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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Is This All Coming Together?

© Derick E. Hingle | USATSI

© Derick E. Hingle | USATSI

I thought, on paper, that Kentucky did not matchup well with LSU.  While I think the Wildcats will go further in the NCAA Tournament and have a better team overall, I expected them to struggle with a hungry LSU team in Baton Rouge.  Instead, you saw a team that truly controlled the game from start to nearly finish.  The UK guards controlled the tempo, the big men controlled the glass, and LSU never seemed to get into a rhythm.  LSU is one of the few teams in the league that can match UK athlete for athlete, have a superior guard in Skylar Mays, rebound the ball at the same level as UK, plus a good home court advantage.  But none of that mattered as UK could have, and should have, won this game by 10 or more points.  The late game struggles have to be a concern but the Cats still pulled out the biggest win of the season and now sit in the drivers seat for the SEC crown.

But here is the bigger point: all of the issues that have plagued the Cats throughout this season seem to be slowly fading away.  And once again, like the suckers we continue to be as fans, this UK team that struggled so much early are now shaping up to be a legitimate Final Four contender.  Consider these facts:

  • Nick Richards was a complete no-show multiple times this season when facing players of similar size.  It was obvious against Ohio State and Utah.  Foul troubles and physicality limited him to being a complete non-factor.  Now we have seen Richards thoroughly dominate games against Reggie Perry of Mississippi State and the big men of LSU.  Is there a game left that UK could play where we would expect anything less than 15 and 8 from Richards?

 

  • The role players for UK, namely EJ Montgomery and Nate Sestina, seem to have found their grove.  Is it early to say this for Sestina?  Maybe.  But those guys are not just empty jerseys when they come on the floor now.  I have been especially encouraged about Montgomery recently and feel he will play a major role in a big win at some point in the tournament.

 

  • Is it just me or is Tyrese Maxey settled in to his best self on this team?  He doesn’t seem to try and be the star any longer.  He is quite productive, seems to be the guy that gets the ball late in the shot clock, and makes big plays multiple times a game.  If he isn’t forcing things, trying to be the best player on the floor, it turns out he is often the best player on the floor.  And I get the sense there is a comfort in his role now.

I like to think I’ve been ahead of the curve on being a fan of a John Calipari team.  Because after 2014, I realized that we are just wasting energy every single year claiming UK teams suck and the program is on a slide, only to be made to look like fools come February and March.  This is certainly not one of Cal’s best teams.  I think it is certainly worse than 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017, and 2019.  It is probably more in the 2011 or 2018 range but one of those teams went to the Final Four and the other the Sweet 16.

I think the pieces are falling into place for this team to make a run.  And in a season of weakness from college basketball, a team that would normally be considered a Sweet 16 team could legitimately make the Final Four or better.  And it really required a group of guys to figure out where they should be on this team.  It was clear early that wasn’t happening.  But team chemistry is high with this group and now you are seeing the fruits of that labor early in the year.  Consider me on board with this group moving forward and their potential.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

12 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Is This All Coming Together?



  1. JTHinton
    10:12 am February 20, 2020 Permalink

    Early in the year, I kept comparing this team to that 2017/18 side — weak down low, with solid guard play. As Richards progressed, and EJ/Nate have stepped up, we parallel the 2018/19 team much more. Our record will be similar/identical, and I think we are one of the top 6-8 teams in the country.



  2. Jpcat15
    10:14 am February 20, 2020 Permalink

    Everyone continues to not give IQ enough credit. He is the guy that finds a way to win.



    • trumpetguy
      11:23 am February 20, 2020 Permalink

      J15, couldn’t agree more. IQ is a flat out baller and winner. This dude can score from everywhere and very few seem to notice it. Quiet and efficient shot maker!



  3. kybirdieman
    10:28 am February 20, 2020 Permalink

    Mackey Maxey Mackey, IQ and Nick are the backbone of this team.



  4. Aar
    10:37 am February 20, 2020 Permalink

    Time and competition will tell. Will Hagans and Richards miss any playing time to their Tuesday evening injuries? Will they win out the regular season? Will they make the SEC tournament championship game? Will they PLEASE lose the SEC tournament championship game? Has their opposition to date been tough enough to prepare them for the competition they will meet in the Sweet Sixteen and beyond?

    Bluntly, when healthy and engaged, I don’t think any remaining regular season game poses the Cats a serious challenge. Finishing the season against a desperate home team in the Swamp is concerning, though (that court is nowhere near level for UK). Likewise, I don’t see them losing in the SEC tourney, except to a red hot Bama team. However, losing the SEC tournament championship game has very good omens for UK’s National Championship game outcomes and winning is a bad omen. Look it up.



  5. rockatao
    10:42 am February 20, 2020 Permalink

    “Controlled the glass”?? What game were you watching, BTI? Out-rebounded 45-33 and gave up 23 offensive rebounds. In what universe is that controlling the glass? The main reason UK looked good this game is because they made shots.



  6. Delk4Three
    11:19 am February 20, 2020 Permalink

    Inconsistent shooting, rebounding and Ashton Hagans are the three reasons why this isn’t “All coming together”. Hagans is a turnover machine, he cannot be the leader of a championship team. The shooting is at times atrocious, like head scratching bad. Then there is rebounding, LOL.



  7. Delk4Three
    11:22 am February 20, 2020 Permalink

    Oh I forgot, the complete inability to handle full court press and traps. Good grief, do we ever practice that?



    • Bluehender
      2:25 pm February 20, 2020 Permalink

      So you’re saying there’s no chance?



  8. CJKAssassin123
    11:29 am February 20, 2020 Permalink

    I think everything is starting to come together for UK we just have to get Hagans back to playing like he did in the 2nd half against LSU moving forward,and get Sestina playing like he did at LSU on a consistent basis. I would also would love for us to start hitting 3’s and perimeter shots in the first half like we do in the second half on a consistent basis. If we can do that this team can win it all.



  9. ukwildcat1991
    1:18 pm February 20, 2020 Permalink

    Marry said they were going for number 9 when he signed with Kentucky. We can see now that the team and him aren’t messing around anymore to make that happen



  10. michaelb
    2:32 pm February 20, 2020 Permalink

    We’re all still ignoring the fact that Tyrese maxey and Mush Mouth are the same person, how, how????