[Moderated by Matt Jones]
From the moment the game began, Kentucky left no doubt that they were the far superior team. The nail biter in Knoxville seemed a distant memory as Kentucky sported their fancy jerseys and took control from the start. Kentucky started the game on an offensive tear, hitting their first 11 shots of the game. The team’s first miss came on a Terrence Jones brick at the 8:27 mark in the second half. Yes, you read that right. Kentucky did not miss a shot until the 8:27 mark. Tennessee’s 11:11 wish finally came true, though a few minutes late. Kentucky maintained a comfortable lead heading into the half ahead 38-25.
The story of the second half quickly became the “Anthony Davis Triple-Double Watch.” We all removed our 3 goggles, only having eyes for potential blocking and rebounding situations for Davis. With just under 8 minutes left, Davis had 7 blocks and the feat seemed within his reach. Unfortunately, Davis did not earn Kentucky’s first triple-double since Chris Mills’ in 1988. Davis finished with a dazzling stat-line nonetheless (18 pts, 8 rebs, 7 blocks, 3 assists). If Davis ends his Kentucky career, which can be assumed will only last one year, without a triple-double– he will certainly have been dangerously close on a nightly basis.
Some other noteworthy game notes:
-Anthony Davis not only flirted with a triple double, he also continued to show a much improved offensive game. Davis has expanded his game beyond alley oops and freakishly athletic put-backs. Davis has not been afraid to shoot long range jumpers all season long, but now he is actually hitting them. His shots aren’t even touching the net either. Add the outside shooting touch to the turn-around post moves he has shown lately as well, and the player who is already projected to be the #1 pick in next year’s draft becomes virtually unstoppable.
-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist put on a show for his mother, who was apparently in the crowd tonight. Kidd-Gilchrist had 16 points to go along with 8 rebounds. My favorite moment of the game involving Kidd-Gilchrist had nothing to do with his stat line though. Following the scuffle in the first half when double technicals were assessed to Trae Golden and Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist spent the entire defensive trip up the floor on Golden clapping intensely and enthusiastically in his face. I am not an expert when it comes to reading lips, but Kidd-Gilchrist’s were moving a mile a minute, channeling his inner-DeAndre Liggins. Kentucky drew a foul only moments later. Rupp Arena exploded.
-Skylar McBee tried to go 1 on 1 with Anthony Davis. I’ll let you guess how that ended for him…
-Kentucky’s defense was stifling throughout the game, holding Tennessee 28.1% FG shooting. Had Renaldo Woodridge not put on his Keyla Snowden jersey in the first half, drilling 5 three pointers, Kentucky might have won by 40. The commentators made a point to bring up a Coach Calipari comment that he doesn’t want his team to lead the league in steals. According to the announcers, Calipari prefers for his team to keep their opponent in front of them defensively, likely leaving them to rely on a contested outside shot or funnel any drives toward Anthony Davis. I don’t care if Calipari doesn’t want this team to force steals. I don’t care if Calipari doesn’t want this team to eat at Fro Jo’s when they could eat at Orange Leaf. Whatever he is asking of them defensively, it’s working. Having Anthony Davis sure helps too.
-Darius Miller was quiet with only 4 points in 24 minutes. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care if Darius Miller scores 4 points or if he scores 20 points. The bigger the moment, the better he has been. We didn’t need anything spectacular out of Miller to win tonight. When we do, I have no doubt that he will put us on his shoulders.
- Doron Lamb’s 3-point shot hasn’t looked as smooth since he got the haircut. Coincidence?
I think not. Yeah, probably.
-Coach Calipari seemed as pleased in his post-game comments as I’ve heard him all season long. He is happy with his team right now. Is he satisfied? Not a chance. But he seems to believe that his team is moving in the right direction at the right time, playing their best basketball of the season. Calipari gave a lot of credit to Marquis Teague, who has been nearly error-free in the last 3-4 games. Teague continues to cut down on the number of shots he takes throughout the game, concentrating more on being the floor general than the playmaker. Calipari also would apparently like to play some zone, to which I say in my best T.I. voice, “You can have whatever you like.”
- Kentucky shot 88.9% from the line. We are running out of things we can criticize about this team.
- This Kentucky team, from player one through Eloy Vargas, is enjoying the ride right now. The players are all smiling throughout the game, diving after loose balls, helping each other up, standing up for one another when they get knocked down, etc. Calipari’s catch phrase from day one has been that “teams that enjoy each other fight to make the season last longer because they don’t want it to end.” This team has that appearance right now.
-Kentucky handled Tennessee in one of the best overall team performances we’ve seen all year, winning 69-44.
- I just wish I knew a little bit more about Jarnell Stokes.
@AllyTuckerKSR Follow me, everything is alright. I’ll be the one to tuck you in at night (just kidding, that’s creepy).
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