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Kentucky Basketball

UK vs. Mega Bemax

August 11, 2018
498

First Half:

Kentucky came out of the gate on fire against Serbian pro team, Mega Bamax, and knocked down a couple of quick three's. While Hagans and Herro have gained a lot of the attention during the first two games, Quickley and Greene are showing why they might be the best backcourt combination. They lead the team with a great pace, good decision making and the ability to knock down the three.

Five minutes into the game Keldon Johnson showed why he is Kentucky's most important defender. He switched onto a smaller guard and came up with the steal after an impressive stand.

Mega Bemax is big, especially in the paint. It's impressive to see Kentucky's length and athleticism take them completely out of rhythm. The Cats are pressuring the ball handler 94 feet, forcing them to speed up their sets in the half-court and defending at the rim.  

Almost ten minutes into the game Mega Bemax did not look like they belonged on the court with Kentucky. I cannot overstate how impressive the Cats looked through two and a half games. Coming into this trip, most did not think Kentucky would win all four of these games, let alone win them in a blow out fashion. However, these Cats have done just that. They've done this by playing unselfish play and effort and communication on defense, which is something teams typically do not do this well until midway through the season, especially a team with mostly new players.

PJ Washington continues to separate himself as a leader. He is working his butt off on both sides of the court. He came through with a big block and tenacity on defense with smart and unselfish offensive play. Even small things like not letting Bemax see shots go in the basket after the whistle has been blown shows a dominating mentality that this team can get behind.

I'm not saying this team is as good as the 2015 team, but when you see an opponent who is 3-21 from the field 13 minutes into the game, it does not seem like that crazy of a comparison. Those kind of numbers are the numbers the Cats would put up four years ago. It does not matter who the opponent is, that is impressive.

Reid Travis continues to get more comfortable abt Kentucky. This is the best I've seen him in the Bahamas.

This team has the ability to take the wind out of any teams sails. Just when Mega Bemax looked like they might cut into the lead, Travis makes a great play in the paint and then the Cats forced a turnover on the following play which led to a Johnson run out and slam. It feels like they can turn it on whenever they want, but they rarely turn it off. 

Keldon Johnson made a majority of the big plays this half. His defense and athleticism are tough to deal with.

Stat of the half:

The Cats are 2-5 from three. While fans would probably like to see more attempts and make from a team with this many shooters, the few numbers of attempts show a comfortability with finding shots in the flow of the team's offense. The Cats have dominated by working the ball down low, forcing turnovers and running in transition. Nobody is settling from deep. Everyone is playing unselfish and patient on offense, which is rare for a young team, especially this early in the year.

Second half:

Quade Green battling a bigger defender in the paint is a perfect snapshot of this game. The Cats have brought physicality when they needed it. They've run when they've needed to. They've been patient and methodical when they've needed to. 

The Cats managed to kick it up another level five minutes into the half. Back-to-back big dunks by PJ and Keldon Johnson right after a Quickley three shows why these guys look unbeatable at times.

It continued to be highlight after highlight for the Cats in the second half. When they were not making a highlight reel play, they were playing physical and suffocating defense against Bemax, removing any rhythm they might gain during stretches.

If Washington is going to be knocking down threes, you might want to book Final Four tickets now if you are a Kentucky fan.

Final Thoughts:

The Cats dominated from start to finish and gave their most impressive performance of the week. This was their third game in four days against a top-level international team with a roster of professional players and they made them look like a high school team. UK never dropped their intensity or effort on both sides of the ball. Guys were having a good time, playing off each other and approaching the game with a tenacity and "step on your throat" mentality to every possession. 

It's important to mention that today happened without the talented freshmen EJ Montgomery. Even in his absence, Washington and Travis showed why they are more than capable to handle the bulk of the work in the paint. Richards continues to impress as well.

Washington is ultimately the story of the game. He claimed the role of the leader for this team and if he continues to bring it all 40 minutes every game, it will only elevate the guys around him. You can tell he worked on his body in the offseason and he already looks quicker and more comfortable handling the ball from the free throw line area and even in transition. He really could be the Draymond Green of this team in the sense that he could be the heart of the team and be a versatile and intense player on both sides of the court.

How this team handles success and high praise will certainly be the thing to watch for tomorrow and going forward. They have already shown the ability to dominate anybody in any kind of game. They can play physical, in the half court, in transition, and on defense. If this team does not live up to the potential they showed today, it will be because they got in their own way. 

 
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