The final tune-up before Christmas break and the final game before the much-anticipated Louisville game, Belmont came into Rupp with something to prove. That it just wasn’t a fluke that Belmont had beat North Carolina on their home court. First half I was little worried along with the rest of the BBN.
Enter Julius Randle.
The BEAST that dominated in the early part of the season and then took some hits in the game last weekend against UNC, came back with a vicious attack with a career 29 points and 10 rebounds. Dude’s 9th double-double this year.
The pesky Belmont Bruins led pretty much the entire 1st half, and increased the lead to 11. Finally in the second half, that CATS mounted a come back thanks to the bench. Alex Poythress, Jarrod Polson and Dominque Hawkins gave great effort, and the CATS needed it. Missing their first seven 3-point attempts, Jarrod Polson finally knocked on down at the 8:14 mark in the 1st half. Hawkins came of the bench and was essential in his 22 minutes of play. Don’t let his stat line fool you: 2 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds, but his play away from the ball and helping distribute the ball inside to the big fellows was crucial. Alex Poythress, who has received much criticism this year for being MIA, put together a decent line of 7 points and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes.
Shooting from the 3-point line was horrendous. 21% for the game, but going inside in the 2nd half proved to be more successful. 55% overall from the field works though. 52-34 advantage in the paint helped fueled the Wildcats to victory. Randle’s dominant inside play, and Willie Cauley-Stein’s contribution of 16 points and 7 rebounds proved to be a lethal combination. And not be outdone, Aaron Harrison has finally started coming into his own with another great game. 23 points and 7 assists from Aaron.
Now for the bad stuff. 3-point shooting was disgusting. Free throw shooting…um, 26-36. Seemed like they missed more, but the games that the CATS lost, just hitting those few extra free throws would helped us down the stretch. Hit four more in the game, that stat looks better. Make em! And Andrew Harrsion, despite being in foul trouble…no assists. We need more from him. Defensively, we need to guard the 3 better.
93-80. Good guys win!
Props to James Young on his dunk in the 2nd half! BEAST!!!!
Credit goes to Belmont for coming into Rupp and playing a hell of game. Scrappy little dudes who had no fear. Fun team to watch with Craig Bradshaw scoring 22 and Drew Windler chipping in 21. Dudes can flat-out hit some 3′s. A very entertaining game.
And the crowd was pretty electric too. For the first time this season, it the upper arena was filled up. Hard to believe. Why so you may ask? No students, which means more tickets are available to the general public. So it’s a good early Christmas gift for the fans that don’t get a chance to go to come and enjoy a game. However, with new fans coming to Rupp, they go nuts. “Gotta get a hotdog. Gotta get a Mt. Dew now! I can’t sit still and watch the game. Excuse me. Excuse me. I’m sorry.”
Stat of the game: 175 trips were made up and down the aisle in the first 8 minutes of the game by fans. That number went well over 200 by the end of the first half. I give up.
But I’m not giving up on the CATS and you shouldn’t either.
Big game next Saturday!