Although the final score of 84-70 doesn’t indicate this was a close game, the Ole Miss Rebels nearly pulled the upset over the 18th ranked Kentucky Wildcats. Julius Randle recorded his third straight double-double, however, and was the only reason the Wildcats survived the late game scare.
Randle has proven time and time again he can score and rebound the ball, but his free throw shooting on Tuesday night proved he’s one of the most complete big men at the collegiate level. He finished shooting 13-14 from the charity stripe, and made all six of his free throw attempts in the last two and a half minutes of game time.
Even more impressive than his free throw motion was his shooting from the field as he made six of his seven shots and muscled his way through contact numerous times. Even though his free throw shooting helped seal the victory, his most important basket came with just over a minute remaining when he drove from the top of the key and drained a floater despite dealing with contact the entire time.
Randle’s physicality is one of his most noticeable traits and one of the main reasons he is seen as a top five pick in June’s NBA Draft. His main competition for the title of college basketball’s best big man comes in the form of seven foot center Joel Embiid from Kansas, but Randle is a more polished and complete player making him the more dominant big man.
One of the few area’s of improvement for Randle is his outside shooting as he is just 3-12 from behind the arc this season. While not a huge concern, Randle has impressive ball handling skills, but could really elevate his game if he became a more consistent threat from the outside.
Kentucky continues to be one of the most inconsistent teams in college basketball, but Randle showed Tuesday night he can carry the team on his back and be the most dominant big man on the court when need be.