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What a night at Rupp Arena! Kentucky avenged an earlier loss at Missouri, by dominating the Tigers back home. Coach Cal has been preaching all season to his young team the importance of putting their individual stats aside and focusing instead on ways to make their teammates better. If they were to reach their potential, it would only be if they did it as a team.
Through the impressive wins in the past week, we have seen two of their best performances of the season doing just that. For the second straight game, they have had at least five guys score in double figures (five against Arkansas, six against Missouri) and have combined for 33 assists (17 assists against Missouri and 16 assists against Arkansas). Let’s take a look back at a fun night at Rupp courtesy of KSR photographer, Dr. Michael Huang:
Hamidou Diallo has been going through a rough stretch but Coach Cal never went away from him. Calipari has seen the extra work Diallo has been putting in the gym, so it was only right to stick by his side. Against Missouri, it was great to see Diallo not only knock some shots down, but also play with a smile on his face. He was 3-3 from outside the three point line and threw down a huge dunk to send the Rupp crowd into a frenzy. Diallo finished the game with 11 points, two assists, and a steal. He left the game to a huge applause from the crowd.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is another guy Coach Cal said has been putting in extra work in the gym. SGA finished the game 2-3 from three point range. But another stat from the 6’6 point guard has been more important as it relates to this team’s better overall production. He has been a huge factor in UK’s increase in assists. The past two games he has combined for 15 assists (eight against Missouri to only one turnover).
It’s no secret Kentucky’s energy and intensity changes the second Jarred Vanderbilt enters the game. The way he affects the game you can see why Coach Cal has compared him to Dennis Rodman. Vanderbilt has been a monster on the glass but he is starting to get more comfortable on the offensive end which is probably scary for opponents. Against Missouri he was perfect from the field (4-4) finishing with 11 points, two assists, and three blocks. He also grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds for the first double-double of his career.
Outside of the game, what a special scene it was at halftime as the beloved 1978 National Title team was honored. Following a tribute video [WATCH], each player was introduced to a huge applause and Coach Hall addressed the crowd.
Kentucky’s final home game is Wednesday against Ole Miss before the final game of the regular season against the Florida Gators. For now, let’s celebrate this win. You can check out the rest of the great photos on KSR’s Facebook page: