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Eight lessons from Kentucky’s loss to Michigan State

Win or lose, Calipari said that he was going to get some answers from his team after this game. After a horrific start, Kentucky fought back on shoulders of Julius Randle to take Michigan State down to the wire. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Here are some lessons from Kentucky’s 78-74 loss to the Spartans:

1. Start slow and you’ll get burned

So far this season, Kentucky has developed a nasty habit of starting games slow, and tonight was no exception. Michigan State stormed out to a 10 point lead, spurring Cal to call two early timeouts to regroup; finally, at the fifteen-minute mark, James Young hit a three to give the Cats a bit of life. Young scored fifteen first half points, and at times, looked like the Cats’ only source of offense. After the game, Cal said that his team deserved to be down by 25 instead of ten at the start of the game. What was the problem? Transition defense was particularly terrible, as was the effort: “We’ve got guys right now that are thinking, one: okay, somebody else will go do it, or they’re not playing well and worrying about themselves.”

Sums it up.

Sums it up.

2. The Harrison Twins looked like freshmen

Young was the only freshman not to look like a freshman in the first half. Julius Randle and the Harrison Twins not only struggled, but looked shell-shocked by Michigan State’s quick start. While Randle got back on his feet in the second half to lead Kentucky’s comeback, the Harrison twins did not. Andrew finished with 11 points, three assists and five turnovers, while his twin Aaron only scored three points to go with one assist and two turnovers. More concerning than their stat lines was their body language, which looked at times defeated and annoyed. Calipari said after the game that he’s not worried about it, but in a game in which many expected the uber-competitive Twins to rise to the occasion, they got schooled by their older opponents. As you can see by his tweet above, Aaron Harrison was clearly upset with his play, which hopefully means he’s ready to listen and learn.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

3. Too many turnovers

UK had 17 turnovers in tonight’s game, which is waaaay too many, especially when you consider that the majority of them were unforced. Several of those turnovers came at crucial times for Kentucky, squelching each comeback attempt in the second half. Julius Randle had an uncharacteristic eight turnovers, four in the first half. Doubled over by double teams, Julius’ problem was he held on to the ball too long at times, which led to easy points for Michigan State. While that is frustrating, the five turnovers from Andrew Harrison may have been even more brutal.

4. Free throw shooting must improve

If every single player isn’t in the Joe Craft Center practicing free throws the minute they get back to Lexington, then they need to get back on the bus. Kentucky’s free throw shooting was abysmal, with the Cats going 20-36 from the line. Cal said that told him his team didn’t deserve the W: “We missed 16 free throws, so we don’t deserve to win the game. …Getting to the foul line and missing is almost demoralizing.”

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

5. As Julius goes, this team goes

Julius Randle had a rough first half, but instead of coming out and sulking through the second half, he put the team on his back and almost led them to a win. Randle had 23 points in the second half, dominating the lane and making his case for the most impressive freshman so far this season (although Jabari Parker looks ridiculous so far against Kansas). After the game, Jay Bilas called him unstoppable:

“In the second half, he was phenomenal. You couldn’t stop him,” Bilas said after the game. “One on one, I’m not sure anyone can stop Julius Randle down on the post.”

During halftime, Calipari told his team “if you want to play in a game like this, let’s see what you got.” Julius Randle heard that call. He played so hard that he had to leave the postgame press conference because of cramps, and when he turned to leave, Cal told him “I told you to take yourself out.”

(One small thing, Julius: I think they’ve figured out the spin move.)

6. Digger Phillips is still an idiot

Randle is a pure competitor. He’s had three straight double-doubles (five if you count exhibition games), but still isn’t satisfied. After watching Julius put the team on his back and almost leading them to a win, how could you have nothing but respect for him? That’s a question someone really needs to ask Digger Phelps tonight. After the game, Digger approached Julius outside the locker room, put his hand on his shoulder, and yelled over to Rod Strickland, “Hey Rod, you gonna teach these guys how to make free throws?” According to Matt, it took Randle a huge amount of restraint to turn and head into the locker room without retort.

Listen to me, Digger: you’re an ass.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

7. Alex Poythress is becoming a rock

Nine months ago, if I had written that headline, you all would have flogged me with sticks. However, Alex has flourished in the sixth man role, becoming the veteran presence this team so desperately needs. Alex had seven points and twelve rebounds, and Cal singled him out for his strong play after the game:

“He blocked shots, he rebounded the ball. You look at us now and he played pretty good.”

They eating they feet, Alex.

8. The will to win is there

Are there negatives from this game? Absolutely. Kentucky missed way too many free throws, committed too many turnovers, got burned in transition, and balked when the bright lights turned on. Yet, it is only November 12th, and as any coach will tell you, a loss speaks volumes. The silver lining? If you minimize the mistakes the Cats made tonight, the outcome would have been different. Despite their youth, this team showed they’ve got heart, coming back from a 12-point deficit at halftime to tie the game with four minutes left. Still, the loss hit some players so hard that Cal said there were tears in the locker room:

“You had guys crying in there, which is a good thing. That was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist after Indiana (two years ago). So you had kids crying in there, and I want it to hurt like that.”

Were the players mourning the loss of 40-0? Maybe. But if that’s the price you have to pay for a reality check, then it’s totally worth it. On November 12th, battling back to take the #2 team in the country down to the wire doesn’t seem like a bad place to be.

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.

138 responses to “Eight lessons from Kentucky’s loss to Michigan State”

  1. RealCatsFan

    At this point in the season, probably best for this young team to get that huge #1 target off their backs and take the pressure of the 40-0 ridiculousness away. They have a long way to go, but the upside is that there is a lot of room for growth with the level of talent on this team. I feel really bad for what is coming to RM next week.

    1. Amen

      I second that final notion. Robert Morris is in for a rough night.

    2. Troy

      Yep, I agree. I don’t think this team loses another game.

    3. RealCatsFan

      Troy, I’m not even close to making a statement like that after tonight. Watching Duke and Kansas tonight, and both teams are talented and deep. As much as I hate to say it, UofL is very strong again this year, and UNC will present a challenge, especially if weasel Roy gets PJ to play. Also, there are some decent SEC teams like Florida to contend with.

    4. Troy


      We had almost 20 turnovers, missed over 16 free throws, made MSU look like they were going through a lay up drill, missed most of our outside shots, AND had almost no production from the twins, and we lost by only 4 to the 2nd ranked team in the country. Not only that, this team took a knock out blow to the chin in the first half, and Julius Randle got up off the floor with Poythress and started swinging back. Yeah, we may have another off night in some area again, but that was the perfect storm, and I highly doubt we see it again. I wish Marcus Lee had more playing time.

    5. My N. D'zye

      As point #5 reiterated….as Julius Randle goes, so goes the Cats. No question, the guy is incredible. But like last year, we lose Julius and season’s over. I’m counting no unhatched chickens. Just gonna enjoy watching the team improve. BTW, Digger correctly stated ‘experience’ over freshman talent; but he absolutely was smitten with Julius Randle’s ability post-game. His comment in re free throws was him being a coach, reiterating that the game was ultimately lost at the line against a very physically slap-happy and Spartan squad.

  2. Troy

    LESSON # 9 – The twins and James Young cannot defend a drive to the basket. At times it looked like an MSU lay up drill. James Young was repeatedly out run down the court by the MSU guards, and our other guards weren’t even in sight. Even in the half court offense, we gave up an asss ton of lay ups. We had NO dunks.

    1. VinnyCent

      poythress dunked tonight.

    2. Bunny

      You’re right about the poor D played by James Young, and the Twins. Unfortunately, a lot was simply due to inattention, lack of focus and hustle which is INEXCUSABLE…

  3. Troy

    LESSON # 10 – This team is a f’ing BEAST on the boards. We out rebounded one of the best rebounding teams in the country by SIXTEEN BOARDS !!! Unreal

    1. Troy

      And oh yeah, the interior players of MSU had 11 rebounds COMBINED. Poythress had more than that by himself. Their guards had 17 rebounds which tells you they didn’t stand around watching the play as much as the twins did. They went and got the ball.

    2. Megan

      When you’re making break away layups and dunks, there’s nothing to rebound on the offensive glass.

  4. Duuuuuude

    Parker does look great but this is an all start game caliber defensive effort by both teams. They are just trading buckets. Randall had players hanging onto his arms and shoulders the entire game. Wiggins….. I am surprised not to see more from him in this game.

  5. 40-0

    I guess 7 first round draft picks isn’t enough…. Sigh….

    1. Troy

      Oh please. We play MSU in March and we win by 15 or more

  6. John calipari

    This just isn’t fair for my guys to play a Kansas or duke this early in the season…..

    1. RealCatsFan

      Yeah, the Cats could be playing cupcakes like Jimmy Hofstra University instead.

  7. binarysolo

    Sigh. I’m gonna miss you trolls the rest of the season.

  8. RealCatsFan

    Once again, I’m not even close to making a statement like that, especially the way our guards played tonight. We kept waiting for our team to wake up last year, and while I don’t think anything like that will happen this year, I’m taking a wait and see approach.

    One ray of sunshine – Duke loses. Parker was for the most part contained in the second half, finished with 27. Matched Randle’s point total, but I think Randle had the most impressive performance of the tournament.

    1. Troy

      Easily (minus the darn turnovers)

    2. Megan

      And the darn missed free throws.

  9. SmartPerson

    All three of the freshman stars in these games are living up to the hype. Parker was the only one not to get a double double, but didn’t have the turnovers of Randle. Wiggins got the W and was solid. Great year for college basketball.

    1. Troy

      True, but the other freshman didn’t put up numbers against a constant double and triple team

    2. Excuse Machine

      Troy sounds like Kansas fans when Thomas Robinson lost POY

    3. Troy

      hey ExcuseMachine. Randle had the best stats of all three on the night. You sound like an Obama lover pumped full of Harry Reid man seed.

    4. Anthony Spanky Davis

      Troy that reply is more queer than the 2012 Cayts

  10. Sweet Wm

    HS showed up. Good learning experience tonite and getting ready for L’ville and the tough SEC. After all its only November and we will see a much tougher team after January. Looking to enjoy a great year.

  11. Bluebleeder

    This just in: Jalen Rose is an idiot.

  12. fundamentals

    poor free throw shooting is the result of recruiting athletes, not fundamentally sound players. You cant teach or practice to become a better free throw shooter. Ask Shaq or D. Howard what all the f/t lessons from the worlds best teachers benefited them! The one pure shooter we had was ran off to Gonzaga!

    1. BigBlue

      Whaaaa? You can’t teach or practice to become a free throw shooter? Who invited this Einstein?

    2. Eric

      If you cant practice and become better, then i guess we should just cancel the rest of the practices this season.

      –what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    3. Wildcatfan4ever

      That has to be the most insane thing that could be said! You most definitely can teach or practice free throws. I made it to the State finals of the hoop shoot contest two years in a row by working each evening – shooting nearly 500 free throws a night. To this day, 25 years later, I can still make a free throw. All they need to do is practice and calm down when they get to the line – go back to the basics – focus, get arch on the ball, bend knees, etc. This team will be fine!!!! GO CATS!!!!!

    4. bbr

      Players who are not good athletes will not get to the line to shoot free throws becasue the D doesn’t foul them near as much, so being good at shooting free throws doesn’t do them much good.

  13. SmartPerson

    Coach K better stop recruiting athletes, because his team is sucking a free throws too.

  14. fundamentals

    13) thats not to say one cant be both an athlete and be fundamentally sound …they are just rare!

  15. Cat card

    R smith and c jones will have no problem with pUKe’s back court!!

  16. Hand Check

    Am I the only one extremely annoyed at how the refs are calling this new hand check rule? Don’t see anyone talking about it and it’s ruining the game already. The rule was put in place for guards hand checking on the perimeter but the idiotic refs are calling it in the post play too and you just cant do that. There is going to be a little contact in the post you can’t avoid it, but the stupid zebras are calling every little knick knack touchy foul in the paint. The game lasted 2 1/2 hours bc of it. Just ridiculous.

    1. Ukbradstith

      I like calling the guards closer but I agree about the post players. Dakari literally just rested his hand ona guy a couple times and got called for a foul.

    2. Megan

      So don’t rest your hand on the guy! What good’s that going to do anyway?

      Look, you can still body up, you just have to use your feet and keep your hands off. (Actually, you can still touch the guy with your hand or forearm, you just can’t keep it there or do it repeatedly).

    3. Youre wrong

      Sorry Megan but you are completely wrong. In a conversation with an NCAA committee member a reporter asked how the refs would be calling the new rule during games. He said refs will be enforcing hand checks on the perimeter but post play should stay about the same. If you have ever played any basketball before you would know if you can’t use your hands or forearm in post a little you might as well have your hands tied behind your back bc you will get scored on every time. This is just getting ridiculous college basketball is a physical game and they have to let the players use their hands some. Refs are taking the perimeter hand check rule and enforcing it in the post too and it’s making games last 2 & half hours and completely ruining the excitement of the college game.

  17. ==== Did Archie Goodwin come back ? ====

    ==== Our guards looked just like Archie ………….. bbbbbuuuuuuttttttttt, they didn’t fall down every trip down the floor ====

  18. Spirit of the Goal on the Barn Door

    Here’s something to take away from last season, tonight, and the Calipari era .

    I do not think these players care, or play for the name on the front of their jersey, I think they are playing for the names on the back.

    If we are as great fans as we make ourselves out to be, we know our players, ad that’s all that matters
    Let’s take the names off the backs and see if we get such great recruits that want to come play for the State University of Kentucky and the pride of the BBN

    1. RealCatsFan

      Yeah, and while we’re at it, let’s get some candy striped pants and hire a coach who either: A) throws chairs and chokes players, B) runs out on the floor like an idiot in the middle of play action, or C) french kisses adolescent boys on national TV. See your point, but no thanks.

    2. Megan

      Disagree entirely, Spirit. Cal won’t recruit a kid who is self-absorbed and not a team player. It’s not for everybody, he says, which is why he doesn’t recruit ALL the top prospects. I don’t know where you’re getting this selfishness idea, or why you’re ragging on our boys.

    3. DC Cat

      No, what we learned us tat this team has some maturing to do on the court, both in their play and demeanor. They are young. Period. This will be a learning moment for them for sure. The kids on Cal’s first three teams absolutely played like a team and quickly adopted the BBN. AP is a quiet guy, but no reason to think he is also not fully IN. Noel? Can you honestly say he only played for himself?

      No, I’m sorry, Spirit, but there is no evidence to support your your preposterous statement.

    4. Jake

      I think it’s selfish and unrealistic to get mad at a player for that. So what if they’re playing for themselves and not the university? I don’t go to my job because I love my company, I go to get a paycheck. Some fans are insulted by this and I don’t understand it, I just appreciate that they brought their talent here, they’ve not lived here and watched kentucky basketball all their lives like us so I don’t expect that.

    5. johnc

      thank you

  19. UK_Gr8ness
  20. Lance

    I see this game as a dismal warning of what could happen come March. On the broadcast there was a comment that Cal said this team reminded him of the Wall/Cousins team. Well tonight’s lost was similar to the WVU game in 09-10 and I fear this is what will happen come tourney time. The team lost focus, panicked and started taking bad shots. That will be a recipe to get us booted early. YEs, Randle looked like a beast tonight, and let’s be honest the refs called a lot of fouls on Michigan State, but I argue not enough. Randle got hammered the whole first half, and multiple strips were the product of slapping at the hands. And with the “new rules” these all should have been fouls and we should have been in the bonus much earlier, of course that prolly wouldn’t have helped with the dismal free-throw shooting. It was also interesting that anytime the Cats got out on a fast break that could have led to a highlight dunk, and momentum booster, there was a mysterious foul called that halted play. The twins are not what we thought they were. At this point they are to big of a liability, and if that doesn’t change we can kiss this season good-bye and start helping Cal pack his bags. And honestly, I wish Julius would have put his hand through the back of Digger’s head after that comment. Is there a gameday at Rupp this year? If so, we should make a point to show up to let Digger know how big of piece of s^$t he is. This year is either going to be extremely fun, or just another repeat of last year and hopefully it’s the former rather than the later. I know it’s early and I hate to say it, if this team doesn’t come together and we don’t make the final four, then Cal has either got to learn to coach or he’s got to go.

    1. Megan

      1. Please, don’t draw conclusions from precious few data points. You’re taking the worst of what happened in this one game and projecting it over the entire season. That’s nonsense. If we’re not improving by January, we can revisit the point.

      2. Really? You want to fire Cal if he doesn’t make the Final Four this year? OMG. You, my friend, are what’s wrong with BBN. You, my friend, are what’s wrong with people. You’re giving me a bipolar vibe. Everything is either roses or the sky is falling. I’m guessing you’ve been around more than a few decades and have turned rather cynical in general. When’s the last time you enjoyed life?

      You might be the only person, UK fan or otherwise, who believes Cal is on the hot seat this season!

    2. DC Cat

      Omg!!! Seriously?

    3. CATandMONKEY

      Simply by using the, ahem…word “prolly”, any possible point you might have made must be dismissed.
      Megan please pardon my liberal use of punctuation. Your response is superb.

    4. bbr

      Which team do you think is going to improve the most – a) a team full of players who have been in the system for multiple years or b) a team who most of their players are playing their 3rd, yes 3rd total game in college period, much less in a system? MS is not going to get much better this year. UK is going to get 100 times better – thats scary (for our opponents)! that team we played last nite is the best team we will play all year and we almost beat them 3 games into the season; with 16 missed free throws; and 18 turnovers. We are not going to commit 18 turnovers in Marc and are not going to miss 16 free throws. This team is goign to be scary good in March and NO ONE is goign to want to play us.

  21. jpg

    20, you have not a single rational bone in you body! This game was a coin flip to most (vegas had us as underdogs), and your statement just makes me face-palm. Our guards are learning on the fly and had a bad game. That happens! Most rational fans are excited, because even though so much went wrong, the team fought and almost came away with a victory.

    18, you sound like you copied and pasted your statement from Cardchronicle. You are probably Cards fan, or you would understand that basketball at UK’s level is a National recruiting effort. Not every good player is in UK’s back yard. The 1-and-done rule is not UK’s fault, and they are not the only ones recruiting these players. Cal is bringing in players like Willis, Hawkin, Ullis, etc., to go along with all of our All-Americans. UK has one of this biggest brands in college basketball, so some of these out of state guys might actually be UK fans. I like Cal’s approach because he embraces their dreams. Is that not what college is about? Pursuing your dreams!

  22. fundamentals

    20) sure thing Lance. While your at it, please tell us who you will replace Cal with and how many titles they have won!

  23. the realest

    If Cal played a 2-3 zone on the green UK would had won….thats why he is a roll them out coach

    1. Megan

      Did you see our zone in the prior game? I’m guessing not, because you’re not a UK fan.

    2. DC Cat

      God, our fan base is weird. You can’t seriously look at the development of Cal’s players in his years here and believe that statement. Or maybe you are just a troll.

      Reading this board makes me want to scream — “IT’S ONE FRICKIN’ EARLY SEASON GAME, PEOPLE!!!!!”

      A whole lot of Monday morning quarterbacks and fare-weathers on here.

  24. Bunny

    Mostly agree Mrs TT with 2 exceptions:

    1) Digger is NOT an idiot. What he said was totally true. If Julius or anybody else on the team has an issue with it, they can simply work to become competent free throw shooters. You didn’t see the Freshmen and sophomores in the Kansas – Duke game bricking free throws like Ky…

    2) One of the lessons we learned, again, is that we’re still looking for a lock down defender. James Young and the Twins all have a LONG way to go to fill this role. All had ridiculous breakdowns during the game and some were simply due to a lack of hustle and effort…

  25. Correction

    Randle had 8 turnovers NOT 7…

    1. Megan

      Two more and he would’ve had a triple double.

  26. UKBlue

    This may be the first time if ever players likes the Twins & Young have played against other players & older players at that in an actual game that were better than they are at this moment. Maybe not as talented as the Twins, but better schooled in what to do & more importantly what not to do. The Twins have more than likely never really had to push it when challenged, and just coasting or doing just enough to get by won’t hack it in college no matter how talented they might be. They try to drive the ball against 3 defenders instead of kicking it out, crazy. The NBA scout talk has gotten in Young head, and totally screwed him up. If he can’t it three’s, then he needs to do something else like play defense. It’s a shame as talented as these kids are they have never been taught the non-sexy things of basketball fundamentals like defense & making free throws. It may not in the end, but these types of games early on are where experience beats talent every time.

  27. catfan4ever

    While I completely agree that Digger’s comment, regarding free throw shooting, was “ill timed”, it was absolutely correct. With, arguably, the best free throw shooter in the history of UK basketball only an “arms length” away, and unless there is a “conflict of interest”, I see absolutely no reason why Kyle Macy is not working, daily, with this team, and all future teams, on their free throw shooting? There is a reason they are called “free” throws, and the inability to make them will reverse the result of many close games.

    1. Megan


  28. David

    Good lord…fair weather fickle fans (some)…after the first 3 1/2 minutes of the game UK outscored MSU 74-68 even with the aforementioned youngster mistakes (turnovers, transition D) and miserable FT shooting, losing by 4 to the #2 (and in some polls #1) team in the NOVEMBER…calm down…Cal will obviously use this to his advantage…my guess he is relieved that the 40-0 chatter can be put to rest…had UK won tonight’s game against a strong opponent, vs a Senior MSU guard who flirted with a triple double, whilst themselves having a horrific night in a number of areas, that his young team would have begun to think that they could just show up and win no matter how poorly they played…this will focus them without question…play hard for 40 minutes…and remember how shaky Marquis Teague was at the beginning of 2012, only to become steady and efficient come tournament time…

    And enough of that crap about these kids not caring about the front of their jerseys…kids who are only concerned about their future NBA stock don’t cry after a close loss in November because they think it’s going to adversely effect their draft rank…they know the kind of fan support they have here; it’s part of the package that lures them here to begin with…to say they don’t care about UK is an insult and that sort of talk brings only shame to those who say it

    1. RealCatsFan

      Ding, ding, ding – we have a winner! Couldn’t say it better myself.

    2. DC Cat


    3. ChiefWiggum

      Well said. Exactly what I just told the Tards fans here at work.

    4. johnc

      your right just wait til next year. oops these guys will be gone

    5. thank you

      Well said, except I really don’t think the 40-0 talk mattered that much to Cal.

      As far as the game, I don’t believe in a “good loss” but I do believe in bad losses and this wasn’t a bad loss. This was just a loss. The mistakes that UK made – turnovers (most of which were getting stripped or just throwing the ball away) and free throws are two of the easiest things to correct. This team was killing MSU on the boards and getting points in the half-court set (albiet relying heavily on just giving Randle the ball and letting him post or drive). Try teaching those things.

      Only thing that really upset me was Cal letting the shot clock go all the way down on the last MSU possession. I just think this team is good enough offensively that we have a better chance to win if we extend the game there. Get 2-3 possessions instead of one. I get that it is a choice and there are pros and cons to both, but I just couldn’t for the life of me think that us getting a stop and then scoring in less than five seconds was the ideal move there.

  29. CrimsonCee

    I told you people several times you weren’t beating MSU. And you’re gonna say its a positive and blah blah, but you people truly thought you weren’t gonna lose. Deep down you believed it, even if you say you say otherwise. It won’t be the last time, either. Truth is: Randle’s a monster, but no one else is very good and Randle’s not winning a title alone. Maybe this will teach a fan base who was humiliated last season that its not gonna come as easy as two years ago EVER AGAIN, but I doubt it. Undefeated, my ass. Best team ever, my ass.

    1. Megan

      The committee will take our close loss to No. 2 Michigan State (good loss) over your 1-point win against LIU-Brooklyn (bad win). See ya!

    2. CATandMONKEY

      Better than your team? Definitely YOUR A$$.

  30. CatSinceBirth

    As for the terrible free throw shooting, maybe Cal should ban MP3 players, or whatever they’re called today from being in the gym. I haven’t played for many years, but my HS coach would have kicked my arse out the gymnasium door had he caught me with headphones on my head. How in the world can you concentrate with hip hop blaring in your ears? As for getting back on D, maybe about an hour or so of running the bleachers at Rupp would be incentive enough to get them to hustle. If not, make it part of the practice until they get the message. Really I don’t see how we could expect much more. Just look at the NBA. These guys are NBA players who happen to be passing through college for one year. Most already have the NBA mentality. This isn’t intended to be a gig at the guys, but I’d think it’s much harder to motivate a whole team of 5 star players.

    1. Jared

      Really, headphones are why they can’t shoot free throws? How do you expect them to concentrate in an opposing gym with crowd noise, big heads, and everything else that goes on behind the basket if they can’t concentrate with a little music playing?

  31. Stop Hammer Time

    Harrison twins have been crybabies since junior high. Won’t win a title with only two guards and both are mental midgets.

    1. Megan

      Just stop.

  32. Brow

    WCS is way overrated. He is a great athlete with the basketball skills of an OVC player. Can’t hit the rim on a free throw and doesn’t have one post move.

  33. EC

    “Listen to me, Digger: you’re an ass.”

    TT, add “hole” to your statement and I say you’ve nailed it.

    1. RandyB

      The reason Digger “MSU Green Tie” Phelps is an ass is his 4-12 career record against Kentucky.

  34. bigblue091812

    SmartPerson needs to learn to read a box score. Randle had 27-13, Parker 27-9 and Wiggins 22.8. Randle was the only one of the three to have a double double. I love it he’s getting no love on ESPN, all the polls on there this morning has him below the other two. 72 pts and 43 boards in first 3 games. Randle is averaging 22 pts and 14.3 boards in three games so far this year. 3 games into the year and everybody screaming the twins and Young are doing so poor. Randle will carry this team with Alex for the next couple weeks while the other freshman catch up and when they hang banner #9 lets see what they have to say about Wiggins and Parker then, and Parker looked a lot better than Wiggins last night. Wiggins nor Parker would’ve scored 20+ against MSU beating them down all game.

  35. bigblue091812

    46 fouls and 53 FT’s in the UK game. 53 fouls and 63 FT’s in the Duke – KU game, and I wasn’t impressed with the D from either team in the second game.

  36. BravoBigBlue

    We won’t have to listen to 40 – 0 for the rest of the season. Thankfully. Other take-aways. The twins weren’t up to the level of competition. They will get better, but neither is John Wall. Poor transition defense is on the coaches. Izzo prepped his team to take advantage of this weakness that the Cats have shown in previous games. Finally, it’s time that Cal took free throws seriously. That will decide whether we win #9 this year. Cause we’re going to shoot more than any team in the country. Make it a huge ADVANTAGE or it will ultimately cost you, just like it did in this game.

  37. mlvei

    The kids are alright! They played exactly like they have in the first two games, and you can’t do that against really good competition, especially on a neutral or away court. Miss free throws, don’t get back, poor passes, confused offense, matador defense. They were not ready, really, for the big stage but this was only the THIRD GAME. Everything I saw they did poorly can ALL be corrected, most of it fairly quickly, except, maybe, free throw shooting, especially with some guys. This was a four point difference; and would you rather have our upside or that of Michigan State? I wouldn’t trade these guys for ANYONE else in the country. Don’t be more involved with the downside than the potential. Wait till you see this team in March.

    1. RealCatsFan

      Maybe I should change my screen name to “RealistCatFan”, because I am taking a wait-and-see approach with this team. To be fair, we were all saying a lot of the same things last year, and that team never took off. Now obviously this team is much deeper and more talented than last year’s team, but the learning curve is just as steep. Honestly, we could go in either direction at this point, and a lot of that is riding on the shoulders of our young guards. I really don’t see the type of mental meltdown at the PG position that we saw last year with Harrow, but we are going to have to see better performance from the twins and better defense from Young. Hopefully Cal will make the most of the many teaching opportunities he will take away from this game.

    2. um

      We were also all saying the same thing when the team was struggling early in the 2012 season and that year turned out alright. Cal has had two great years (I consider the Wall/Cousins year great because we only lost three games, the WVU game was just an abortion), one really good year and one terrible year all with the same formula. I think last year was the abberation. Cal had less incoming talent (fewer top-10 and top-25 freshman and also widely thought of as an overall weak recruiting year) and we literally had Wiltjer back and no one else. I think any reasonable person would believe that the most likely scenario is that this team ends up like Cal’s first three teams. They probably won’t lose more than five games, they will probably make it at least to the Elite Eight, and they have a good shot at cutting down nets. Sure it could all fall apart, but history doesn’t suggest that is likely.

      I mean, if the guys from last year all came back, Noel would start (assume he was healthy) and Archie and Wiltjer would come off the bench in spots. The other guys (Harrow, Mays) wouldn’t play.

  38. jeffcat53

    I feel exactly the opposite this morning about this team after the loss to MSU as I did about last year’s team after the win against Maryland. You could tell last year’s team had some very good players and the chance to be a good team, but this year’s team has the potential to be really special. To borrow a line from @rexchapman, “Happy days ahead!” Enjoy the ride BBN!

  39. Adam

    Timeout was taken just under the 18:00 mark and again around 16:45 mark.

    Do better, Mrs. Thompson

    1. Megan

      Saw that, too, but didn’t think it worth the criticism in such an excellent review of the game. (And this coming from a girl who spends way too much time being a grammatical nerd about commas and apostrophes.) Really an outstanding job, Tyler!

    2. CATandMONKEY

      Mrs. TT writes better than most journalists at “serious” venues and has excellent taste in barley-derived beverages.

      Adam I expect more from YOU.
      A WHOLE lot.

    3. yo

      You can make a correction without the snarky tude bud.

  40. UK Redneck

    This is just like Duke game last year. NIT is in the cards for the Cats

    1. steve

      good luck in the fourth grade next year redneck.

  41. playersfan

    I think the game was great. Kentucky made mistakes all of them fixable. Michigan State blitzed them in the beginning, made every shot they took, fouled every time KY touched the ball, and Calipari kept trying to run dribble drive through a zone packed in the middle so that two players jumped whoever tried to go to the basket. It’s West Virginia all over from the NCAA tournament. Clog up the middle, prevent the only offense we have from working make everthing you shoot. Secondly, free through has been bad on most of Calipari;s teams, maybe practice free throws on your own time isn’t working. It could have won this game.
    The speed of the game was huge surprise to these guys, it was their first real game, away from home, a very well coached team, experienced, confident and ready to go at the bell, and beat the no. 1 team in the country. All things considered they played a great game. The free throws are fixable, getting back on defense is fixable, learning to play against a zone is fixable, and they will make more shots. Four point loss is nothing at this stage, they learned what is necessary to make this game 25 points better, which would be a blow out, The last stat I saw Ky out rebounded Mich. State, that doesn’t happen to Izzo team. Ky without a offense to play against the zone was lost, and what they were told to do did not work, in resulted in being trapped. The second half the offense was go to Randle, he did a great job, he is by far the best in the country, but he can’t do it all, we need an offense that will get others open shots. There were no open shots.
    Seondly, changing the rules always is a problem. The referees have problems adjusting and the calls are inconsistent. Each referee is an individual, and when they change the rules each one adapts in a different way. Some fouls were ridiculous, and some serious fouls were not called. That’s not saying it is a reason KY lost, ( I know they lost on the scoreboard, but they were winners, because I don’t think Mich. State wants to meet them early in the NCAA) but it certainly confuses players in their first game.

    1. BigCat24

      The truth is that this was their firts true college game and you make som great observations.

  42. hoosier cat alumnus

    A tough loss and your analysis was spot on. I would add transition defense. We got beat down the floor on our own missed free throws and after in-bounds after we scored. Michigan State was faster than us and we secure ball handlers. They showed us up. We’d never seen that kind of speed. Call it a learning game. I was impressed with Randle, Poythress, and Cauley-Stein. We’ll get better and now these guys have felt the sting of loss in a tough game. Good lesson to learn early.

  43. UK Redneck

    Who am I? Not sure I know the answer myself. I will not be posting on this Board again. Adios.

    1. Megan

      Whew. Well that’s a relief.

  44. Stoops

    Moral Victory !!!!!!!

  45. whatwasthat

    Great early basketball game, still in football mode, as bad as they played, they make a play here or there and they win. Fun team to watch, glad we got the undefeated ball and chain behind them. What is it with all the trolls, oh I forgot jealousy and inferior genetics.

  46. bung

    I would add…
    fast break points…Mich St 21…Ky 2…

  47. UKheart

    Although it always pains me to see our basketball team have so many issues the reality is that this is very early and our ceiling for potential is incredibly high. This is the kind of thing that makes a team stronger as a unit and once we have that unit firing on all cylinders this train is gonna be unstoppable. We are officially on the road for 9 and I have a feeling that it’s going to be explosive.

    Also, Matt Jones needs to teach Digger how to commentate and not pick on young guys trying to perfect their craft…yeah our team missed free throws but Randle put this team on his back and got kicked in the teeth by an “unbiased” media member? Give me a break. Uncle Matt can you please explain your punching up/down philosophy to this idiot? Sleeping Giants are no longer sleeping now though

  48. bung

    like last year…cannot or will not execute the fast break and we have no half court plays…last yr looavul beat us 20-2 on fast break points and now Mich St beats us 21-2 …we outrebounded them but volunteered to play half court?

    1. Megan

      Cannot or will not? How about simply “did not.” I swear, what is it that makes some fans so sour and so ready to pronounce judgment after one game? I have to think it’s a reflection of the speaker in general. Some people, usually our older friends, have developed a very gloomy disposition. Is this what happens to us eventually? We become cynical and angry? Like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

  49. STUMP

    I could be off by this comment, but I was impressed by the fight and desire to come back by this team. Yes there we stupid mistakes and missed free throws, but anhyone that says they could hit 8 out of 10 free throws easily is wrong. All of us on this board have never tried to make one free throw with 30,000 people watching us, so I think these guys will start shooting better as the year progresses. The last thing is that because of the system that the NBA has in place (not the NCAA or UK), Cal has to teach these young guys the offensive basics and defensive basics of his system, whereas Izzo could actually gameplan against UK. That is why MSU was able to take away the spin move from Randle. When the players get the O and D down then they can start focusing on taking away what other teams do. I am not suggesting that Cal not recruit these guys, because he should recruit the best out there,a nd that Izzo does it right because he has guys that stay longer, but this early in the season to be able to gameplan specifics is a luxury that UK will have in March. So yes a 4 point loss hurts, but in the context that Izzo basically had the whole off season to prepare for UK in game 2 of his season it really wasn’t that bad. These Cats will be more than fine.

  50. Lcat

    The players did not loose this game-it was a coaches loss.
    1. free throws-why the coaches do not put more emphasis on this is beyond me. They shot 56%. Any good team should average 70-75%. At 70% we win the game. Get Kyle Macy in there as a free throw coach-why CAl seems to dismiss this is strange.
    2. Transition defence-no need to comment here
    3. Turnovers-horrible

    Given all the deficiencies the team had, they played well and with heart.

    These issues are not just a freshman problem. kansas starts 3 freshmen and they played a LOT better than UK. They were better offensively-a very good passing team and really ran the floor well. In additon, we cant become a team relying on Julius to get us over the hump. There was a tendency to go to him too much – we need more scoring from the twins and WCS.

    1. Stump

      Kansas didn’t play MSU which would have been a bad matchup for them this early in the year as well. I would have liked to watch UK play either one of those teams. Duke is still trying to find their Idenity as well so it was a good matchup for Kansas.

    2. hoosiercatalumnus

      Can’t agree with that. How can all that be Calipari’s fault. I agree with your points 100% but not that its Calipari’s fault. I think he’s as good a coach as he is a recruiter. Its just that MSU is damn good. Honestly I don’t see why they weren’t rated #1 in the first place rather than a bunch of freshman like us. They proved themselves last year and most of their players are back. Now our guys know the level of play they have to match and surpass. The speed, quickness, and defense of MSU was something they’ve never seen before. This is just their 3rd college game and their first true contender. They were slow & sloppy with their passing. They got beat down the court on in bounds plays after we scored and even on missed free throws– ridiculus. You gotta give Calipari credit for the adjustments made during half time. These kids are young and I think they’ll come around now that they’ve experienced true competition.

      The free throws are something else. That was just unbelievable. Most players have their free throw shooting down before they get to college, but I agree Calipari’s probably gonna have them shooting them alot now. That can’t happen again.

  51. Bluecreeker

    You could have posted #4 and moved on.

    Nothing out of the ordinary was learned last night. Cal is playing a rotation of guys who were in High school 6 months ago.

    The list should have looked like this:

    1 thru 7: The’re Freshman

    8. Make your free throws or you will never win ball games.

    Missing free throws is not a Freshman deal….it is a coaching deal (period).

  52. Coach Izzo

    NIT bound, loaded up and truckin’,
    UK’s not gonna do what they say can’t be done,
    They’ve got a long way to go and a long time to get there,
    UK’s NIT bound, just watch ol’ Pay Pal run!

  53. 39-1

    T-shirts on sale now

  54. coolinjector

    that was just a bunch of kids (that where in highschool a few months ago) being forced to get up to speed against older players on national television in a final four setting.

    that must have been a surreal experience for the freshmen, but they adjusted and fought hard.

    i love this team.

  55. Lexington 3

    Digger actually said a lot of positive things about Randle and UK. And he is exactly right about the free throws. Instead of whining about this it should be seen as a challenge. In the end, that will help the team reach its goals. Crying and calling Digger names isn’t going to make the team better.

    1. CATandMONKEY

      Digger can be right in some of his observations and still be…an a$$. It wasn’t what he said. It was HOW and WHEN.

    2. AnthonyBBN

      Digger’s point was valid. How he expressed it was the problem.

  56. Obummer

    There was to much individual play last night and not enought team work, a lot of 1 on 1 and forcing the ball instead of working it around for an open shot and that caused a lot of turnovers……. no excuse for the missed free throws. I can already picture free throws and sprints for them today and i dont miss those days………….wish i could be a fly on the wall when they go over that tape today!

    James Young needs more credit he carried that team the whole game last night!

  57. Harrison Twins - Slow, Slackers

    The Harrison twins are very slow and they loaf. Polson has to be quicker than the twins and maybe a better option now until the twins get some kind of mental toughness. We had one steal last night, one. That is an indication of “slow”.

  58. BBN

    Extremely disappointed with the Harrison twins. They REALLY looked like freshmen, and not very good freshmen. Andrew killed the team with the five turnovers.

  59. HackRichards

    Hey, Can you believe we still almost won this game? I’m excited. Now these High Schools boys got a taste of big-time basketball. They will begin their maturity into men and beasts. Baring injury , Number 9 is in the bank.

  60. Digger stinks

    Cats are a very good team, but they to come ready for battle every game. Plus dugger is a horse’s a$$.

  61. bung

    also we only had 8 assists to Mich St. 17…and lost the points in the paint to them…

  62. MikeMan

    I had coffee and a bran muffin for breakfast. I need to find a Brentano’s book quick!

  63. bung

    Mich St aint 2 good if they squeak by a team that has 17 turnovers…missed 16 free throws…and had only 8 assists and 1 fast break basket…13-1 on steals

  64. BOOKIT

    Are there any negatives to take from this game? Why yes, they lost and it won’t be the last

  65. Observer

    Regarding the Harrisons: They are perfectionists. They sulked because they were dwelling on the mistakes they made. The result, obviously, was more mistakes. Cal can fix that. “Evaluate AFTER the game. On the court, just play.”

  66. Louden Square Buffet

    Anyone know if anything was called during the play shown in the image at the top?

    1. AnthonyBBN

      Pretty sure nothing. Randle got hammered down low and never really got the call in the first half. About half his TO’s were in reality fouls.

  67. Some Guy in Kentucky

    I think that it was great for UK players and coaches to be tested this early. UK is not going to be able to just “dribble-drive” the good teams, they will just pack the lane like Mich. St. did. Free throw shooting is too important to just have the players work on their own. You are not going to beat a good team by missing 16 free throws(and some where 1&1 misses). I think Mich. St. played great, and UK played bad and lost by 4 pts.. There are some very good teams this season, so if UK wants to win a title they will have to work on a lot of things.

  68. Fab Five

    Still the best class ever

    1. AnthonyBBN

      Fab 5 lost in their 5th game of the season against more experienced #1 Duke at home. Let’s see what you have to say by the end of this year.

  69. Cat card

    Uofl 86 uk 67 on dec 28th

  70. FreeT-Shirts
  71. Mark

    It was good for them. A great learning game. I just want to know when the officials are going to use the new rules and when they are not and are they going to call it on both sides of the floor?

  72. Bunny

    Just a few corrections to your post Mrs TT:
    1) Randal had 8 turns – not 7. It’s a ridiculous number for one player in one game and easily accounted for a lot more than the margin of defeat – just as his missed free throws also did…
    2) Digger is neither an idiot nor an ass. What he said needed to be said and it was his job to say it. If Julius or anyone else took exception, they should simply work to become competent free throw shooters. Ky easily wins the game with just average free throw shooting. You didn’t see Kansas and Duke Freshman and Sophomores bricking free throws to the extent of Ky’s…
    3) We learned that we’re not close to having a “Lock down” defender. James Young and the Twins in particular gave up many more baskets than the margin of defeat by simply not sprinting and hustling on D. Cal should have used his bench…

    1. PhilUK18

      Wow, there’s just so much wrong here I don’t know where to start. But I’ll give it a try

      1. You don’t think it’s being an ass when a guy with one foot in the grave takes a cheap shot at an 18 year old kid that’s clearly upset at a loss? The point he made was valid, but the timing and way he made it does in fact make him an ass.

      2. You’re going to blame Randle for the loss? Teams win and lose together, it’s never one guy’s fault, and he carried the team on his back in the second half. I take it you’ve never played a team sport. If you do want to be an idiot and blame one guy, however, Aaron Harrison (and Andrew, to a lesser extent) would be better targets. 14 points combined, to go with 8 turnovers? Not good enough.

  73. Mc

    I wonder if our rate of correctly spelling Randle will improve throughout the year?

  74. Chuck Mac

    You forgot to mention that Willie Cauley-Stein is a punk who thinks teams are supposed to be scared of his ink. Wilted Willie…that’s my new name for him.

    Hey KSR, reality check. The one-and-done starting 5 will be like Obamacare.