What a difference a couple of games can make. I don’t know about you, but yesterday just felt good. The late Tuesday game just didn’t give much time to enjoy a very impressive comeback win. All day yesterday, the talk was about how good Kentucky was starting to look and how bad things are in Louisville… it was nice.
I honestly feel like just having everybody together is what is making the difference. Jarred Vanderbilt was out a little longer than everyone originally thought and Quade Green missed 3 games and wasn’t able to jump back into the flow quickly. Both of those guys are very important pieces to this roster. A lot of people have been saying that Cal finally found his “lineup” – his 5 guys to put out there to put a run together. Well, let’s not pretend like Cal could just put that lineup in long ago because it wasn’t available.
Quade brings that outside shot and extra ball handling that is needed while Jarred brings a very special skill set for a 6’9″ forward. First, he brings a toughness down low with his rebounding; he has 9+ in 4 of the last 6 games despite averaging only 19 minutes/game during that stretch. But, the handle and passing ability Vanderbilt offers has been surprising. He really speeds up the tempo when he gets a rebound and starts the break himself.
In the last 2 games, both wins, Cal has been able to get Green’s minutes back up to 30+ while getting about 20 out of Vanderbilt. You can see Quade’s help on the outside, going 4-9 from 3 and really helping with the ball movement, adding 4 assists in each game. Jarred has settled down and started getting buckets. 8/16 from the field and 9 boards in each game. He has also shown he can hit his free throws, which this team needs.
UK put together another nice video showcasing the trip to Fayetteville, check it out:
"Anybody can play well at home. Special teams go on the road and they play well together. … That’s what you gotta do to win: Go be a great road team.” – Kenny Payne told us before last night's game#EmbraceTheChallenge #EmbraceTheJourney pic.twitter.com/aUcqxIF9Kj
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 21, 2018
Have you been keeping up with the Facebook series on the Wildcats? I’ll be honest, I just watched the first episode last night. This episode covers the Cats early season matchup against Monmouth at Madison Square Garden. This is really a treat for kids with aspirations of playing professionally. Not all of this group will play in the NBA, but the Garden is a special place and these guys can now say they picked up a W there. You can catch all of the series here.
The Cats’ next game is Saturday night as they host Missouri. With a few days in between games, Cal was out on the recruiting trail last night. He personally showed up for 2 guys in the 2019 class, DJ Jeffries (6’7″ SF, #26 overall) and James Wiseman (6’11” C, #1 overall). There continues to be speculation on whether or not Wiseman will reclassify into the 2018 group. If he were do that, because of his age, he would spend 2 years in college – that would be a huge pickup.
Coach Cal was in today to Olive Branch MS 2019 wing, DJ Jeffries. Cal trying to close that deal!!
— Chuck Lawson (@ChuckLawson901) February 21, 2018
Kentucky coach John Calipari in the house at White Station tonight for district title game between East and Whitehaven. Here to see prized 2019 recruit James Wiseman. pic.twitter.com/4LwleTTs42
— Mark Giannotto (@mgiannotto) February 22, 2018
Everybody’s favorite reporters, Pat Forde and Pete Thamel, continue to follow the FBI’s investigation into the dark side of college basketball’s world of recruiting.
“There are spreadsheets detailing who got paid, how much they got paid and how much more they were planning to pay,” said a source familiar with the investigation. “The feds got everything they wanted and much more. Don’t think it will only be players who ended up signing with ASM that got paid. Those spreadsheets cast a wide net throughout college basketball. If your school produced a first-round pick in the past three years, be worried.”
The Cats were off last night, but with the little bit of SEC action that took place, there has been a serious logjam created in the standings.
Alabama and Florida both lost to go to 8-7 in the league. This puts Kentucky in a 6-way tie for 3rd place with 3 games to go. The Cats have Missouri and Ole Miss at home and then head to Florida to wrap up the season. There is going to be a lot of movement in the next couple of weeks to determine seeding for the SEC Tournament. The situation looks much better than it did a couple of games ago, however, when UK was sitting at 6-7.