss another lay-up, gotta be Derek’s fault.

  6. A_Blue_Wildcat
    8:36 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

    Love Bam but its basic basketball knowledge that hanging on the rim while trying to grab the ball is almost always a T. This is the second time he’s done it this year, someone please explain it to him before he does it a third a time. Doesn’t matter if you think it should be a T or not, it’s still going to get called every time.

  7. UK Big Board Update
    8:46 pm December 11, 2016 Permalink

    Malik Monk is Superman….

  8. Aar
    7:51 am December 12, 2016 Permalink

    I think Killeya-Jones is the most underrated player on this team. Conditioning seems to be his biggest nemesis. He looks good for about 3 trips up and down the court when both teams a really flying or about 3 minutes at a “normal” pace. That’s when he starts fouling. As his conditioning continues to improve, I can see him becoming the second option at the 5 – or being part of a “big lineup”. We are going to need a big dose of SKJ against UNC.

    • TWhite
      12:54 pm December 12, 2016 Permalink

      He reminds me of a thicker WCS as a freshman. I think he could get in better shape if he got more PT..Hard to simulate that game speed in practice and drills. I think he should be a bigger part of the team than he is right now.

  9. BlueDew
    1:54 pm December 12, 2016 Permalink

    By rule that is a technical foul. This is considered a safety issue by the NCAA and NFHS rules committees. The player could cut his hand, blood issue, bend the rim of shatter the backboard. Just because colapsable rims are installed doesn’t mean the backboard is safe from shattering. Safety rules carry stiff penalties, like in FB chop blocks or hitting a defenseless player carry 15 yard enforcements against offending player/team. It is up to the conference to make sure officials are consistent enforcing the rules. If a school doesn’t think a particular official or crew enforces the rules they can scratch that official or crew. Thar is part of federal regulations. So, evedently UK or the AD has not problem with officials that work their games.