The energy in Lexington was higher than normal as Joker and the UK football team proved victorious over UT earlier in the day and then a basketball game-it was all blue Saturday. By the closing buzzer, fans and players alike were wiped out from all that winning from Big Blue. UK made sure the journey for Portland was not an easy one; however the Cats came into the evening a bit more confident than in recent games. Initially the Cats struggled to make plays and defend their position. It seemed the young men could not find the groove that came so easily in their first games at home. This game started more like those on the recent road trip-sloppy. The Pilots of Portland came out blazing and would not let up. The inside game for the Cats proved useful for a bit, however the Cats underestimated the 3 point game as Portland posted a 47.8% for the night. The outside arc for the Cats seemed unattainable at the onset; however an overall 41.2% 3 FG helped raise the Cats over the Pilots 87-63 improving to 6-0 on the season. Coach Cal mentioned the need to defend the three, and that will be addressed before facing dethroned UNC.
As the Cats prepare for the better opponents in coming weeks, namely St. John’s and UNC, the fans are used to seeing Miller come off the bench. Coach Cal subbed Miller near the start of the game, his experience calming the freshmen. Coach Cal had this to say about Miller starting, “I’m going to take a look over the next four days”. On the subject, Cal complemented Kidd-Gilchrist and his team as a whole, “Michael Gilchrist came into me and said if I need to come in off the bench for Darius, I will. I have absolutely no problem”. The decision to cycle Miller in early paid off as he and Jones each posted 19 points on the evening.
The gracious nature of the Thanksgiving holiday and the prize at the end of the season must be on the mind of the Cats as Miller comments, “I'm not really worried about coming off the bench or starting or whatever. We don't have time to worry about that. We've got a lot of things we need to correct before we try to make a run at a national championship. ” Teams with this mentality win national championships. Speaking of a run on an NCAA title, Teague got it right with NO turnovers for the game, 14 points, and a record 8 assists. Davis put up yet another double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds-he likes to hear “Davis with another double-double”. Lamb trailed the herd with 9 points and 4 rebounds.
The Pilots, under head coach Eric Reveno came out heavy as Nemanja Mitrovic comments, “We just came out firing and stayed in there with them for a little while”. Reveno knew he was fighting uphill noting three ways Portland needed to beat Kentucky, “Athleticism, toughness, and skill; we had to beat them at toughness and skill and we didn’t do that consistently”. Mitrovic lead Portland in scoring with 20 points and 5 rebounds, bringing their record to 2-4.
The Cats are back at home Thursday night against St. John’s and the game will be televised on ESPN2 at 7:30pm (ET).
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