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Kentucky Basketball

UK vs Team Toronto

August 12, 2018

Kentucky rolled out a new starting five consisting of Hagans, Herro, Johnson, Washington, and Travis. This feels like it should be UK's most explosive lineup. The game came out of the gates slow, but the Cats found enough sparks in Green and Herro to still maintain a double-digit lead most of the first half. Washington and Travis were anchors down low and made every rebound in the paint difficult.

This is the first game where the Cats looked a little fatigued, and yet they still won 93-60. This is expected after playing four games in five days, but the defense was still locked in for most of the game. Every possession looked hard for Toronto due to the Kentucky defense. Richards continues to be a shot blocking machine and the offense in the second half took it up a notch.

Still, through all of the shaky offensive play, the Cats still managed to have a 39-19 lead going into the half. It was different guys at different moments. Much like the 2015 team, this team has the ability to have a different leading scorer every game.

PJ continues to look comfortable shooting threes, running the break, and operating in the high or low post. He was easily the most impressive player from these four games. Thanks mainly to him and Travis, the Cats pulled down an astounding 37 rebounds in the first half. This team instantly gets taken to another level if PJ is knocking down 3's consistently. They have the size to play with the biggest teams in college basketball, but they are also comfortable playing in a run-&-gun shootout. 

There is really nothing bad you could say about the team’s performance over these four games and way to much good stuff to cram into one article. Richards being a force, Herro being a go-to guy, Travis, and Washington shooting jump shots, the high-quality depth at guard and the team defense as a whole, all leave fans excited as we get closer to the regular season. The competition may have been a little overrated, but it the teams still had some professional players who have either played in the NBA or will at some point. The whole trip was a scary sign for other teams in college basketball because this Cats team is deep, tough, and unselfish with each other very early in the process.

Even more terrifying is that this team was not at full strength. Talented freshman EJ Montgomery missed the last three games and redshirt freshmen Jemarl Baker missed every game. Baker may crack the rotation when he's healthy, but Montgomery will certainly be a key contributor this season. Cal has his hands full with not only the backcourt but how he will rotate the four talented big men as well. 

Being as objective as possible, its hard not to be excited to watch what this team is capable of as the season goes on. I have a feeling there will be plenty of memorable games and with a loaded non-conference schedule, we could see some great games against countless teams. People have Duke circled on their calendars because of their three talented freshmen, but unless teams have the ability to go at least eight deep against the Cats, it will be an uphill battle. Cal may not substitute like a platoon or call it that after the 2015 season, but I would be shocked if the Cats don't go nine deep regularly.

Cal talked today about how Travis and Washinton led the team in shots with ten and eleven apiece against Mega Bemax and a big part of that was because they each had five offensive rebounds. Most guys had six or seven shots. That level of balance is something you rarely see in college basketball, especially on a team with several future NBA players. I feel very comfortable saying that this team is 2015-esque. They may not have the top level talent that the 2015 Cats had, but they are just as deep, just as unselfish and have a good collection of freshmen and experienced returnees.

We will not see this team again until the Kentucky NBA combine on October 2nd. It will be interesting to see what they focus on following their first taste of competition. I would imagine Cal will try and keep them focused and continuing to improve themselves individually, but they are pretty freaking good already. 

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UK vs Team Toronto

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