Kentucky vs. Portland: Wildcats Turn Up Heat in 2nd Half, Blow Out Pilots 74-46

Nick Nafpliotis@@NickNafster79Correspondent IDecember 8, 2012

Dec 8, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Alex Poythress (22) dunks the ball against the Portland Pilots in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Portland 74-46. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Saturday afternoon had the Wildcats turn in a completely opposite performance of the one they had against Samford on Tuesday evening. Instead of coming out hot and rolling to an uninspiring finish, Kentucky overcame first-half sluggishness and miscues to earn a strong finish against the Portland Pilots.

The Wildcats once still showed plenty of flaws while going up against a far weaker opponent, but there were also plenty of signs that this December might not turn out as badly as the Big Blue Nation had previously feared.

The Good

  • Kyle Wiltjer didn't exactly light the world on fire, but it did look like he is finally starting to break out of the shooting slump he has been stuck in for the past few games. In addition to scoring 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, he also had an incredible move through the lane for a basket in the game's opening minutes.
  • Ryan Harrow showed huge strides on his way to being the team's main point guard. He played significant minutes and did a fantastic job (eight points, four rebounds, six assists compared to only one turnover), which included some beautiful assists to his teammates.
  • Alex Poythress was also tied for the team high in scoring with 15 points, but he also shot incredibly well, too (6-of-8, 1-of-2 from behind the arc).
  • Nerlens Noel continued his habit of getting it done all over the court, this time falling just short of a triple-double (seven points, nine rebounds, seven blocks).

The Bad

  • Many of the Wildcats' 14 turnovers today were due to unforced errors; Portland only recorded three steals.
  • As was mentioned before, the Wildcats looked incredibly sluggish in the first half. While it was great to see them turn it on after halftime, a slow start like that will be virtually impossible to overcome on the road and/or against tougher opponents.
  • Defensive miscues were a constant issue during the first half (and a large portion of the second), particularly when it came to keeping Portland from driving into the lane.
  • Three-point shooting continued to be less than stellar; Kentucky was 4-of-13 from behind the arc (30.8 percent).
  • Free-throw shooting was also pretty terrible; the Wildcats were 12-of-22 (54.5 percent) from behind the stripe.

The Weird

  • The crowd at Rupp Arena was unusually quiet. Larry Vaught seemed to confirm this, tweeting that the atmosphere was actually pretty depressing.
  • John Calipari has instituted rigorous AM workouts (per Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal) in response to his team's apparent lack of conditioning and toughness. If the second half of today's game was any indication, it's starting to pay off.

All stats via ESPN.com

Please also feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 


Related

    Lonnie Walker IV: 'I'm the True Definition of Different'

    College Basketball logo
    College Basketball

    Lonnie Walker IV: 'I'm the True Definition of Different'

    Marc J. Spears
    via The Undefeated

    Is Gilgeous-Alexander the Best PG in the Draft?

    Kentucky Wildcats Basketball logo
    Kentucky Wildcats Basketball

    Is Gilgeous-Alexander the Best PG in the Draft?

    A Sea Of Blue
    via A Sea Of Blue

    How Deandre Ayton Survived Treacherous Hoops Path

    College Basketball logo
    College Basketball

    How Deandre Ayton Survived Treacherous Hoops Path

    Yahoo
    via Yahoo

    Self Confident de Sousa, KU in 'Good Place' Amid FBI Probe

    College Basketball logo
    College Basketball

    Self Confident de Sousa, KU in 'Good Place' Amid FBI Probe

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report