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Super-Late Takeaways From A Super-Frustrating Loss

Brian Lynn | USA Today

Brian Lynn | USA Today

Brian Lynn | USA Today

Who up, Big Blue Nation?

If you’re still up — or maybe you’re reading this in the a.m. — you’re probably still fuming over the Cats’ loss in Knoxville.  Don’t worry. You’re not alone. It wasn’t supposed to end that way.

It did end that way, though, and a number of factors went into that ending, and all were equally frustrating. Everything that could go wrong, did. Everything the Vols needed to do, they did. And Roger Ayers always gonna Roger Ayers when John Calipari is in the building.

Unfortunately I do not have the time or energy, nor does our server have the bandwidth, to list every single thing that went wrong Tuesday night. That’s a long, long list of complaints and criticisms. But we can certainly hit a lot of them, so let’s get right to it because it’s way too late to be mad.

Here we go…


Outside of Bam, no one played anywhere near their best.

My goodness Isaiah Briscoe was horrendous for the first 30 minutes of the game. Kentucky’s “veteran” continued his streak of horrible play through most of the night at Tennessee, although he did finish strong after reaching rock bottom when he missed that WIDE open layup in transition. (It was all in his head at that point.) In the end he had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds, so that’s good, but it doesn’t forgive how bad he was up until the end when he and his team decided to fight. Overall… Thumbs up for the effort; thumbs down for the execution. Hustle with no offense.

Then there is Malik Monk, who missed 10 three-pointers and had five turnovers in his team-high 25-point night. One of those turnovers created a four-point swing when Kentucky trimmed the lead to three, which reminded me of his costly turnover in the comeback attempt against UCLA. Monk looked so smooth early in the game with his pull-up jumper, but his shot selection as a whole was pretty bad.

As for everyone else, De’Aaron Fox played zero defense; Derek Willis and Wenyen Gabriel combined for six points on 2-for-11 shooting after two good games; and everyone was out of sync. It was a collective effort of underachievement, Bam not included.


The big guy was 7-for-8 from the field and 7-for-8 from the line. That should read, “The big guy was 14-for-16 from the field and 14-for-16 from the line,” but he didn’t get the looks. Tennessee had no answer for Adebayo inside, yet he only got about half of the touches he needed. When is Kentucky going to realize there is a real-life Shaquille O’Neal inside that most teams cannot stop without fouling, and he can shoot free throws? Let the boy eat.

The defense was not good.

Tennessee quickly learned how to score and the Cats never made the adjustments to, or simply couldn’t, slow down the attack. Tennessee’s baseline out-of-bounds plays were free scores every single time. UT outmuscled the defense inside and UT isn’t built to outmuscle anyone. Wide open baskets were plentiful. Why aren’t the players ever in a defensive stance? Bend those knees and get your arms up, guys. AND WHAT WAS WITH THOSE DOUBLE TEAMS???????

Coach Cal was out-coached.

Rick Barnes jokes are all fun and games until he out-coaches the hell out of John Calipari and beats Kentucky as a double-digit underdog.

Also, anyone else think Cal is a little too angry on the sideline this year? Get that guy a Snickers bar because his blowups seem to be affecting the players.

Dominique Hawkins should’ve played more.

Hawkins played GREAT D when no one else would. He forced Tennessee into long, contested jumpers and he was the only player in blue who wasn’t gift-wrapping layups for his man. He needed to play more than 15 minutes, even if it meant going really small or sitting someone else.

Fire a manager. No, fire all of the managers.

INEXCUSABLE MISTAKE with the wet spot on the floor. Not only did it cost Kentucky a key possession, Monk could’ve been injured on the play. Then Cal said after the game that he saw the puddle and told the managers to wipe it up out of the timeout. Inexcusable. Towel boy better be on foot right now with his GPS in hand and his gear and keycard on Cal’s desk by Wednesday afternoon.

I will die wondering how that was an over-the-back foul on Wenyen Gabriel.

Complaining about officiating is petty after a game played this poorly, but we can’t ignore that bullsh-t whistle that took away Gabriel’s putback.

The SEC has a real officiating problem right now and it is worried about videos on Twitter.

Tennessee kept opening the door and Kentucky couldn’t run through it.

So many opportunities to take this game in the end and the Cats couldn’t capitalize. Tennessee wanted to lose this game and Kentucky wouldn’t take it out of their hands. Whether it be the slip, the missed layups, the defensive collapses, the questionable coaching decisions or whatever else you want to blame, this is a game Kentucky could’ve won and it did not do so.

That being said, I don’t think anyone picked this team to go 18-0 in the SEC so let’s not act like the world stopped turning with the loss. We all knew they would drop one on the road on an off-night against a team playing its best, and Tuesday night just happened to be that night. Life will go on. I still like my team.

Moving forward…

Let’s pummel Kansas in Rupp Arena.

Article written by Drew Franklin

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

50 Comments for Super-Late Takeaways From A Super-Frustrating Loss

  1. runningunnin.454
    1:26 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Cal was out-coached? O.K.
    Cal, you’re fired,
    Drew, you’re hired.

    • AGSlater
      2:40 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Come on man, its the truth. Atleast Drew has balls and said it. Quit brown nosing cal for everything

    • jaxblue
      7:01 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more wit. I love Cal and don’t want any other Coach in the country. Be he is human and made a ton of coaching errors. He definitely needs to watch his tape.

    • EdC
      7:22 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Cal is also in psycho Cal mode. Not as bad as he was a few years ago where it took getting kicked out of a game to wake him up but he is pretty bad. Don’t know if it chicken or the egg but also note that since the supposedly great Camp Cal Briscoe, their on court leader supposedly is ALWAYS mouthing off back at Cal when Cal says anything to him. Everything about this team was better in December than it is now and their team stats are sliding steadily downhill to prove it. How else does a very small Tennessee team with zero future pros beat you in every team category other than free throws?

    • 4everblue
      9:06 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      I agree, it doesn’t take a lot of balls to sit behind a computer and criticize Cal. If Drew is so knowledgeable he working on this site and not coaching at any level? ..Maybe we should all try imaging taking a new group of high school kids every year and drilling them for months, trying to correct the same mistakes over and over and they still don’t listen. Pretty sure we would all be angry.

    • RealCatsFan
      9:42 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Cal outcoached? I guess some will make that argument, but at the end of the day it is more about the motivation and discipline of the individual players than about x’s and o’s, at least for this game. UT had WAY more motivation in this game than UK. They were playing before the largest and rowdiest home crowd of the year – that alone will motivate a player to give extra effort. They were not looking forward to a huge home game against a top-5 opponent like UK was. And none of UT’s players are likely thinking about future draft stock and the temptation to “get theirs”. Yes, UT is a young team too, and kudos to their coach for getting them to stick to their game plan. And yes, it is Cal’s job to keep his players focused, motivated, and disciplined. But I don’t know if this was as much about coaching decisions as it was about a young team losing their focus and discipline, especially on defense. It happens. Next year we will have the same problems with youth and inexperience. If you hate that, well, better find a different team to root for, because that’s what we have signed on for with Cal.

      After saying all that, I think Cal needs to take a step back and focus ALL of this team’s energy on defense for the rest of the year. He might need to try some different things to get this team’s attention. We might need to see more of Dom for his defense. Things like that. Time to really earn that paycheck, coach.

    • runningunnin.454
      9:49 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      What do you want? I fired Cal, and hired Drew.
      Who y’all want for football coach?

    • Rain1940
      11:50 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Cal was out coached and I bet he would agree. Worse is that his guards aren’t listening to him. Watch Monk, Fox and Briscoe talk back and walk away while Cal is talking. That is a lack of respect. This team will be lucky to get past the sweet 16 if Cal doesn’t take control. How many times does he need to tell the guards to throw the ball to Bam before he yanks them out for the rest of the game for not doing it? A super talented group of players that aren’t playing as much to win as to rack up stats.

    • THE William Hill
      12:10 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Someone explain the definition of “out-coached” to me. Please. Everyone seems to use it, but I don’t think they know what the term actually means.

      Here’s a hint: just because you lose a game, its not always because you were out-coached.

    • chris43
      7:36 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      So…are you saying thy roster full of “Burger King All Americans” on UT’s roster is more talented than UK? Are the stronger or faster as a team? Do they have more size? I’m a huge Cal fan but the fact is that UT doesn’t even belong on the same court as UK! This is two years in a row. It should not happen.

    • AGSlater
      2:38 am January 26, 2017 Permalink

      love this guy. It might be Cal

    • Luether
      9:03 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Ky should never lose a conference game. Ever…

  2. shendo
    1:47 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Agree with every thing you said except we needed to get the ball to Bam more. Barnes new we were going to do that because Cal told everyone we were going to do that. Barnes did the same thing Wisconsin did. He packed the paint. It flustered our guards because they knew the wrath of Cal was coming but the entry pass wasn’t there. It looked like they were trying to tell him that several times. Bam also has to get better at getting in position to receive the pass. He actually was better at that tonite but i can see why the guards are hesitant to throw it in when he has a man or two on him. Bam made most of his points when the Tennessee big went out with cramps and foul trouble or on the rare occasion he wasn’t double and triple teamed.

    • jaxblue
      7:07 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      I was hoping someone would call this out. How many times more were the guards supposed to throw it to Bam? In the first half he was allowing himself to get pushed out from the basket and was simply passing it out when they gave it to him. In the second half he did better, but got the ball every time he got open. If you want it more, work to get open more! Coach Cal, please stop forcing a particular issue. It hurts the tempo and flow of the game. Besides, defense is what lost this game. We let a terrible team that is the smallest team in the country score 82 points with half of them in the paint. For coach to mention anything but defense when reviewing the tape is a mistake.

  3. AGSlater
    2:40 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Out coached correct Drew. Also I love how he says he will pull anyone out for bad play. Yeah right. We all know he will only pull Mediocre players out for bad things and really never pulls out his stars.

    • EdC
      7:24 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Thats just like how he always brags about how few shots Davis and Townes took but NEVER about how he lets guards shoot out of slumps even if it costs us the game.

  4. chris43
    2:50 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    You’re damn right Cal got out coached! I’m a Cal fan but facts are facts! Also why do we NEVER play zone? Teams spread us out and drive at will. Which leads to easy close range baskets or kick outs for open 3’s. There is no help defense/very little or if so its late and results in a foul. I don’t get it…when you have this much talent and Vandy white boys are driving at will…you have problems. I don’t understand it but I have never in all of my years as a fan saw a team get drove on that easy.

  5. StuckinLville
    3:13 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    He may be a HOF coach, but there are times that I really wonder what the heck is he doing. Like the Indiana game leaving Lee in and not playing Willis, or Wisconsin with the twins, or when he’s been out coached by Bob Huggins and others. There’s no doubt he is a good coach, but sometimes I don’t understand what he is doing. He needs to stop being so stubborn at times and do what’s best for the team, not because he never does something so he isn’t going to do it. Look at the 2015 team when he actually played zone. With their length, it was lethal. He can fuss at his players all he wants, but he needs to get it together. If we blow another NCAA tourney game because of it, my head will explode.

    • Wildcat Sheli
      8:06 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      I’m a huge Cal fan, but one thing that troubles me is when he talks about “not re-watching the losses” or not showing our players film. Sometimes times you have to find out what went wrong to make sure that “never happens again” (pardon my reference to 1995).

      Agree that Dom would’ve made a big difference in this game like he did Saturday. He could’ve helped to steady us, but there he sat on the bench.

      I know the majority of the time, being the best version of yourself will get you the win, BUT there are some games where you must adjust even if you don’t like the style — or else lose (UConn, Wisconsin, Indiana).

  6. chris43
    3:30 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    I live on the KY/TN border therefore this game means a lot and is a huge rivalry. I know that it’s still considered a “rivalry game”. I know the UT players still consider it a big rivalry game and always a chance to knock off a top team. But over the past 5 seasons or so I’ve truly started to wonder if UK players consider UT a rival especially with the freshman coming in year after year. I know they fully consider Lousiville one but I really question UT. It kills me to lose to UT! I also hate losing a game at Rupp. But I swear if we had to lose a game I think I would have rather got beat at home Sat. to SC than to lose to this UT bunch much less two years in a row. They kick our ass in football yearly…do we really have to lose to them in basketball too? SMDH

    • Booby Petrino
      7:17 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      I highly doubt the players consider it a rivalry. Heck I don’t 5 even consider it one and I’ve been a fan for 36 years. We play them in Rupp in a couple of weeks and I’m betting the results will be quite different.. We’ll beat them easily. So relax, know we’re still learning but still very talented. We’ll avenge this in Rupp, and maybe we’ll meet them in the SEC tourney so we can get the upper hand.

    • Mathlete
      9:03 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      UT isn’t a rival from our side anymore. They’ve had a couple of wins against us in Knoxville lately, but they’ve been so bad for so long that their garish blaze orange is the only bright point in the program since Pearl got the ax

      Basically they’re the in-conference version of Indiana

  7. Doctor21
    7:03 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    We got outplayed, outcoached, outfanned and most of all…..outofficiated. Roger Ayers needs glasses or perhaps a new job.

  8. got8want9
    7:13 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Lets just admit it.. . Our coach is a great recruiter, an excellent motivator and an average game strategy coach. Much of the limitations he has is self imposed. Refusal to ever play a zone is cute to say but a real limitation that is almost criminal to the team. Anybody who has ever coached the game could score on us out of bounds under their basket EVERYTIME! The opposing coach never has to prepare or even expect anything but man to man. Drop the manly swagger of only playing that way and mature as a coach along with your team. Mixing defenses is a good thing… 2-3. 1-3-1, 1-2-2. Damn why cant he see that?
    As far as this team, we can be damn good but we dont have the maturity to be a title contender. When your starting 4 freshman ( a few months from high school) you get inconsistent and erratic play. I remember when I told my father I was going to be a teacher and coach for a career he looked me in the eye and said “anyone who bases their family’s livelihood on what a bunch of teenage boys do has got to be a dumb ass”.
    I hope Im wrong but I dont see us getting much better. How far we go in the NCAA will depend on the seedings. We will struggle against a strong mature team with an excellent coach. Right now we might make the sweet 16. As bad as I want another title, I dont see it happening….

  9. o0endlessblue0o
    7:16 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    That Wenyen foul wasn’t even the most obvious. If someone can get me a clip of the foul that wasn’t called when Briscoe jumped up and grabbed a rebound with a TN player literally hanging on his back. The TN player eventually knocked the ball loose and managed to drag Briscoe down from behind. It took place toward the end of the game. Still doesn’t excuse our poor play but we had chances to win that game. These officials have consistently been the worst.

    • Booby Petrino
      7:19 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      I know exactly the part you’re referring to. It was bad. But it didn’t take away 2 points and let them earn 1 like Wenyen’s imaginary foul did. Both were examples of terrible officiating

    • EdC
      7:26 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      I totally know that one. Basically threw Briscoe to the ground from behind and there was a ref in position watching it.

    • o0endlessblue0o
      7:26 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      You are right. I guess the Briscoe one just bothered me more because the ref was standing there watching Briscoe get mugged. He was literally a couple feet away staring at this happen. I am seriously starting to worry officials at the college level may have their hand in Vegas. I really don’t know how else to explain the rapid increase in blatant “no calls” this year. I feel like this is happening to most teams too I just haven’t watched many other teams this year.

    • Wildcat Sheli
      8:15 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      And how many times when we were “this close” to taking the lead did the refs call it out of bounds, UT ball! Why can’t there be more in-game reviews? It was just plain wrong!

  10. henderblue
    7:39 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    All good points Drew. #8 makes a great point. Mixing defenses IS a good thing. Should make for a great game Saturday. Somebody is going to have 2 losses in a row.

  11. Wildcat Sheli
    7:58 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    I just can’t get over that bad call on Wenyan! I know, I know . . . we should have playrd better overall, but fair is fair . . . and that call was NOT fair!

    If those 2 points were not taken away, UK would’ve had 82. And UT would not have shot that free throw, making their total 81. Just sayin’ . . . .

    Seriously, if I see Ayers is officiating I know there’s going to be just enough funny business to come out with a loss.

  12. canecowboykat
    8:00 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Too many issues for this team to make a run…it sure seems like there are players that want “theirs” and have tuned out the coach.
    I’m also not a fan of the head coach leaving his team to go out of town the day before you have to travel for a road game.
    Remember, he is the one ramming his “young team” down our throats.
    And on that front, is the whole roster full of freshmen? That’s the excuse we are given after every loss. Take some ownership of your problems Coach and maybe things will improve. Love to see some in game adjustments from time to time.
    Simply put, great recruiter, average coach.

  13. RC
    8:07 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    In defense of Cal- some of these guys simply aren’t doing what he wants. We have 3 very selfish young ball-dominant guards, two freshmen post players just learning how to play and Willis (who’s mostly a head case, hot/cold player). Oh, and Humphries, who plays like he’s 6’2. Dom & Mulder seem to know what they’re doing, mostly.

    Hard to be a great coach when your team is this selfish and takes this many awful shots. Cal is coaching like some of the players just aren’t listening to him, which I believe is true. This squad is regressing and I think it’s “Lottery Pick Fever.”

    Lastly- Kansas is going to blow us out of the gym. Mark it down. This team might need a legitimate embarrassment to wake them up and I think KS is going to give it to us.

  14. Sentient Third Eye
    8:31 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    The truth is that the way the guys have been playing recently, they needed a loss. They have been slacking for a week or two and getting away with it because they still pulled out the win. Now, they are busted, and Cal will have their full attention. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before with Cal’s young teams.

    • Mathlete
      8:57 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      That’s literally the only good thing about last night’s game, good point

  15. Kindergarten Cop
    8:31 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Overreaction a little? We just lost to a pretty decent coach at Tennessee by 2. We have 3 losses on the year. I don’t think it’s time to freak out. I agree that I don’t like seeing the players turn on each other and it seems like there is something going on between Monk and Briscoe. But anyone that has played on a team knows that if you get that many guys who are vocal together then stuff like this happens when you lose. If we beat Kansas at home this all goes away.
    As for Cal, There is no one else in the country who could coach Kentucky better than him. Period. Yea I would like to see zone every now and then but the good outshines the bad. It won’t take much to get this team back to playing right again and we will make a run come March.

  16. nicky
    8:50 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    As long as we have guys here with one foot out the door, then we are going to witness one on one type play……and then throw in Cal’s mantra of “it’s all about them”, they hear that and become even more self-centered

    • runtsfan
      8:52 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Good thought, nicky – see below

  17. runtsfan
    8:51 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    I personally think about this time of the year, the players who are leaving, with the novelty of being in college wearing off, start to think about the draft. It makes sense. They are not there to promote UK, and that’s not Cal’s primary focus either. So we should expect these spotty efforts and just learn to live with them.

  18. Cat68
    8:52 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Cal needs to quit pulling Wenyen and Derek so quick. Monk was 3-13 from 3pt range. How the hell can these other 3pt shooters settle into the flow and feel of the game if they’re always in and out? Cal said himself last week about Dom – with Fox hurt Dom played relaxed knowing he wasn’t always looking over at Cal to come out. Ding ding ding! Same principle applies.

  19. damage_control
    8:53 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Upsets happen- the Laker beat the Warriors last year. UNC lost bad to Georgia Tech on the road. Thanks for jumping on the I’ll informed overreaction bandwagon Drew. SMH – I expect it from some idiots in the comment section but for KSR to perpetuate this “outcoached” theory with nothing besides a result to back it up is pretty lame.

    • got8want9
      4:30 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      ” idiots in the comment section but for KSR to perpetuate this “outcoached” theory with nothing besides a result to back it up is pretty lame.”
      With a comment like that I rest my case as to who the idiot is…lol

  20. Mathlete
    8:56 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    That over the back call on Wenyen was literally the next play after he took an elbow to the face 10 feet away from the ball that knocked him on his back. UK didn’t play well in any facet of the game (seriously, guard the bounce pass to the middle!!), but that was just a perfect microcosm of how terrible the officiating has been the last 2 weeks.

    I’m not a conspiracy theory kind of guy so I don’t actually believe this, but it almost feels like the league is handicapping UK so they don’t just run every other team in this pathetic conference out of the gym and make the games too boring for other fanbases to watch (not that any other SEC team draws half the audience UK does anyway)

  21. StevieGotLoose
    9:25 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    You can play all the man to man you want, but if the players can’t play defense it is not going to work. Nothing but streak shooters at best; that is why everyone will pack it in and watch us lose. If Monk is off, we lose. This team is dysfunctional, Briscoe is an average MAC player. The team to beat is Louisville.

  22. THE William Hill
    11:41 am January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Team takes its third loss, and Cal is on the hot seat. Hahah. Some of you need to get a life…

  23. got8want9
    4:35 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Ah we still love him… just call them like I see them… and he is well compensated to take the heat.. heck it’s a job that probably will age you as fast as the president … and I feel better after venting. Go Cats