Kentucky came away with a victory in what I thought was one of their best performances team-wise since the Arkansas game. They are nothing if not consistent, as lately they’ve made somewhat of a habit of looking–at several points throughout the game–like they’re going to blow it wide open, only to let teams stay close and barely win by double-digits. Certainly, I will take that, and it’s still commendable, obviously, to have only lost one game, I just hope that their inability to close the door on teams doesn’t come back to bite them. But, all in all, really good game by the Cats tonight.
Four players scored in double figures:
-Patrick Patterson had 12 points along with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. It was good to see some of the “old” beastly Patrick down low. There was one move he had down low that was the perfect mixture of raw athleticism and fundamental basketball, a clip that should be shown to any aspiring big man.
-Darnell Dodson, who got the start tonight, had 14 points, shooting a fantastic 4-5 from 3-point land. If it’s not already become obvious, Dodson is UK’s best (and most dangerous) 3-point shooter. He was on fire, and for a moment I thought we could witness another Tayshaun or Jodie-esque performance from deep, but obviously I was getting ahead of myself. If Dodson is hitting 3s like even close to what he is now come tournament time, Kentucky becomes almost unstoppable, and all points made by commentators that Kentucky lacks any kind of outside game become points that are moot.
-John Wall had 17 points and 7 assists, pretty decent numbers (by his standards). We still haven’t seen the return of the John Wall from earlier in the season, but he obviously had one of the best games of his last few outings. At times, Wall still makes freshman mistakes (4 TOs), and he still seems a little frazzled when he drives to the basket and misses easy shots. But maybe he just spoiled us early on. Maybe I’m not giving him enough credit. Maybe other players have just stepped up and he doesn’t have to do as much.
-Damarcus Cousins had yet another double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 boards. Included among his points was maybe his best play of the night which EPSN completely missed, when he stole the inbounds pass and made a nice reverse layup. One of the most interesting things Jimmy Dykes said all night (and there weren’t many–I take that back, he says a lot of interesting things) was that Wall could go first in the draft and Cousins could go second, the first time #1 and #2 have come from the same college team. Sure, it’s early, but fun to think about.
-Eric Bledsoe added 8 points and 7 assits, but also had 7 turnovers. Kentucky had 17 turnovers for the game. TOs are obviously an important factor in games, but many of these didn’t make much difference; at one point, if I recall correctly, Kentucky had 11 TOs in the first half and still maintained about a 15-point lead. Of course, technically, TOs always make it a difference in the game, so it’d still be nice to see these cut in half. Back to Bledsoe: the reverse shot he made of the tipped alley-oop was superb. And I recall one turnover he had where he tried to bounce pass down low to a player going backdoor; even though it was a turnover, I liked the idea. If he can convert that, maybe lead the pass a little more, that’s a pretty play.
-Darius Miller, though not lighting up the stats sheet, did hit a huge 3-pointer to put a dagger of sorts in the momentum of one of the Rebels surges. Also of note is that Miller didn’t start tonight’s game, something that most UK fans knew was probably coming sooner or later. I still think Miller had all the potential in the world. He could be averaging 5 points a game in his senior season and I (or, more precisely, all of us here at Lexpatriates) would still be saying: “Just wait, just wait. Next game.” There’s just something about the kid that makes you never want to give up on him, and I think it would be in UK fan’s best interest (no matter the current evidence to the contrary) not to do so. I suppose I don’t really mean “give up,” but “forget.”
Good game. In honor of beating the Rebs, enjoy this heartwarming (!) story from one of the South’s greatest writers, Ole Miss alum William Faulkner: A Rose For Emily