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That was a beatdown

With Kentucky opening up SEC play with three consecutive victories, things were starting to point in the right direction. The Wildcats easily handled Florida on the road and were set to host an Alabama team who was also undefeated in conference play with a road win against Tennessee already in their back pocket. If Kentucky was able to handle this one, you felt like there was a great chance this team could end the season on a tear.

Well, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Alabama knocked down 14 threes on offense while forcing 19 turnovers on defense to roll over Kentucky in Rupp Arena by a score of 85-65. This one never really felt in doubt and the road team was without three starters for most of the second half. Despite that, Kentucky could never make a run while the offensive issues showed up with a spread offense giving the defense major problems once again.

Offense

Kentucky scored 65 points in 73 possessions posting just .890 points per trip for another horrible offensive performance this season. UK shot just 34.4% from the floor and had 19 turnovers with just four makes from three-point range. That is losing basketball.

It appeared that the game plan for John Calipari was to force feed the post to punish an undersized Alabama front line, but the Tide were more than ready for the challenge. UK constantly coughed the rock up on entry passes as they were either bad throws or the post player could not hold his position. It created junked up offense and therefore the Wildcats were never really able to find a rhythm. It was another very tough night for Olivier Sarr.

In 19 minutes, the five-man scored six points on four shots and the fact that he only got off four shots is kind of mind blowing considering how often UK tried to get him the rock. Keion Brooks Jr. got the start and some run at the four, but he did not perform much better scoring 10 points on 12 shots. The front court of Kentucky combined for nine turnovers and it was an awful night in an area where UK figured it would have an advantage.

Playing against Alabama, they want to speed you up as much as possible so it makes it vital that the point guard position can keep everything in check. This was always going to be a tall task for both Devin Askew and Davion Mintz and the duo didn’t have their best game. They did produce 17 points, but it was on 19 field goal attempts and an ice cold 2-of-9 mark from three. They weren’t the ones turning it over, but the offense was out of sync all night and some of that blame should fall on the point guard.

On the wing, Brandon Boston Jr. continues to struggle scoring just five points on seven shots. Dontaie Allen hit a couple of threes, but it doesn’t feel like the offense is chasing enough shots for him.

The most efficient performance of the game came from Isaiah Jackson who scored 14 points on five shots with eight makes from the free throw line. Jacob Toppin was also productive off the bench with a couple energy plays made in the second half.

The Wildcats were just 9-of-19 on dunks and lay-ups while shooting 4-of-18 from deep and just had no real easy offense to find all night. After solid back-to-back outings against Vanderbilt and Florida, they were exposed again versus a good defense.

Defense

Alabama scored 85 points in 72 possessions posting a solid 1.18 points per trip. The Tide knocked down 14 three-points shots, but more importantly they were able to produce a decent 44.7% clip from two-point range while dishing out 15 assists. Bama scooped up 13 offensive rebounds leading to 11 second chance points while getting up 28 lay-ups or dunks to go along with those 30 three-point attempts. Kentucky let them do whatever they wanted.

John Petty Jr. has been in Tuscaloosa for at least a decade and the senior paced the offensive attack in Rupp Arena. The two-guard scored 23 points on 15 shots with four makes from three-point range. Kentucky didn’t have an answer for him.

Petty’s running mate in the backcourt was sophomore Jaden Shackelford who also had an excellent output with 18 points in 15 shots with a team-high six assists. Fellow guard Joshua Primo also had a nice scoring night as the freshman chipped in 12 points and Alabama had three other players score eight points. They hit Kentucky’s defense from all over.

From an individual standpoint, the only person you can really point to is Isaiah Jackson. The freshman big remains a force on this end of the floor and he finished the game with seven blocked shots. If UK did not have his rim protection this game really could have gotten ugly.

Similar to the outing against Vanderbilt, Kentucky just did not handle the spread offense with no big in the paint very well. They were once again torched by threes in the first half before adjusting at halftime. Only this time they weren’t facing the worst defensive team in the conference on the other end.

Outlook

Kentucky’s warts really showed up in this loss. UK has proven to be a solid defensive team this season, but they have one major weakness. This is a group that really struggles to limit dribble penetration and when facing a spread attack it is a nightmare matchup. On the other end, the lack of dribble creation makes UK very easy to defend. They have to feed the post to get paint touches and if you are able to shut that off, it’s going to be a long night for a team that just does not have enough shooting.

The lack of perimeter agility is going to remain a thorn in UK’s side on defense and they are going to face a team on Saturday in Auburn who is built to attack that weakness. Kentucky needs to have some better defensive rotations to help, but I’m just not sure there are answers this season when facing a pace-and-space offensive attack.

On the other end, Kentucky has to be an inside-out offense due to the lack of creators on the perimeter. However, they are really bad at feeding the post and Olivier Sarr isn’t built to hold position for very long. The alternative could be more looks for Keion Brooks Jr. in both the low and mid-post, but the sophomore struggled in just his second game back.

The bottom line is that this team still has a ways to go and Alabama was a nightmare matchup for them on both ends of the floor. It is the main reason they were able to thump Kentucky even without three starters for most of the second half. The hope is that this will be the only SEC team that will give the Wildcats these kind of issues for the rest of the season.

Auburn will certainly test that theory on Saturday as they want to play the same way.

Article written by Adam Luckett

Twitter: @AdamLuckettKSR

30 Comments for That was a beatdown



  1. eddiesuttonsliver
    12:10 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    This is not a tournament team. The sooner you accept it the better off you’ll be.



    • UKFanSC
      12:34 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      Agree….. that ship probably sailed a while ago, but it will be abundantly clear around 4:00 this Saturday.



    • Bluehender
      2:23 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      This is not a tournament team…in Cal’s system. Played a different way, who knows? They should be playing a zone defense and zone trapping press. We have the length and the depth to do it. We have no offense in the half court. But in a trapping press we could create offense. But Cal won’t do it…



  2. jack8291
    12:14 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Love Allen , but he’s seems a step slow and is turnover prone sometimes . He seems to react slow in high motor / quick decision type situations, or something . Hits open shots . Hard to describe Boston . He isn’t a step slow , but has the proverbial ‘low basketball IQ’ or something .



    • Bluehender
      2:25 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      Allen is not being used in a right way. They should be setting multiple screens to get him looks. He’s a spot up shooter. Putting the ball on the floor is not his game.



  3. Robert
    12:28 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Not trying to bash any player, as the old saying goes ‘it is what it is’. Askew is too slow and cannot go by anyone that I have seen. Not being able to beat his man off the dribble severely hampers the offense. Boston is ‘over his head’ and not close to making any contribution on either end of the floor. I assume Cal is playing him, hoping the light comes on?? Allen is too slow, and has to be wide open to consistently hit the jumper – Askew not able to go by as to have help defense, does not allow many open looks. Last night, it seemed as we were a step slow at EVERY position. I think the effort is there, just lack of talent. Watching the coaching staff it was evident they have no idea what to do next. Most all just sat in their seats and did not even try to instruct. This is more concerning then the play on the court.



    • Bluehender
      2:28 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      Agreed. They are playing the wrong style with this team. They can’t guard anyone. They should be learning how to and playing zone.



  4. mcp157
    12:44 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Tick, tick, tick, Cal time running out at UK!



  5. The Professor
    12:44 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    We don’t have anyone who can beat their defender off the dribble. We can’t go through the low post because our big men lack the strength to maintain their position. We are so physically weak we are likely well under 50% within 3 feet of the rim. We are 290th in assists per game. We only have one guy who can shoot the 3 consistently but run very few plays to get him open.(319th in 3 Pt shots per game) We have poor shooters but take more long 2 point shots than any team in the country. Other than that, we are a pretty good offensive team!



  6. drbigblue
    12:52 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Hoorah! Roll Tide!!! How’s That Taste From A Bunch Of Non One and Done’s That Don’t Kneel During The National Anthem and Support Anarchist Black Lives Matter. Roll Tide! Go Back To Massachusetts Calipari!



    • stratblend
      5:33 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      I tHiNk ThErE iS sOmEthInG Wrong wItH yOuR kEyBoArD



  7. blueNtheFace
    12:52 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Shows over, nothing to see here anymore. Hope 2021-22 is a step up.



  8. bosch8184
    12:56 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Cal should be forced to clean house among his assistants. A bunch of crony failed has-beens with zero new ideas or creativity who give him zero push back. Just unacceptable hiring by Cal. If Cal doesn’t leave (fingers crossed, although no one in the NBA wants him now) they should all be fired. Wholesale.



  9. JT55
    1:09 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Program needs gutted, it just isn’t what it was. You can make every excuse you want, there is no denying that there’s a lack in talent and poor coaching.



    • friendsofcoal
      1:23 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      I agree. I used to hang a schedule up on the refrigerator and wouldn’t miss a game for anything. So far this year I’ve only watched the last 5-6 minutes of the FL game. It’s not that I’m finished with UK sports but it’s just not the same now.

      I believe it’s time for Cal to go as bad as I hate to say it because it’s been one helluva ride. Cal started the whole OAD game and now so many others have tried to duplicate it that the true “OAD” players are spread out between different schools. You’ll never see one school field a team like Cal had in his first 4-5 years (except 2012-2013). The question now is, WHO replaces him?

      I personally (people won’t like it probably) would like to see Billy Donovan come and coach the rest of his career at Rupp with John Pelphrey right beside of him. I’ve always felt that those two together would be nothing less than amazing in Lex. BD is a heck of a coach and his name is now even bigger with his NBA experience. Pelphrey could sell Lex, UK, and Rupp Arena due to his time and experience here. It would put a perfect balance between the name on the front of the jersey and the name on the back.

      Who else? Brad Stevens?



    • blueNtheFace
      4:21 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      Brad Stevens would be my first choice. Young, modern, and proven.



    • JT55
      1:39 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      I would start my search with Nate Oats. He can flat-out coach, and he’s hungry. Donnovan isn’t coming back to college.



    • just a guy
      4:07 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      Billy D makes $4M a year to coach 100+ games. Cal gets paid $9M to coach 35. I think Billy would come back, Chicago sucks



  10. Bluehender
    2:20 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Is there anybody in the state that doesn’t know that Sarr’s game is facing the basket? Besides Cal. He should play him in a high post at the free throw line. He can make plays from there. He did against Florida. I mean, is he getting production from him with his back to the basket? No..he gets pushed out to 10 feet. Which is where he should be. But facing the basket…



    • just a guy
      4:12 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      Cal always takes a stretch 4 and plays him back to basket. Has for 11 years. Pj, Bam, Patterson, AD, KAT, boogie. All guys that left for NBA and showed they could shoot on the perimeter… woulda never guessed it here



    • ukbradstith
      4:23 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      AD, KAT, Boogie were hardly stretch 4s. By making them stay around the goal he turned them into top 5 picks. Worked from the inside out, which is exactly what he should have done with them. Bam too honestly. PJ shot tons of 3s his junior year, had the perfect balance really. If these guys stuck around, their games would naturally expand. Patterson was strictly around the basket his first 2 years, but he was a stretch 4 his junior year with Boogie/Cousins/Stevenson in the paint 35 minutes plus per game. Bam still doesn’t shoot threes but I bet he will in 2-3 more seasons.



  11. mrknowitall1981
    2:23 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Kentucky was beaten down by a player who used to sing for N’Sync with those Frosty tips. Can’t wait until Fulkie comes to town and goes for 30 and 12 with our bigs strapped with foul trouble the whole game. This team is just really hard to watch right now.



  12. Bluehender
    2:31 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Auburn would do everything Alabama did. Will Cal be able to figure out how to adjust? I hope so..



  13. just a guy
    4:01 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    If auburn wins, write it down, the wheels fall completely off. Still have Arkansas, UT twice, at Vandy, oh yea Texas. Lose to auburn and this will be lucky to win 12 games



    • ukbradstith
      4:10 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      I agree. I think UK needs to go 5-1, 5-1, 5-1 (15-3 overall) in the conference in 6 game chunks (if they lose to Texas), and I don’t see that happening. It would take a miracle at this point. Is what it is.



  14. just a guy
    4:08 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Billy D would have to say no, before I considered anyone else.



  15. blueNtheFace
    4:23 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Cal has two years left the way I see it. This season and next. Any further depends on the result of each!



  16. Kentucky Gentleman
    5:07 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    A lot of people are calling for Cal to be fired but I’m curious, what do you think actually needs to happen for Cal to be fired? I don’t see him getting fired this year no matter how bad the team finishes. Would he be fired after another season like this next year? Would it take 2 more seasons like this? Or would he leave before the school had a chance to let him go (my guess)?



    • jack8291
      5:54 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

      He isn’t getting fired ‘without cause ‘ basically ever . Too expensive



  17. Droll rambler
    5:50 pm January 13, 2021 Permalink

    Alabama dominated the Wildcats in every phase of the game from the opening tip to the final horn. It was apparent that they wanted to win about ten times as much as Kentucky.