The Big Blue Lowdown

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Wildcats Use Lamar Cardinals as Final Tune-up for the “Real” Cardinals

So the game we have all been waiting for is finally here-the filthy Cards will visit Rupp Arena on Saturday for a game featuring two coaches who clearly disdain each other, two of the most historic programs in all of college basketball, and two teams ranked in the top 5. Whether Louisville actually deserves that ranking is a matter of much discussion, but nevertheless, that's where we stand now.

Before we talk about recent developments with the Cats and look ahead to Saturday, let me apologize for my absence the past couple of weeks. After a brief hospitalization for one issue, I opted to have knee surgery last week for one simple reason-insurance. I needed it anyway and had for some time, but the simple fact is that my family's out of pocket expenses were met for the year, so doing surgery now meant no cost to me. It seemed like a no brainer at the time, but as the pain radiates in my knee as I type this, I am questioning myself, lol.

What having surgery has done, however, is allow me to watch a couple of games for the Cats that I probably would have either missed or glossed over, the most recent being last night's win over an overmatched Lamar team which saw Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continue to impress with 18 points and four assists in just 26 minutes of play. Anthony Davis had another double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds while blocking six shots, and Darius Miller continued to light it up from three-point range. The Wildcats looked awesome at times but at other times looked disjointed on both ends of the court. While this could simply be a team looking forward to Saturday's rivalry game, I'm not convinced of that.

I have to say I come away from both the Lamar game and the last couple of games disappointed in the level of play I saw from several players, especially Marquis Teague and Terrence Jones. Lamar is a team that Kentucky should have beaten by 30 or more, yet at times the level of play was like slapstick comedy because the Cats couldn't keep focused.

Teague has been a turnover machine the last three games against, let’s face it, mediocre competition-certainly not Louisville, Florida, or most other SEC teams the Cats will face in the coming weeks. He simply has to get better in the half court. Kentucky is probably the best fast-break team in America-their speed and athleticism at all five positions are simply too much for most teams to handle in the open court-yet in the half court they often get bogged down, look out of sync, and settle for poor shots way too often-and again, with the exceptions of North Carolina, Kansas, and Indiana, they haven’t exactly been facing stellar defense.

Conference games are slug-fests…the teams that can get it done game after game in the half court will be in the hunt for a title. I grant you that Kentucky will be in the hunt because their talent level is far and away better than anyone else in the SEC, but still, they simply have to get better in the half court, and that starts with Teague, and Calipari alluded to this more than once last night in his post game comments.

As for Jones, I cede the fact that he is still not 100% recovered from his finger dislocation, but I have to wonder where his head is at ever since the Indiana game. Terrence was out of position on defense way too often last night and Lamar made him pay and kept the game closer than it otherwise could have been in the second half. Jones is too talented to have his effort questioned, and there are players just as good if not better trying to get his minutes. UK can’t cut the nets down in April with Jones giving less than 100% effort, so I hope that he and Calipari can get on the same page, and soon.

Obviously, the annual showdown with Louisville is coming on Saturday at high noon on CBS. I will take a look at that game tomorrow. In the mean time, GO CATS!

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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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