After Kentucky’s lost to Michigan State in the Champions Classic, the strengths and flaws of a team that had been put on public display for the first time were picked through and analyzed endlessly.
Kentucky’s potential is through the roof, and that as long as a couple of things happens:
- Julius Randle learns how to read when a double-team is coming and where it’s coming from, particularly when his go-to move is a spin-move that predictable.
- Kentucky learns to hit free throws, because 20-for-36 isn’t going to cut it against good teams.
- Their perimeter shooting gets more consistent.
All that said, the biggest point of emphasis was on the Kentucky back court. Specifically, the Harrison twins.
They did not play well in the loss to Michigan State. And they had not played all that well in the games leading up to that Tuesday night in Chicago, either. Without much in the way of perimeter depth, Coach Cal had put all of his eggs in their basket, hoping that they would be able to put together a strong enough season that the Wildcats would be able to ride Julius Randle and James Young to the Final Four and beyond.
On Sunday, steps were taken in the right direction for at least one of the Harrisons.
Aaron is the off-guard. He’s the guy that will be counted on to provide a scoring punch and an outside shooting touch from the perimeter, and on Sunday against Robert Morris, he did just that. Aaron popped off for 28 points while hitting 4-for-7 from three, a welcome site on a night when Randle and Young weren’t at their best at that end of the floor. As a shooter and a scorer, Aaron’s game centers around his confidence and aggressiveness, and while you must take the opponent into consideration, there’s nothing wrong with building up that confidence against a weaker opponent.
Andrew, the point guard, is still waiting for his breakthrough moment. He’s averaging 10.0 points and shooting the ball well this year, but he’s got just 12 assists to eight turnovers in four games and, more importantly, his body language, particularly against Michigan State, screamed everything but leadership.
If those two can get it going consistently, Kentucky will be the best team in the country come February.