We got our revenge but it wasn’t as sweet as the halftime score promised it could be.
One of John Calipari’s keys to the game was seeing if the team had learned anything from their previous loss in Athens. Namely, he wanted to see if the team could come out and correct the poor interior defense and a general lack of toughness and aggressiveness that served us our first SEC loss of the season.
In those areas, I’d say the Cats showed a marked improvement. Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins played with a passion that they’ve only teased us with to this point in the season. They drove the ball well and made a point to attack the Georgia defense, even though DeAndre made a habit out of missing layups. As far as interior defense goes, Trey Thompkins who torched the Cats for 24 in the first contest, was held to only 9 points on 2-10 shooting.
However, the Cats didn’t learn very well from their game against South Carolina last week. We watched the lead balloon to 17 before this young team allowed the Dawgs to get within 6 with under a minute remaining in the game. The free throw inefficiency of early in the season also reared its head again and prevented the Cats from icing a contest that should have been over at halftime.
If this UK team is able to learn where their strengths are and avoid falling into the stretches of poor play that have defined the Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia games, then they’ll be a force come March.
As far as game positives go, Ashley Judd made a lovely appearance and the Denver Broncos Man of the Year, Wesley Woodyard, served as the ‘Y’ during the K-E-N-T-U-C-K-Y cheer.
Doron Lamb came in and put up a very efficient 19 points off of the bench. He was the only player who really shot the ball well but foul trouble for Josh and Terrence probably contributed to that as well. It’s difficult to get into a strong rhythm with the size inside coming in and out.
The decision to double team Thompkins was fantastic. I already mentioned his offensive woes but the most telling stat was his 0-5 posting from the three point line. In 15 games he had only taken 32 three point attempts. That he shot 3 more than his per game average showed that the interior defense was enough to rattle him and push him outside of his comfort zone to beyond the arc, where he struggled even more.
The first half of play was about as good as we could have hoped, especially considering that we had both Jones and Harrellson in foul trouble. The second half, meh. I’ll just reiterate it. If we can play two complete halves of basketball like the first half of this game then we’ll be a tough out in March.
That’s a long way away though. For now, I’ll enjoy this win.