There were a lot of awful, telling moments tonight, but for me, the first came midway through the second half when John Calipari sat down in his chair and just watched his team implode. Kentucky wasn’t in this one from the start, but when Florida began to pull away by double digits in the second half, everyone’s suspicions turned into painful reality: Kentucky is not a good basketball team right now. People can blame it on illness, Kentucky being everyone’s Super Bowl, or whatever, but there’s no denying this truth: this team has regressed in the past month. It was hard to watch, but Kentucky lost to Florida 88-66, their biggest loss as an AP Top 10 team since 1992.
How bad was it?
Some stats to put this into perspective:
- Kentucky scored a season-low 26 first-half points
- Kentucky shot only 38% from the floor, 33% from three-point range
- Florida outrebounded Kentucky 54-29, 17-6 on the offensive end
- The Gators dominated fast-break points 18-8
- Florida had 18 assists to Kentucky’s 7 (a season low)
- Kentucky lost by double-digits for the first time this season
- Kentucky trailed by at least double-digits for the fourth straight game
- Kentucky finished with only 66 points (a season low)
The game was never tied. The lead never changed. Florida dominated.
Calipari called it
Calipari saw his team’s implosion coming after their loss at Tennessee a week and a half ago, the first of three losses in a four-game span.
“I knew after Tennessee we had an issue, and I said to them, you’re going to lost the next two or three if you don’t change. You’re not passing the ball, you’re turning it over. We’re making hard plays, we’re making cheap plays. We’re not — we just kind of got away. We’ve got to get it back. At the end of the day, we know how they can play because we’ve all seen it. Now we see them at their worst. Now, it’s a choice, do you want to be at your worst or be at your best?”
Right now, they’re choosing to be their worst.
Not at 100%, at least De’Aaron Fox tried
Fox is still recovering from the virus going around the Lodge (SKJ and Tai Wynyard are the most recent victims), but he played 25 minutes tonight and, despite clearly not being at 100%, led the team in scoring with 19 points. Fox’s grit was the only reason to keep watching the game in the second half, but even he couldn’t make up for the rest of the squad’s lackadaisical play.
“It was kind of difficult,” Fox said of playing while still recovering. “Legs kind of weren’t under me, but people play through sicknesses and I’m back now. So, I’m not going to make any excuse.”
Hopefully his teammates follow suit.
Malik Monk didn’t score a point in the first half
Coming into this game, it seemed that as Malik Monk went, this team went. On his 19th birthday, Monk was scoreless in the first half, but finally warmed up in the second, finishing with 11 points off 4-14 from the floor. A bad day got worse when Malik was spotted laughing on the bench in the final minutes of the rout:
You’re down 23, I don’t think this is how you act on the bench. pic.twitter.com/rcNs5HIODW
– Stacy Huntsman (@StacyHuntsman) February 5, 2017
Granted, Florida students were singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Monk at this moment, but still, not a good look.
Kentucky went from first to third in the SEC
The Cats entered tonight’s game in first place in the SEC. After the loss, they’re now third behind South Carolina (9-1) and Florida (8-2, but has the tiebreaker). Kentucky has lost its last two SEC road games, and with trips to Alabama, Athens, and College Station on the horizon, life is certainly not going to get easier for them.
This may have bothered me most of all
Florida had 25 more rebounds than Kentucky tonight, an appalling stat made more so when you hear this quote from Gators forward Devin Robinson. According to Fletcher Page, Robinson said Isaiah Briscoe called the Gators soft early in the game tonight, which — understandably — led to Florida wanting to prove themselves, which they did. I love you Isaiah, but if we’re going to call other teams soft, we can’t play like Charmin. Kentucky dropped more balls than a daycare full of baby boys tonight, and if I have to watch someone take the ball to the floor instead of dunking it again, I might puke.
For all the reasons listed above, it’s clear Kentucky sucks at basketball right now; however, will they continue to flounder or is this rock bottom and the start of a great story, ala Aaron Harrison and the 2013-2014 group, which also lost at Florida by 20+? Calipari refused to compare squads after the game, but told reporters he called some players out individually after the game.
“Very short — I mean, very short,” Cal said of his postgame message to his squad. “I just said, hey, either you’ll get back to work and we’ll do this — I said I’m not cracking. I’ve been doing this 30 years. I’ve seen everything. So, I’ll go back to figuring out what I have to do to coach them. Like I said, I’m not cracking. I don’t know if anybody in here is, but I told a couple guys you’re not playing well. You’ve gotta play better.”
I’ll let you guys debate over who those players were in the comments. I’m going to bed, because that was horrible.