On three straight losses, Kentucky entered Rupp Arena on Saturday night with their backs tight against the wall. Despite a good defense, they still lost games due to their inability to put the ball in the basket. Against Auburn and Georgia, the UK focused on slowing down game down and try to win by eliminating possessions in the half court. It did not work.
It was all thrown out the window against LSU.
Facing one of the worst defenses in the SEC, Kentucky assembled their best offensive performance of the season which was bolstered by a quick start with some three-point marks to start the season. game. The result was a full game where Kentucky had a double-digit lead throughout and what can hopefully be a confidence win as the team advance through the toughest part of the schedule.
Kentucky scored 82 points in 69 possessions, posting 1.19 points per trip. The UK shot 52.6% of the two-point range, getting 34 points on dunks and lay-ups, while getting seven points for 21 points behind the arc. Add 21 free throws from 26 attempts and the UK got 76 points on lay-ups, free throws and all three. It’s modern basketball.
Brandon Boston Jr. led the team in scoring with 18 points on a volume of 17 shots, but he looked much more comfortable on the floor. The freshman wing knocked down two or three assists while grabbing a pair of offensive rebounds and distributing three assists. He looked like the best player on the floor for much of the game.
In the four, Keion Brooks Jr. took the start and played a career-high 29 minutes. While on the ground, the sophomore was pretty efficient scoring 15 points on eight shots while grabbing nine rebounds. He was solid pretty much every phase with three dunks in the ball game. Kentucky need him four as he helps unleash attacking potential.
At five, Olivier Sarr only played 12 minutes but he produced when he was on the court. The seven-footer scored 13 points on five field goal attempts with seven free throw line marks and three offensive rebounds. Kentucky ask him to do less and that’s ultimately the best thing for the team. Due to a foul issue, Lance Ware played 17 minutes and scored seven points on three field goal attempts.
At this point, Davion Mintz has delivered some really good stuff. The senior was a plus-18 higher on the team in the all-important plus / minus column while still scoring 11 points with a few treys. Devin Askew went scoreless for the first time this season, but distributed four assists with just one turnover in 33 minutes.
On the bench, Dontaie Allen, Isaiah Jackson and Jacob Toppin all had six points, providing an offense at all three levels. The Wildcats had just nine turnovers and 13 offensive rebounds led to 19 second chance points. LSU isn’t good at defense, but neither have Kentucky’s last two teams. This game was an important step in the right direction.
LSU scored 69 points in 68 possessions, posting 1.01 points per trip. The Tigers, who rank sixth nationally in KenPom’s Adjusted Offensive Effectiveness, struggled to make just 4 of 23 threes and looked stifled by Kentucky’s length. The road team managed to turn nine offensive rebounds into 14 second chance points, but almost all of their buckets came out of isolation and they never really got out of an early hole.
A big reason for the difficulties was due to the fact that their top scorer had a night’s rest. First-year winger Cameron Thomas is having a great season but struggled at Rupp Arena. The All-SEC team which will soon be the first team …
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