Keion Brooks Jr. returned, the Cats won 76-58 against a quality Florida team, and as Calipari put it, “we (Kentucky) pushed the coffin open.”
The way they play and how they space the court and tough veterans, guys that have been around. It’s going to be a hard game for us. Let’s enjoy this. Let’s enjoy these kids. Let’s enjoy their growth. I know there was probably some people that put dirt on the coffin. We pushed the coffin open and said, ‘You ain’t putting that dirt on this.’ That stuff was out there, but look – I kept saying to you. We’ve got good kids. I’m proud of these kids. They just need time. And I’m not changing that thought. We just need time.
Tonight Kentucky sent a statement to not just the SEC, but the country, and they are all thinking thing one thing, uh oh.
The biggest story of the game is Keion Brooks. On Thursday night, it was announced that he would be returning. Brooks had not played since the regular season finale at Florida last season in a “breakout” game, and he picked up right where he let off.
Brooks recorded 12 points (6-8), 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in only 24 minutes of play, but also led the team in every major advanced statistic as well. Recording team highs in +/- rating at 23, offensive rating at 131.2, and defensive rating at 31.9.
With Brooks leading the way, the team undoubtedly played their best game of the season. There were 4 players that finished in double figures, and two others that finished with 9 points.
Further, The offensive efficiency was simply off the charts. The Cats shot the 55.8% (29-52) from the floor, 46.2 from three (6-13), 92.3% from the line (12-13), and assisted on 18 of their 29 field goals.
Tonight was exciting for us, the fans, but the players as well. In the postgame press conference, Davion Mintz repeated how much fun the game was at least 5 times. This is a good sign going forward and should allow the game to come to them rather than forcing it.
While it will be tough to duplicate a performance like today, Brooks changes this team A LOT going forward and will be able to lead the team on the floor.
The Cats are maturing before our eyes and are now 4-6 on the season, riding a three game winning streak. They will play against Alabama, who is rolling and undefeated in SEC play, on Tuesday at Rupp Arena.