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Random UK-Indiana thoughts and notes

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bledsoe_image001.jpg- Before we get into all things Kentucky, l want to quickly give some praise to Tom Crean and his Indiana squad. I thought Crean had a phenomenal game plan early on. The zone the second-year IU coach implemented in the beginning stages of the game stunned the Cats, not because it forced UK to shoot it from the outside but because of the lanes and gaps it shut down. The Cats were unable to drive to the basket, and when you pair that with the active hands the IU players had, the intensity of Crean on the sidelines and the atmosphere in Assembly Hall, it was evident UK was rattled. In the end, though, UK just had too much talent for Crean's men. Have to say, though, that I think Indiana is well on its way to returning to national prominence with Crean at the helm.

- The Cats finally figured out the zone about seven or eight minutes into the game. Patrick Patterson started flashing to the top of the key, forcing the zone to collapse. When he found an open man near the perimeter, UK started hitting. It took a bit to get going, but the Cats took their first lead of the game at 21-19 on an Eric Bledsoe jumper with 9:33 to play in the first half.

- After an inconsistent last few games, Bledsoe re-emerged as one of UK's top scoring threats. The freshman guard totaled a team-high 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range. His ability to shoot the trey opened up that IU zone and eventually won the game for UK. Bledsoe's pair of 3-pointers ignited UK's 18-0 run early in the second quarter, propelling the Cats to their 10th consecutive victory to start the season.

- If you're a UK fan, Bledsoe's afternoon has to usher in a world of confidence. It reaffirms the notion that UK has four, maybe even five players that can go off for 20 points on any given night. I would certainly lump John Wall, Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins and Bledsoe in that group, and I think Darius Miller and Darnell Dodson have the potential to muster the occasional 20-point night. Depth is one of the most important things in college basketball, and as evidenced by five Cats in double figures Saturday, UK clearly has it.

- I'm continually encouraged by UK's ability to shoot the basketball. If there was one weakness that was supposed to haunt the Cats this year, it was shooting. For the seventh time this season, UK shot 50 percent or better from the field. The Cats nailed 35-of-67 of their shot attempts Saturday, including 7-of-14 from 3-point range. Bledsoe, who was perceived to be a streaky shooter at best entering college, has now hit 16-of-30 shots from long range this season. If UK continues to shoot the ball around 50 percent, it is unbeatable.

- Simply men vs. boys when it came to rebounding the basketball. UK dominated the glass, ripping down 22 more rebounds than IU, including 19 offensive boards. A lot of the credit has to go to Patterson, who had another quietly consistent all-around game (19 points and 11 rebounds). Patterson ripped down eight offensive rebounds and kept numerous other balls alive.  As a result, UK came away with 30 second-chance points.

- Key to the game was without a doubt the 18-0 run. To that point the Hoosiers had hung tough with UK and held a 48-47 advantage, but that run silenced the crowd and any hopes the Hoosiers had of hanging with the Cats. Calipari, who sometimes doesn't get as much credit as he deserves as an Xs and Os coach, started the run with a beautifully designed play out a timeout. He drew a backdoor screen to Wall, and it worked perfectly. Miller fed Wall on a cross-court alley-oop pass, and Wall slammed it home thunderously with two hands. UK never looked back.

- Wall proved he was mortal after all, but was still impressive nonetheless. While he took a backseat to Bledsoe and Patterson, he made a significant impact, finishing with 11 points, eight assists and six rebounds. The key to his game was unselfishness. He doesn't force things if they're not there. Wall saw some of his other teammates had the hot hand so he fed them the ball. As good as he is, it isn't all about him, and he understands that.

- In leading UK to a 10-0 start, Calipari has matched Adolph Rupp for the best start for a first-year coach in UK history.

- The count to 2,000 wins is now at 1,998. If things shake out like they are expected to, UK should be celebrating its 2,000th win on Dec. 21 vs. Drexel.

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