3 takeaways from Kentucky’s win over Ole Miss
The Cats went to Oxford and came away with their 8th road win of the season. It was a big win in terms of NCAA tournament seeding and it was a confidence booster after an ugly loss to Tennessee. Here are my takeaways from the win.
- Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson dominated- Before the game I said that Kentucky need to get at least 30 points from the duo. They delivered in a big way, finishing with 42 points on the night. Herro made shots all over the court and did not miss his first 7 shots he took. He also calmly stepped to the free throw line and drained two clutch free throws with the game on the line. Johnson was locked in attack mode and he drove the ball to the rim with authority. He also played well when the Cats went to a “small” lineup with him at the 4 spot. It is an interesting option for Cal to have available when they face teams that are not particularly big inside. The one area that Johnson needs to get going again is at the free throw line where he was just 3-7 on the night. When the roommates play like they did last night it makes Kentucky very hard to beat.
- PJ Washington got back on track in the 2nd half- Foul trouble reared it’s head again for PJ in the first half. He went into the half scoreless but came out with fresh legs and dominated after the break. He scored 13 points in the 2nd half and Ole Miss had absolutely no answer for him. After struggling a bit the last couple games, it was great to see PJ get back to what makes him such a dominant force. The foul trouble issue is something that he has got to figure out, but it is also why it is so important to get Reid Travis back. Losing PJ to foul trouble is not nearly as crushing when you have Reid Travis available. Hopefully the smash brothers will be back on the court together sooner rather than later.
- Immanuel Quickley has been playing good basketball lately- He has been knocking down 3’s when left open and he is running the offense well when Hagans is out of the game. His defense has really improved as well. He also has the ability to knock down clutch free throws, which he displayed to seal the win last night. He and Hagans play well together when Cal wants to put two point guards on the floor at once. His shooting, ball handling and high basketball IQ are why he needs to be on the floor when the Cats are trying to close out wins. Cal has slowly increased his minutes over the last few games and Immanuel has rewarded him by making winning plays. Having a player of his caliber coming off the bench will pay off in a big way as tournament play approaches.
The Cats will close out the season with senior day against Florida on Saturday. If Kentucky wins that game and Tennessee loses at Auburn it will make the Cats the 2 seed in the SEC tournament. The reason that matters is that it would keep Kentucky from having to play the dreaded 9:30 Friday night game. Hopefully Reid Travis will be able to play a few minutes on Saturday just so he can knock a little rust off before the SEC tournament. We will break down the match up with the Gators as the weekend approaches.