Four Takeaways From Kentucky’s Win Over Utah Valley
It was a closer game than many expected, but Kentucky was able to grind out the win. The Cats only had 7 scholarship players available because Immanuel Quickley was out with a minor chest injury and EJ Montgomery is still out as well. The key was to simply survive the game and get the win. Check out our full photo gallery of the game. Here are my four main takeaways from the game.
- Kentucky needs EJ Montgomery- He does not have to be an All-SEC player, but Kentucky desperately needs production from him. This team is not going to the Final Four without a solid season from EJ. By solid, I am talking about putting up modest numbers of 7-8 points per game and 6-7 rebounds a game. The return of EJ would allow Cal to scale back Nate and Nicks minutes just a bit. That would keep them fresher throughout the game. It would also allow Cal to play Nick and EJ together some. The duo would be an imposing defensive presence around the rim. If EJ is goiing to turn his dream of playing in the NBA into a reality, he has to get healthy and get on the court and make it happen. He has the size, talent and athleticism to do it. But he is going to have to fight for it.
- Early shooting woes are common- Last season Kentucky struggled to make 3’s early in the season, but that has been true in most of their seasons. A large part of that is due to young players that are adjusting to the speed of the college game. You have to get your shot of quicker and be ready to shoot of the catch with no dribble. It is a pretty big change from what most of them are used to in high school. There is also an added degree of pressure that is involved at this level and they are getting accustomed to it. This team has enough shooters that they should be an above average shooting team from deep. In time, the shots will start to drop for them.
- Nick Richards continues to step towards his potential- He had 21 points and 10 rebounds last night, and is playing with confidence. He shot his jump shot without hesitation and made most of them. He is also making foul shots at an insanely high clip for a big man. Nick has worked extremely hard to get his game to this point. It is nice to see his hard work rewarded, and hopefully it will give him more confidence as the season goes on.
- Kahlil Whitney can be the X factor on this team- He did not have a great game last night, but I think he is an overlooked key to this team. He hasn’t even scratched the surface of his potential this season. He continues to play hard and seems to be very coachable. He has the talent to be one of the top players on this team once it clicks for him. I expect Cal to work on figuring out how to utilize his offensive skill set more. I just have a feeling that he will be the guy that we look back on and see a gigantic transformation throughout the season.
Watch all of our player interviews after the game