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.
WHY DIDN’T THEY FEED BAM ALL NIGHT
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.
Lol. Offensive foul on Gabriel. Smh. pic.twitter.com/pv7g73Dpe8
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 25, 2017
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.
Let’s pummel Kansas in Rupp Arena.