In what has become a recurring theme in SEC play, the Kentucky Wildcats overcame a sluggish first half and a raucous crowd while showing poise down the stretch to pull away to a 65-62 win over Tennessee in Knoxville. Anthony Davis led the Wildcats with 1 points and 8 rebounds and turned in another huge second half when the Cats were trailing. Davis also had four blocked shots to pull within one of the UK season record for blocks. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was again an absolute beast with 17 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals and a block including a huge three-pointer with just under five minutes left to give the Cats a little breathing room.
While not the prettiest performance, the bottom line is when being pressed on the road, Kentucky (17-1, 3-0) again found a way to win. While there may be a certain amount of physical toughness missing on this team as evidenced by Coach Calipari's comments after the game, there is no question that this team is mentally tough and plays with poise in close games. When pressed, this team shows a will to win that I wasn't sure it would have, and that is in large part due to Kidd-Gilchrist who has become the vocal leader as well as the guy who just flat out gets it done on the court.
Any road game in the SEC that ends in a W is pretty, no matter how ugly the game is...and to get one at Tennessee is even sweeter.
A few other notes...
-Kentucky is now 2-0 in SEC road games-which equals their win total on the road in league play last year. While the toughest road games are still to come, one has to be encouraged by this start.
-Despite being plagued by foul trouble, Terrence Jones had another nice game vs. the Vols. Jones had 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, an assist and a steal, all in just 24 minutes of playing time. That's exactly the kind of things we need to keep seeing from Terrence, and its nice to see the young man rebound from his early woes.
-Kyle Wiltjer had just 5 points, but the three he hit at the 13:27 mark of the second half was a big shot just as the Volunteers had pulled out to an 8 point lead. I think this kid will do some nice things during his time at Kentucky.
-On a negative note, the Cats had 13 turnovers to just 7 assists, and Marquis Teague continued to puzzle with 5 turnovers. Teague played much better after Calipari, uh, got his attention to put it nicely midway through the second half, but lets be frank-Kentucky is now 18 games into the season. Its far more likely that the Teague who turns the ball over 4 or 5 times a game is the Teague we are going to see the rest of the way. It is certainly frustrating, but the reality is Kentucky doesn't have many other options.
-In other notable SEC action on Saturday, Florida went to South Carolina and whipped the Gamecocks while Vandy hosted and defeated Georgia. Mississippi State also edged Alabama at home, so UK and Vandy stand alone at 3-0 while Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi State are just behind at 2-1.
-In case you missed it, Louisville finally won a game. Not sure that I care, but some of you might...
-And in case you missed it part 2, North Carolina got absolutely CRUSHED on the road at Florida State by 33 points on Saturday. It was the worst loss for UNC under Roy Williams and was sealed after the Seminoles opened the second half on a 30-8 run. Not sure about you, but that kind of warms my heart.
-UK will host Arkansas on Tuesday and Alabama on Saturday. Unless he doesn't play, I would expect Anthony Davis to break the school record for blocks in a season against the Razorbacks. Although Alabama could pose a challenge, UK should win both games this week to move to 5-0 in SEC play.
Go Cats!go back