Murray and Ulis make sure lead does not get away from UK this time

By LARRY VAUGHT

This time Kentucky didn’t let the lead get away.

After blowing a 21-point lead and losing at Tennessee Tuesday, Kentucky jumped on Florida here early Saturday with a 22-3 run and never really let the Gators back in the game while winning 80-61.

Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis nearly outscored the Gators. Murray had a career-high 35 points on 13 of 21 shooting, including 8 of 10 from 3-point range, and six rebounds. Ulis tied Terrence Jones for the most points by a player in the John Calipari era and he’s the first player in the Calipari era to have two 30-point games in his career.

Ulis hit his first seven shots and finished with 18 points despite missing his last five shots and also had 11 assists. It was his 16th straight game with at least four assists.

“They were incredible. I thought Ulis really controlled the entire first half offensively and defensively. I thought defensively he put on a clinic. Offensively he runs the show,” Florida coach Mike White said.

“But Jamal Murray stole the show overall with his ability to make shots. I think he is still open right now. I am very discouraged. Like we didn’t know he was a good shooter. He was unbelievable. He can really shoot it and they did a good job getting him open.”

Derek Willis had 12 points and six rebounds.

The Wildcats had to play without senior forward Alex Poythress, who was out with a knee injury. It was not the same knee he injured early last season and missed the rest of the year after undergoing surgery.

“I thought Jamal, other than two or three plays he can’t help making, he was really good,” Calipari said.

Caipari said he found out five minutes before the game started that Poythress could not play when the trainer told him his knee was bothering him and he will have X-rays Sunday. T

Calipari told Isaac Humphries to be ready for his opportunity and Humphries responded four points, six rebounds and two blocks.

“He earned his space. I am so happy for him. He has worked so hard and has not had that opportunity. We all looked at each other and said he needs to play. He deserves it,” Calipari said.

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  1. Sorry guys if we don’t start seeing some inside presence and more dept I don’t see the cats making to the sweet sixteen in March madness. I been wrong before hopefully that’s case here.

  2. We need a post offense and post defense. Skal was his usual “not ready for prime time” self. Had more fouls and turnovers than rebounds and points. Lee continues to give him a run for his money. Was very glad to see Humphries get some PT and look pretty good in the process. That should help his confidence going down the road. Not sure what happened to Briscoe, and I think he ended up with 3 pts. and 2 rebounds with the third most minutes played. The POY injury seems to be a little mysterious with not too much being said.

  3. Almost without exception, the average performance level by a team is a valid measure of that team’s body of work. Yes, teams have high points and low points over the course of a season. However, this team is the rare exception. It is either very good or not so good, with very few games in that murky middle. When it is at the high end, like today, and like 4 of the last 5 games, it plays as well as anyone in college basketball this season, and when it is in the valley like Tennessee, Auburn, Ohio State, and LSU, it is not a NCAA tournament team, and may not be a NIT quality team.

    Most unusual season I can recall.

  4. Mike and professor I’m not so negative as you guys are, this team will make it to the dance. It just that we don’t have the horses to go far. Regardless I always will cheer them on!!

    1. you better cheer for them or I will find you….

  5. Oh dear…you guys just have to put that good old reality out there….dang…I was just excited about seeing our little Aussie baby out there banging and grinding with the big boys. That one block, holy moly…he made me proud…15 minutes of play and saw some defense and some really good confidence…he might not be Boogie or Karl but he will give us some good minutes as time goes by. Kudos to Murray and Ulis…teamwork…sometimes I sat in awe watching some of those passes today by Tyler. I do hope there is some way to get him some rest, you can see him getting tired at the end. Reminds me of a hummingbird who has been flying too long or even fighting another hummingbird and they get to the feeder almost after hitting the ground, but they get to that feeder, suck a little nectar and their wings flap faster, they fly higher and they are ready to fight again. We might not make it to the big dance finale but the ride is getting more interesting…if we could just get those bigs all healthy and buying in and getting their ticket punched for showing up and not slacking we would be ok…oh man, two more game and we are on the road with SC….holy moly…and if any of you new people want to know who I am, don’t ask, I was around a long time before you ever thought about it…just took a little vacation because I didn’t like the new owners…

  6. Linda, there’s still time for this team to improve and hopefully Cal will let Humpry play more in order to have a better inside presence. Go Cats

  7. Linda,

    These guys will be ok. The could even make a surprising run in the NCAA. It’s about match ups and timing. I look see improvement with shot selection(Murry) and not over driving to get fouled but to pass(Briscoe 6 assist) and interior play Isaacs and Lee. The glass is half full and there is still room for more JUICE. Glad to see you back Linda.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

    GO BLUE OR STAY HOME

  8. Well first off good job UK in winning yesterday. Yesterday was not sustainable.

    Guard play was outstanding. UK was able to closeout a team with jump shots.
    Unsustainable. Now , the box scores will show , points in the paint, but it was by guards.

    It was a nice victory over an upstart Florida team coming in playing well.
    One more thought. If the Florida big men decide Basketball isn’t for them , their
    are places for them in the NFL as tight ends. Man , Is it me or are basketball players in general
    getting bigger and stronger looking. It seemed back in the day Charles Hurt and Winston Bennett were more of an exception than the rule. Seems as though everyone is in the weight room now. Good job UK

  9. This TEAM goes as Their Shooting goes…regardless who’s on the floor. This is a Good Team, not a Great Team…” Yet ! ” And their Defense, helps their confidence on Offense…

  10. To clarify my earlier post, I want to be sure I am not misunderstood. I did not suggest or say that UK would not be in the tournament, quite the contrary. This is a NCAA team, and the selection will be based on their overall body of work with is good, and as said by others, not great.

    My point is that in 15 games out of 23 this year, this team has played at a level capable of winning the championship this year, partly because of the overall weakness of the 2016 NCAA field. However in the other 8 games, this team has played at a level unworthy of the NIT. The average performance, generated by this 15-8 mix of performances is not going to define how this team plays. It seems to say that this team either will play very well or very poorly, with games in between these extremes being rare occurrences.

    Can they do that for 6 in a row? I don’t know because the best string of the upside we have seen so far has been the recent 4 game swing. I would like nothing more than to see this team put it together for this stretch run. 8 games to go, and the 4 road games are all potential losses. Some think this team can finish 4-4 from here. That is not going to be very good for the optimism if it plays out that way, but 6-2 down the stretch would be good enough to get the double bye in the SEC Tournament and a reasonable seed in the NCAA. 7-1 or 8-0 would probably get them to a 2 or 3 seed this year.

    For the record, the projections based on the Averages sees 3 losses ( at TAMU, Vanderbilt and Florida) wiith a pick em game next Saturday at South Carolina.

  11. To answer the big question can they win 6 games in a row. Beyond the odds saying no, I say No. I can’t see the guards holding up that long physically. Unfortunately, the guards can’t hardly come off the floor for much rest. One poor shooting night from a low % areas will be their waterloo because of not much inside game to speak of to pick up the slack. But we will see. This is going to fly in the face of rational thought, but i’d like to see UK get knocked out of the SEC tourney in the first game. I’d love for them to sit back and rest before the big dance.

  12. I just don’t think a grinding SEC tourney is beneficial for a team that is so reliant on its guards to win the basketball game. I would rather see UK with fresher legs going in to the tourney.

    1. Good stuff here by all of you. Agree with you Grant. UK needs to be in good position before SEC tourney when it comes to NCAA because a grind of four games in four days or three in three days would be punishing for Ulis and Murray

  13. This team has so far proven it can win home games but road games are a while another mindset that this team has not figured out. Skal still has ways to go and may not even be ready even after the season is over. Might as well throw the big Aussie in there and start grooming him. Least he can block shots.

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