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Kentucky Basketball: Time to Bounce Back

A few weeks of Camp Cal should lessen the stress for the Coach.. Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

The Kentucky Wildcats’ 87-63 victory over the visiting Valparaiso Crusaders was one of those games on the schedule that doesn’t exactly sizzle, but it is one of those games that’s a part of the puzzle that the Big Blue Nation hopes ends at the Final Four. After suffering their first defeat of the season (a 97-92 home loss to UCLA), the Cats had plenty to work on against Valpo. Like most of John Calipari’s teams, this group is young and it’s going to take some time for them to completely come together and play to their potential.

Outside of the big time match ups, Coach Cal peppers the Kentucky schedule with teams that are going to propose unique challenges to his annually young Wildcats and Valparaiso wasn’t any different. For weeks, Calipari has been talking up the Crusaders’ Alec Peters. On the season, Peters averages 25.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. The objective for the Wildcats would be trying to shut down Peters and make the rest of the Valpo team beat them. In the end, Peters finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds, both below his season averages and he had to take 20 shots to do it (only hitting 9).

Kentucky came out slow on Wednesday night, with 7 turnovers in the first four minutes of the game, but settled down relatively quickly. The game was tied at four at the Cats went on a 21-0 run, their longest such run of the season, to effectively put the game out of the way. The defense was key as the Crusaders didn’t break double digits until nearly 14 minutes into the game.

What we know:

  • Malik Monk is going to roll out of bed and score in double figures. The stellar freshman has done so in every game so far, finishing with 15 points on Wednesday.
  • De’Arron Fox should start every game on triple-double watch. Rather quietly, Monk’s freshman backcourt mate stuffed the stat sheet with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. And with only one turnover, it’s pretty clear that Fox is ready to add his name to Cal’s impressive list of freshman point guards.
  • Bam Adebayo is starting to figure things out. The big man finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds against the Crusaders, but he was very efficient hitting 5-9 from the floor and 6-8 from the FT line. The most impressive part of the game was how Bam has started to figure out how to attack the almost routine double teams. A quick spin move away from the  second defender allowed him to get to the rim and also to the line.
  • Mychal Mulder has to play more. After a head-scratching zero minutes against UCLA Mulder played 16 minutes and scored 9 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 2 assists without a turnover. Postgame, Coach Cal said that he was proud of how hard Mulder played and thinks that the senior can find some consistent playing time… so long as he gives consistent effort.

Overall, the game was what the BBN expected it to be. The win was a nice bounce back game after a disappointing loss to UCLA. The Cats are now 35-7 under Calipari after a loss. With the victory over Valparaiso and the upcoming game against Hosftra, the Cats will have two tough games next week as they head to Las Vegas to take on North Carolina on December 17 and then to Louisville to play the archival Cardinals on the 21st. In a long season, it’s good to have bounce back games to get ready for the upcoming challenges.

Terry Brown
Terry Brown
Terry Brown, born in Louisville, KY and raised as a Cardinal fan. Thankfully, he converted and bleeds nothing but Kentucky Blue. He currently lives in Louisville and spends his spare time chasing after his two girls, Sarah and Lauren. Terry is also on staff at and co-hosts Cats Talk Wednesday with Vinny Hardy on Blog Talk Radio, every Wednesday from 6-8 pm EST.

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