Kentucky’s loss at Missouri shouldn’t come as a huge surprise and it shouldn’t be too disappointing. After all, Missouri was the favorite to win in Las Vegas, and the Tigers entered the game riding high after a big road win at Alabama, while Kentucky was lucky to beat Vanderbilt at home in its last game.
But the way Kentucky lost was a huge surprise and it was disappointing because the Cats looked pretty terrible. I think that’s fair to say. It was ugly.
Here are five things on my mind…
1. Hamidou Diallo is not a smart basketball player.
For all of his God-given length and athleticism, Hamidou Diallo still isn’t a good basketball player. That’s not to say he can’t do great things with a basketball in his hands, but he lacks the IQ to know what is going on around him in the game. We saw another example of it late in the game when he fouled a Missouri player as Missouri was seconds away from turning the ball over in the backcourt. Calipari was livid with Diallo for the foul, which they had clearly discussed moments earlier. It’s one of several mental mistakes from Diallo this season.
2. Jarred Vanderbilt will be even better when he stops arguing calls.
Vanderbilt was one of the few guys in blue to play a decent game in the loss, so it’s hard to be overly critical of him today. But he is costing himself and his team by stopping in the middle of a play to turn and argue with the ref. Many times he had a good argument because there were a couple times when he got hammered and it wasn’t called, but he has to play through it, whether it is fair or not. Too many times today he was the last one to cross half-court because he was back arguing his case with the official on the other end. It made for some easy transition buckets for Missouri, and even the announcers were calling him out for it. He has to keep playing — because when he’s playing, he’s bringing the most energy on the floor.
3. How does Nick Richards keep missing dunks?
He did it again. I don’t understand.
4. The three-point streak is barely hanging on.
I thought today was the day the streak would end. You did too. Don’t lie.
Will it end before the year is over? If this team can hang on, we’ll be fine next year.
5. Kentucky can’t win when Kevin Knox is a no-show.
Kentucky has plenty of good pieces, but Kevin Knox is still the most important one. He carried his team to an amazing comeback win at West Virginia, and then he watched his team fall to Missouri with only five points to his name. He doesn’t have to go for 30+ every game, but he has to contribute more than five. It leaves too much scoring for everyone else, and everyone else can’t score enough without him.