Technically, Kentucky won tonight, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Before we get into the recap, I’ll remind you that Missouri has only won seven games this season, two in SEC play, and lost at home to North Carolina Central by ten, the same margin by which the Cats won tonight. Yes, Kim Anderson’s team has been playing better as of late, but let’s not sit here and pretend that the reason tonight’s game was close was because Tigers played amazing basketball. The sad truth is, if not for Bam Adebayo, Kentucky would have lost this game, the thought of which is the only thing uglier than the 40 minutes of basketball we witnessed tonight.
But, the Cats survived, beating Missouri 72-62. Let’s talk about it, then burn the tape. So many weird things happened, I’m not sure where to start.
Bam played his best game of the year
Let’s start with the good: Bam Adebayo. Bam put the team on his sweaty back tonight and got only his fourth double-double of the season, first in SEC play. Bam finished with 22 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 blocks. He was 6-9 from the field and a stellar 10-13 from the line. He wasn’t perfect, but in the second half, he carried Kentucky. Bam has fallen out of the first round in some mock drafts, and if tonight’s performance wasn’t indication enough of his upside, John Calipari hammered the message home in the postgame press conference.
“If someone passes on him in the draft this year, they should be f-f-fired,” Cal said. “‘Only thing he does is dunk.’ Yeah, he dunks. He’s going to dunk on your neck. He does that too, but he guards every position. For anybody to say, ‘Well, he’s not this and this.’ You’re not on an NBA team because if you were they’ll look back and you’ll get fired.”
Exhibit A of Bam dunking on your neck:
Unfortunately, Bam’s performance was the only positive I have for tonight.
first half entire game was awful
We all knew this team was prone to bouts of terrible basketball, but that first half was brutal. In fact, between Kentucky looking lost, Missouri’s yellow court, the terrible chants from the student section, and the officiating, watching tonight’s game felt like torture. How bad were the Cats in the first half? They only scored 31 points, no one scored in double figures, and they turned the ball over nine times to only four assists. Somehow, they led by one, but that half felt like a horrible dream, which only got weirder when SEC Network’s Laura Rutledge had the nerve to ask Calipari what he thought of the Missouri student section chanting “CAL, YOU SUCK” at him as he headed into the tunnel:
This is far from the thing we should be the most concerned about right now, but come on, Laura. How the heck was Calipari supposed to respond to that? As Jeremy Shannon said on Twitter, simply walking away from that question was the best defense we saw from Kentucky all night.
When asked about the interaction after the game, Calipari downplayed it, telling reporters that Rutledge came over to him to apologize for the question in the second half, to which he responded, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
I don’t believe that for a second, but classy response.
Malik Monk was ice cold
Monk was cold tonight, finishing with only 11 points off 4-12 from the floor, 1-5 from behind the three-point line. Unfortunately, tonight’s performance is another reminder that when Monk’s cold, you just don’t get much from him. Making matters worse were the rest of the team’s shooting woes. Usually, when Monk’s off, at least someone else will step up and shoot the ball well. That wasn’t really the case tonight, with Kentucky shooting only 28% from three, although Mychal Mulder and Wenyen Gabriel both had crucial treys down the stretch.
Calipari got T’d up
The TV broadcast was at commercial when it happened, but Calipari got a technical from Teddy Valentine at the 7:47 mark after TV Teddy whistled Wenyen Gabriel for traveling when he clearly should have called a jump ball, one of many questionable calls by the refs. After the game, Calipari said he didn’t cuss, but that he deserved the technical. (Which means he totally cussed, right?)
Some stats that prove just how bad/weird this game was
- Kentucky had a season-high 17 turnovers to only 10 assists
- Kentucky only had two steals, a season low
- Kentucky only had 2 fast break points
- Missouri kept it close by shooting only 37%, 18% from the three
This isn’t a stat, but in a sign of just how bizarre this game was, a Missouri student decided to storm the court in the final seconds of his team’s ten-point loss:
– David Scott (@Finna_Go_HAM) February 22, 2017
Even the TV announcers didn’t hold back on that one, calling the guy “some idiot.” That’s how desperate we all were for this game to be over.
Can this team beat Florida?
If we’re talking about the squad that just played in Columbia, no way. Like it or not, Saturday’s game vs. Florida is coming and it’s huge. Whoever wins will get the #1-seed in the SEC Tournament, and probably a better seed in the NCAA Tournament.
I’m not sure what happened to that team we all loved in December, but Calipari better find them in the next two weeks. If what we watched tonight is a preview of what’s to come, then I have the same reaction as Calipari did to Rutledge’s question: