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Kentucky Wildcats (8) @ Washington Huskies (13): Open Game Thread

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We have arrived at the first major test for the Kentucky Wildcats.  The ‘Cats and the Washington Huskies have a showdown at the Lahaina Civic Center tonight for the right to go on to the Maui Invitational finals.

Game details are as follows, courtesy of

Gameday Information
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Washington Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Tues., Nov. 23, 9:30 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: ESPN
Radio: BBSN
Online Audio
Live Video via ESPN3
Text Updates
Location Lahaina Civic Center
Maui, Ha.
Maui Invitational With a win, the Cats next face the winner of Connecticut-Michigan St. at 10:00 p.m. ET Wednesday in the Championship Game. With a loss, the Cats will face the loser of Connecticut-Michigan St. at 5:00 p.m. ET Wednesday for third place.


It goes without saying that the Wildcats must perform better tonight than they did last night versus Oklahoma.  Washington is a deep, powerful team that is highly ranked and torched Virginia last night.  The Wildcats are going to need their “A” game against the Huskies.

What Kentucky must do to win:

  • Share the ball;
  • Attack the rim at every opportunity.  The DDM should be very effective against the Huskies due to Kentucky’s bigger backcourt.
  • Defend.  UK defended very well against the Portland Pilots, but they regressed against the Oklahoma Sooners.
  • Continue to take care of the basketball.  Kentucky is averaging under 16% turnovers, which is really good for this young of a team.
  • Continue to win the battle on the offensive glass.  It is not a Washington strength.

What UK can do to lose:

  • Play pathetic transition defense like they did last night;
  • Lose their cool. I expect Washington will try to push the young Wildcats around.  How Kentucky responds to that will tell us a lot.
  • Fail to guard the three.  This is a very good shooting team, as the Virgina Cavaliers found out to their woe.

Here we go, ‘Cat fans.  A big game at last.  Win this, and Kentucky has to be considered a legitimate top-ten team.  Right now, it’s all guesswork as to how good this team is.

Go, ‘Cats!

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Kentucky 79 @ Portland 48: Postmortem

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Defense was the key to Kentucky's win tonight.

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Greg Wahl-Stephens – AP

Defense was the key to Kentucky’s win tonight.

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Some people, like my wife, don’t like blowouts.  I love them.

Thanks to the Portland Pilots for the invitation out west, and the hard and gutsy game they played against us.  They will not be happy when they look at this tape, because they will find that they allowed Kentucky to mentally dominate them in the early going.  The K E N T U C K Y across the chest of the boys in Blue and White is well recognized, and the Portland Pilots were far too “up” for this game.  They exhausted themselves early, and Kentucky cruised to an easy victory.

I don’t want to minimize the great game that UK played.  It was, unquestionably, one of the best early-season games that any Kentucky team has played in many years.  Despite the lopsided outcome, Portland is a very good basketball team that just ran up against a UK team that did everything right — from sticky, almost impermeable defense on the perimeter, to an impressive victory on the glass.  Portland was 3-0 coming in to this game, and none of them were even close. 

Portland is a skilled and impressive program for its size, and if anyone thinks this was just another UK pounding of an inferior opponent, you know nothing about college basketball.  Portland is not in danger of cracking the top 25, but they are a quality program playing in a near-home arena against a team that had to travel 3,000 miles to play them.

For me, this was an impressive victory for a team full of mid and upperclassmen, let alone mostly freshmen.  Here are my observations:

  • Game ball — DeAndre Liggins.  He didn’t score much, but he completely invalidated Portland’s best shooter, rendering him utterly impotent.  Liggins did it with class, ease, and effort.  It was impressive in the extreme.
  • Josh Harrellson had a terrific game.  He had at least 11 rebounds, and was always involved in the middle.  He made a mistake or two, but overall, played like a senior.
  • Love me some Brandon Knight.  He managed to both score and deliver the ball this game, and his defense was excellent.
  • Doron Lamb is the silent assassin of this team.  Twice, Portland came down and made a three, and both times, Lamb answered with one of his own.  This kid has a feel for the dramatic, and has a knack for making huge plays look effortless.
  • Darius Miller was just exactly what the Wildcats needed him to be tonight — terrific.
  • Terrance Jones did not have one of his best shooting games, but he was always in the play, he rebounded, and generally played hard.  And well.
  • Eloy Vargas had some good moments.  I was pretty happy with what he did.
  • Jon Hood hustled, but could have done more.  He was strong with the ball, and that is something.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with Kentucky this game.  There just isn’t a lot to criticize, and not having seen the stats, my impression is that this team played their best game of the year tonight, particularly defensively.  This was far and away the best defensive performance we have seen from this team in any game, including Canada.  Offensively, it was very good, but the defense is what has been lacking.  Tonight, it lacked little.

I’m not a fan of the long trip to Portland, but it will do this team good to know they can handle a talented team this far away from home.  In Maui, the teams will be far more talented, and the distance even farther.

But for now, a great victory.

Go, ‘Cats!

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Wildcats Begin Four-Game Road Swing

Following a season-opening 88-65 win against East Tennessee State, the Wildcats take to the road for the first time this season, traveling to the Northwest to take on the Portland Pilots in the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.

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Video: Terrence Jones talks about returning home

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Before Wednesday’s practice, UK freshman Terrence Jones talked about the team’s trip back to his hometown of Portland, Oregon to play the Portland Pilots on Friday.


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