Random notes: Kentucky-Tennessee leftovers

Random notes and leftovers from last night:

– The 2010-11 team was also 2-1 after its first three conference games, but as Glenn Logan of A Sea of Blue points out, that team did not lose a home game. This team has fallen twice at Rupp.

– Kyle Wiljter had a big scoring night and it wasn’t because of the three. The sophomore was just two-of-six behind the stripe and yet ended up with 17 points. In only one other game during Wiltjer’s career has he made two-or-fewer triples and scored more than 17 points. That was way back on Nov. 19 of his freshman season when the Oregon native scored 19 as UK whipped Penn State at that Connecticut casino. Wiltjer made six of 12 shots and five of his six free throws that afternoon while going just two-of-five from three.

– Can we put that espn.com Nerlens Noel “overrated prospect” thing to rest now. Noel isn’t an overrated prospect, he’s a different prospect. He’s obviously different than his collegiate predecessor here, Anthony Davis. But he’s also much different than most collegiate players — a 6-foot-11 center who can block shots, make offensive moves and (most surprisingly) come up with steal after steal after steal. Noel is pure hustle.

How about the sequence at the 6:47 mark last night with Tennessee leading 54-53? Noel is at the foul line. He makes the first shot, but misses the second. Somehow, a 6-11 person sneaks into the lane and gets the ball, following in his own miss from the free throw line. That put Kentucky up 56-54.

– Archie Goodwin took much twitter flak for not passing the ball. Indeed, if Goodwin takes off toward the basket, he’s putting the ball up to the basket. He’s not passing. There was the play last night in which the freshman elevated for poster dunk, only to miss and crash to the floor. Twitter erupted that Goodwin had Harrow wide open for a layup but ignored his teammate.


– Later, however, Goodwin passed on a drive, left his feet and picked up a charging foul. In another instance, the Arkansas native passed late in the shot clock which resulted in a violation.

– Calipari: “I can’t imagine this team being up by 20 on anybody.”

– Good line from my friend Brett Dawson at Cats Illustrated:

Tennessee (8-7, 0-3) hung tough for most of the night. The Volunteers tied the game 56-56 with 6:27 to play on a pair of Derek Reese free throws, and suddenly Kentucky found itself in just the sort of gut-check game it lost last Saturday to Texas A&M.

Against the Aggies, the Cats wilted.

Against the Vols, they Wiltjered.

Calipari said that Wiltjer even asked the coach to run for a play for him, then another, then asked for a third.

Cal joked: “”Cool out, man,” a smiling Calipari said he told Wiltjer. “C’mon.”

– Tennessee did shoot 56 percent in the second half.

Matt May makes the point that it was UK’s veterans — if you can call them that — who helped the Cats down the stretch. Wiljter, a sophomore, made key plays. And Julius Mays, a senior transfer from Wright State, buried back-to-back three-pointers in an important burst.

– Another May nugget:

13.4 – As this Kentucky team continues to search for consistent offense there is a very clear pattern emerging: when Kyle Wiltjer is effective on that end of the floor the Cats are much better than when he is either off his game or unable to get off shots. In the Cats’ 11 victories the forward is averaging 13.4 points while shooting 50 percent from the field and 46.8 percent from three-point range. In UK’s five defeats he is averaging 5.6 points while shooting 28.1 percent from the field and 26.1 percent from three-point range. Clearly, the Cats need an engaged Kyle Wiltjer this season.

– And from KSR’s Tyler Thompson: “Those threes may be what saves Kentucky’s season, and gave Mays a much-needed confidence boost.”

A Jerry Tipton nugget: Tennessee came into the game shooting 23.1 free throws per game. The Vols did not take their first free throw until there was 13:51 remaining.

– Views from the other side:


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