After Tuesday’s complete dismantling of Grambling State when the Cats recorded their 6th victory of the season (81-35), you couldn’t help but wonder if they would be able to maintain that same level of focus on Sunday afternoon against Austin Peay. The Governors came into Memorial Coliseum with a 5-1 record, though they are unranked (UK currently checks in at 14 on both the AP and Coaches’ polls).
As it turned out, fans didn’t need to be very concerned as the Cats easily handled Austin Peay 81-52.
In the opening 2 minutes of the game, Kentucky sped to a 9-point lead, 11-2. Behind a very balanced scoring attack, the Cats led by as much as 12 in the opening quarter but they did allow the Governors to close within 7 points, 24-17 as the quarter came to a close.
The 2nd quarter was a different story, however. While the Cats got a hot hand early and ran off a string of points, this time they did not allow Austin Peay to gain any traction. Every Wildcat saw some action and every Cat scored. When intermission arrived, UK held a 45-23 lead. Mitchell’s team also held the advantage in the rebound column (22-17) and also collected 3 blocks and 6 steals. If you wanted to find fault in the 1st half, you could look at the 10 turnovers to 10 assists as being an area of “concern,” but when the outcome of the game isn’t hanging in the balance, you can overlook such things. Well, you can overlook them as a fan, but rest assured, Matthew Mitchell was very aware of this stat.
In the 3rd quarter, the Cats slowed down on their scoring, but still outpaced AP and increased their already-healthy lead by another 6 points (61-33). But you don’t have to be too concerned about reduced scoring if you’re playing defense like Kentucky was. After giving up 17 points in the 1st quarter, they gave up a total of 16 points for the 2nd and 3rd quarters combined.
With the game well in hand in the 4th quarter, Coach Mitchell gave extended playing time to his bench. The defense wasn’t as tight as it had been the rest of the game (19 points allowed in this quarter — oh, the horror!), but the scoring was solid.
When the dust settled, 4 Cats scored in double figures (Rhyne Howard with 14, KeKe McKinney with 12, and 10 each for Jaida Roper, Sabrina Haines, and Ogechi Anyagaligbo. Kentucky won the battle of the boards (40-31), had fewer turnovers (18-22) and more assists (21-14) than the Governors.
Next up for the Cats will be Charlotte. The game will be played Wednesday at 11:00 am.
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