Kentucky defeated Portland yesterday in game that was never really in doubt, 74-46, behind 15 points each from Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress, and 7 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 blocks from Nerlens Noel. The Cats (6-3) led by 15 at halftime and never by less than ten in the second half while easily dispatching the visiting Pilots (3-6), who were led in scoring (15) and rebounding (13) by forward Ryan Nicholas. Ryan Harrow turned in his best game as a Wildcat, scoring 8 points to go along with 6 assists and 4 rebounds in 25 minutes. He also displayed flashes of the instincts and explosiveness UK fans are accustomed to from the point guard position.
After the game, Calipari complimented Harrow, saying "I liked it...it was great to see" when asked about his point guard's play. His complimentary tone did not extend to the team as a whole, saying "I'm looking at everybody (team) in the country and saying we're probably 50-100 right now". He also made a reference to making a "good" run in postseason play, to New York for the final four of the NIT.
A mid December reference to the NIT is like a big lump of coal in Big Blue Nation's stocking.
At this point of the season, talk of the NIT is likely all about motivation. This team is talented, and Calipari has demonstrated that he can improve a young team significantly throughout the year. The key is the continued improvement of Harrow, who missed four games while dealing with an illness and an undisclosed family issue. One thing missing from Calipari's latest #1 recruiting class was a dynamic point guard. If Harrow can improve into that type of player, the Cats will be capable of making that "good" run in postseason play, preferably to Atlanta for the Final Four.