Seven notes from Kentucky’s win in the Show-Me State:
1. Andrew Harrison smashed his slump. The sophomore point guard had not been playing his best basketball of late. That wasn’t he case Thursday. Andrew scored 15 points, dished three assists and came up with three steals. It was his first double-figures scoring game since he tallied 12 points in the OT win over Ole Miss. He got to the line a season-high 11 times, making nine. (His career-high is 17 free throws at North Carolina on Dec. 14, 2013.) For now at least, those calling for Tyler Ulis to be UK’s starting point guard can bite their tongues.
2. Going home isn’t easy. Devin Booker found that out Thursday. Missouri isn’t exactly home for the UK sharpshooter, but it is where his father, Melvin, was a star player during the 1990s. Mizzou wanted Devin to follow in his father’s footsteps. He picked UK instead, so the Tigers fans booed the freshman every time he touched the ball Thursday. Booker responded by making just three of seven shots and turning the ball over four times. Booker missed his only three-point attempt.
3. Kentucky isn’t settling for the three-pointer. The Cats took just seven three-point shots on Thursday, making two. That’s the third straight game in which Kentucky has taken fewer than 10 three-point shots. The Cats were four-of-six from beyond the arc against Vanderbilt and three-of-nine at South Carolina. Compare that to the previous three games in which the Cats fired up 63 three-point shots, making 25.
4. Offensive rebounding returned to its normal levels — almost. After a putrid offensive rebounding percentage of 12.0 at South Carolina, where John Calipari’s club managed to grab all of three offensive rebounds, UK posted a 35.5 percentage in that department at Mizzou. That’s not up to the Cats usual 40+ level, but the rebounding effort was much better in Columbia, Missouri than it was in Columbia, South Carolina.
5. In an ugly game, Kentucky put it on the line. UK shot 37 free throws, its second-highest total of the season. The Cats were 28-of-40 at the stripe in the overtime win over Ole Miss. They were 27-of-37 on Thursday. Better still, their “free throw rate” which is determined by free throw attempts divided by field goal attempts was 84.1 percent. Missouri’s was 46.5 percent.
6. Missouri was better Thursday. After shooting 27.1 percent and losing by 49 points to Kentucky at Rupp on Jan. 13, the Tigers shot 41.9 percent and fell by 16 on their home floor. As proof of their aggressiveness, the Tigers committed 31 fouls and made 10 steals. New coach Kim Anderson didn’t get the win, but he did get a better showing from his team.
7. Karl-Anthony Towns played better than his stats showed. The sophomore had just seven points and two rebounds in 19 minutes before fouling out. And yet, Towns was more active and aggressive than last Saturday at South Carolina where he earned just 12 minutes, scoring four points and grabbing only one rebound. Opponents are pushing Towns around and he has to adjust.