What an alteration in perspective we can take from five-point loss against a five-point win.
Kentucky fell 87-82 earlier this week at LSU. The road disappointment felt like a 20-point defeat.
And on Saturday, despite Jabari Brown being a freak show and putting up the best game of his career (33 points), Kentucky played very well on the way to an 84-79 win at Mizzou on Saturday. The win must've felt like a 20-point margin for Wildcats fans, many of whom had to be worried back-to-back losses were coming, which would've been the first time that happened this season.
But the loss was dodged and now, for the mean time, plenty are believing Kentucky to be a top 20-caliber team yet again. UK was aggressive, active and overall looked like a completely different team from the one that failed to show up and play with heart in Baton Rouge on Wednesday night.
John Calipari's club looked like the second-best team in the SEC, which is what it's been the entire season, for the most part. This was just the second road win of Kentucky's season, too. The Wildcats are now 16-5 and 6-2 in the SEC. A particularly important win, given Missour's a quality opponenet and not a team that normally allows teams to score more than 80 on them at home.
The Wildcats were led by Aaron Harrison's 21, but brother Andrew Harrison, the point guard, was vital. He had 14 points, just one turnover and was a steady hand throughout. It's the kind of showing that Kentucky fans were watching and waiting for. Andrew Harrison's been good this year, but also erratic. If he can play the way he did on Saturday in most games going forward, Kentucky's issues and concerns will lie elsewhere.
James Young -- for my money, the best offensive player Kentucky has -- added 20, while Julius Randle put up 18 and had nine rebounds. This showing from Randle one game removed from his six-point performance against the Bayou Bengals.
Missouri saw 61 of its 79 points come from Brown and Jordan Clarkson. I love watching both players play. Really talented pair of guards there. But the Tigers have to stem more offense throughout the starting five. That's really how Frank Haith's team lost this game. It shot well (52.9) from the field. It was 19-of-29 from the foul line, which isn't superb, but Kentucky was 16-of-24, a lower percentage. Missouri committed five less fouls (18 to 23) and two more turnovers (nine to seven).
A really well-played game that didn't see Kentucky shake throughout the second half. Hard to argue against this being one of the three most well-rounded showing Calipari's team had this year. It's far from great, but clearly good. Mizzou is destined to be a bubble team, but a dangerous one at that.
By the by, Calipari started this game with Randle, Young, both Harrisons and Dakari Johnson. Five freshmen.