The first half was less than stellar for both Kentucky and Kansas Tuesday night. Kentucky’s second half performance was. The Wildcats used an 11-2 run to propel them to a second half strangle hold over the Jayhawks and they never looked back.
Kentucky started three freshman and two sophomores in game two of the Champions Classic, and the youth and inexperience was evident through the first twenty minutes of play.
Marquis Teague looked lost running the show for Kentucky and made poor decisions throughout the half. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis took bad shots and forced the tempo a little too much, meanwhile Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb did little to lead the youngsters.
Some poor shooting and shoddy defense allowed the Jayhawks to grab the momentum. Kansas, though they struggled as well in the half, looked to have a slight advantage over the Cats. They turned the ball over fewer times, were hitting some perimeter shots, and were attacking the boards with regularity.
Kentucky’s length and athleticism, however, kept them in the game. Davis found himself grabbing lobs and throwing them through the rim a few times, and Jones was starting to take over in the post. The defense picked up late in the first half and the Cats drew to a 28-28 tie at half time.
It was all Kentucky in the second half. Kentucky opened with an 13-2 run to fly out to a 41-30 lead and John Calipari’s team never looked back. Teague settled down and went to work, Lamb began to find his stroke, and Jones and Davis defended the rim as Kentucky never trailed in the second half.
Lamb finished the game with 17 points and four rebounds, while fellow sophomore Jones scored 15 and napped 7 boards. Kidd-Gilchrist kicked in 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
It was a huge win for the Wildcats, even though it was not very pretty. There is still much to work and improve on, but it was a big win for this team’s confidence, and Calipari will certainly use this as a way to make this team better. We will have much more on this game tomorrow, but in the meant time, get some sleep and get ready to celebrate with all your fellow co-workers.