With Sak back in attendance in Rupp Arena, I once again asked the Big Blue Nation what we wanted to see from our team in our game against Central Michigan. Let's take a look back at some of your responses and see how we did.
"A good and clean start" was personally my biggest wish for this upcoming game. And wow, did our team deliver! Kentucky at one point was up 45-14 (what is this, the Louisville football game?) while shooting over 52% from the field and 71% from three in the first half. Strong finishes against these weaker opponents is going to be inevitable, as these teams do not have the conditioning to keep up with our athleticism and depth late into the game. A near perfect start from the jump is convincing to show the progression our team is already starting to make towards being an elite team.
Rapid fire for the rest of the bullets:
- Bryce Hopkins and Dontaie Allen both played great minutes off of the bench
- Kellan Grady is still not being aggressive enough on offense
- TyTy is becoming an all around great basketball player in more areas than just scoring
- 26 three point attempts is a good amount for this team, but we need to make more than 7
- Jacob Toppin looks full strength, but Lance Ware looks like he is still not full strength
- Sahvir Wheeler (7 and 6) and Oscar Tshiebwe (20 and 16) continue their consistent elite play
With Keion Brooks, Jacob Toppin, and Lance Ware all back in the lineup (Davion Mintz still out), this is the most depth our team has had since the Duke game. And our players top to bottom were all contributing last night.
A well balanced scoring attack lead by Oscar Tshiebwe (20 points) and TyTy Washington (15 points) also saw 6 additional played score somewhere in between 6 and 9 points. We also had multiple guys fill up multiple parts of the stat sheet:
Oscar Tshiebwe - 20 points, 16 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block
Sahvir Wheeler - 7 points, 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
Kellan Grady - 7 points, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound
TyTy Washington - 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 turnovers (for second game in a row)
Bryce Hopkins - 6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Dontaie Allen - 9 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist
Multiple players contributing in multiple areas of the game makes for a really good team.
Dontaie Allen is still in the middle of his shooting slump. Dontaie used to be a player who if he is not making his threes, you cannot play him. But now, even with his not falling (1 of 7 from three), Cal played him 19 minutes, the 5th most on the team. This is due to him impacting the games in ways he has not before. He is becoming a great rebounder as a guard, as he was second on our team in rebounds (6). He is also starting to score from different areas of the court, not just from three. When his shot inevitably starts falling, he can turn into a valuable weapon off of the bench.
Kellan Grady is still not taking the shots he needs to. Despite having similar roles, and Kellan having played 9 more minutes than Dontaie, Allen still attempted 3 more shots than Grady. This means that the shots are there for Kellan to take; he just needs to start being more aggressive and letting it fly. On the bright side, our team is averaging 83.6 points per game on the season, with a 2000 point career scorer only averaging 9.3 points per game. Once we get Grady going, the ceiling for our offenses raises to one of the best in the entire country.
Good news, UK shot 71.4% (5 of 7) from three in the first half. Bad news, UK shot 10.5% (2 of 19) from three in the second half.
More good news is that when our shots were falling, we easily dropped over 50 points in a half. The even more good news is that our offense still played fine and finished with 85 for the game, even though we possibly could not have been shot any worse. It is comforting to see that the Cats can really benefit from making threes, but our entire offense is not dependent on it. Even on an off shooting night, Kentucky should be able to keep themselves in the game by good defense and scoring in the paint.
No one tweeted it, but the thing we all most wanted to see was a win. Kentucky beat Central Michigan 85-57, making it their 6th consecutive win. We have over a week off before taking on Southern in Rupp Arena on Tuesday, November 7.