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UK-Troy Game Recap: Cats should’ve won big, but didn’t

Kentucky moved to 4-1 on the year and 2-0 in the Adolph Rupp Classic with a 70-62 win over the Trojans of Troy University in a game that was much closer than it should’ve been in the end.

Kevin Knox was the Cats’ leading scorer with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, while Quade Green and Wenyen Gabriel joined him in double figures with 13 and 12 points scored.

Let’s hit the major storylines from the rest of the game…


The Cats were rolling, and then they weren’t.

The first half was some of the best basketball Kentucky has played all year. They were really firing on all cylinders and took a 16-point lead into the break with a 32-17 edge on the glass. Finally! A start-to-finish blowout win on the way!

So we thought.

The early part of the second half was more of the same, but things went way south with about eight minutes to go. Troy quickly turned a 21-point Kentucky lead into a single-digit deficit in a span of five minutes. With a little more time, who knows, maybe the Cats get upset in a choke job of epic proportion.

Let’s just be glad the clock ran out before it got any worse. I’m still kind of shocked it happened, to be honest. The offense completely disappeared.

Nick Richards started with a bang.

After taking criticism for his quiet night against East Tennessee, Nick Richards came out strong to begin the game. He got the nod over Sacha Killeya-Jones in the starting five (against many fans’ wishes), and quickly proved he deserved the spot by scoring the first basket of the game and grabbing four rebounds in the first three minutes. Richards finished with his best outing as a Wildcat: eight points and eight rebounds in only 12 minutes played.

Why in the world does P.J. Washington turn it over so much?

Washington did some good things, but he’ll never get credit for any of them until he stops turning the ball over. He had four turnovers tonight, which is right in line with his season average through five games. At least it’s not as bad as the six turnovers he had Friday night against East Tennessee, right?

The victory cigar was lit in the first half, which was way too early.

We were treated to a surprise Brad Calipari sighting when Coach Cal’s baby boy checked into the game with 10 minutes to go in the first half. It’s the earliest Brad Calipari appearance I can ever remember, and it’s unclear why he was subbed in. Is Cal in trouble at home with Ellen? Or, maybe it was an early birthday present for her? Whatever the case, Kentucky’s victory cigar was lit before halftime, and it almost backfired.

Kevin Knox is the only player who can go get a bucket.

When the Cats were struggling to make a basket in the second half, Kentucky went to Kevin Knox out of a timeout and Knox ended a six-minute draught without a field goal. It’s sad, but Kentucky only had two made field goals in the final 10 minutes of the entire game, and both were by Knox.

Offense is a real problem.

Rebounding was much better.

Of all the reasons to be frustrated after almost blowing a game against the 148th-ranked team in the BPI, rebounding is not one of them. Kentucky finally dominated its opposition on the glass, hauling in 53 total rebounds to Troy’s 30.

Hamidou Diallo led the way with a career-high 10 boards, followed by Nick Richards and P.J. Washington with eight apiece.

Free throw shooting was better, but not good.

It wasn’t the 3-for-15 night of a few days ago, but Kentucky missed some big free throws and finished with a 15-for-23 clip. The team’s two offensive stars were the problem: Kevin Knox (2-5) and Hamidou Diallo (2-6). Those two have to be better because they’re going to take the most trips to the line.

It may be time for a second “come to Jesus” chat with the team.

As Matt Jones told you on the radio show, John Calipari had a spirited heart-to-heart with his team ahead of Monday’s game, essentially telling them to get their rear-ends in gear if they really want it. After seeing the way his team squandered a big lead, it may be time to have that talk again and emphasize finishing.

The first talk did enough to get them to play inspired early Monday night, but it wasn’t enough to get them to play a complete game. This was the first real opportunity to beat a team for 40 minutes, and they couldn’t do it.

Up Next: Fort Wayne

Will it be more of the same or will Kentucky finally pound someone into the ground?

We’ll know Thanksgiving Eve.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

17 responses to “UK-Troy Game Recap: Cats should’ve won big, but didn’t”

  1. Lip Man 1

    Team has issues period. The two injuries aren’t helping but there is more than enough talent on hand. Something is amiss, chemistry, fundamentals you name it.

    Cal gets paid what he does to find the answers to these issues, so we’ll see what happens but it has been very disappointing so far.

    1. TBW3011

      What’s amiss is this isn’t a basketball team with a well constructed roster. It’s a team full of 3’s and 4’s. They’ll get better, but the ceiling isn’t very high.

    2. EdC

      Every time I hear positionless, and if I don’t mute the announcers, I think can’t shoot. When your go to strategy is load up on athleticism over being able to shoot and then combine that with trying to turn over the vast amount of productivity in your roster ever year this is what you get. Until the NBA stops drafting on speculation or ends one and done I don’t see it changing. Calipari isn’t going to change. He loves bragging about how many NBA millionaires he knows too much. Funny I don’t remember him recruiting anybody that wasn’t going to be in the NBA regardless of who coached them but he still takes the credit.

  2. Bull Filmer

    Raggedy SLOP.

  3. Kat4Life

    Hami will enjoy Turkish league, great food.

    1. Cat68

      Yeah, ol’ Hami got it handed to him a couple times last night. I believe both resulting in jump balls; one of which flung him to the court like a rag doll. At least he’s helping on the glass.

  4. classof68

    PJ Washington look like Tarzan, play like Jane. I’m not at all surprised by his play based on his U19 games. He couldn’t shoot beyond 5 ft. from the basket or hit free throws then, or now. Obviously he can’t handle the ball either. He should concentrate on put backs and rebounding.

  5. BBNDan7

    Our fan base makes me want to vomit sometimes. Can yall just chill out. It’s still November

    1. 206Bones

      The quickest way to make yourself throw up is to use clean fingers to trigger your gag reflex.

  6. cdc_uky

    It’s early. They are young and just starting to play together. There is very little defense played in HS and AAU. Given all of that, of course the offense still sucks. These kids are seeing a higher level of defensive intensity from more skilled, experienced, and better coached athletes than they have ever played against.

  7. Sentient Third Eye

    This is not the first Cal team to have a game like that. Most of them have, in fact. Young teams need to learn to finish. It’s something we have seen literally every few years, so why is this freaking people out?

  8. twilkjr

    Going to be a long year. These guys have no hustle to them. Every team they have played has out worked them. It is painful watching Diallo and Washington play. I am afraid there are going to be some blow outs this season but not the kind we want.

  9. BTownUKFan

    Geez people, they are freshman five games into their college career cut them some slack. They may be talented but they haven’t learned to play as a team and they are playing against experienced teams that know more than the basics of playing college basketball. This team is strong in character and they will be fine. Give them some time and stop whining.
    GO CATS !!

    1. Sentient Third Eye

      People forget John Wall having to hit a last second shot to beat Miami of Ohio, I guess…

    2. twilkjr

      Thought this was a comment sight? Do we need to get your approval before we post a comment? If I want to be critical of the teams play I think I will, been watching the cats for 46 years, even during the really bad times.

  10. beastmodekp

    Half of the fans, don’t want One and Done’s. Well, this team will probably only have 2, so let’s continue to dump a very young team in November. They played great for about 25 minutes and just went on a scoring drought. It happens. Let them go through the process.

  11. RC

    We’ve been conditioned to believe that if a kid comes to UK as an elite prospect that he’s 1) an immediate impact player and 2) likely 1nD.
    We’re seeing both of those myths exploded this season in Lexington. This squad is extremely flawed- even when all pieces are healthy- because we lack capable outside shooting and a typical Calipari point guard.

    Can they get better? Yes, they certainly can.
    Is this a FF caliber roster? No, not even close.

    Let’s see what happens and enjoy the ride. There will be ugly games and it’s OK to complain about them. We’ll also win a lot of games based on sheer talent alone. Long way to go until it matters in March & April.