Friday, December 31, 2010

Kentucky proved to the country that they are the real deal

I don't want to say that Kentucky proved themselves this afternoon, because I've had a feeling that this Kentucky team was flying under the radar a little bit.

But at the very least the Wildcats reinforced the notion that they are, in fact, a team capable of making the Final Four this season.

On Saturday afternoon, Kentucky went into Louisville's brand new KFC Yum! Center (can't forget the exclamation point!) and whooped the Cardinals. They won 78-63 in a game that was never really close in the second half.

As you might expect, Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones were impressive. Knight had 25 points on 7-13 shooting while also adding four assists. He's not quite there as a point guard yet -- he did have five turnovers -- but you can see him progressing and growing as a player.

Jones wasn't effective as a scorer -- he had 12 points, the majority of which came late in the second half -- but he played a terrific all-around game. He had eight boards and three blocks, but I was most impressed by his six assists. Louisville paid a lot of attention to him, which meant that Josh Harrellson was far too open on far too many occasions. The Wildcat's senior center had 23 points and 14 boards, six of which came on the offensive end, and also knocked down a three.

Harrellson wasn't he only Wildcat role player that played well, either. DeAndre Liggins showed the nation what people bring up his name when they are talking about the best on-ball defenders in the country, as he completely took Louisville point guard Peyton Siva out of the game. Darius Miller played as well as I have seen him play since he has been in a Kentucky uniform as well.

This Kentucky team may not have the five first round picks that last year's squad did, but I think this may end up being the better basketball team.

They defend, they can shoot, and they have two stars surrounded by some quality role players. Harrellson is not the offensive threat that Enes Kanter would be, but its hard to imagine the Turk being better on the glass or a better positional defender than the man known as 'Jorts'.

Most importantly, however, is that in addition to all of the above, Kentucky is as talented as any team in the country out side of Duke, Kansas, and maybe Ohio State.

Louisville may not be as good as their ranking indicates -- especially without Raheem Buckles and with Elisha Justice and Mike Marra slowed by injury -- but this was an impressive performance from the Wildcats nonetheless.

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