Another game. Another loss.
Unfortunately, Georgia scored on an out-of-bounds play underneath their basket with 3.6 seconds to play to give them 63-62 win and force me to write that opening headline once again. The victory snapped the Bulldogs 14 game losing streak to Kentucky.
The Wildcats will be back in action on Saturday evening at Rupp Arena as the LSU Tigers come to town for a 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time matchup on ESPN.
For this addition of Watch the Tape we are going to do things a little differently. We all know how ugly the entire game was and for a full film breakdown you can check out my Twitter feed from this morning. Instead of subjecting you all to countless clips from start to finish we are simply going to break down what in the heck happened in the final two minutes of the game. As our fearless leader Matt Jones pointed out on the KSR Postgame show, those last 120 seconds perfectly encapsulated the struggles that have plagued this team all season long.
2:01, 62-56 Kentucky
Isaiah Jackson makes a nice move in the post to put the ‘Cats up 62-56. Jackson finished the game with 12 points on perfect 6/6 shooting and blocked four shots.
1:48, 62-59 Kentucky
Devin Askew played his worst game of the season last night. After a rough start to his freshman campaign, Askew had really improved over the last couple of weeks. However, last night was a major step backward. Despite committing five turnovers this defensive miscue may have been his most costly mistake.
With under two minutes to play and a six point lead Kentucky needed to force Georgia to make three trips down the floor to tie the game. That means protecting the 3-point line and forcing them to score from two point range. With K.D. Johnson holding the ball up top, a shooter who entered the game 6/9 from deep and was 1/3 at the time last night, Askew has his feet inside the 3-point line and is about six feet away from him. Johnson is very dynamic off of the dribble, but he is also a knock down shooter and in this situation you would much rather make him drive the ball than allow him to take an easy, in rhythm 3-point shot.
1:17, 62-59 Kentucky
After allowing the 3 to Johnson, Kentucky still has the ball up three points with just over 90 seconds to play. Georgia goes to a matchup zone and Kentucky is left aimlessly passing the ball around the perimeter until the shot clock gets down to 10 seconds. Devin Askew makes a cut and receives the ball in the lane but is quickly surrounded on the block by multiple defenders. He ends up losing the ball and Georgia has it going the other way. Even a shot clock violation would have been significantly better in this situation because it would force the Bulldogs to take the ball out of bounds as opposed to a live ball turnover where they can go in transition.
1:01, 62-59 Kentucky
K.D. Johnson missed a 3-point attempt after the Devin Askew turnover and Kentucky corralled the rebound. Coach Calipari called timeout as the ball crossed half court. The ‘Cats still hold on to a three point lead with a minute to play and possession of the ball.
0:40, 62-59 Kentucky
Under a minute to play and Kentucky has the ball coming out of a timeout. If you can get a basket here you all but seal the game. Unfortunately, we end up settling for a terrible shot that leads to a transition opportunity for Georgia.
After the initial high ballscreen set by Olivier Sarr for Devin Askew, several more attempts are made to attack the basket off of the dribble to no avail. Askew, B.J. Boston, and Keion Brooks are all unable to beat their man off of the dribble. As the shot clock winds down Boston drives towards the middle and throws up an off-balanced runner while moving to his left. The poor shot clanks off the rim and Georgia is off to the races.
0:34, Kentucky 62 Georgia 61
Transition defense is the responsibility of the Point Guard. Protect the basket, stop the ball, match up to the next most dangerous man. That is the order of operations in transition defense and making it all happen is the responsibility of Devin Askew in this situation.
As you can see, he is the first defender back but never makes an attempt to protect the basket, or even tell Olivier Sarr to protect the basket. Instead, Askew just drifts over to Sahvir Wheeler because “that is his matchup.” WRONG! You do not have a matchup in transition defense. Again it is basket, ball, next most dangerous. Askew should have been yelling at Sarr, “TAKE THE BASKET!!! TAKE THE BASKET!!!”
Due to poor transition defense principles Olivier Sarr is lost in the middle of the floor and Wheeler hits the rim-running Andrew Garcia for an easy layup. It only took six seconds off of the clock for Georgia to cut their deficit to one point.
0:23.5, Kentucky 62 Georgia 61
Georgia decides to foul Devin Askew to send him to the line to shoot a 1-and-1. Askew proceeds to miss the front end and Georgia rebounds the ball for a chance to win the game.
0:03.6, Kentucky 62 Georgia 61
The Bulldogs hold the ball until about the 8 second mark when Sahvir Wheeler attacks from the top of the key. B.J. Boston plays excellent defense and gets vertical at the end of the drive to contest and alter Wheeler’s shot. Isaiah Jackson comes in from behind the play and volleyball spikes the ball out of bounds with 3.6 seconds remaining.
I’m not going to crush Jackson for this play. In hindsight it is easy to say “you should have just caught the ball” or “tap it to a teammate.” However, in the moment, you are just focused on making sure the ball doesn’t go in the basket. Now, that doesn’t absolve him of all wrongdoing here. There really never is a time when you need to swat the ball with THIS level of authority. The goal always should be to control the ball enough to get it to a teammate if possible. In this instance Jackson definitely could have at least kept the ball in bounds which would have kept the clock moving and probably ended the game. Instead, the ‘Dawgs get one more chance to win the game with 3.6 seconds left and the ball OB Under.
0:03.6, Kentucky 62 Georgia 61
Coach Calipari has forgotten more about basketball than I know. There is a reason why he is a Hall of Famer making $9 million a year and I am a former Division III coach who now sells life insurance and writes for KSR. However, these last two clips are very, very frustrating to me.
This is Georgia’s first attempt taking the ball out of bounds. K.D. Johnson comes running off the backside of Toumani Camara. Jacob Toppin clearly thinks that they are supposed to switch the screening action as he jumps out to take Johnson. However, Davion Mintz ALSO stays with Johnson which leaves Camara unguarded as he cuts to the basket. B.J. Boston guardian the inbounder is able to take away that pass, but otherwise Camara was definitely open at the front of the rim.
My question is how in the world, coming out of a timeout, can you mess this play up? Are we supposed to switch the screen or not? Toppin and Mintz clearly have two different answers to that question and that is a major problem. Typically in this situation you would switch all of the screens. I think that is a pretty well accepted fact amongst basketball coaches.
There were two things that really made me mad when re-watching the film today. First off, after Georgia calls timeout and UK heads to the huddle Coach Calipari is clapping and shaking his head as if we did a good job! This is the biggest possession of the season! Did he not notice that we COMPLETELY screwed up our defensive assignment?! He should be screaming at either Toppin or Mintz for their blown assignment. Secondly, as a Senior, Davion Mintz should be handling this himself. If Toppin was the one who screwed up by switching he should have IMMEDIATELY ran over to Toppin to talk it out. The fact that it didn’t have makes me think Mintz is the one who was in the wrong.
Regardless of who was in the wrong, Kentucky SHOULD have been switching here. Jacob Toppin switched, Davion Mintz didn’t and it just about cost us the game.
Final: 63-62 Georgia
Ballgame. This play effectively ended the regular season for Kentucky. Now the only thing that matters is seeing improvement over the back half of the season and preparing to win the SEC Tournament.
The frustrating part about this final play, other than the obvious of Georgia scoring the ball, circles back to my frustrations from the play before. Coming out of another timeout, Kentucky defends different than they did on the previous OB Under attempt by Georgia. Again, Jacob Toppin switched that initial screen making me think we were supposed to switch the screens. This time, Isaiah Jackson gets screened and does NOT switch with Jacob Toppin.
Jackson should never have let his man cut his face in this situation and regardless of what they talked about in the huddle this is an EASY switch on the backscreen that should just be communicated on the court. This is where I do defend Coach Cal some this season. I don’t think it has been his finest coaching job of his career, however this team has an extremely low basketball IQ. Toppin and Jackson should be able to figure out this switch on their own. If they switch there is zero chance Georgia scores the layup.
There has also been a lot of talk about B.J. Boston guarding the inbounder. On the previous play (seen above) he literally saved a layup based on his defense on the inbounder. He should definitely be back a step or two further so he is more at the front of the rim as opposed to under the basket. If he is at the front of the rim maybe he can get Horne to miss, or even pick up the loose ball.
We can break this down forever, but the simple fact is Kentucky had multiple opportunities to win the game in the final two minutes and failed to execute every single time.