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Ten Takeaways From The Morgantown Comeback

West Virginia brought the noise to the WVU Coliseum on Saturday night when your University of Kentucky Wildcats came to town as 10-point underdogs. The place was rockin’ unlike anything we’ve seen in our own Rupp Arena, and it fueled the Mountaineers to a great start in the game. Fans were loving it and ready to tear the place down as the Cats struggled in the rowdy environment.

But then the comeback happened and those country roads took them all back home.

 

1. West Virginia kicked Kentucky’s tail up and down the court in the first half.

Before we get to the exciting stuff, let’s take a brief moment to acknowledge how bad things were before halftime. The Cats had 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game — TEN! — and gave up 48 points to the Mountaineers in the first half, led by Old Man Jevon Carter with 18. It looked as if UK was going to get completely run out of the gym and sent back to Lexington with an embarrassing defeat in ESPN’s biggest game of the day, and many of you threw the season away. Don’t lie. I seen’t it.

2. Kentucky clawed back in an amazing turn of events.

The second half was a different story, obviously, as UK out-toughed the toughest team in college basketball on its own floor. Kentucky made play after play to turn a 15-point halftime deficit into a lead with 10:35 left in the game, and it seemed the only way West Virginia could get a basket was by heaving a three-pointer late in the shot clock, which worked way more than it should. But Kentucky was the dominant team in the second half, which it won, 50-28.

3. Kevin Knox had his breakout game.

Kentucky had several guys play well, but the unanimous MVP is Kevin Knox for his superstar performance. Knox gave West Virginia fits from the moment the game started and he didn’t quit until the final horn had sounded. He finished with a career-high 34 points and there wasn’t anyone this side of Tudor’s Biscuit World who could do anything about it. He was unstoppable, but even better: he showed more emotion throughout the game than he’s shown all season long. He was talking trash to anyone and everyone in his way.

Cue the big ball dance.

Keyli Chisesi | Go Big Blue Country

4. Nick Richards was frustrating, and then he was awesome.

The first half version of Nick Richards made some major mistakes. You can admit it: you wanted Richards to go to the bench and never turn. I did too. But the the second half version of Nick Richards was great and Kentucky doesn’t win that game without him. He made four straight free throws when Kentucky was down four and his put-back dunk sealed the deal in the final minute. Huge game for the big guy and there isn’t a player on the team who needed it more.

5. Hamidou Diallo, also awesome.

Aside from the one assist to the other team, Diallo played great. He was Kentucky’s only other double-digit scorer with 13 points, and he played his best defense of the season when Calipari needed someone to put the clamps on the West Virginia guards in the second half. And how ’bout that three-pointer to keep the comeback rolling?

6. Other than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and PJ Washington, everyone played great.

Knox, Richards and Diallo earned their own bolded sentences in this recap, but you can also give a round of applause to Wenyen Gabriel and Quade Green. Gabriel was so important in finishing the game down the stretch and Green was the steady hand against Press Virginia. Then there’s Jarred Vanderbilt with 11 rebounds in 11 minutes, and Sacha Killeya-Jones did some good things too.

Washington and Gilgeuous-Alexander were the only two you can be a little critical of, but they weren’t terrible. It was a good all-around performance by just about everyone in blue, once they weathered the storm of course.

7. Kentucky went 18 for 18 from the foul line in the second half.

How’s that for efficiency?

8. West Virginia was hitting some crap.

It seems wild to say Kentucky should’ve won by more in a game West Virginia led by 17, but Kentucky’s defense was so good in the second half that West Virginia was having to hit some prayers. There were several possessions when the Cats played lockdown defense for 29 seconds, only to watch a Mountaineer heave up some garbage that went in. Beetle Bolden, a Kentuckian, was the guy hitting most of those; he finished with 17 points off the bench with five made three-pointers. But UK made them fight (and wish) for every basket.

9. The win will go a long way come tournament time.

This wasn’t a must-win game for Kentucky, but the win is huge for the tournament resume. UK finally has the marquee win it lacked and, hopefully, it will spark a run for the months of February, March and beyond. Could this be the turning point for Cal’s young team? We sure hope so.

10. Coach Cal should keep wearing the pullover.

Numbers don’t lie and numbers say Kentucky is 1-0 when Cal wears the pullover.

When asked if he’d consider it again, Cal said after the game, “You know what, I might. I might. It’d be nice to travel this light.”

Do it.

Article written by Drew Franklin

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

56 Comments for Ten Takeaways From The Morgantown Comeback



  1. Cokely53
    11:57 pm January 27, 2018 Permalink

    I’ll admit. I wasn’t ready to give up on the team but was considering giving up on the idea of them being great. They could still be good just not able to take that next step. But man did they ring the bell tonight. This type of win just gets you so pumped up and seems to make all of the other stuff worth it.



    • Cokely53
      12:04 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Another great part about the win is that we proved we can win even with SGA having a bad game, which didn’t seem possible a few weeks ago.



    • Luether
      1:41 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Fair weather fan…



    • Cletis75
      4:45 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Cokely53, I was just hoping they could put a few runs together and win the 2nd half to gain back some confidence. Defensively, I thought we were amazing in the 2nd half. Calling made some great adjustments at the half. Biggest thing is the players listened to him. Hami’s defense in the 2nd half really got everyone involved. That’s the leadership I have been looking for. The whole team was rebounding. It was beautiful. Don’t even get me started on free throws.



    • Cletis75
      4:48 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Cal not calling. Damned spell check



    • 4everUKblue
      5:02 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Luether my sources say if you were actually a UK fan and not a UofLittleBro fan you would be a fair weather fan.



    • UK Big Board Update
      10:10 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      I’m in North Carolina – I accept some credit for our win and Duke and UNC’s losses. 😉

      #mojo



  2. CPACAT
    11:58 pm January 27, 2018 Permalink

    #NoMoreSuits



  3. Lip Man 1
    11:59 pm January 27, 2018 Permalink

    Didn’t expect this but congrats to them. Now they need to keep it going. If they lose to “on-paper” worse teams than them in the SEC, it negates the West Virginia win.

    They took the first step today, a big one…now show consistency game after game after game.



    • FACTS
      12:17 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Keep it going,play with confidence, urgency, and for each other. Rebound every ball and play tight Defense and we will be fine. Quade broke the press and shot the ball well. Quade also played for the team. Shai got some rebounds and broke the press better in the second half. He also played for his teammates. Knox did what I knew he could do all year. Nick Richards needs to wipe the butter of his fingers and keep getting boards and making free throws. He also needs to play a great help defense. He needs to be like the guy on West Virginia that almost fouled out.( I forgot his name) Hami played well. He passed it more. He hit a big three. He also played lock down Defense. Sacha didn’t really do anything wrong. (He always looks determined.) Jarred Vanderbilt got 11 rebounds. He is going to make this team even better. When he starts scoring, ohhh boy.

      We played like we had something to prove with in which we did. We played with urgency. Almost every time a shot went up, especially in the second half many people were crashing the boards. That alone helped us tremendously. When Jarred starts to score he will add a whole other dimension to this team.

      Let’s go BBN



  4. m4ff3w
    12:10 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    How about Quade’s remarks yesterday (or was it Thurs?)



    • runningunnin.454
      12:19 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      He called the UL game, and he called tonight’s game…just like E.F. Hutton,
      from now on, “when he talks, people listen”.



    • KYcats11
      12:43 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Can he just call every game from now on? Just go ahead and call #9 for us.



  5. Chacosrule
    12:17 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    Unc is 16-6 and ranked 10th. Maybe they’ll move up to 8th with tonight’s loss.



    • Miller45
      3:10 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      LOL right on. I honestly don’t get too concerned about the rankings I feel like there is more to be concerned about in the present than the top 25. but just for kicks I am curious to see how they will trend this week after a big win like that after dropping rankings following a win earlier on in the season



  6. FACTS
    12:20 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    Write “BBN” IN THE COMMENTS IF YOU THINK WE WILL BEAT TENNESSEE WHEN WE PLAY THEM AGAIN



    • Eazy
      12:38 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      BBN



    • runningunnin.454
      12:55 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      BBN BBN
      BBN BBN BBN



    • 4everUKblue
      5:04 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      BBN. Is it just me or does FACTS sound more like a UofLittleBro troll than a UK fan?



    • FACTS
      12:02 pm January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Why would you say I’m a Louisville fan. Look at my comments above ^ I wouldn’t write that much if I was a Louisville fan.



    • EdC
      10:12 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Write in all caps if you are so old you can’t find the caps lock key to turn it off.



    • 4everUKblue
      7:37 pm January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Sorry about that FACTS



  7. Eazy
    12:40 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    Loved it. We smoked the fake rivals Louisville and beat the wanna be WVU. Not to mention it was a huge day for the SEC. SEC is clearly the best conference top to bottom now.



  8. KYcats11
    12:44 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    “BBN” IN THE COMMENTS IF YOU THINK WE WILL BEAT TENNESSEE WHEN WE PLAY THEM AGAIN



    • runningunnin.454
      12:56 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      BBN too.



    • Look Out Fireworks
      5:35 pm January 28, 2018 Permalink

      AND YOUR cRusH WILL CALL YOU IN THE NEXT 10 MINUTES AND PROFESS THEIR LOVE FOR YOU!!!!



  9. katmandue2you
    12:52 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    And to top it all off….two Kentucky boys just completely rocked it out on SNL!!! Can you say Stapleton and Simpson??? Completely BADASS!!! Just like the Cats!!!



    • unbridled
      10:22 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Thanks for the heads up. I had no idea. I just watched the video. Hands down 2 of the best…although I’m more of a sturgill kinda guy.



  10. snarkster
    12:55 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    WVa, ALMOST Heaven (because it’s right next door to Kentucky).



    • runningunnin.454
      12:57 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Much appreciation to WVa….enjoyed our visit immensely.



    • unbridled
      10:28 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      West-by Gawd-Virginia wishes it could be the bluegrass. That’s why the jealous hatfields started the feud. Mccoys had the last laugh though.



  11. Dragon
    1:09 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    Cal’s best win at Kentucky



    • Luether
      1:42 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      That’s a bit of a stretch…



    • ScoggDog
      4:38 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      I agree with Dragon … if we’re talking Biggest Regular Season Upset. The Vegas Spread backs that statement up – it’s rare that Kentucky is even an underdog – let alone a double-digit one.

      I’ve seen teams take a win like this a turn an entire season around. Cats weren’t having a “bad season” … just not a typical Kentucky season.

      This win could change that.



    • Ez21
      8:26 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      The 2011 team never won an SEC road game til the very last game of the regular season at Tenn. They grew up that day and won and went on to make a run to the FF. Hopefully the win will be this teams UT.



    • robson15
      7:24 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      2012 National Championship?



    • ScoggDog
      7:42 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      In the bigger scheme … oh yeah. National Title beats Upset Win On Road any day. If we’re including tournament – I’d say the UK wins over Ohio St and UNC were more surprising.

      I guess I was thinking more Biggest Win in a Regular Season. This one could have huge implications. Just depends on how it all plays out.



  12. Miller45
    2:46 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    well we know it can be done.
    oh and by the way: SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC!



  13. UK_fac_boi
    8:20 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    God I hate that chant. Go cats



    • EdC
      10:13 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Every team in the SEC HATES UK yet so many UK fans are all in cheering SEC. Completely baffles me.



  14. henderblue
    8:46 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    Sunday morning and just watched the second half again. It was truly satisfying to see our young Cats fight and claw their way to victory from 17 down in a hostile environment. Those poor Combatineer fans were truly shocked and very upset that a team would dare play the type of defense against their Combatineer team that they play every game. Sgt. Carter was kept out of the lane for the most part in the second half. The refs, I thought, called a much better second half and our offense played very well, rebounding and nailing free throws. A truly satisfying Sunday morning rerun.



  15. MrNoItAll
    8:48 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    COME AND GIVE ME MY HIGHLIGHTS!!!



  16. ScratchtheMascot
    8:53 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    One more takeaway from last night: Sagaba Konate is going to murder someone one day. That was more than just a bad temper.



  17. MrNoItAll
    8:54 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    THANKS headerblue!!! WATCHING THE SECOND HALF NOW!!!



  18. KYjellyRoll
    9:15 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    It seems after halftime, cal extended the D beyond the three point line. The switches at the top of the key on picks were smoother and better communicated.



  19. KYjellyRoll
    9:18 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    Does West Virginia get away with the lower body pushes and hand checks in traps on the road too?



    • henderblue
      9:41 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      Good question jellyroll. I doubt it. But I’m sure they try it. It’s pretty much all they got. BTW,I don’t know how Bilas could not think that was a foul on Konate late in the second half when Knox drove to the basket and Konate met him in midair. Of course it was a foul and poor Konate got the worst of it with a well placed knee to the ball sac. Unintentional of course



    • EdC
      10:15 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      It’s like how coach Krykryski used to teach all of his players to do a little shot to the gut to the opposing player after the official started watching the arc of the ball.



  20. jrdh13
    9:20 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    I really liked how we skipped the ball ahead this game as well. Im not sure if that was in the game plan to beat the press but it really allowed knox to get going.



    • henderblue
      10:37 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

      It was definitely part of the game plan. And let’s give Cal some coaching credit. He put bigger guys on Sgt Carter in the second half and it bothered him. Vanderbilt and Diallo really bothered him. It was good to see Diallo play well, especially defensively. Our breakdowns this year have come from opposing guards getting in the lane. He was down in a defensive stance and did a good job. Not to mention a big three late in the game



  21. UK Big Board Update
    10:00 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    Anyone see how mad Luether is right now and last night? HES SO MAD.

    LMFAO



  22. Steady
    11:08 am January 28, 2018 Permalink

    SGA didn’t play well? I must have watched a different game because I thought he was outstanding!



  23. Aaron Cathcart
    6:32 pm January 28, 2018 Permalink

    Amazing comeback. I think cats are beginning to get it.