Just like we thought at the beginning of the season, right? UK gets a big night from a freshman center, including two key blocks late in the game, to beat a conference opponent and strengthen their tournament resume.
Raise your hand if you had this thought at some point prior to last week about Willie Cauley-Stein.
Now put your hand down, because you’re lying.
In their second game since losing Nerlens Noel to a torn ACL, UK (18-8, 9-4) exhibited a much different persona than the one that got beat by 30 in Knoxville Saturday. The Cats came out with great energy and jumped to a 14 point lead midway through the 1st half, and led by 8 at halftime. They started the 2nd half with a similar burst of energy, and were leading by 13 with little more than 8 minutes left in the game before Vandy (10-15, 4-9) went on a 14-3 run to cut UK’s lead to just 2 points with less than 4 minutes left. UK regrouped and led by 5 inside the final minute before Cauley-Stein blocked two Vanderbilt attempts to seal the victory.
Cauley-Stein, who said after the game the win rinsed the bad taste of the UT loss out of their mouths, had his best game of the season, leading all scorers 20 points to go with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Archie Goodwin, who Calipari called uncoachable during the Tennessee game, responded with 16 points on 7-17 shooting with 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Ryan Harrow added 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Apparently, Coach Cal used some unconventional methods to remind his team that basketball was supposed to be fun. He organized a whiffle ball game Friday night, and a staff vs. players dodgeball game Tuesday. The best part about the visual of Orlando Antigua and John Calipari playing dodgeball against the team is the revelation that Calipari wore a helmet, saying he was concerned with “players wanting to peg him” I don’t blame him. He says they have another fun activity planned for this weekend. He can only hope it will be as successful as dodgeball because ESPN and the Missouri Tigers, who defeated Florida Tuesday night, come into Rupp for a showdown at 9:00 Saturday night.
Photo: Flickr/Triple Tri
I'm on Twitter! Follow me @wapaytick