I think we are all John Calipari in the above picture – a feeling of disappointment and disgust after the Kentucky Wildcats fell to Ohio State last night, 71-65. The loss was the Cats’ second straight in Sin City as the team heads home for the Christmas break before a massive game vs. Louisville on Saturday.
Now for the news to start your Sunday; the second-to-last one of the decade.
Nate Sestina had his best game yet
It really wasn’t all bad yesterday, as grad transfer Nate Sestina had his best game as a Kentucky Wildcat. In just his second game back from a wrist injury, Sestina finished with 17 points which included an impressive 5-8 from three.
Ohio State did not have an answer for the Hagans to Sestina connection on the pick-and-pop, and the Cats made them pay for it at times. If that play can become more consistent, it adds a much needed layer to the offense.
Three Point Shooting is an epidemic
Remember how I said Nate Sestina was 5-8 from three? Well, the rest of the team was abysmal from that spot. In fact, players not named Sestina were 2-15 from three. That’s 13.3 percent. Now I might not be a basketball expert, but you aren’t going to win games doing that.
The easiest solution to this in my opinion is to frankly stop shooting the shot. In the past two games, I can think of at least four or five threes that were in transition. Sure, if they go in, they can be massive boosts to momentum, but missing them is like taking a shot right to the knee.
On the topic after the game, head coach John Calipari said, “I’m not spending much time on it. We’re just taking a lot of shots. And we chart every shot. And at some point, you say, fall back on your training. You made 60 in five minutes. You made 67 in five minutes. You can’t make them when they’re wide open? But I think I’ve got a good shooting team. Thank goodness for Nate today.” For more on this, you can click here.
I understand why Cal said this. He is trying to instill confidence in a team that is struggling to start the year. With the being said, using the words of Dick Vitale, you can be blind in one eye and not be able to see out of the other, and you’d be able to tell this team is not a good shooting team right now.
Is there room for growth? It’s possible. Players like Immanuel Quickley and Johnny Juzang have had quiet shooting seasons from beyond the arc. If one of them finds their shot, it could be a massive spark in a turnaround.
Louisville is next
If there is one thing that could change the Big Blue Nation’s mindset towards this team, it would be a win over Louisville. I might be crazy in saying this, but I think this is one of the most important regular season games of the Calipari era. I say this for multiple reasons.
For one, a loss would send a lot of fans up in arms about “Calipari losing his way” or “we won’t make the NCAA tournament.” This team doesn’t need that.
Another reason is that the SEC continues to struggle overall. “Quality wins” won’t be able to come as often as in recent year’s past. Teams like Florida and LSU have struggled to start the year, and Tennessee just lost their best player for the remainder of the season. This game against Louisville is a massive opportunity to pick up a “quadrant one” win.
Although the best reason is still, they’re Louisville. No other reasons really needed.
UK Hoops wins at Cal
In more positive UK news, the UK Hoops team picked up a big road win over Cal last night. Rhyne Howard hit a jumper in the closing seconds to help give the Cats the win.
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) December 22, 2019
Seriously though, if you haven’t seen Rhyne Howard play basketball, you need to find a way to. She is unbelievable, and this UK WBB team is a lot of fun to watch.
Other SEC Basketball Results
- Tennessee 75 Jacksonville State 53
- Missouri 63 Illinois 56
- Ole Miss 83 SE Louisiana 76
- Utah State 65 Florida 62
- Alabama 92 Belmont 72
- Auburn 74 Lehigh 51
- Vandy 88 UNCW 73
- Texas A&M 64 Oregon Stat 49
- USC 70 LSU 68
That’s the news you need to start your Sunday. Have a great day and a very Merry Christmas!