[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Well it was a new game but it was the same old script that we’ve seen throughout SEC play and for most of the year. For one half the Cats looked pretty great. The offense was clicking and the Cats looked like they were going to roll to an easy victory. Then in the second half the wheels fell off. The opponent crawled back into the game with a chance to send the game to overtime late. So what’s working for the Cats and what isn’t? Let’s take a look as we go in depth against LSU:
-First off was the big play of Alex Poythress. The game was arguably his best overall game of the year for the freshman as he finished with 20 points on 6-9 shooting. That’s the stat line everyone expected from Alex when the year began and if we can get that out of him every game then things will be much easier for the Cats. Alex impacted the game on both ends of the floor though. He nabbed 12 rebounds and threw down some rim rattling dunks. Had Alex played the way he had for the majority of the year then the Cats would have lost the game without question. Alex Poythress lead the Cats to victory today. Hopefully beast mode has been activated.
The Coach of the tigers agreed as he said Alex was “really tough on the boards”, “really strong” and “a big difference-maker.”. No one would have predicted Alex be the difference maker based on his production so far. A welcome change.
-The improved play of Al-Po was a revelation as much as the play of Kyle Wiltjer was a disappointment. Earlier this week came the news that going forward the offense would be running through Kyle Wiltjer and it was for good reason. Kyle had been straight up getting it done but tonight he kind of reverted a little bit. It was an off shooting night for Kyle as he went 3-8 and 0-3 from behind the arc. Those nights are going to happen but he just didn’t seem to be the same player that we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks. This will be a one time ordeal. Despite the poor shooting Kyle iced the game with two big free throws to put the Cats up by three. That’s what leaders do.
-Those free throws almost didn’t happen though as the Cats nearly committed an error that would have gone on to define this team. As they were up by one the Cats had six men on the floor as they went to in bound the ball. Just as the ball was given to Archie Goodwin, Coach Robic grabbed Nerlens Noel and pulled him off the court. The quick moved saved the Cats from a technical foul and possibly saved the season as the Cats would have lost the lead with just seconds remaining. Cal said he was on his staff for the near error. To me it sounds like someone is drawing the ire of Cal this year as he was convinced to put Alex on Elston Turner earlier this year. Somebody is messing up and I hope its not the same person.
-The rest of the team played pretty average. Archie Goodwin finished with 15 and played with a bit more control than he showed against Alabama. He even dished out a couple assists to try and shake the selfish moniker. He was so unselfish he even gave 4 turnovers to the other team. He wasn’t the only one as turnovers from LSU’s press and solid D allowed them back into the game. UK gave up the ball and alarming 16 times. Couple that with a season low 7 assists and you have the recipe for the upset that nearly happened.
Nerlens Noel was a man. His statline was once again stacked: 10 points, 8 rebounds, 6 blocks. He is becoming the best defender in the nation and you know what you are going to get. The Cats should have got it to him more on the block as he was 4-5 and putting in work. Nerlens is going to give you total effort every night and he just gets better each game. This team would be lost if not for the big man.
-Kentuckian Anthony Hickey had a pretty big game back in his home state. The troubled guard finished with 15 points and three steals but really took over late to get the Tigers back in the game. I wish nothing but the best for the former Mr. Basketball but save the big games for teams other than Kentucky.
So what’s next for the Cats? Are they the team that crushed Auburn and built big leads against Bama and LSU. Or is it the team that let Vandy and LSU come back and drop one to Alabama? This team looks great during stretches and awful during the next. IF they can just get the pieces to fit then watch out. It is promising that each game they seem to be getting closer and closer.
Next up will be #23 Ole Miss which will offer the Cats a resume building win. Those are going to be rare in the SEC so it’s time for the Cats to rise up and win one on the road.
Go Big Blue!
[powered by WordPress.]
32 queries. 0.404 seconds