The College Basketball Notebook

December 9, 2010 7:32 AM

Kentucky Passes Test Against Notre Dame

TerrenceJones.jpgKentucky met a solid December test last night at home against Notre Dame by using a strong second half to pull away to a 72-58 win. ND's rebounding prowess was praised in this space yesterday, but it was the Wildcats who attacked the glass, to the tune of a 40-33 rebounding advantage. No one attacked harder than freshman forward Terrence Jones, who nailed 27 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. It was an excellent bounceback win for Kentucky, after losses to UConn and North Carolina had raised some red flags about how strong this team would be.

Jones joins guard Brandon Knight as the latest of the fabulous freshman routine John Calipari is running in Lexington. Last year it was John Wall and Demarcus Cousins as the guard-forward combo. This year Knight has replaced Wall, and while he may not be the #1 pick in the NBA draft after just one year, he is playing well and scored 20 point last night. The ultimate key to Kentucky's long-term success will be how well the supporting cast develops around these two players. Josh Harrelson is giving good rebounding support right now and another freshman guard, Doron Lamb has shown some flashes in December. The Wildcats renew their rivalry with Indiana on Saturday and visit Louisville on New Year's Eve for their two main tests before SEC play begins on January 8.

Florida was supposed to displace Kentucky at the top of the standings and re-establish some of the dominance they showed in their run to back-to-back national titles in 2006-07. They still might, but December shows the Gators have some work to do. They were beaten decisively by Ohio State and have also lost to Central Florida. They'll get a national TV game tonight with Kent State (7 ET, ESPN), although even a win over the Golden Flashes won't tell a lot. Lest this discussion turn too negative, we have to point out that Florida did beat Florida State, and Billy Donovan does seem to have all the component pieces in place. The backcourt of Ervin Walker and Kenny Boynton is solid and experienced, and each player is averaging 13 ppg. Chandler Parsons is a solid scorer at forward. What Donovan needs is more rebounding help from Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin down low and his team has GOT to shoot free throws better. 68 percent from the stripe will break your heart in a lot of games. After tonight, Florida still plays Kansas State on December 18 and a couple of Atlantic 10 foes in Xavier and Rhode Island before the January 8 SEC opening.

Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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