The Kentucky Wildcats came into Oxford in need of a win after dropping a 69-59 contest to the Florida Gators on Saturday, and they got just that with a 84-70 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels.
The Cats improved to 20-6 overall and 10-3 in the SEC, and three of their next five games are in the friendly confines of Rupp Arena.
The story of the night was the play of freshman forward Julius Randle, who recorded his third consecutive double-double and his 14th of the year. He finished the night with a game-high 25 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 13-of-14 at the free throw line.
Randle also grabbed 13 rebounds, and his overall performance was historically efficient:
Julius Randle of @KentuckyMBB 25 pt, 13 reb, 85.7% FG, 92.9% FT. Only 1 other player in last 15 years did that: DeJuan Blair (PITT '08-09)— Jason McCallum (@ESPNJMac) February 19, 2014
Randle and the Cats did have some red flags arise, most notably their 19 turnovers, 14 of which led to 24 Ole Miss points, according to Jeff Drummond of Scout.com.
Four of those came from Randle, but he has brought his average down to just two turnovers per game over his last six games. That's actually a nice improvement from earlier in the year when Randle averaged four turnovers per game in his first seven games.
Randle is the Cats' best player and if he continues to improve, he will not only lead the Cats further in the NCAA Tournament, but he'll also continue to watch his NBA draft stock rise.
Randle has slowly improved his overall game during the course of the first 26 games of his college basketball career, but how he plays the remainder of the year will go a long way in determining how far the Cats advance in the postseason and how high he's selected in June's NBA draft if he declares for it.