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Welcome back Cats!
Hi, we are the Kentucky Wildcats and we have a pretty good basketball team this season, what’s your name? My name is big time college basketball and man it has been a long time since I’ve seen you. Would you like to be part of me once again? Yes, yes we would, you can ask the North Carolina Tar heels about us for a reference if you need to.
The Cats faced their first real test of the year this past Saturday when they faced off against North Carolina at Rupp Arena. An all-time record crowd was on hand to witness the festivities and helped UK earn the much-needed passing grade everyone has been looking for. Kentucky wins a nail biter 68-66.
UK started the game playing very timidly and had that old deer in the headlights look. North Carolina was able to build a 9-2 lead early before it happened. It was the John Wall show that took place. First, it was a dunk that seemed to awaken the sleeping crowd and his teammates and then the unbelievable reverse layup that I’m still not sure how he made. The team was running at every opportunity and shots were falling. The Cats went on a 28-2 run that gave Kentucky the largest lead of the game at 30-11. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such an amazing stretch of basketball and demonstrated how well this team can play. UK led 43-28 at the half.
As exciting and well played as the first half was for the team, the second half was almost the polar opposite. The Tar heels were able to slow the pace of the game down, which was helped tremendously by the absence of Wall for at least 8 minutes of the second half. Wall had to be taken to the locker room and treated with IV fluids for muscle cramps. Without their leader the team seemed scared and completely lost at times on offense as Carolina went on a quick 8-0 run.
Wall was able to return to the game, but was clearly not able to go at the same speed. Kentucky was able to hold off Carolina down the stretch with clutch free throw shooting by Eric Bledsoe and Wall. The Cats improved to 8-0 on the season, which is the best start to a season since the 1992-1993 season. The road doesn’t get any easier as Kentucky takes on Connecticut on Wednesday night in Madison Square Garden as part of the Big East-SEC Challenge.