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Kentucky had Auburn beat, but ended up beating themselves


© John Reed | USATSI

With eight minutes to go, Kentucky was in control of this game. Ahead by four, Hamidou Diallo stepped up and shot a three, which would have pushed the lead to seven. Unfortunately, it rattled out. From there, Auburn cut the lead to two, and after a Diallo turnover a minute later, took the lead for good, finishing the game on a 16-7 run to win 76-66, pushing Kentucky to 17-9, 6-7 in SEC play.

It’s not fair to say Diallo was the reason Kentucky lost tonight, but his missteps created a domino effect of dumb mistakes. For the first time in a long time, Kentucky was playing like an actual basketball team, exploiting Auburn’s lack of size inside and creating opportunities with the best passing we’ve seen in weeks. Sadly, when things started to go wrong, they collapsed. Forced drives, stupid passes, and lackluster effort doomed the Cats in the final seven minutes, leading to the first four-game losing streak since the Billy Gillispie era.

There’s no shame in losing to the tenth ranked team in the country on their home court; however, letting that win fall through your fingers when it could have changed your season is beyond depressing — it’s demoralizing. Auburn was far from perfect tonight, shooting only 36.7% from the field thanks in part to Kentucky’s inspired defensive effort. The Cats stuck to the game plan and used their size in the middle, outscoring the Tigers in the paint 36-20 and winning the rebounding battle. Kentucky had Auburn on the ropes, but at the first sign of trouble, they panicked. The moment was just too big.

“Poor Hami,” Calipari said afterwards. “He’s making strides and getting better. He needed that three to drop. And that thing went [rim rattling sound]. We would have been up seven. It just didn’t go. I don’t know. I felt bad for him. I told him, just keep working man, but he just looked rattled out there and I just said, we’ve gotta win the game. You’ve got to worry about egos later when you’re just trying to win a game.”

Again, it’s not just Hami. What happened to Kevin Knox? Knox had 12 points in the first half but disappeared in the second, not attempting a field goal in the final 13 minutes. If you forgot Knox was on the court, you’re not alone; at times, he looked completely checked out, a troubling sign in the final stretch of the regular season. With Knox disengaged, Kentucky’s offense stalled, the Cats ending the game on another five minute stretch without a field goal.

So, where do we go from here? In the final seconds of the game, Auburn’s student section chanted “NIT,” a questionable jeer from a fanbase whose team hasn’t been in the NCAA Tournament since 2003, but a painful one all the same. Tonight’s loss doesn’t directly put Kentucky at risk of not making the tournament, but it does pave a grim path. Saturday, a feisty Alabama team will come to Rupp Arena led by freshman phenom Collin Sexton. From there, the Cats will travel to Arkansas before hosting a Missouri team that’s already beaten them. They’ll get a brief reprieve vs. Ole Miss before ending the season on Senior Day in Gainesville. Out of those five games, the only one I feel remotely good about is Ole Miss. That’s just where we are right now.

Right now, Kentucky is wounded prey just waiting for teams to pounce. To avoid total collapse, they must beat Alabama on Saturday. Unfortunately, they’ll have to get out of their own way to do it.

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.

46 responses to “Kentucky had Auburn beat, but ended up beating themselves”

  1. syrin23

    What’s so sad is this team does put up good defensive numbers, good enough to go far in the tournament, but we have some of the worst turnovers I have ever seen giving them about 6-10 more chances per game. And I mean, just pick up the ball and hand it to the defender bad sort of TO’s. Going to the FT is basically another TO, and we all know this team can’t shoot. Cal feels bad for Hami? How about the UK fans watching him not being able to dribble, pass, shoot or defend, yet see him staying in the game? I had a better stat line than him from my living room.

  2. BBNstrive49

    They are who we thought they were, and we LET THEM OFF THE HOOK.

  3. pillsboy

    When are we going to wake up. Cal is about cal. I hate to say it but he doesn’t give a rats as about us. He is about draft pics which doesn’t help we fans it is about him! You see he has a relationship with them once they turn pro. We don’t so he does what he does because it fills a void in his life. Now I believe he wants to win, however it is most assuredly second to getting guys drafted. Also like Bob Knight the game is passing him buy. The collage game has become a bulk fest big thick guys that refs allow extreme physical play and we have stick boys against men! Cal is a very proud self promoter that resist change. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting a different result. I love cal but I love Kentucky basketball much much more!!! We must demand change or this is our future! One or two studs per year and build 4 year collage players and stop this sick measuring draft contest which only benefits caliper, it ain’t helping us the real program is us not the B.S. draft pics! We must demand change or he will destroy or beloved program!

    1. CommonSense5

      Hahaha drink another. Unbelievable.

    2. timbo

      Maybe you should put the booze down and consider a general education course at your local “collage”.

    3. UK Big Board Update

      If you spell “college” like “collage”, you obviously didn’t go to college.

    4. RealCatsFan

      BigBoard, I think he spelled it that way on purpose. Note the quotation marks.

  4. Luether

    A fair and honest post, Mrs TT…

  5. pillsboy

    Sorry for type errors I’m driving while responding. Bottom line the college game has changed and he can’t see it he is too involved and commented to his failed sratigy.

    1. RealCatsFan

      Wow, so you are drunk AND texting while driving. I feel much better now. I pray that you made it to your destination before taking out some innocent soul. The idiocy of some of our fans amazes me.

  6. pillsboy

    We must stop making excuses. He should stop saying there young words matter and its an excuse that his young MEN read and that guys in there head and sets them up for failure. I’m a Colonel in special forces and I have guys that age that are killers and we would never say we are young that why we screwed up and assignment. These are men he is making excuses while telling those young me don’t make excuses! If I had on week with these guys I promise you there wouldn’t be any more excuses! Do your job or walk period! Cal STOP calling them young you are the problem that is B.S.! Call me and I’ll come up there and kick all your asses!!!

    1. 4everUKblue

      I pray you don’t have children for fear they will grow up to be serial killers, prostitutes or some other scourge of society.

    2. J-Dub421

      You are a barely literate fool. There is no way you are a colonel in the special forces. Stop lying.

    3. jbrockman50

      This guy really said he is a Colonel in SF???

    4. Luether

      Alright, make Ky basketball great again…

  7. pillsboy

    These guys are men period no more excuses!

    1. 4everUKblue

      This is the youngest team in the country and maybe in the history of NCAA BB or haven’t you heard? No disrespect but I give a sh!t what your rank is, this is basketball not the military…..a game not an excuse to guard poppy fields or oil fields.

  8. Drogon

    He sucks. Diallo is the worst basketball player Calipari has ever had. He has absolutely zero basketball skils. He can jump. BFD.

  9. Lip Man 1

    Once again the lack of a good basketball IQ dooms this bunch of underachievers.

  10. BradCalthegoat

    How are we not winning with all these McDonald’s All-Americans? I’m tired of the excuse “their freshmen”. These freshman are the ones getting drafted in the lottery and have WAY more talent then these other teams! It’s an excuse!

    1. UK Big Board Update

      *”they’re”

  11. SamKat83

    No excuses – This is only a fair-to-middling basketball group. Not a team. The coaches are hitting it hard, ut the coaching miss the ears of these puppies. Knox becomes satisfied too easily.

    Mrs. Tyler Thompson had a superb write-up.

  12. dhard

    This team does not know how to win. They make stupid turnovers, live ball, and have zero identity on offense. The offense seems to run in circles and then someone jacks up a shot, or, turn it over.

    1. RealCatsFan

      Wish BTI would do an analysis of the last ten minutes of games jnder under Cal. We are usually awful. He doesn’t seem to counter the other team’s late game adjustments. If we have a big lead we can usually hang on for a win, but if not, this is often where we lose a game, especially this year.

  13. nicky

    TT…..absolutely correct about Knox…glad you had the courage to say it

    1. RealCatsFan

      Yep, we seem to have a lot of players with an immature mindset. They lack the mental toughness to keep their heads in the game when things go against them. To be fair, I also think Knox may have been injured in the second half. He seemed to be gimpy on one ankle at times. Hope not, because if he goes out it will be 2013 all over again.

  14. RealCatsFan

    Cal’s system relies on taking educated gambles on how high school kids will develop in six months. When it pays off, it often pays off big, and when it doesn’t, you get years like this. He needs to find a way to get a better balance of good players with some experience to even out the highs and lows of the freshman. But you also don’t want to swing to the point where we are always in the bottom half of tge top 25 like we were under Tubby.

    If he wants to stay all in with the one and done system, then hire Antigua back and start tossing duffel bags of cash at these guys like dook does.

  15. Aar

    Last night I saw a team that really fought for 40 minutes. Not only did they fight, they played to their strengths and with good tactics – moving without the ball, passing, getting the extra pass and finding the open man, defending well both on ball and the three with good help.

    To me, it came down to letting small failures impact the next possession, just a little bit. The burden of the losing streak creeping in. Auburn was good enough to capitalize. The Cats didn’t completely collapse like they have in recent games. Gabriel and Vanderbilt played really well to me. Despite the noted lapses, Diallo showed improvement. As usual, SGA & Green carried the team and fought the entire game. I’m happy with the team’s progress and wish they’d held it together long enough to grab that elusive win. The Cats’ play in this game made me believe in Cal’s assertion that they just need one win.

    1. kjd

      Not the game I watched. TURNOVERS! NOT FIGHTING FOR LOOSE BALLS! Cal said it at halftime interview.
      It’s great you’re a die-hard fan, but at least be honest.

  16. Rembrandt

    This thread unfairly makes our fan base looking a flock of morons.

  17. StevieGotLoose

    Ahead in a tight game and the players start to check out or disappear? That has been the norm for this bunch and that is why I have said they are going nowhere but home.

  18. TB112162

    Pillsboy just shut up man the more you talk the more stupid you sound

  19. TB112162

    Tyler it’s pretty simple if we don’t win all 3 home games were not going to the tournament do the math it’s pretty simple

  20. IAmTheDanger

    In regard to the one and done system with which everyone seems to have an opinion….people make it sound like its a “system” that a coach locks into. It is simply something that has been done by all coaches at UK….it is simply going after the best recruits we can get. It just happens that Cal is better at this than any coach we have ever had. If we weren’t getting the best players in the country, the Cal bashers would be up in arms that he can’t recruit. Lots of you are talking about being fed up with the one and done system….look at this year, this is a group that the majority will not be one and done….how is this working out for us?

  21. empiremaker

    So what even if we make the tourney? then what, does it give us superpowers? Do we change who we are? My assessment is that we need more time to develop with new rotation, new blood. Please don’t think I am down on this team, I understand that this particular group needs more time, experience and unfortunately we have very limited time.

  22. Daddyof3Ballers

    What about the bad calls down the stretch? A no call in the charge (they score two). We inbound the ball and the kid falls at half court and PJ is called for pushing (which he didn’t, the kid jumped in front of him and just fell). They get the ball and score again and take the lead. Changed the game….

    1. empiremaker

      I understand there will always be bad officiating, in tourney or otherwise but we cant hang our hats on that because our play making abilities are subpar at best. Look at the assist to turnover ratio for the season, and number of assists per season, free throw percentage (if you are offensively anemic at least do this one thing right). We have to start with our own troubles before dissent on officiating.

    2. mj7juice

      That flop was complete garbage. It’s unbelievable how offcials see that as “good” defense, laughable.

    3. ClutchCargo

      Yes, that was an unbelievably horrible call on the flop. But it had very little impact on the final score. The mental lapses by our team bothered me much more.

  23. Laker Cat 18

    No, we never had Auburn beat. We have a “good” team, just not yet hit that “great” category.

  24. lexslamman

    Is it football season yet, or are we all now using the same stupid, pointless excuses we make for our terrible football program for our flailing basketball program?

  25. callitlikeiseeit

    I think Cal is getting old. Diallo has made me question his judgement of talent. I just cannot see anything about Diallo that would recommend to me that he is/was a 5 * talent. He is absolutely terrible and he needs to just give up on the dream of basketball making him a quick $$$$$$$

  26. Smyrna_Cat

    No, we didn’t have them “beat” … and we didn’t “beat ourselves.” We were ahead, but especially on the road in the SEC, that isn’t enough. Auburn is better than us this year, and we are not playing well. They are. They were SUPPOSED to beat us. Out players hustled and tried their best. They got beat. That is how basketball is played.

    Please quit writing blurbs that feed the fakers, haters from other schools, and whiners who whine about anything.

  27. Azulgrande75

    Sorry TT but I respectfully disagree. I don’t have one shred of confidence in this team the rest of the way. Not because of the losing streak but because of the MANNER in which we lose. Our team can’t string enough positive plays together to either maintain a lead or cut into a lead. It’s a recipe for disaster. Cal, please keep Diallo on the bench when we have a lead because when you insert him our lead magically goes away! It has happened all season long. It woudn’t shock me if we lost the remaining games on our schedule. Sad.

  28. bd2153

    How can these kids believe they can play in the NBA. Not enough toughness or courage soft no basketball IQ none at all. When was the last time there was post up move a real post up not this stuff we see now. Had three/four inches across board yet they got fouls and free throws. Wait don’t forget rebounds. No effect/no heart/no nba careers for any of these guy. NBA IS A JOB, PLAYED BUY MEN NOT KIDS. Just think If Monk can’t get on the floor for the hornets none of this group will be on a beach. G league players as of now.

  29. bd2153

    A lot of English professors on this site. No wonders kids are stupid now.