That wasn’t the prettiest win in the world, but after a very rough first half, Kentucky was able to rally in the second half and beat Southern Illinois, 71-59.
I saw more of the same team we saw against Duke Tuesday night. Kentucky came out with no energy and some of the most careless basketball I’ve seen in the Calipari era. The team needed a spark and got it toward the end of the first half, leading 31-28 at halftime.
The second half was a different story. They looked more energized and looked like they were hungry for the win. I’d say that had a little bit to do with the ten point deficit they faced early in the second half. Immanuel Quickely and Keldon Johnson came alive in the second half scoring 15 points each, leading the team. Quade Green scored 14 points and EJ Montgomery scored 10 points. Nick Richards grabbed 19 rebounds, which is a record that ties Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and I never would’ve guessed that.
The good news is we saw this team actually play well tonight. I was really worried after they came out tonight looking as bad as they did Tuesday night, and I honestly thought this was going to be a very rough season.
The thing that hurt Kentucky the most was turnovers as they had 13 in 13 minutes and through 2 half’s and 13 minutes of play, they had committed 27 turnovers. They had 19 tonight.
What worries me about this team is they don’t have a go-to scorer or playmaker. Now maybe we found that tonight in Immanuel Quickley or Keldon Johnson, but there isn’t one consistent player. We’re only through two games so far and maybe someone separates themselves from the others, but as of right now I don’t see that.
This team is talented and will hit a stride at some point this year. Will it be like last year where they hit it late in the year or will they find their way early? If you want to be good early, you have to find three guys that can be good consistently and play long periods of time. Keep in mind, Tyler Herro, Ashton Hagans, and PJ Washington haven’t given us anything so far this year.
We’re only through two games and I’m not panicking yet. Kentucky looked good in the second half which gave us something to get excited about, but will that translate to the rest of the season? We’ll have to wait and see.
Tonight was the hardest game Kentucky will play until Seton Hall in New York.
The Cats are back in action on Wednesday at 9 PM against North Dakota.
The football team thought plays tomorrow, and right now that’s all I’m worried about. Kentucky got the win tonight, now let’s go kick UT’s ass tomorrow.