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South Carolina’s Efforts on the Offensive Glass Cost Kentucky the Game

There are a few things that fans of the Big Blue Nation concern themselves with throughout a season with John Calipari as the head coach; Can the freshman put it together in time? Who is going to assert themselves as the team leader? How many of these kids are going to be leaving at the end of the year?

Now in year 10 with Coach Cal, fans know what to expect. They know how the team will play and who is going to get the ball. It’s the circle of Kentucky basketball’s life. What fans aren’t accustomed to is being severely outrebounded on the offensive glass, to the point that it cost the ‘Cats a chance to win a road game against an inferior team in the SEC.

In Kentucky’s 81-78 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks on Wednesday night, the ‘Cats allowed 20 offensive rebounds – 12 in the first half and eight in the second. Over the last two-and-a-half seasons, Kentucky has never allowed an opponent to haul in that many offensive rebounds. 

Only one team in that span has secured at least 19 offensive boards against the ‘Cats (ETSU in Nov. 2017, which UK won by 17 points). The most Kentucky had allowed this season before Wednesday’s loss was 16 in a win over the Louisville Cardinals.

“They had 12 offensive rebounds at half,” John Calipari said after the game. “12… Seven of them came on one guy of mine. Seven were on one. And now they end up with 20 which is eight in the [second] half, which isn’t bad, but we only get 10. We’re not winning. We’re not winning that way.”

A good guess as to who the culprit for allowing seven offensive rebounds is would be Nate Sestina, who admitted during the postgame press conference that the rebounding issues started with him.

“They outrebounded us. It started with me not hitting guys on the offensive glass,” Sestina said. “They outhustled us. Coach [Tony] Barbee said at the beginning of the game the more physical team is going to win and they were more physical than us, and that was it.”

There was a moment in particular that sparked the massive second-half comeback for the Gamecocks. With 13 minutes left, South Carolina forward Keyshawn Bryant snuck underneath the Kentucky bigs for a crowd-hyping putback dunk that seemingly shifted the momentum on both sides.

“I missed a box out on No. 24 [Keyshawn Bryant] and he got an offensive rebound putback dunk, that kind of shifted the momentum a little bit, [the] crowd got into it and then he had another one right down the middle of the lane I didn’t crack down on him. He got another opportunity at a dunk. Got the crowd going again.”

Kentucky had managed to extend its halftime lead to as many as 14 points with a little over 15 minutes left in the game. Bryant’s dunk came at the 13-minute mark and cut the Wildcat lead to just nine. UK would rattle off four straight points following the highlight play by South Carolina, but the Gamecocks built off the energy of the crowd over the next 10 minutes to complete the comeback.

16 second-chance points for USC compared to 10 for Kentucky would prove to be the difference.

Sestina owned up to his shortcomings in Columbia, but it doesn’t change the outcome. Kentucky still has four losses on the season. The ‘Cats came into South Carolina riding a four-game winning streak and looking they had turned at least one corner. That optimism was all wiped away with one bad game. But it shouldn’t be all that difficult to gain it back.

“I think we’re a tough team,” Sestina continued. “I think we’ve proven that a little bit. We lost two in Vegas, came back and won a couple on the road, couple big ones in a row. Lost one to Ohio State out in Vegas, we came back had a couple of good days of practice and beat Louisville who is a good team. I think that kind of shows how tough we are and this is just another opportunity for us to mourn for 24 hours – coach always says – then just get back after it. Tomorrow’s a new day, today is in the past. The game is over, can’t do anything about it now. The outcome is what it is.”

Kentucky has a tough stretch of games coming up. They face Arkansas on the road, then host Anthony Edwards and Georgia before taking on a ranked Texas Tech team. Sestina is right in pointing out that Kentucky has been in this position already – it happened less than a month ago. But if the team as a whole gives up 20 offensive rebounds in any of those three upcoming matchups, we might be talking about this all over again.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

10 Comments for South Carolina’s Efforts on the Offensive Glass Cost Kentucky the Game

  1. JT55
    12:46 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

    Another factor is teams defending coach Cal’s 2 plays.

    • JASUN74
      3:04 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

      JT55, man we run a pro style offense that is supposed to keep the players moving, setting screens for each other, and driving the ball to either shoot or find an open man!! Maybe you should call Cal up and tell him how to CALL A PLAY!! Lmao.

      I swear, it’s like people don’t even watch the games!! If you want to watch the Point Guard come down the floor and hold his little finger up and yell Blue, I suggest you go watch a high school game. The offense we run has gotten a hell of a lot of wins, and Cal does call a certain play or whatever you want to call it out of a time out when needing a big score or something.

      It may not look like we’re running PLAYS, but we’re most certainly running an offense that’s put 30 plus players in the NBA IN TEN YEARS WITH IT!! Ohh. We also have a Championship with our offense and a chance almost every year to go to the he FINAL FOUR!! I’m not trying to crap on you my brother, I’m just saying if our players run our offense how they’re taught to run it, (and of course rebound and play hard on defense), we’re almost unbeatable. Thanks and Go Cats.

      One more thing before I go, Everyone, don’t give up on this group of young men after one bad game!! There’s plenty season left and we’ll be clicking soon.

    • makeitstop
      8:54 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

      Jasun is exactly right about the offense. It’s not the offense so much – though we don’t seem to know who the offense is going to run through night in and night out, but maybe that’ll be a strength, can’t scheme fo stop one guy. The troubling thing is lack of progress by the freshman not named Maxey and even he has plenty of freshman moments offset by his scoring ability. But the rebounding, which is the point of the article is an atrocity. That’s not acceptable. And u hv every right to gripe when the turnover and offensive boards numbers are inverted. That’s 6A practice time. They should never want to put that kind of lame display on again, poor calls or not.

  2. ColoradoCatFan88
    3:06 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

    That’s back to back games we’ve given up way too many offensive rebounds. Love the small ball lineup & 3 guards, but apparently is causing us to become a weaker rebounding team. Definitely doesn’t help when Nick gets in foul trouble and has to sit half the game either

  3. UKLugo
    7:22 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

    Defending basket drives without fouling was another. Poor officiating another.

  4. ShooterMcGavin
    8:15 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

    Jaysun- It’s almost like you aren’t watching the game!! Don’t posture on your moral high horse by telling other fans they should call up the coach for pointing out an obvious flaw with these teams. During a loss or series of losses some of us like to point out what we think is going wrong. How can you give a diehard fan grief for doing that? If you aren’t frustrated by the losses this year and voice those frustrations through some outle, we aren’t the same type of fan.

  5. makeitstop
    9:20 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

    Last question – why wouldn’t we trap the ball handler at mid court on the last play? That would’ve left 2 seconds to make a pass, the right pass, and catch and shoot. Far worse odds than a relatively open 3.

  6. just a guy
    9:28 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

    I love Nate, my second favorite on team behind Quick, but if your team heavily depends on a 5th year transfer from Bucknell, then the ceiling is low. Nate should be a legit, solid role player, not the key cog in the wheel. 2 key cogs in the wheel are broken, Whitney and Brooks, without production from them Nate is having to leak out to help defend, and he’s getting beat on position. Yes Nate got beat, but the reason he got beat is what Cal forgets to say. Cal will call out guys that are not NBA potential, but didn’t say a word about Whitney looking worse every game. With Whitney he wants to “build confidence” with Nate he calls him out specifically

  7. dan1965
    10:46 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

    Where to even start. First of all,and I’m not blaming it for the loss, but to say it wasn’t a factor is stupid.
    Officiating was flat out awful ! I saw at least 5 horrible calls go against the Cats that was flat out horrible.
    There were some very costly turnovers as well,I love Ashton, but he has several that was terrible,and I saw some from different people before the ball was even thrown I knew it was a turnover. Its like at times they just grab the ball and throw it without looking,when an opposing player is right there in the passing lane waiting !
    This team also just can’t seem to finish,or put teams away,its like they get out there a bit,think they have it won and stop playing,start doing goofy stuff. Finish the dam game ! 6 feet down,then throw dirt on them already !
    As for the players,EJ is crazy if he leaves after this year. I see him playing harder than he was at first of year,but he still has a long way to go,he really needs to spend a lot of extra time in the gym. Brooks and Whitney also,there’s no way either of those shouldn’t be back next year either. And I love Maxxey,and he makes a couple of them,but then he’ll miss like 10,12 that are WAY behind the line,just stop it already ! Conquer shooting the 3 at the line,then we can see about 10 feet and beyondit !
    Quickly is the best player on the team,and Nick has come a long way. I still have hope for these guys,but the biggest thing now is to play smarter,and finish.

    • CrystalBall
      12:42 pm January 16, 2020 Permalink

      You are right about Maxey. Most of his 3 point attempts come from 4 or 5 steps behind the line. Says that is the way he shot them in high school.