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CATS Turning the Corner, Run Past Lamar

Ashton Hagans - photo by Brendon D. Miller - Bluegrass Sports Nation

The Kentucky Wildcat’s men’s basketball team looks to turn the corner as they improved to 5-1 on the season in an 81-56 victory over the Lamar Cardinals (4-2) in Rupp Arena on Sunday evening.

LEXINGTON – November 24, 2019 – Noah Banks – Bluegrass Sports Nation

The Wildcats men’s basketball team played host to the visiting Lamar University Cardinals on Sunday night after only having one day of rest after Friday night’s win against Mout St Mary’s.  

Within the past couple of weeks, the Cats have taken lots of heat and had many fans scratching their own heads after their shocking loss to Evansville in Rupp Arena on Nov 12, which resulted in Kentucky falling from a No. 1 overall ranking all the way down to the No. 9 spot.

Since the loss, one of the biggest things that fans, reporters, and UK officials have been talking about is how will Kentucky move forward with this?

While it has taken some time to answer that question, it appears that the answer might finally be showing within the gameplay itself.

Back after the Evansville loss, Kentucky head coach John Calpari took to twitter to talk about his team, tweeting that “the two areas of weakness that the team needs to improve on are toughness and offensive cohesion.”

I think it is safe to say that through the past couple of weeks we have seen a steady build in focus and sense of emphasis on both toughness and offensive cohesion, and both of which were showcased on Sunday night for the Cats.

Kentucky started the game on fire, lighting up the scoreboard growing the lead to 19-5 at one point, but the Cardinals were not to go away quite that easy as they responded with a 14-0 run of their own to bring the game to a 19-19 tie and force a timeout.

Following the time-out, the Cats seemed to put the pedal to the floor and did not look back. At one point Kentucky pushed a 20-0 run of their own which was something Tyrese Maxey referenced as “3 Kills” post-game, “A kill for us is when we get 3 consecutive stops, so if we get 3 kills and we’re still scoring, that’s what just pushes games out,” said Maxey.

Kentucky was led in scoring by Freshman guard Tyrese Maxey who finished the night with a stat line of 21PTS, 5REB, 1AST, and 1BLK. Additionally, fellow Kentucky guard Sophomore Ashton Hagans flirted with a double-double as he finished with 15PTS, 9AST, 3REB, and 2STL.

While the star-studded backcourt lit up the box score, Kentucky’s presence at and around the rim was unmatched.

Lamar head coach Tic Price referenced the paint presence multiple times stating, “that we just didn’t have the big and strong, or long enough guys to matchup with them tonight.”

Kentucky was able to total 13 blocks and won the rebound total 41-34, with Junior center Nick Richards picking up 7 of the 13 blocks in his 2nd straight double-double performance, finishing the night with 10PTS, 13REB, and 7BLK.

Kentucky improved to 5-1 on the season, and really seems to be turning the corner to be on the path to reach their full potential, which is something that the Big Blue Nation got a glimpse of in New York City.

To Coach Cal’s excitement, the Cats only have 2 games in the next 10 days and plan on really spending these practice days not only training to get better, but “to take strides towards what we know we can and what we want to be,” said Cal.

Kentucky improved to 5-1 with the 81-56 victory and will host UAB in their next outing on Friday, Nov 29th at 7pm in Rupp Arena.

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