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RECAP: Wenyen Gabriel rebooted…the rest of the team? Not so much

keene-6654 Gabriel

They say a win is a win, but after watching an abysmal LSU team cut Kentucky’s 25-point lead to six with fourteen seconds left, is it really? Johnny Jones’ Tigers seemed like the perfect medicine for the Cats to get back on track after losing three of their last four, and although Kentucky eventually won 92-85, I might feel even worse than I did on Saturday, and that’s saying something.

John Calipari buoyed hopes this week with talks of a “reboot,” but the only player that looked reenergized and ready to roll was Wenyen Gabriel, who scored a career-high 23 points along with 8 rebounds. At times, Wenyen looked like the only player not moving in slow motion for Kentucky, and every single one of his teammates owes him a huge hug, because without him, the Big Blue sky might be falling right about now.

Let’s go over it, because what the hell has happened to this team?

Thank goodness for Wenyen Gabriel

After scoring fourteen points over the last four games combined, Wenyen had 16 in the first half, including 11 of Kentucky’s first 16. He was everywhere, hustling for rebounds and loose balls and playing with more passion than we’ve seen from the entire team in weeks. Wenyen wasn’t perfect — he let LSU get three easy threes late in the game to stay in it — but on a night with more lowlights than highlights, he was definitely the star.

“It wasn’t Wenyen,” Calipari said of the reboot. “What happened was Isaiah Briscoe created 12 shots and had three hockey assists at halftime. He created three shots. Now, he only had three assists because a bunch of guys missed shots. But he created 12. We’re looking for him to create 18, 20 shots a game. That’s what we want from him. And he started now. After he did that, those last eight minutes, he didn’t do any of it. He stopped doing it.”

“One of the main things he told Isaiah Briscoe was to create players for others,” Wenyen said of Cal’s reboot. “He got me going early with some open shots and I started going on from there.”


The last eight minutes were horrible

Kentucky was up by 25 with 6:46 left in the game, which, admit it, is when you tuned out a little. Well, so did the team. The Cats slipped back to their lackadaisical ways, allowing LSU to make it a two-possession game with fourteen seconds left; if you’ve been looking for a microcosm of Kentucky’s regression this season, that shift was it. What happened?

“Maybe both, focus, fatigue. Not getting back, not talking, there’s a lot of stuff going on,” Cal said. “The major thing I wanted to get out of this game and that practice, we got until the last eight minutes, then they got tired and reverted back to, ‘I’m going to pass then when I’ve exhausted every opportunity to shoot this ball, then I’ll give it to you.'”

Calipari was so frustrated by his team’s collapse that he said if NCAA rules allowed him to make his team practice after games, he would.

“If I could practice tonight, we would have gone three hours. I would have had them meet me at the gym at 10 p.m. and I would have gone three hours until 1 a.m. until people were puking. That’s what I would have done. That’s the old days, I can’t do that. But we will practice three hours tomorrow. I told them, ‘If anyone says they can’t go, they won’t make the trip to Alabama, so don’t go or you’ll go.’ And we’ll continue to get after this and continue to build what you saw for three quarters of the game.”

He went one step further on his radio show.

“If I could, I would tell them, ‘Don’t shower, don’t smile, put your little panties on, we’re going to practice.'”

You know it’s serious when Calipari uses the word “panties.”

Cal was happy with the first 32 minutes of the game

We’re all frustrated with the last eight minutes, as was Calipari, but he was careful to point out the progress he feels his group made in the first three quarters of the game. For that reason, he’s confident they’re back on the right path.

“I know now and I feel comfortable we’re on the right path. Disappointed in the last eight minutes,” Cal said. “Today the ball moved. It was crisp. It went to the extra pass. Guys found each other. It’s fun to watch and it’s fun to play that way.”

Yesterday’s practice was one of our best as the season. Not energy wise, what we looked like as a team. Now, we have to continue on that path and shore up the problems we’re having defensively.”

About that defense…

How do you let LSU score 85 points?

Coming in, we all knew Kentucky had issues on defense; however, letting a horrible LSU team that averages 74 points a game put up 85 in Rupp is inexcusable. The Tigers shot 62.5% in the second half, including a ridiculous 72.7% (8-11) from three. Antonio Blakeney had 31 points, more than Isaiah Briscoe and De’Aaron Fox combined. In the second half, LSU scored 58 points, just the latest in a discouraging defensive slide; in the last four games, Kentucky is giving up an average of 54 second half points. Woof.

“Some of those problems are our personnel,” Cal said of his defense’s woes. “They’ve either got to step on the gas or step back. I’m not being mean, I’m just being real. It’s that time. Either you step on the gas and get this right or you’ve got to step back.”

“I had a couple of guys look scared to death out there,” Cal added later on his radio show.

This series showcased everything that’s wrong with Kentucky right now:

Remember, that’s LSU.

Monk’s lack of rebounding might put him on the bench

Malik Monk had 23 points tonight, a welcome uptick from his 11 vs. Florida, but like in Gainesville, he had zero rebounds. This team goes as Malik does, but if he continues to shy away from the boards, Calipari’s not afraid to bench him.

“Well, again, he’s probably got to play less minutes if he’s not going to rebound the ball. You’re going to have to be in there less. It’s not hard in the equation. There were two or three opportunities, again, and I took him out. You didn’t get the ball, you’re out. It’s just making an effort to make them go get balls.”

Meanwhile, Alabama played four overtimes vs. South Carolina

As Kentucky fell apart, a classic was going down in Columbia, where Alabama beat South Carolina in a four-overtime thriller. If only today were Thursday and not Tuesday, the Tide’s fatigue might make a difference in Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa, but still, it’s another reminder that Kentucky can’t afford to play like they did the last eight minutes if they want to win on the road vs. a decent team.

Until then…

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

59 Comments for RECAP: Wenyen Gabriel rebooted…the rest of the team? Not so much

  1. bharlan24
    10:42 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink


    If your happy with this victory, how about the following.

    LSU is next to last in the SEC
    Their record is now 1 and 10 in SEC
    Their overall record is 9 and 14
    Prior to this game they have lost 8 in a row
    Lost at home to to South Carolina by 30
    Lost at home to TX AM by 12
    TX AM beat them at Tex AM by 30.
    I’m of the opinion UK will not make it to the Sweet 16.
    I hope I’m wrong because I am a UK fan for 69 years.

    • runningunnin.454
      11:17 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Yeah, we got it the first two times you posted it.

    • Eazy
      12:04 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Cool. UK beat SC by 16 and TaM by 42 so what’s your point?

    • CATandMONKEY
      3:00 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Maybe after 69 years you should stop? This being a fan- thing seems awfully hard on you.

  2. rainman
    10:44 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    Did anyone count the number of layups LSU had?
    I tried but ran out of fingers, and I had my shoes on!

    I don’t think our guards could stay in front of me!

    • syrin
      12:02 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      That has been a constant for this team. Fox has the best lateral quickness of anyone I have seen and gets every time

    • EdC
      7:23 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Looking at the ESPN game overview shot chart will give you a pretty good idea. It was horrible.

  3. shelby
    10:49 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    Cats actually olayed pretty well for much of the game; just quit in the final 7 minutes or so.
    That being said, i’ll honestly be surprised if we win saturday. AND, if we lose saturday, i dont think we’ll win another road game the rest of the year. If that happens and the gators beat us at rupp, we may be staring at an NIT bid.

    • maximumscott
      11:28 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      NIT?!?!? Are u serious?!?!? Lol. We wont loose to Bama. Every game your gonna see this team get better. I bet we play one of the best games of this Calendar year verse Bama and beat them double digits easy. You guys gotta be on drugs.

    • Eazy
      12:08 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Haha, yeah I’m sure a top 10 team in the RPI and KenPom will be going to the NIT! UK should beat Bama and there’s no way in hell we will lose at Missouri. UK is now tied for first in the SEC and will probably win it if we beat UF at home. We are probably going to be a 3-4 seed. And a 2 seed is still a possibility.

  4. Rixter
    10:54 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    ““It wasn’t Wenyen,” Calipari said of the reboot. “What happened was Isaiah Briscoe created 12 shots and had three hockey assists at halftime. He created three shots. Now, he only had three assists because a bunch of guys missed shots. But he created 12”


    People on drugs should not coach major college basketball.

    • runningunnin.454
      10:58 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      People on drugs should not comment.

    • maximumscott
      11:29 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Cal is right. Wenyen played hard but most of wentems shots were assisted from Briscoe maybe all but a couple of offensove rebound floaters.

    • Rixter
      4:32 pm February 8, 2017 Permalink

      I shouldn’t be surprised that an idiot would understand Cal’s idiotic statement about Hockey assists in a basketball game. Carry on, numb nutz

  5. Luether
    11:08 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    We’ll not beat Alabama on the road playing this way. Need to be way more effective on the defensive end. Miss Marcus Lee…

  6. runningunnin.454
    11:22 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    Malik is just not pleasing anybody this week….should have stayed in Arkansas.
    Makes you wonder what James Blackmon told his son about UK fans.

    • maximumscott
      11:31 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Without Monk we have 10 losses. With Monk we are a threat to anyone in the Nation. Yall need to chill out. This site breeds negativity! I got Final Four Tickets already! When they are playing in PHX im gonma be all over this site telling you fairweathers to eat a ish

    • runningunnin.454
      11:38 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      Hey Max…… I think we are in agreement….it’s called sarcasm.

    • runningunnin.454
      11:42 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

      By the way, I admire your optimism…a lot of the people on here have never uttered even one positive remark

    • AGSlater
      12:12 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      yeah we got it the other timea you posted this

    • runningunnin.454
      12:21 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Two different articles trashing Monk; and I added the thought about Blackmon.
      In fact, Blackmon Sr and Craig Yeast probably told their sons about people like you.
      Do you ever have a positive thought, or are you miserable 24 hours/day?

    • AGSlater
      2:37 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      I thought Wenyen played a hell of a game. Good win. People are just upset bcause we know thia isnt a title contender so we vent on here bc its a good place to vent. Its just sports we get it, but it is a discussion website and people are entitled to their own opinions. Cats just arent playing up to par.

  7. justaguyinthebackrow
    11:53 pm February 7, 2017 Permalink

    I think there was much improvement, but not nearly enough to be happy. There was no defense in the paint. It was kind of sad. I’ve rooted for the kid his whole time here, but Willis seems like a waste of a spot now. He mostly doesn’t play defense and now it seems like he’s scared to take his shot. How many did he miss short tonight? Isaac can’t do anything without fouling and Bam seems gun shy. We need most of them to step up. Cal knows how to fix this, and if these young men listen and take it to heart, they’ll be ok.

  8. Jiminy Crickets
    12:32 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    “Monk’s lack of rebounding might put him on the bench”

    This may be the funniest statement in the history of KSR. Calipari will not bench Monk.He didn’t bench Archie Goodwin when he drove at rim over and over again, getting his shot blocked. He didn’t bench James Young who couldn’t spell pass, and had never heard of defense. Now if Mulder doesn’t play defense he may never play, same for Willis, and kinda same for Gabriel, but Monk? NO way. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t rebound, doesn’t matter he doesn’t defend, he will not be benched. He should, but he wont.

    • canecowboykat
      7:10 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      You nailed that one! If those other two turds didn’t get benched for zero defense, no way does Monk sit.

    • EdC
      7:27 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Yep and offensively Archie Goodwin pretty much just had one move, which was driving to the basket and spinning. I think that now it does matter if he rebounds. Early in the season breaking out for a layup or dunk was a great idea. Now every team gets back and either takes that away or makes the shot harder. Monk loves to get out on the break and who wouldn’t with that skill but we need to admit as a team that just isn’t there like it used to be. Get rebounds and get better at half court offense.

  9. Jiminy Crickets
    12:44 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    some things to point to our demise.
    Remember when we were running and was #1 pace team in the nation
    remember when we were talking about how this team was averaging 90pts, but most Calipari teams on average in 70s?
    Remember when KSR posted numerous times how Fox was “on pace to destroy” Ulis’ single season assist record?
    Remember when Fox was the best player on the entire floor?

    I went to the game tonight, sat in the sardine can called Section 225, and many times Fox not only doesn’t defend, but often doesn’t even run down the court when the other team is in transition. Fox had the ball stolen at the 3pt line, and while the LSU guy was shooting a lay-up Fox hadnt even crossed half-court. He made ZERO effort to get back.

    Monk leaks out on both offense and defense (part of why he doesnt rebound), and he and Fox put in 99% effort of offense and about 15% on defense. But hey this isn’t 1960 anymore

    • runningunnin.454
      12:53 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Tell you what, read the “Top Ten Tweets of the Day”.
      Look at #1….
      Now go tell that kid all of your wonderful opinions.

    • unbridled
      1:28 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Running….what’s your point? Are people supposed to deny what they are seeing with their very eyes just because want to live in a fantasy alternate dimension where everything is hunky dory and everyone gets a participation trophy? You keep harping on everyone’s pessimism, please tell us what exactly
      Is so positive about this basketball team right now? The fact that the team seemily refuses to play defense? Shot selection (albeit better tonight) is completely foreign to this team? Turnovers have been rampant? Getting out rebounded by an embarrassing margin? The lack of intensity and focus? You know the post season is just 5 weeks away right? It’s not pessimism…it’s reality and the clock is ticking!

    • symphonist41169
      9:01 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Didn’t you get the memo about never having the audacity to complain or question anything? If you do then by gawd you MUST be a troll from UofL and don’t deserve to be a part of BBN. Trophies for everyone!! More Kool Aid!!

    • Jiminy Crickets
      9:22 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      OK, I’ll bite. So what does a picture of a kid in the hospital watching the game, have anything to do with the fact that Fox put in zero effort on the defense end? How does that make me feel better that the fastest player on the court gets beat off the dribble, and in defensive transition, both of which are based primarily off of speed. It’s an awesome picture, and my heart goes out to both him and his parents. But I’m not sure what that has anything to do with what I said

    • Jiminy Crickets
      9:29 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Just for reference, I have worked in healthcare for 22 years. I have primarily worked in the emergency rooms, and intensive care units. I have been primarily in the emergency room now for 15 years. I have worked with the sick and dying for the majority of my adult life.

    • Jiminy Crickets
      9:39 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Running, for a second reference, because you seem to be very defensive, I graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1999. I spent four years at school, and then lived there in Lexington for 8 years. I was in the stadium with student seats for the 1996, 97, and 98 seasons. I jumped on cars in celebration on Euclid Avenue. I owned season tickets for four years, but when I moved from Lexington, it was difficult to maintain going to the games. I still have a lot of friends in Lexington, so I get to go to 2 to 3 games a year. Last night I took my son to his first ever UK game. So for anyone, especially you, to challenge my fan hood, or love for this university or team, please don’t waste your time

  10. unbridled
    12:45 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    I’m just wondering how good this team actually is?

    • AGSlater
      2:38 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      I think we know by now. Mediocre that ” could” make a run? Our flaws seem unfixable imo

  11. Aar
    6:03 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    Passing. Everybody’s talking about rebounding and defense. They’re right. Those are this team’s most glaring weaknesses. Offensively, though, they need to work on passing accuracy. How many times per possession does a shooter or post player need to give up a good shot or dunk or commit a cheap offensive foul because the pass to them pulled them out of position? Briscoe, Hawkins and Gabriel are our best passers. Willis can be. The others have needed passing clinics all season. Unfortunately, the rebounding and defense must take higher priority now. If we get back to consistently moving the ball as much as we were in the first half last night, the scoring will come around just due to sheer volume of passes.

  12. keiths
    7:07 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    Have to watch a 15 second commercial just to watch a 20 second video? good job……

  13. canecowboykat
    7:13 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    Bam has now dropped out of the first round per Chad Ford. I hope for that kid’s sake that someone gets in his ear and convinces him to stay and work on his game.
    Hopefully, Briscoe will take the time to work out with him too over the next two off seasons.

    • EdC
      7:56 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      I tend to agree. If he can be pretty sure to go first round then great but in the NBA no team is going to make it a focus of their offense to get him the ball so deep in the paint that he can dunk. If they do then he will eat a large number of them anyway when being guarded by somebody that can look him in the eye.

    • BlueDeuce
      8:32 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      I hadn’t looked at mock drafts in a month or so but sure enough, he’s dropped in all of them. He’s in the mid-20s for most and only had him higher (#15).

      His weaknesses are starting to show…I’m not knocking the kid at all, he just needs more time to develop but will bolt for the NBA and I’m not sure if he has any chance of staying beyond his initial 2 year contract?

      It’s odd for players today…go to college and start out as a lottery pick, mid to late season slip to mid or late round pick (maybe second round), jump to NBA and fight for years to get in the league or stay another year and see your stock drop even more. They simply can’t win with this model of one and done…it hurts the NBA and college game in my opinion.

  14. catsarerunnin
    7:29 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    It doesn’t bother me that much about Monk’s lack of rebounding. I want him to score points. His defense is a concern but the guy I want to rebound is Bam.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      8:45 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Having one “special guy” who doesn’t have to work like the rest? That’s not good for team morale.

  15. EdC
    7:39 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    I wonder how many of them still think that their practices are harder than games.

  16. Ky ski nut
    8:17 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    There is no grey area or debate at this point. This is the worst defense a Wildcat team has ever displayed. I love ’em but they are the most frustrating team to watch in my almost 40 years of being a fan.

  17. Ken Grizzle
    8:21 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    You all need to chill and stop chastising these young Cats. Benching Monk is absurd same for Fox. No need to hit the panic button now. Go Cats!

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      8:30 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      I always wonder when people would hit the “panic button”…It is February and we aren’t playing defense. To me, it is just a game so I’m not going to panic about it…but as a fan, I would say now is a great time to get concerned about a team not playing defense in February!

  18. 3 fan
    8:40 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    Fox and Bam are two of the three best athletes at their position that UK may have EVER had. And they SUCK at defense. Its stunning that they are this bad. The clip above is just ONE example of how pathetic this whole team is at defense.

    I hope at practice the only basketball on the floor will be held by an assistant and every damn one of the players does nothing but defensive drills for 3 hours.

  19. Sentient Third Eye
    8:44 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    Is this related to the infamous Millennial problem with attention span? Maybe they’re getting distracted by the new scoreboard and forgetting where they are?

    • symphonist41169
      9:41 am February 8, 2017 Permalink


  20. 2Dogs
    9:39 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    Remember when they were saying the UK football team’s defense was the worst ever? Ah, good times.

    • UK Fan In Nashville
      2:13 pm February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Junior College Defense…

  21. mj7juice
    10:24 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    Get Monk out. He is a team killer, me first attitude. Most inefficient player I’ve ever seen. Between the legs isolation, shoot contested shots. Not even talking about the zero effort for rebounds, ole defense.

    • Willis Wolf Tattoo
      11:04 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

      I think you’re off-base Mr. Juice. Part of the reason he is shooting contested shots are Fox and Briscoe’s inability to create open looks for him in the half court set.

    • CATandMONKEY
      12:13 pm February 8, 2017 Permalink

      Actually of the top 10 scorers this yr in the NCAA ( he was #10) he was considered the most efficient.

  22. nellis234
    10:44 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    Yes, the defense sucked the final 8 minutes, but to be fair, LSU was not missing either. There was a few times when we were guarding them on the 3 point line and they still hit the 3 point shot, especially in the final minutes. Remember we get every teams best shot no matter the court.

  23. Bluebloodtoo
    11:47 am February 8, 2017 Permalink

    Geez, this crowd is living in extremes. Either everything is perfectly fine or it’s all going to He!!. It’s somewhere in between, as usual. Every team cal has is different. This one is no exception. They all have some weaknesses. Most of them get turned around by tourney time. We are not even close to being out of the tournament if these Cats finally get that Defense is how you control the game and decide to make that their identity. It’s not time to implode on the team. It’s time to implore to the team. See that? one letter. Makes all the difference. The difference being that it’s their choice. They have to choose to focus on defense. No one can make them do it if they don’t choose to.

  24. UK Fan In Nashville
    2:12 pm February 8, 2017 Permalink

    I have a feeling we are going to run Alabama out of the gym by more than 30 points on Saturday…