On Sunday, the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team defeated the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames 107-73 and improved to 6-1 on the young season. The Wildcats conclude a stretch of 7 games in 17 days with their most impressive outing of the season so far. Six Cats finished in double figures, led by Kevin Knox’s career-high 25. The overall team performance was enough to have head coach John Calipari all smiles after the game,v his 700th career victory.
Knox scored his 25 points by shooting 9-13 from the field and 7-10 from the FT line. All 4 of his misses were from three point range. As a team, the Cats shot 42-63 from the field (66.7%). Even with Kentucky only shooting 4-12 from three, Calipari stated he was pleased with how efficient his young team was. The Cats dominated the Flames inside by outscoring them 60-34 in the paint. Kentucky turned 21 UIC turnovers into 36 points. Coach Cal did note that he thought this was the closest the team has come to competing for a full 40 minutes all year.
The other Wildcat double-digit scorers were: Hami Diallo; 19 points (8-11 FG); PJ Washington 17 (6-7); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 14 (6-10); Quade Green 12 (5-7); and Nick Richards 11 (4-6). This Kentucky team may not have one go to guy right now, but it’s clear that there are a handful of guys that can create scoring opportunities for themselves and their teammates. Green led the Cats with 6 rebounds and Gilgeous-Alexander had 6 assists.
Post game, Calipari was ready to take a break, informing the media that the team will have the next few days off before getting back to work with practice leading up to the Harvard game on December 2. Despite the youth of the team, Cal sounded confident that they would get “it” and learn to play the right way. There will be some tough times ahead, but it looks like this team is playing better than their inexperience would indicate. There’s no reason this team can’t improve and give Coach Cal another deep tournament run come March.