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7 Takeaways and 1 Great GIF from a Sluggish Win


© Mark Zerof

© Mark Zerof

It definitely wasn’t pretty, but the Cats took care of business tonight at Rupp, beating Wright State 78-63 to improve to 4-0.

Only 15 points?!”, you say? After the high of the Duke win, a hangover was to be expected, but ugh. Kentucky looked sluggish, keeping John Calipari out of his seat most of the game, begging his team to show some energy. In the second half, fouls slowed the game down to a crawl, but a win is a win, and there are some positives. Let’s go over it all.

Tyler Ulis is captivating

I could start with the bad things, but why when you have a player like Tyler Ulis? One of the best things about this season so far has been watching Tyler work. He’s an artist on the floor, carving up defenses and painting plays with a fine brush. Tyler had 21 points tonight, his second straight career-high. He also had five assists, two turnovers, and two steals. Most importantly, he held his teammates accountable when they slacked off. For example, this insane pass to Marcus Lee, followed up with some teaching:

As Ulis goes, this team goes, which is why Calipari kept him in 36 of the 40 minutes tonight.

“I didn’t want to play him as many minutes as he played,” Cal said. “But I said I want to win a game more than worry about not playing him. If we can’t win without him on the floor, then he’ll be on the floor every minute. And that means someone’s not playing much. When he went out, we let them back in it.”

Wright State Coach Billy Donlon was so impressed by Ulis that he shouted his love across the Rupp Arena media room. 

“Tyler Ulis is really good,” Donlon said. “Tyler Ulis, he never panics, he never gets nervous, he makes the right decision every single time. He doesn’t hit home run plays unless it’s a home run. He never strikes out, never. When he comes off a ball screen, he never gets it wrong, and that’s really hard to guard. When he’s in transition, he never gets it wrong. That’s really hard.”

Too much “casual play”

Judging by Calipari’s postgame press conference, you would have thought the Cats lost. That’s how frustrated Cal was with his squad. Cal reamed his team for “a lot of casual play,” telling reporters that Wright State used the perfect game plan to beat the Cats (pack line defense, zone), but missed too many shots to get the upset.

“I don’t think we played particularly well,” Cal said. “We had a lot of casual play.”

The offensive stats: 9 assists, 12 turnovers. Murray accounted for five of those turnovers and only one assist. Ouch. Cue the Calipari “Let’s pump the brakes” speech.

“So again, this is going to be a process, folks,” Cal said. “You tell me that looked like the No. 2 ranked team in the country. We’re — there’s got to be 20 teams better than us right now. Couldn’t throw it to the post. Couldn’t throw it to the post. Skal couldn’t hold a position.”

Is a hangover a good teaching tool?

I know it is for me after a big night out. Not so much for Cal, or if so, he ain’t telling.

“No, I don’t,” Cal said when asked if he secretly wanted a performance like this to humble his squad. “I want us to just keep climbing. We took a big step back. Guys didn’t listen. We’re doing certain things and they just kind of broke it off and did their own thing. In a league game, we lose. Not winning a league game playing the way we played.”

No quick Fat Mo’s cheeseburger, Gatorade, and Advil for this group. Cal’s making them sweat it out.

Jamal Murray got another technical for talking 

Murray saw Alex Poythress, Isaiah Briscoe, and Wright State’s Joe Thomasson exchanging words and couldn’t help but get involved, advancing on Thomasson, which got him a quick T from the ref. That’s his second technical foul in only four games for talking. I love Murray, but that’s not good.

“I’m disappointed and I said something to him,” Cal said afterwards. “We’ll address it. He didn’t say anything, he didn’t swear or do anything, he just said, but he walked to the guy when he said something. You can’t — you got to be smarter than that.”

So. Many. Fouls.

Fifty, in fact. Wright State came in with a reputation for fouling and just couldn’t hold their own against UK’s trio of guards, racking up 33 fouls. It made the game unbearable in the second half, but the Cats got plenty of practice at the line; some looked good (Ulis, Murray), some looked bad (Labissiere, Briscoe). That pissed Cal off too.

“Two guys are 20-22 from the line. And three guys are 2-11. I’m sorry — where is Marcus Lee, because I thought he was 0-2. They only have him 0-1. The stat sheet is not right.”

You know it’s bad when Cal’s calling out the stat sheet people, ugh.

Alex got only his third career double-double

If you were worried that flossing with the net in Chicago would make Poythress tentative about dunking, well, don’t. Poythress had a few roaring dunks tonight on his way to 10 points and 10 rebounds, only his third career double-double.

Here’s one of those dunks:

“He’s just got to build on it,” Cal said afterwards. “He had a dunk that he wasn’t athletically ready for. He had the last rebound he tried to grab with one hand. He got beat on the bounce a bunch. But to get a double double and start down this road, let’s go.”

Isaac Humphries and Dominique Hawkins did not play

Humphries was in a boot with a bruised foot and is now considered “day to day,” while Hawkins is under the weather with a stomach virus. Both are expected to be back soon.

This is the best thing to come out of the game

For some reason, the SEC Network folks asked Calipari if he’d rather be on “The Muppets” or “Dancing With The Stars.” Cal said “The Muppets” so he could be one of the co-hosts and chair dance:

CalDance

Yeah, expect to see that GIF a lot this season.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

17 responses to “7 Takeaways and 1 Great GIF from a Sluggish Win”

  1. KevinM

    I expect to see ‘alot’ of this Swaggy Cal clip.

  2. Captain Wildcat

    One of Marcus Lee free throw attempt was disallowed because of lane violation.

  3. sweet wm

    I saw Murray pass up three 3’s to dribble drive in, only to lose the ball or make a turnover. Why not let him loose if he has clear 3 point shot?

  4. Leuther

    Lee’s FT stats were correct. His 2nd shot didn’t count because of a lane violation by a Ky player.

    Cal should lock Briscoe and Lee in the gym and don’t let them out until they make 1,000 free throws each…

  5. UKALLDAY1

    My biggest take away after the game is how in the world is Wright State 1-3. That is a good team that can really shoot the ball and is tough. We have to let Murray shoot 3’s, I mean I feel like he is always playing in a crowd not only in this game but other games too. He seems to always be getting in the lane but then not being quite sure what to do after that.

  6. Jiminy Crickets

    Anyone else noticing that when Murray messes up Cal says “I’ll talk to him”, but NEVER takes him out of the game. Was pulled after the behind the back pass in the Duke game, and was pulled after either technical foul. Cal seems to “talk” to Murray while on the floor, while screaming at the top of his lungs at everyone else. I know he’s good, and probably our best overall player, but I dont think he’s beyond coaching, or discipline

    1. Jiminy Crickets

      was NOT pulled… sorry

  7. Jiminy Crickets

    I see this team losing 5-8 games this year, our front court just does not have it, yet. The SEC is weak, but teams with talented interior guys (Vandy, LSU for example) will foul Skal out, and Lee is not able to score off the post.If not for Alex so far we are likely 2-2, he’s our only “presence” on the inside. Count me in as a guy hoping Tai Wynard decides to play this year, he’s raw but he’s 6’9 and tough, I cant stand watching Willis get beat on every single defensive play, AND not rebound. However, by Feb/March, Skal will be different player, and Murray will be playing outside the arch more. This team can be dangerous, but our front court has a lot of developing to do.

    1. BbnGroveStreet

      I just don’t agree with you on this, I think you’re being a tad bit delusional…5 to 8 games? You are telling me that coach cal isnt going to get better and better every game? I agree that we won’t be worrying about 38-0 this year, but 6, 7, 8 losses, come on that’s a reach..we just played sloppy…Tuesday night is a game you look at to see where you are at this point in the season, not Wright state . WI think Tyler it’s gonna be hard to lose…I see us losing 2 or 3 games. Lsu has simmons but if you haven’t watched them you need to because they were probably better last year and year before…like I said 2 or 3 games…maybe 4 but I don’t see it. Don’t freak after a sloppy affair with Wright state. Bbn Grove

    2. Jiminy Crickets

      you realize Brandon Knights team lost 9 game?, the twins first season with Randle and James lost 11 games? and of course the NIT season ended with 12 losses.

      Now Im not saying we suck, and Im not freaking out over a loss, but we are weak on the interior, and a game against teams with big guys will prove my point (Duke is not a big team, tall, but not big).

      I think we could easily lose 5-8.
      Ohio St on neutral, Louisville at home, AT LSU, AT Kansas, AT TexA/M, and At Vandy are all games that will tough to win. Im not saying we will lose them all, but LSU almost beat us last year twice, Tex A/M took us to OT. Then throw in LSU and Vandy at home and a young team could easily lose 5-8 games.

    3. Jiminy Crickets

      didnt mean to say a loss, but bad performance (sorry)

    4. BbnGroveStreet

      I understand where you are coming from man…honest…but I just simply do not agree..I understand your reference to the b knight team, and the julius Randle team, even the nit team…but all im saying, we’ve all watched tons of basketball…and it is going to be hard to lose that many games with a GREAT point guard in tyler..Ryan harrow and Polson were awful (nit), brandon knight wasn’t a point guard that could go ahead and help someone put up 20, and I’ll be honest I never thought andrew was much at the point…we lose multiple games last year without tyler and only andrew running point..I’m not saying ullis will be a good pro or even get picked, but in the college game, you can win a lot with a great pg, and he has the luxury of having more talent around him than almost any team in the country aside from maybe duke, unc

  8. BbnGroveStreet

    With Tyler *

  9. The Rest of the story

    Last night the Cats just were sleep walking thru the game. Very little defense, Murray looking like a freshman for the first time this year and Alex missing dunks. Skal is fouling at a horrendous pace and team free throw shooting is bad. All these things are fixable and will be fixed. Ulis is the main man on this team and Brisco is just one tough dude on both ends of the floor. Just remember last year how many way to close games that team played and how this years too close one so far is a 15 pt win that was never in doubt.

    1. UK Big Board Update

      LOL. It was Wright State…..

  10. leon singleton

    Cal broke Murrys spirit on the behind the back pass. He needs to let Murry be MUrry. Cal over coaching has effected the team morale.i

    1. UK Big Board Update

      DERP???