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By KEITH TAYLOR, Winchester Sun
Julius Randle was more interested in talking about his team than his latest performance following Kentucky’s 70-55 win over Boise State Tuesday night.
“I think collectively we did well,” he said.
Randle had just six points in the first half against the Broncos. Despite double- and sometimes triple-team schemes in the post, Randle posted his eighth double-double of the season with 11 rebounds against the Broncos and notched double figures in scoring for the 10th time.
“(I) still left a lot out there,” he said. “I’m starting to get adjusted to it (double teams) a little bit. I still can do a lot better.”
His biggest gripe was four turnovers, all of which he said are “easy to fix.”
“One of them I did something stupid and threw it to Dakari (Johnson),” he said. “One was caught in the post. It’s just little stuff. It’s easy to fix. It’s not like I’m trying to do something outrageous, other than that Dakari pass.”
Less than a year removed from his stellar high school career, Randle is still learning to compete in the collegiate ranks, which he said is “way harder” than he expected when he arrived on campus.
“It’s nothing I can’t handle,” he said. “The mental aspect of getting yourself ready everyday. It’s not high school or AAU where you can take days off. You have to be ready to compete every day. Coach (John Calipari) is going to coach you hard every day. You have to be mentally prepared to do that as well as physically. You have to take care of your body.”
The freshman forward said the biggest difference between the loss to Baylor and the win over Boise State was “communication.”
“We fixed a lot of things from (the game against Baylor),” Randle said. “We talked a lot better on the floor. We still had some breakdowns but we got better.”
A big point of emphasis after the letdown in Dallas was lack of communication throughout the contest, especially at the free-throw line.
“We worked on it (communicating) a lot,” he said. “If you were at any of our practices, you would have saw it. We did a pretty good of of it together and (came) together as a team. “We’re not afraid to talk, touch each other or let each other know when somebody’s doing wrong. It just spills over to defense because we’re communicating.”
The Wildcats limited Boise State, one of the top scoring offensive teams in the nation, to a season-low in points, and Randle believes Kentucky has the right mix to be a solid defensive team as the season progresses.
“We have all the potential in the world to be (a great defensive team),” he said. “We’ve just got to heads and our minds into it to do it.”
Randle added the Wildcats wouldn’t have lost to the Bears if they would have mirrored the performance they had against previously unbeaten Boise State.
“If we would have played like that in the Baylor game, (the outcome) would have been a little bit different,” he said. “We’re young (but) we’re moving along. We’re doing better and getting better every day. We’ve just got to keep building on (the improvement) and we’ll be fine.”
Kentucky is 0-2 against ranked foes this season with losses to Michigan State and Baylor on neutral sites, but will play its first true road contest Saturday at North Carolina. Randle is anxious to see how the team responds in front of a hostile environment.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “The greatest (player of all-time, Michael Jordan) played there and it’s North Carolina, (they) have so much tradition. Somebody told me that us and North Carolina are the two winningest programs (in college basketball). I’m definitely ready for the challenge.”
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Keith Taylor can be reached on twitter @keithtaylor21