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Sunday’s Top 10: Game Notes, Sad Stats, Super Bowl Sunday

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

These posts are definitely less fun to write after a loss, so I’m just going to get straight to the point. Last night was bad. Maybe even worse than that. After No. 8 Kentucky fell to No. 24 Florida 88-66, there’s plenty to talk about. Here’s a few things I have to say about the loss.

1. Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding

Let’s start with one of the most obvious statistics of the night. The Gators outrebounded UK 54-29: 17-6 on the offensive end and 37-23 on the defensive end. The lack of rebounding absolutely killed the Cats, and led to Florida scoring 17 second-chance points to Kentucky’s seven.

De’Aaron Fox agreed it was a major issue.

“We were missing a lot of shots, and they were grabbing rebounds,” Fox said. “They killed us on the boards today, and that’s probably why they won the game, mainly.”

2. At least Fox is back…

Well… sorta. Although Fox was, at times, sloppy, he was the Cats’ leading scorer, ending the night with 19 points. He went 5-11 from the floor and 9-10 from the free throw line. Still, he only had three rebounds and zero assists. After the game, Calipari said that last night was “the first time De’Aaron (Fox) has played in six days.”

“[My] legs kind of weren’t under me, but people play through sickness and I’m back now,” Fox said. “So I’m not going to make any excuse.”

3. Speaking of illness…it’s still plaguing this team

Over the past few games, the Cats have been without a variety of players due to illness. Tonight was no different. After Fox was dubbed a “game time decision” and was not included in the starting lineup, the BBN was fair in worrying about the extent of whatever illness kept him from the Georgia game. Although Dominque Hawkins started in his place, it didn’t take long for Fox to get in last night’s game, as he checked in with 16:44 left in the first half.

Mychal Mulder was finally back in action, and he ended the night with eight points in 16 minutes.

Sacha Killeya-Jones is still down with the flu, and he did not make the trip to Gainesville. Yesterday, Coach Cal also mentioned that Tai Wynyard had been feeling under the weather. Although Wynyard did get in the game, he played for just seven minutes and scored only two points while quickly picking up two fouls.

I understand illness and how it can quickly spread throughout the dorm and deplete a team. On campus, basically everyone I know either has a fever or a cold right now. Heck, I’m writing this from my own dorm bed with strep throat. But at some point, “I was sick” doesn’t cut it anymore. This team needs to find a way to fight, especially for one another when players are sick.

4. Briscoe fell back on his old ways

Excluding his 23-point performance against Georgia, the sophomore just hasn’t seemed like himself recently – at least not his “first half of the season” self. In the first ten games of the season, Briscoe was averaging over 15 points per game. In the last five games, he’s clocking in at just 10.4 (and that’s averaging in the 23-point game against Georgia).

He ended last night with just six points, going 3-10 from the field and 0-2 from the free-throw line. He had three rebounds, three assists and four turnovers in his 30 minutes of playing time.

Once again, the missed layups were a problem.

“Isaiah (Briscoe) again had four turnovers. That’s ten in the last two games,” Calipari said after the game. “We missed one-footers and (Briscoe) missed three layups.”

5. Losing to Top-25 teams now will hurt UK come March

Before the game yesterday, Kentucky was being projected as a No. 2 seed in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology. Last night’s loss has the potential to change that. However, several of the other top teams have taken a hit over the past few days. Just yesterday, two predicted No. 1 seeds were upset by unranked opponents: Baylor fell to Kansas State 54-56, and Kansas lost to Iowa State 89-92. A predicted No. 2 seed, Arizona was crushed by No. 13 Oregon 58-85.

Kentucky is struggling against other top-25 teams, especially on the road. With losses to Louisville, Tennessee and Florida on the road and losses to Kansas and UCLA in Rupp, it’s hard to ignore how this Kentucky team is stacking up against other Top-25 opponents.

Unfortunately for UK, last night was one of the last games that could have carried some real weight when deciding the seeding for this year’s NCAA tournament, at least for a while. UK will have their shot at a rematch against the Gators in Rupp Arena at the end of this month, but until then, Kentucky needs to find a way to show its talent against some unranked SEC teams.

6. If you thought the second half was bad…

You should have seen the first. Kentucky was held to a season-low 26 points in the first half. The Gators got points on the board first, and did not trail for the remainder of the game. They hit six three-point buckets compared to UK’s two in the first 20 minutes. The only line on the box score that favors Kentucky in the first half is turnovers, in which the Cats had five while the Gators committed 12. After shooting 9-30 for 30 percent from the floor, including plenty of missed layups, it’s a wonder the Cats weren’t trailing by more than eight at the break.

To make matters worse, Kentucky had just 13 rebounds to Florida’s 34 and two second-chance points compared to Florida’s 12.

7. There were plenty of “season lows”

Kentucky’s 66 points marked the fewest number of points scored by the team this season. This comes from a collection of season lows, including lowest shooting percentage from the field (37 percent) and fewest number of assists (seven). The Cats’ 29 rebounds were its second fewest of the year (28 vs. Stephen F. Austin), and they tied their season-low record for made field goals (23 at Louisville and vs. Michigan State).

8. But Cal isn’t giving up, and neither should we

It’s true that last night was tough to watch. With an 8:15 tipoff, I’m sure there were plenty of fans who went to bed or flipped the channel before the final buzzer. With this team looking like they did last night, it’s completely understandable to be frustrated. I am, you are, even Cal is. But we’ve still got some time before March, and hopefully Coach will be able to get this team back to playing with a team mentality and a little more fight.

“I’ve been doing this 30 years. I’ve seen everything. Sometimes you gotta hit bottom, and maybe we have hit bottom, maybe we haven’t hit bottom,” Calipari said. “Now we see them at their worst. OK, now it’s a choice: do you want to be at your worst, do you want to be at your best?”

Best, please.

9. Women’s Basketball takes on Vandy

After a disappointing loss to South Carolina on Thursday, No. 25 UK Hoops (15-8) looks to redeem itself against Vanderbilt (11-11) today at noon in Memorial Coliseum. During the game, Kentucky will be paying tribute to three recipients of the 2017 Sue Feamster Trailblazer Award. If you can’t make it to Memorial, be sure to tune into the SEC Network to cheer on the Cats, and follow along on Twitter for updates (@MaggieDavisKSR and @SavannahPattKSR).

10. Super Bowl Sunday is finally here!!

Aaaaaand finally, for today’s biggest sports news. It’s finally here. The day NFL fans have been waiting for basically all year: Super Bowl Sunday. The Atlanta Falcons will take on the New England Patriots at 6:30 on Fox in a classic underdog matchup. Whether you watch for the game, the commercials or the Lady GaGa halftime performance, odds are you and somewhere around 112 million of your closest friends will be tuning in tonight. Personally, I’m almost always for the underdog in games like this so, at least for today, I’m a Falcons fan. Who ya got?

Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

15 Comments for Sunday’s Top 10: Game Notes, Sad Stats, Super Bowl Sunday

  1. DrewP
    10:13 am February 5, 2017 Permalink

    Cayts! Cal please play Diallo.

  2. Cat89
    10:28 am February 5, 2017 Permalink

    This is just not the Kentucky team we have become accustomed to seeing from Cal. Clearly the talent is there all be it short at the 4 spot. Its the intangibles that are missing. So much so they seem to be getting worse. This game was very hard to watch. KY seemed to sleep walk through an embarrassing performance all while getting completely out played in every facet of the game. They are in a deep funk for sure. Hope they can pull out of it and regroup or it will be one less than memorable season for many. Especially those who choose to experience only one year of college.

    • catsarerunnin
      1:03 pm February 5, 2017 Permalink

      Not a team we’re not accustomed to seeing under Cal?? I see lots of similarities of past Cal teams. This isn’t a knock on Cal by no means. It’s another young team finding itself in the position of trying to get it together before March. To me it’s the norm under Cal. Again I’m not complaining about Cal. It just surprises me that folks don’t remember going through this basically every year.

    10:41 am February 5, 2017 Permalink

    For all the fans clamoring for fewer “one and dones”:
    Potentially(likely) Gabrielle
    With the exception SKJ, all contributors on this team
    What is the answer?

    Maybe they are all the wrong recruits. I don’t know the answer.

    • jwacats1
      11:01 am February 5, 2017 Permalink

      Willis and Hawkins were recruited to keep the boosters and donors happy with Kentucky boys. The bottom 4 are more than likely just plain misses. Ky fans aren’t saying to not recruit one and dones but having a whole team of them year in and year out has led to inconsistency the last 2 years.

  4. jch67
    10:50 am February 5, 2017 Permalink

    Considering the last 10 games, should Briscoe be starting or getting the minutes he’s getting?? He’s a far better talent but Hawkins is outplaying him.

    For better or worse, I think we’ll see more Briscoe in blue and white next season…

    • 3 fan
      3:28 pm February 5, 2017 Permalink

      Hawkins isnt outplaying ANYONE. When he is on the floor it is wasted minutes. He can’t do anything and is overrated defensively

  5. DelrayCat
    10:52 am February 5, 2017 Permalink

    Briscoe should not be starting. He would be a great 6th man. Start Willis and Wenyen. Gives us more height and rebounding.
    I also think we are short-handed overall underneath. Although Diallo would be a boost, the real loss was Marcus Lee. Humphries is just not cutting it, and Tai and SKJ are just not very good at this point.
    Therefore, this team has no rim protector, something we’ve almost always had. Because of this, I expect to see more zone, which unfortunately has the result of slowing the game down and limiting fast break points. Could be a very frustrating February and March.

    • mcp157
      11:24 am February 5, 2017 Permalink

      Agree about Briscoe and Marcus Lee. Lee would have given us better shot blocking and defense. But he has the same offensive skill, notice the singular, the ability to dunk and that’s it. This team will be very lucky to get to the final 16.

  6. mcp157
    11:25 am February 5, 2017 Permalink

    Same offensive skill as Bam, that is.

  7. upset Cat
    11:37 am February 5, 2017 Permalink

    As our Pompous Arrogant Coach states: “I’ve been doing this 30 years. I’ve seen everything. Sometimes you gotta hit bottom, and maybe we have hit bottom, maybe we haven’t hit bottom,” Calipari said. “Now we see them at their worst. OK, now it’s a choice: do you want to be at your worst, do you want to be at your best?” Yes but Now the choice falls in your lap, do you wanta coach these kids, or keep trying to impress anybody and everybody how great of a recruiter you are. Do your coaching (which you are suppose to be getting paid to do) during your practice instead of making an A– of yourself during the game, I”ll give you credit for one accomplishment,with this bunch of great kids, and that is you have destroyed their confidence, everything they do they are looking at you,not knowing if they are coming out of the game, or maybe with as you always say, the trouble spot on this team is the 4 position, you don’t give Willis or Gabrielle long enough time to get adjusted to the flow of the game, so how about coaching them during the week, give them the game plan and sit down and enjoy the ride. Its the UNIVERSITY of KENTUCKY not LOOK AT ME THE COACH!!!!

  8. CatManDo
    12:06 pm February 5, 2017 Permalink

    I’ve heard a few people say Marcus Lee would be a big help but I just don’t see it. He wasn’t good enough to contribute before. He was too inconsistent and his lack of offense would make it 5 on 4. I see SKJ as about his equivalent and he can’t get on the court.
    Obviously we don’t see practice but it seems like we have a potentially great defender on the bench in Diallo. If you are using a scholarship on him why not get some use out of it. Stopping drivers before they get to the rim would alleviate a lack of interior presence.

    • DelrayCat
      12:49 pm February 5, 2017 Permalink

      Although I made that point, you still may be right about Lee. The bottom line is that we are playing a “small ball” lineup with 3 guards, a 4 who stands around outside the 3 point line, and a 5 who is really a power forward…no true center. A small ball lineup is supposed to spread the floor capitalizing on spacing to get open looks for shooters, ala the G.S. Warriors. However, the problem is we do not have enough quality shooters…two of the 4 are simply not capable to demand coverage. Therefore, the defense sags down and can easily double team Bam…who is simply not skilled enough (yet) to be able to score in this scenario (or touches the ball so infrequently he cannot easily spot the open man).

  9. DelrayCat
    12:52 pm February 5, 2017 Permalink

    The other big problem I see is that the guards are so committed to running every play on fast breaks that everyone leaves it up to Bam and Willis/Gabriel to get all the rebounds…and they are simply not effective enough doing it all alone. Cal may need to demand Monk and Fox, in particular, to crash the boards more regularly, but thereby limiting the fast break opportunities. I was amazed at the box score for the game how many rebounds the UF guards made (compared to another game where Monk had 0).

  10. 3 fan
    3:30 pm February 5, 2017 Permalink

    We have 21′ of suck on the bench. Isaac is horrible. Tai is horrible and even healthy SKJ cannot get on the floor. How do you miss so badly on 3 bigs?