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UK wins, but has a lot of work to do.

Coach Cals cats defeated Maryland in the season opener in a contest than came down to the final moments.  The final score was 72-69, but the rebounded edge didn't come close to reflecting that.  Maryland out rebounded the cats by some 20 rebounds...and totaled an astonishing 30 offensive boards!  Kentucky seemed out of place and intimidated by Maryland's aggressive play, as they were out hustled on every loose ball.  Free throw shooting continues to be a problem for Coach Cal, as the cats went a horrific 15-29 from the line. Kentucky's super freshman, and the #1 recruit in the country, Nerens Noel, was routed throughout the game by Alex Lenn for Maryland, who scored 16 points and grabbed 7 boards in the first half alone.  Noel also got in early foul trouble, and played the final 3 minutes with four fouls.  Freshman sensation Archie Goodwin and sophomore Kyle Wiltjer both had the hot hand in the first half, along with an impressive first half performance by Willie Cauley-Stein...who in my opinion is thus far a better center than Noel.  The cats went in the locker room with a double digit lead, but allowed Maryland to go on an impressive 15-0 run in the second half that temporarily put the cats behind.  One giant bright spot tonight was the clutch play by junior guard Jarred Polson, who played a solid game off the Kentucky bench, and hit two clutch free throws in the final seconds to put the cats up for good. 

As expected, Kentucky showed unbelievable athleticism and offensive ability early.  But youth and inexperience in the second half dominated the narrative and almost cost the cats what should have been an easy win.  Noel was not the only super freshman who played a sub pare game.  Alex Poythress, who at times was aggressive and dominating, played very timid most of the game.  He didn't crash the boards like a power forward with his size should, which contributed to Maryland's rebounding dominance.  All I can say is......freshman.....welcome to Division I college basketball!!  They will get better.

On another note.  When Dick Vital says a ref missed a call against a UK opponent, its a missed call. As fans we love to blame the refs for everything...and most of the time we are wrong.  However, as a UK fan, inconsistent calling and what seems to be favoritism for Kentucky opponents is starting to be a trend.  Kentucky gets quick whistles while the other team enjoys the freedom of playing aggressive.  Kentucky has been dominating under Coach Cal as far as pure talent as speed goes.  With that comes frustration on the part of the other teams who struggle to stop the cats offensively, and that leads to over aggressive play. The zebras often turn a blind eye to a lot of plays that they don't on the other end of the floor.  Coach Cal needs to be a little more vocal during the game..and an occasional "T" is a good thing.

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