Good News: Kentucky has won three straight games.
Better News: Kentucky has looked better every time they’ve taken the court.
Best News: It’s all coming together right before March.
It’s easy to get excited about how the Kentucky Wildcats are playing in the final weeks of the regular season. John Calipari is excited too, but he knows their work is far from finished. Yesterday he forced fans to face a grim reality.
“If you think there’s no chance that we will revert, you’re crazy,” Calipari said.“You’re crazy. There’s a chance that we could revert. Let’s hope these guys learned a lesson and they didn’t like how that felt and they’re going to come out and play.”
Through the first three-quarters of the season, Kentucky took one step forward, then two steps back. That has not been the case in the latest winning streak. It all could change in a trap game vs. Ole Miss, but there are ways Kentucky can avoid disaster.
Smart Shot Selection, Hami
The Kentucky shooting guard finally kicked off the rust with a slump-busting 11-point performance against Mizzou. Diallo knocked down all three of his three-point attempts, but he missed his other seven shots. If he settles for a few heat checks early in tonight’s game, the slump can quickly return.
Ball movement is beautiful, but it isn’t easy. That was evident at the beginning of SEC play when Kentucky’s assist-to-turnover ratio remained in the negative territory more often than not. They’ve flipped that trend. The Cats are +10 through the final three games because they’ve learned to trust one another.
“I think that it’s each and every one of us realizing how much we need each other to do what we want to do, which is going to be something special,” Shai Gilegous-Alexander said yesterday. “Just trusting each other and that’s what we weren’t doing a couple weeks ago.”
Clean the Glass
Kentucky can’t hit eight threes in the first half of every game. Their excellent shooting night quickly turned the Missouri game into a blowout, but what’s made UK’s offense even better through the last three games is their ability to create more offensive possessions.
During the winning streak the Cats are averaging 15.7 offensive rebounds, which they’ve turned into 14.3 points per game. Attacking the glass has crated more scoring opportunities and no player better exemplifies that sentiment than Jarred Vanderbilt, who finished with a double-double for the first time vs. Missouri.
Kentucky put Missouri on their heels as soon as the ball was tipped. Even when the shots weren’t falling, the Cats were the aggressors. As long as this team attacks for 40 minutes, it’s hard to take two steps back.