John Wall's Kentucky debut wasn't perfect. It just had a storybook ending.
And that's what Big Blue Nation wants, especially when March rolls around. For now, they can relish a win that probably wouldn't have happened the last few years.
The No. 4 Wildcats spent most of Monday trailing Miami (Ohio) and failing to guard Nick Winbush, who hit 8 of 10 from beyond the arc. At one point, the 'Cats trailed by 18. John Calipari's freshmen weren't dogging it, it's just that the RedHawks played that well. They disrupted Kentucky's dribble-drive offense for most of the night, clogging the lanes and forcing UK into perimeter shots.
Wall rarely forced the issue (5 assists, 5 turnovers), but wasn't shy about driving by defenders when necessary. During the first half, he drew fouls on three Miami players in a 22-second span. As a result, he did most of his scoring from the free-throw line, hitting 10 of 14 from the stripe, bit only attempted nine field-goal attempts.
Yet when the RedHawks tied the game at 70 with six seconds left, Calipari wasn't worried. Wall took the inbounds, scooted down the court and nailed pure a 15-footer with .5 seconds remaining. Watch for yourself.
"When it hit the bottom of the net, it was a relief, a great feeling," Wall said.
That goes for every Kentucky fan. The Wildcats are a work in progress (like North Carolina and a handful of other young teams), which means this won't be the last tight game Cal's crew has. And they won't all turn out like this.
But having a player like Wall – a freshman who belies his class standing – gives them someone who can win those games. It's music to Kentucky's ears.