Five takeaways from Kentucky’s win over Florida
Things looked pretty bleak mid way through the second half as Kentucky trailed Florida by 11 points. From that moment on the Cats cranked up their defense and made a 22 point swing by the final buzzer. Here are my takeaways from the win.
- That was the biggest win of the season to date- Sure the Cats have beaten more highly ranked teams but it was the way in which they did it that was so impressive. They had every chance in the world to fold up, take a loss and head back to Lexington. The fact that they responded by fighting back and winning the game says a lot about the make up of this team. Florida is as tough of a place to win at as there is in the SEC and the Cats have lost there more often than not over the past 20 years. The crowd was in a frenzy but when their backs were against the wall the Cats made one clutch play after another to leave Gainesville with a win. It was a great confidence builder and learning experience for the young team.
- Tyler Herro is a road dog- He has played very well this season no matter where he has been but when he is on the road he seems 100% locked in. He scored 19 points against the Gators and they had absolutely no answer for him. After he flipped his commitment from Wisconsin to Kentucky he face a senior year in high school of ultra hostile road games. That seems to have trained him to excel in those situations. So don’t forget to thank Wisconsin for not only giving us Tyler Herro but also for preparing him to dominate on the road.
- PJ Washington is becoming the leader of this team- On several occasions last night you could see PJ getting after his teammates as they huddled together on the floor. Cal wants a player driven team so the more leaders he can have on the floor the better. PJ is backing up his words by being the most dominant player on the floor for the last four games. His play has taken Kentucky from a very good team to a national title contender. His leadership can help drive the rest of the roster to reach their full potential.
- Teams that can win on the road will win in March- The very best teams can go on the road and win. Those are the types of teams that are capable of going on a deep run into March. This team has played as well on the road as any Cal team since 2015. It continues to support my belief that a Final Four run is very likely for this group.
- The defense just keeps getting better- The Cats kept the game close by playing solid defense last night and they sealed the win by cranking it up to an elite level. The ability to grind out wins with defense is something that will really benefit Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. The crazy thing is that I still think this team can improve a lot in that area. I came into the season thinking that this team could be a very special defensive team and they are turning into that before our eyes.
The Cats will return to Rupp Arena to take on South Carolina on Tuesday night. By that time they should move up in the rankings by one or two spots as well. This team is just beginning to tap into their potential so with over a month left to play before tournament time BBN should be very excited. This team is special.