Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kentucky 77 - 55 S. Carolina (No. 2,106)

This year's Kentucky team has two major flaws.  On offense, the Wildcats have only two players -- Kyle Wiltjer and Julius Mays -- who are major threats to score without getting to the rim.  On defense, the Wildcats struggle to prevent the other team from getting offensive rebounds.  Both of these weaknesses are exacerbated by the bruising, plodding style of play so common in the SEC.  (Just wait until the Cats go down to Knoxville).  But South Carolina is a relatively short team that lacks the bruisers and shot blockers found at so many other SEC schools.  That meant that Archie Goodwin and Ryan Harrow could get to the rim.  It meant that Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein could throw down dunk after dunk.  And it meant that the Gamecocks, unlike so many other UK opponents, wouldn't get that many extra shots.

The result, as you can see above, was a relatively easy UK win.  The Cats jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, got bored, made a bunch of silly turnovers, and trailed 18-17 with 10 minutes to go in the first half.  They then really concentrated for the next 10 minutes -- crushing Carolina 28-6 to take a 45-24 lead into the break.  Here's how the Cats got their 28 points:

2 free throws by Mays
a 3-point play by Cauley-Stein
a layup by Harrow
a dunk by Goodwin
2 free throws by Goodwin
a 3-pointer by Wiltjer
a free throw by Goodwin
a layup by Harrow
2 free throws by Wiltjer
a dunk by Cauley-Stein
a 3-pointer by Mays
a layup by Goodwin

See how easy it is when UK can get to the rim?  All free throws, layups, and dunks, except for one three-pointer by Wiltjer and another by Mays.

The Cats were bored again after the halftime break, and they pretty much traded baskets with Carolina for the rest of the game.  Mays, who went 4-5 from behind the arc (!), led the team with 15 points, but Goodwin and Cauley-Stein each had 13, Harrow had 12, and Noel had 10.  The Cats also out-rebounded South Carolina 42-25.  UK's 22-point margin (exactly the margin predicted by Ken Pomeroy) would have been even larger if the Cats hadn't made 17 turnovers -- a ludicrous number -- many of which were just silly.

After the game, Coach Cal didn't seem all that thrilled with his team's fourth win in a row.  He is still clearly annoyed by a perceived lack of effort on Poythress's part -- the forward only got to play 21 minutes, during which he got 7 points and 9 rebounds.  On the other hand, Coach Cal seemed happy that Cauley-Stein had showed so much energy, and he said he was pleased with Wiltjer's leadership in practice.

Still, that 28-6 blitz shows what this team can really do when it is focused -- especially if you let them get to the rim.  And since Florida lost to Arkansas, and Alabama lost to Auburn, the Cats are now tied with Ole Miss, only one game out of first place in the SEC.  That's some real progress.

No comments:

Post a Comment