I mean, what can you say? For the sixth game in a row, Kentucky steamrolled their opponent and looked pretty much invincible. Behind strong defense, guard play, and a couple of hot-handed freshmen, the Cats took care of business before Thanksgiving break, rolling UT-Arlington 92-44. Let’s break down every beautiful second.
Once again, it was a balanced affair
Platoons promote balance, and so far this season, it’s worked. Tonight, six Cats scored in double figures, and no Cats played more than 21 minutes. To Cal, that says it all. “The story is you have ten guys sharing minutes. That’s the whole story,” Cal said. “Why is that happening? Because they’re allowing it to happen. Is anybody being hurt by this? No.”
There were some tweaks with the platoons, but Calipari said that’s because he told the players to sub out their teammates if they weren’t playing with energy. “Now, they must respect the minutes they’re getting,” Cal said. “If not, they’re going to get less because the guy on the bench is just going to go in for him, say I’m not giving you minutes if you’re not going to play. Compete. Quit being tentative. Play hard, or I’m going back in.”
Karl Towns finally had the complete game he’s been looking for
Karl Towns has been impressive on defense so far this season, but we’ve yet to see him show off his skills on offense like he did in the Bahamas. Towns recorded his first career double-double tonight, with 13 points off perfect 5-5 shooting from the floor and 11 rebounds. He also had four assists, three blocks, and a steal. Maybe the most impressive part? He did that all in 17 minutes. “Karl really played better today,” Cal said. “But now he’s missing free throws.” Something tells me you’ll see KAT in the gym late tonight.
“We don’t see each other as a basketball team,” Karl said on the radio after the game. “We look at each other as a family. Willie, Dakari, they are my brothers.”
Devin Booker’s hands are still red hot
After going 1-for-11 from behind the arc in the first three games, Devin Booker has been on fire, shooting 12-of-17 from three-point land in the past three games. Booker led all scorers for the second game in a row, with 19 points, including five threes. In the first half, he had just as many points as the entire UT-Arlington team. Even more, Calipari said that Devin’s buying in on defense, which has changed his game completely.
Most surprising stat of the night: Dakari’s free throw shooting
Coming into the game, Dakari was 12-25 from the free throw line. Tonight, he was 12-14. What was the difference? Maybe it was the Yip Lady, or maybe it was some cold hard truth from Cal. “I’m happy for him, he does want to play and he knows I’m not playing him at the end of the game if he can’t make free throws,” Cal said. Whatever it was, it worked. Keep it up, Dakari.
Josh Hopkins was the Y, and it was great
A dream fulfilled.
Even sick, Alex found a way to help
Tonight was Alex Poythress’ first game back from illness, but you could tell he was still under the weather. “Alex was sick today, you knew he was going to struggle,” Cal said after the game. Even so, Poythress pulled down nine rebounds and had four blocks and four points, and seemed to come to life a little bit in the second half. The three spot is really the only one still in flux on both platoons, but at least that gives us something to nitpick.
UT Arlington’s coach is like the voice inside our head
After the game, UT-Arlington’s head coach Scott Cross joked that, for his squad, at least it was “all downhill from here.” Cross said it was impossible to prepare for UK’s size, even if he made his guys stand on chairs. Then, he said the little thing we’re all thinking but still too scared to say.
“I think it is very possible for them to go undefeated,” Cross said. “The way they’re playing right now, I find it hard to believe that anybody could beat them right now.”
I think that calls for some dunks.
How can you not root for this?
As I said earlier, I’m not sure there are words for what we’re seeing this team do right now. Defensively, this is something special, and tonight, Calipari said they can still be better. “This team has a chance to be one of those teams you talk about defensively — like of all-time, if they choose to be,” Cal told reporters. Let’s take a minute to sit and appreciate that.
The best part is the stuff you won’t hear from many national writers: this perfect storm is happening because the players want it to. “In this day and age, every one of these kids has pro aspirations and pro potential, and they’re draftable players, and they’re doing this for each other. This is crazy,” Cal said. “In our society, where everybody talks about the me and mine and narcissism and all that, why wouldn’t you root for this to happen and be good?”
No really, how can you not root for this?