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Another slow start, another big finish for Cats in 71-63 victory over Texas A&M

Dominique Hawkins (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Miss 13 of 15 shots to start the game. Have Malik Monk fail to score in double figures for the first time all season and go just 2-for-10 from the field. Spot host Texas A&M a 16-2 lead.

That would not seem to be the recipe for Kentucky to win on the road, yet that’s just what UK did Saturday when it beat the host Aggies 71-63.

Kentucky got off a slow start for the third straight game and fell behind by double digits early in the game for the third straight time. UK trailed Vanderbilt 25-6 earlier this week and got down by 12 to Florida in the first half a week ago. Kentucky won all three games.

Dominique Hawkins had all eight of his points in the first when UK managed to take a 32-28 lead. De’Aaron Fox had eight straight points early in the second half and finished with 19 points in just 25 minutes of play. He hit back to back 3-pointers in the second half — a big feat considering he only had one prior game this season with two 3-pointers.

Derek Willis had 11 points — he was 3-for-6 on 3-pointers — and six rebounds while Bam Adebayo had 13 points — he was 6-for-7 from the field —and eight rebounds.

Isaiah Briscoe had another game where he was both bad and good. He missed two 3-point tries and three of four free throws. But he finished with 8 assists, seven points and six rebounds.

Monk? He wasn’t scoring but he had five rebounds and three assists. He did not seem as energetic as normal.

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  1. Mike

    Winning on the edge..not sure what else to call it…we have lived by the MONK many times this year and today we cud hav lost by the MONK. Congrats to Willis for playing a good game on both sides today. It is still difficult to see how we can make a serious run with Gabriel and Humphries providing nothing (they ea. had 2 pts today). Bam still has to more assertive in the paint than he has been. If he goes up against 1 or 2 bigs he gets very timid. Still glad we got the W today.

  2. Cats79

    This team just not playing with the heart like did early in the season. They peak way too early and never really have been the same since just my opinion. There only 18-19 year old kids never know what to expect. I’ll be cheering them on regardless . Go Cats!!;

  3. KingGhidora

    The team has mental issues for sure. They missed several shots completely in the first half. They sometimes missed drawing iron by more than a foot. Cal has been a great coach for UK but he does not seem to be able to connect with this team. He hasn’t made them better. They are worse. I have no idea where the fault lies but sometimes kids don’t respond to what the coach is doing. I think a player like Monk has never been limited by any coach so it came as a shock to him that Cal wanted to limit his shots. That’s usually the smart thing to do but Monk is not the same player he was early. Maybe the chemistry just wasn’t right. I’m not blaming anyone. Just posting a theory. It can’t be easy coaching a new set of kids every year. The one year Cal had significant players return they very nearly went undefeated. There’s just something lacking on this team. Leadership maybe and that includes from the players and the coach. Whatever it is I hope they get it fixed soon. It’s not too late and they are a talented bunch and Cal is a great coach.

  4. TheProfessor

    Is it possible that opponents are having more to do with the “slow” starts than the UK players?

    Everyone of these opponents seem to throw everything they have at this team right out of the gate, and that effort fades quickly after their first 10 minutes of effort, and the Cats simply keep playing hard, keep working their game plan, and the depth of real talent eventually takes hold.

    No team plays evenly throughout a ball game, and in most games there are surges and lulls in performance that lead to runs by either of the teams. The better team tends to prevail over the course of time. Would you feel any better about this team if its lull occurs in the last 10 minutes of the game rather than the first? Or the last 5 minutes of the first half and first 5 minutes of the second half?

    This team has been playing as well over the last 8 games as it played the first 15 games. The difference that is so visible is the quality of opposition.

    If the quality of play is a concern today, then legitimately it should have been a concern in early January or late December

  5. Larry Pup

    The SEC is better overall from top to bottom IMO. This UK team seems to play when they want to, and coast at other times. Every team they face in this conference comes with their best effort. That said, UK is still the regular season SEC champion, their 48th by the way. I’m ok with that for sure. Can they win it all? I say yes, they have the talent, they must find the will.

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