Written: Michael McCarty/@mick_mccarty
#10 Kentucky 92 vs VMI 82
Cats Survive a Bubba Onslaught
UK picked up another win outlasting the hot shooting Keydets of VMI. Led by Bubba Parham VMI came out and shot 50% from behind the arc putting on a clinic. I expected the VMI experience to give UK some problems but in many ways I think the Cats took a step back during this game. The UK defense struggled though the whole game and Kentucky let VMI climb back into it after getting a 2o pint lead.
VMI shot 46.8% from the field and hit a Rupp Arena record 19 three pointers on a record tying 38 attempts. Sophomore guard Bubba Parham absolutely shot lights out hitting 10 three pointers on his way to a career high 35 points. The Kentucky defense was not playing their best ball but credit needs to go this kid for one heck of a game. He was not only hitting wide-open threes, he was hitting off balance and from distance contested shots. It was one of the more impressive shooting performances Rupp Arena has seen in years. VMI spread the floor on offense and waited with patience for the UK defense to break down which it sadly did most of the time. It was a solid game plan but the talent of the Cats was too much in the end.
Big nights from Travis, Washington, and Green helped to life the Cats over VMI. Travis had 22 points and 6 rebounds in a quiet yet efficient night. It seems like most nights are like that for Travis, he isn’t flashy but he puts up great numbers. Washington had a monster of a game scoring 19 points with 18 rebounds. It is good to see PJ put up back-to-back solid games. Green showed during this game why Calipari was desperate to bring him back this season. All three of the key players in this game were upper classman. It was great seeing the veteran leadership step up and make sure that Kentucky didn’t get upset. The biggest stat that jumped off the page was Kentucky outrebounding VMI 41 to 21. That’s is an amazing stat that is not getting enough attention. This Kentucky team may be the best rebounding team in at least the Cal era. Tyler Herro struggled again as did Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery. Kentucky had 15 assists to 10 turnovers leaving plenty of room to be made in ball control. The surprise to me was the lack of Keldon Johnson’s ability to dominate this game. With his athleticism he should have been able to dominate the VMI defense but struggled to get it going.
In the end having a closer than expected game against VMI will not have any true lasting effect. As with all of these early season games, they serve as teaching moments for the Cats. Kentucky did not take a leap forward this game but did show us how good UK will be when all of our players have good games at the same time. Having multiple shooters struggle and still score 92 points is a good sign for the offense. Kentucky has another game Wednesday night so we have a quick turnaround to see if UK learned any lessons from Sunday.