The Big Blue Lowdown

Insight, Analysis and Expertise on All Things Kentucky Basketball

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Wildcats Use Late Run to Dispatch Portland

After spending the last few days traveling for Thanksgiving, it's nice to be back and, oh what a day to blog about the UK Wildcats!  While I know this is a basketball blog, let me send out some props to the UK football team (and yes, even Joker Phillips) for FINALLY ending The Streak against the Tennessee Volunteers.  While the 10-7 win wasn't pretty, does it really matter?  Any win against Tennessee is wonderful, and yesterday's was one of the all-time moments for this UK fan as I nearly drove my car off the road when UK got the game-sealing interception.  Ending The Streak moved me to tears, and based on what I've read, I'm not the only one!  I'm not certain that Joker Phillips is the right coach moving forward, but you have to hand it to him and the coaching staff for dealing with adversity and finding a way to finally beat the b***t*rds from Tennessee!

Not to be overshadowed, the UK basketball team didn't look pretty at times but they did pull away late for an 87-63 win over the Portland Pilots last night in Rupp Arena.  That win, which moves the Cats to 6-0 on the year, will likely propel Kentucky to the #1 ranking after North Carolina lost convincingly to UNLV last night.  I'm not convinced UK is the best team in the nation, but I also don't put any stock in polls in November-they are meaningless, unlike college football where they matter.

Terrence Jones and supersub Darius Miller led the Cats with 19 points each while Marquis Teague added 14.  Anthony Davis had a monster game with 13 points and 12 rebounds, the one bright spot in an otherwise troubling rebounding game for UK.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist rounded out the Wildcats scoring in double figures with a solid line of 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.  Kidd-Gilchrist also had a highlight reel dunk over Portland's Derrick Rodgers that Cats fans will talk about for a while.

One of the best things to see come from the game is that UK had 20 assists while committing just 4 turnovers.  This is a vast improvement over the last few games and shows good decision making and an unselfishness that also shows up with five players in double figures.  Teague, who has been unsteady at times, led the WIldcats with 8 assists. 

Another positive note is another demonstration of this team's will to win, especially when an opponent makes a push to cut into Kentucky's lead.  Portland cut the lead to 6 early in the second half, but the Cat's pulled back out and eased to the win.  This trend has a good and a bad side.  Obviously, talent wins out most of the time, and yet Kentucky seems to have the ability to find a sense of urgency when needed.  On the other hand, it also shows a trend to let up at times against overwhelmed opponents, something that could bite them down the road when the competition gets much stiffer.

One disturbing trend was rebounding-UK was outrebounded 21-16 in the first half  and 39-38 for the game.  This simply shouldn't happen against Portland.  With the exception of Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist, the Cats were not good on the boards, especially Jones.  Miller had 5 rebounds in 23 minutes, which is solid, but beyond that it was not good.  This is an area that will have to improve this week.

With that said, however, all in all it was another solid win on an electrifying day in Lexington.  UK will be the new #1 this week with a solid St. John's visiting Lexington on Thursday before the much-anticipated game with North Carolina on Saturday.  This week will be a good test for UK after an early slate of mostly pushovers thus far.  Go Cats!

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Kentucky freshman Charles Matthews is transferring, the school announced. Former ESPN 100 prospect. - via @ESPN App espn.go.com/espn/now?nowId…
1. This loss means nothing. UK lost a game on the road in bizarre circumstances vs a very good team. If anything,... fb.me/4rtUJiRSK
Time to put Texas A&M to bed and get tuned up for a high seed in the big dance.
Epic collapse by UK tonight. Still something not right with this team.
Tough loss over the weekend, but the Cats showed heart...they'll be back. fb.me/7EWsEFppx

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