I really don’t know what to tell you, Cats fans. I mean, is this real life? Did we just watch back-to-back unbelievable basketball games from UK in the middle of August? I want to keep my expectations for the upcoming season in check. I want to see this team slip up so all of those unwanted “perfection” thoughts escape my mind. I want a reason to think it’ll be another year of waiting ’til March to see them peak. But, man, the team we’re seeing down here in the Bahamas appears to be the real deal and they are lightyears ahead of where last year’s team was at this point in the season. They just blew out a team of professionals, GAMs if you will, in a game I somewhat expected UK to lose. Boy was I wrong. The Cats rolled all over Chalons-Reims, 81-58, and now my phone is blowing up with “We good” text messages from back home in the States. Let’s talk about today’s stellar showing…
Karl Towns followed up his big debut with an even bigger performance.
Towns is wasting no time in making an impact on this team. He was the game’s MVP in only his second appearance for Kentucky, scoring a game-high 19 points and grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds, plus three flashy assists. The no-look pass to Dominique Hawkins was my favorite moment of the game because (a) it was a gorgeous pass and (b) I did not expect to see Dominique throw down a baseline dunk. Alex Poythress and the Harrison twins went crazy on the bench when it happened. Get up, young fella.
After the game, Andrew Harrison spoke highly of his new freshman big man, who was sitting next to him during the interview. He said the future is bright for Towns and he is really looking forward to playing with him when it matters.
Also from the postgame action, Towns said he was satisfied by his day but he missed two free throws and that is unacceptable, leading to a pretty good laugh from Andrew.
Double figures for Alex Poythress, again.
Poythress scored 16 in the win, the second-highest individual total from the game. Kenny Payne said afterward he believes Poythress will “have a phenomenal year” for the Cats:
“He came back to school to prove to the world I’m one of the best forwards in the country. You see his athleticism. It is one of the most athletic forwards in the country. Now mentally he has to put together the fight, the determination to go out and prove to people how good he is because some people still question because they see the inconsistencies. Me personally, I think he’s going to have a phenomenal year. That’s why he’s here. That’s why he came back.”
Andrew Harrison punch all over some guy.
He’s not just a shooter anymore. This poor defender found that out the hard way.
It’s funny, just yesterday Aaron told us we can expect to see more dunks from him. He failed to mention it would be the following day and all over someone’s face.
UK responded well after getting “hit in the mouth.”
Dunks and no-look passes are great and all, but the most exciting takeaway from the game is how UK handled being down early. They got hit in the mouth to start the game, as Kenny Payne put it, but they made adjustments, stayed physical and responded with their own flurry of punches. That’s a very bright sign for the future, how this team will handle the situation when things aren’t going their way. We learned today they’re tough enough to play through it.
I really, really, really, really love Tyler Ulis.
Andrew is still my guy, but I want Ulis to be on the court as much as possible. He’s terrific.
UK may play 10 or 11 guys during the season.
It’s very unlikely Cal will use a 10- or 11-man rotation once the real basketball gets here, but Kenny Payne said it is a possibility. “I think as long we dictate the pace defensively, if we’re initiating everything that happens on the floor, we can play 10, 11 guys,” he said. “If the other team dictates, we won’t be able to play that many guys. We have to control the tempo of the game. Our numbers are unbelievable. The number of quality players we have are unbelievable. We just have to make sure that, in order to play those guys, that we don’t let the other team control what we’re trying to do. We control them.”
If Cal goes to his usual seven or eight, he’s going to have one heck of a decision to make about which players to roll with. Payne told us, “That’s why you pay John Calipari a whole lot of money. He’ll figure it out.”
Trying to think of something negative to say…
Got nothing. Absolutely nothing. Someone please talk me down from this basketball high.
I’m just going to leave this here…