The hangover I predicted the Cats would have hit a little harder than I expected. The game was tied 37-37 at halftime. John Calipari knew his team might come out a little sluggish after they captured the program’s unprecedented 2,000th win on Monday night. “I’ve done this so long, there are certain things that you can expect,” Calipari said. “On the game before Christmas following the 2,000th win where there is a celebration and people are going nuts, there is going to be a little bit of a letdown.”
The Wildcats came out ready to play in the second half, though. They pulled away to win 86-73, which continued the program’s best start in over 30 years. UK is now 13-0. DeMarcus Cousins beastly play was the main reason UK was able to take control in the second half. The freshman from Mobile, Alabama scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He outsized and out-hustled the frontline of Long Beach State. He only played 2 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. Patrick Patterson also had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The guards for Kentucky continued to shine as well. Eric Bledsoe had 11 points and 5 assists. He hit a big 3 a few minutes into the second half that would give the Cats the lead for good. John Wall’s stellar play was on display as well. The freshman phenom had 19 points and 5 dimes. He only turned the ball over twice. Wall was also 2-3 from three point range. His marksmanship from beyond the arch has been a pleasant surprise. Darius Miller chipped in with 8 points, while Ramon Harris had another workmanlike effort with 7 points and 2 boards.
Long Beach State played well and was not overwhelmed. As I mentioned in the preview, this is a team that has played 5 ranked teams this year. They were led by Larry Anderson’s 15 points. T.J. Robinson had a great day for them too. He had 13 points and 15 rebounds. I thought the Cats would win by 25-30, but I’m not surprised that The Dirtbags were able to keep things interesting. Look for these kids from the West Coast to win the Big West Conference and go dancing in March. At the end of the day, all that matters is the fact that we got the W. UK will come out with renewed energy next week and be ready to rumble against the Dirty Birds from The Ville.
Merry Christmas Everyone!