When you score 92 points, you normally win, but today’s game at Rupp Arena was not normal.
UCLA scored 97 points, the most points surrendered in the Calipari era, while shooting 53% from field goal range, the best by an opponent since Wichita State shot 55% against the Cats in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. To add even more perspective, it’s the most points scored on Kentucky since VMI dropped 111 on Billy G in 2008.
Even though Kentucky struggled to finish offensively, their biggest problems were defensive.
“We know we are going to miss shots, but we will have more opportunities to score. You have to focus in on defense,” Malik Monk said after the game. “We weren’t focused like we usually are. We have to be focused and ready to play day in and day out. If not, we’ll get beat just like this.”
Monk struggled to finish on the fast break, and Bam Adebayo struggled to finish in the post. Still, they scored enough to win.
“We broke down a lot and they were just making open shots,” Adebayo said.
Bam struggled to defend the perimeter early on, but improved throughout the game. It was encouraging to see the shots become more contested, but Derek Willis believes it came too late.
“We had a lot of disappointing defense,” Willis said. “We just have to crack down on them I think and just constantly be more aware of that. Every possession matters. You have to have plays like that because when it does come down to March Madness or the SEC Tournament, those plays will cost you the game.”
They learned the hard way today. Hopefully it’s a lesson they won’t forget in March.