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Kentucky won an unwatchable basketball game in Starkville


Your University of Kentucky Wildcats went into “Starkvegas,” as the court’s end zone read, and escaped with an 88-81 win over a young and improving Mississippi State team. The game gave us the emergence of a new dual-threat at the four position for the Cats and further proved De’Aaron Fox can score at will when he takes it to the rack. Fox made up for what UK missed from Isaiah Briscoe and Malik Monk, who each had off-nights.

The real story, however, was the whistle frequency and the referees’ stamp on the game. I thought the officiating at Vanderbilt was the worst we’d see this year, but Tuesday night raised the bar for horribly officiated games. TV Teddy inserted himself into the action and gave the casual basketball fan an unwatchable product. Even the announcers were bashing the action during the broadcast. It was horrendous both ways and ruined the entire flow of the game.


Most Valuable Player: Wenyen Gabriel

Has Wenyen Gabriel turned the corner? For months we wondered if Gabriel would figure it out in his freshman season, but now he has played two consecutive outstanding games of basketball.

On Tuesday night he followed up his 16-rebound performance from Saturday with 13 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting from the field, eight rebounds, three blocks, two assists and a steal. Maybe most impressive from his stat line: he hit all three of his three-point tries and now has more threes in the last two games than he did all season before last Saturday.

Gabriel is looking damn good these days and he could be the key come March if his progression and improved play continues.

De’Aaron Fox was the closer, Cats’ leading scorer.

If not for Gabriel playing his best, KSR’s imaginary MVP trophy would’ve gone to De’Aaron Fox, who led Kentucky in scoring with 21 points. Fox made his share of mistakes, but he also made the plays with the game on the line. Mississippi State simply couldn’t guard him down the stretch when he took it at the rim and his and-one to extend the lead to eight with a minute to go was the final nail in the coffin.

John Calipari said, “I love how De’Aaron Fox finished the game… But he’s gotta make free throws.”

Fox was 5-for-9 from the line and 0-for-3 from deep.

Derek Willis also played well.

With Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis fighting each other for minutes, they each landed punches in that fight by playing two good games Tuesday night. Willis was 5-for-6 from the field and matched Gabriel’s three-pointers with three of his own. Those two combined for 10-of-11 shooting from the field and six of the team’s seven threes in the game.

At a position that has been the weakest link throughout most of this season, Gabriel and Willis shined in Starkville. If Calipari can get more of the same from them, look out.

Ice cold night for Isaiah Briscoe and Malik Monk.

Briscoe and Monk were a combined 9-for-28 from the field in an uncharacteristically poor night offensively for the Cats’ leading and third-leading scorers. Monk was especially bad; he committed a career-high five turnovers and lived in Calipari’s doghouse through most of the night.

UK’s defense is a real concern right now.

Is the defense getting worse? It seems that way. The guards are getting torched a little more often than we can live with. It may be that they’re too aggressive, but they’re giving up too many buckets off the dribble and I don’t like it.

Bam gets called for touching someone.

Poor guy can’t block out without drawing a whistle. Go back to the 12:47 mark in the first half and tell me that’s a foul.


Too many turnovers.

Kentucky turned the ball over 16 times against the Bulldogs, well above its season average of 10 turnovers per game. Mississippi State scored 23 points off those turnovers.


Figure it out, SEC. Want people to watch SEC basketball? Hire competent officials that don’t control the game by blowing the whistle every 45 seconds.

The “OVER-RATED” chant was quite comical.

For the second time in a week, opposing fans chanted “OVER-RATED” at Kentucky while being down in a game their team would go on to lose. It’s not a complicated chant, yet Vanderbilt and Mississippi State’s home crowds butchered it.

Sean Farnham said on the broadcast, “I’m not a very big fan of chanting ‘overrated’ while you’re losing a game.”

Who is? That’s not how it works.

Calipari compared Malik Monk’s technical to Karl-Anthony Towns’ technical against LSU.

On his postgame radio appearance, Cal said Monk’s technical for hanging on the rim was just like Towns’ in 2015. He said both dunks could’ve been the play that buried the other team, but they pulled up on the rim and gave the momentum right back.

Twitter really disagreed with the technical on Monk, but Cal agreed with the call.

“He pulled up and there was nobody around him,” he told Tom Leach.

Kentucky shot 50 percent from the field for a sixth straight game.

According to the @KentuckyMBB Twitter account, Kentucky hasn’t done that since the 1983-84 season.


Cheese and rice that was brutal to watch.

Article written by Drew Franklin

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

17 Comments for Kentucky won an unwatchable basketball game in Starkville

  1. LouisaCatFan
    10:57 pm January 17, 2017 Permalink

    Drew I agree the D has been horrible! I wonder when Cal will quit being stubborn and change it up! Teams know coming in that all they will face is man not to hard to game plan. Right now the D is broke and needs to corrected in a hurry.

  2. stl_cat
    11:03 pm January 17, 2017 Permalink

    That camouflage jersey the MSU player has in the left picture should be illegal

    • Blue Jesus
      12:23 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

      lol what’s up with that… good eye.

  3. jaws2
    11:13 pm January 17, 2017 Permalink

    Just another night in the SEC. The worst officials in the nation. Get used to it. This happens EVERY game on the road. The league does not want UK to blow out anybody on their court. It’s been this way for a couple of decades.

  4. Jiminy Crickets
    11:51 pm January 17, 2017 Permalink

    worst defensive UK team I can remember. Allowing MSU to score 81, Vandy 81, Switching on every screen (this is a Calipari staple since being here) but no rim protectors to help when the guards get pinned defending post players. They allow more straight line drives to the basket than any team Ive seen. KU will kill us, the only good news is they dont play defense either

    • UK Big Board Update
      12:12 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

      “worst defensive UK team I can remember” LMAO.

      You don’t understand basketball very well, do you? Its like the UL fans that think the fouls should be the same between a driving, physical team, and a jump shooting 3-pt team. And if one takes 10 more FT’s than the other, its because Cal pays the refs.

      Let me break it down for you: UK scores very quickly – the fastest in the nation, actually. Therefore, the opposing team also gets more possessions in a 40 minute game. That means the opponent gets more chances to score, thus more points.

      I admit the D could be better (and it will), but you’re looking at it the wrong way. MSSU threw up a bunch of junk that also went in. Happens on White Out, Super Tuesday road games. You should know this by now. We’re everyone’s Super Bowl.

      If you look at Cal’s teams historically, which you obviously haven’t, they are consistently in the top 15 in the nation if defensive efficiency. To use your quote, “a Calipari staple since being here”…..

      Oh, and we got the W.

      Boom. You lose.

      KU will not kill us. We win that game by at least 7.

      ***btw, UofL, who many consider play an elite defense, let a 26 point lead over a Kevin Stallings’-coached Pitt team whittle it down to five. Whats your explanation for that? Poor coaching?

    • WildcatCam
      12:36 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

      UK BBU, check how bad our defensive fg % is…stop talking about more possessions = more points. More possessions = more point OPPORTUNITIES.

    • UK Big Board Update
      1:17 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

      Yeah, we’ll shore that up. Always do.

    • Angelo
      2:17 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

      straight drives to the bucket is our Achilles heel… I think Gabe might be the answer. Or a 1-3-1 zone… Never ever per Cal.

  5. EdC
    7:32 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

    Miss St. 54% from the field. Season Average 48%. KenPom Adjusted Offense 97.
    Auburn 46.8% from the field. Season Average 42.6% KenPom Adjusted Offense 131.
    Vandy 43.1% from the field. Season Average 43.6 KenPom Adjusted Offense 44

    When we played Arkansas UK was an adjusted 7 defense on KenPom. We have been single digits most of the season. Now it is 14.

    We are going the wrong direction defensively and against teams that don’t have great offenses.

    Yea, a fast paced offense does generate more touches for the other team but it doesn’t account for the high shooting percentages for opponents. This isn’t one of our worst defensive teams BUT they are backsliding from where they were a few weeks ago.

  6. Catsby80
    8:16 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

    A lot of people on here thinking the house is falling down… RELAX. We won the game in a hostile environment. You take road wins in conference anyway you can get them… Let me repeat, you take road wins in conference anyway you can get them.

    It is so incredibly difficult to play defense when the referees are blowing the whistle on 80% of the possessions in the game. You can’t get into a rhythm and, as a result, things like this happen. This team will be fine in the long-term. Will we take a loss in conference along the way? Yeah probably so, but losing a road conference game isn’t the end of the world. You wanna see how good this team can be in March, pay attention in 2 weeks when we play Kansas. That’ll be the test.

  7. Sentient Third Eye
    8:20 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

    This team still has not learned how to adjust their games to fit the officiating. Cal always has a few games like this in January, but in February they begin playing smarter D.

  8. mj7juice
    8:23 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

    Horrible officiating. Zebras like TV Teddy get sucked into the environment and make the game all about them. They need to be held accountable and fined. It’s unbelievable how inconsistent they are throughout the game. Make them attend mandatory press conferences after the game to explain the garbage that they called.

  9. bennyd113
    8:31 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

    Anyone else wonder how humphries got an offer from UK?!?!?

    • EdC
      8:51 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

      He looks like he should be good and apparently is in practice but he sure has been stinking it up in games.

  10. catsarerunnin
    8:32 am January 18, 2017 Permalink

    This team won in a hostile environment against an improving,well coached team and with terrible officiating thrown in for good measure. They won despite off nights from Monk and Briscoe plus Bam on the bench most of the night. I’ll defiantly take it.

  11. smcfay1
    1:18 pm January 18, 2017 Permalink

    The overrated chants could’ve been about their team