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Final observations on the rivalry game that was â€¦
Friday’s game between the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky was more of a chess match than UK’s 78-63 winning margin might suggest.
The most important in-game adjustment belonged to UK coach John Calipari. It wasn’t dramatic, but it did help establish UK’s offensive rhythm.
With the Wildcats trailing 14-12 and shooting poorly, Calipari told Darius Miller to post up. Miller backed Kyle Kuric into the paint, scored and was fouled for a three-point play. After Brandon Knight put back his own miss on the next possession, Miller backed Mike Marra down and scored.
Those seven points were the beginning of a 16-4 UK run that was the decisive spurt of the game, with Miller’s posting presence a factor in a few more scores.
Rick Pitino’s main chess move â€” to take Terrence Jones away and make someone else (like Josh Harrellson) beat them â€” didn’t work. Give Harrellson credit for taking advantage of his chances, but give just as much to Jones for handling the double-teams and making the right decisions.
Especially when U of L was making its second-half run, UK attacked like a veteran team, time and again finding the mismatch in U of L’s defense and exploiting it.
Pitino’s offensive plan was to move the ball with crisp passing and ball reversals, penetrating on the dribble and passing out for shots. His team, clearly, was asleep when he explained that.
Example: U of L’s first possession â€” four passes on the perimeter, nothing inside the three-point arc, no ball reversals, no penetration, a handoff, one more pass and a fading, contested three-pointer. Either the Cardinals weren’t prepared to run the kind of offense they needed to run, or they weren’t prepared for UK’s length and athleticism.
Either way, they didn’t look prepared. For most of the half they ran offense in the center of the court and rarely spread the ball wide enough to stretch UK’s defense. When Cardinals did drive into the lane, they were thinking shot, not pass.