Just the mention of the word “Thanksgiving” will make most people think of turkey, pumpkin pie, family, and football. Those are all great things, but it’s a welcome treat when you also get basketball the day before Thanksgiving. While Wednesday games are fairly common for the Cats, the 1:00 pm tip-off time was out of the ordinary.
So an unusual start time, the day before a holiday and no Isaiah Briscoe combined with Karl Hess as part of the officiating crew, one could be forgiven for being worried about how this game would unfold.
Those worries were thankfully unfounded as the Cats took control early in the game and never let up. I could give you a standard game recap, but in the spirit of the holiday, I give you instead a Thanksgiving Dinner, with the Wildcats as the featured dishes.
The centerpiece of many holiday tables, the turkey is something you must have, but it doesn’t get talked about a lot. Wenyen Gabriel fits the bill perfectly. Flirting with a triple-double, Gabriel had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. To quote Calipari: “Wenyen Gabriel? Wow. And nobody’s talking about him!” I suspect that will change very soon.
Bam. Need I say more? Well, perhaps I should say one more thing: 4-4 from the free throw line. That’s definitely worth mentioning.
Rich and smooth, the potatoes are a staple at the holiday table. And it didn’t get much smoother than Malik Monk, who poured in 23 points, and added 3 rebounds and 4 assists. His 4 three-point baskets were also history-making:
Malik Monk has made more 3-pointers (16) in the first five games of his UK career than any other Cat in school history (regardless of class) pic.twitter.com/7L8zO4xDMq
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) November 23, 2016
No dinner is complete without this delicious dish. It’s great over the turkey, the stuffing and pretty much any other dish on the table as it can provide a nice assist to the overall flavor. De’Aaron Fox was the gravy guy in this game, having a double-double of his own (16 points, 11 assists), and added 4 rebounds and 2 steals as well.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Don’t confuse this with the candied yams with marshmallows on top (which can be cloyingly sweet). No, this amazing dish is light, fluffy yet rich and decadent and has an unexpected crunch on top. This can only describe Isaac Humphries, who in only 11 minutes of play scored a smooth 9 points and snagged 9 rebounds. Also, I’m a sucker for a smooth Aussie accent.
Green Bean Casserole
Once again, I am not talking about the familiar dish that is made with that yucky canned cream of mushroom soup. Nope, I am talking about a homemade white cheddar sauce, spiked with lots of bacon and then topped with homemade crispy onion straws on top. It looks ordinary, but the taste is anything but ordinary. This title goes to Mychal Mulder. While his stat line may seem pedestrian compared to that of some of his teammates (13 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block), he did drain 3 treys and provided a thunderous slam dunk…again.
One of the more unheralded dishes, cranberry sauce adds an extra somethin-somethin to the Thanksgiving meal. Derek Willis did just that with his 7 points and 5 rebounds. While he didn’t put up big numbers, he provided 20 solid minutes with just a little extra zing from time to time.
The Jello Mold
Doesn’t every family have the odd aunt who insists on bringing this odd, and frequently untouched dish? In spite of how unpopular it is, the aunt thinks the meal is not complete without it. I give this honor to referee Karl Hess. Sure, he’s not a Wildcat, but he fits the bill perfectly for the Jello mold. (Didn’t we all chuckle when a Cleveland State player managed to bounce a pass off of Karl’s head, sending the ball into the stands into the hands of Rex Chapman?)
The Dessert Table (Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie and more)
You’ve had your meal, you’re stuffed, but yet you want some of these delicious offerings. How about Isaiah Briscoe? Sure, he didn’t set foot on the court, but his presence was felt, especially by his teammates. Sitting out the game to rest from soreness caused by a hard fall Sunday night, Briscoe was “coaching” from the bench pretty much the entire game. And how sweet it was that the Cats could put together such a solid, complete game with their floor general sidelined. That’s a pretty sweet ending if you ask me.
So there you have it: Thanksgiving dinner Wildcat style. When you go to sleep tonight, you can bask in the glow of the Cats’ 101-70 victory and look forward to the next feast.
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