Saying that the last week for Kentucky basketball was bad is an understatement. The whole week couldn’t have gone any worse. The Wildcats began the week by losing to Tennesse 80-82 in Knoxville.
Although it was a bad loss, it seemed like the game was simply a fluke and that the Wildcats just lost focus. They had beaten ranked South Carolina the game before and had the big matchup with Kansas in a few days.
Because of this, many looked past the Tennessee game. The loss seemed like a small bump in the road that didn’t really mean much. The Kansas game seemed like the perfect chance for the Wildcats to redeem themselves and get their season going back in the right direction. However, after losing to the Jayhawks 73-79 there are now serious reasons to be concerned and alarmed.
At the start of the game, Kentucky looked like the team they should be. They had an early lead and the Wildcats were showing their immense talent. There isn’t any team that can keep up with Kentucky when all of their players are playing at a high level.
That didn’t last for long though, as the Wildcats gave up the lead and Kansas ended up controlling much of the game. Although it’s great to have so much young talent, the inexperience is what lost them the game.
The player that had the best game was the one with the most experience: Derek Willis. Every time the game was slipping away it seemed like the senior made a big three to keep things close. He ended the game with 18 points, tying Malik Monk for most points in the game.
The rest of the team didn’t step up like Willis did in the big game. Offensively, Kentucky only put up 73 points, which is much lower than their average of 91.3 points per game.
Malik Monk had a decent game, but the other star freshman De’Aaron Fox only had 10 points to go with five turnovers. The team as a whole had 17 turnovers, while Kansas showed their poise with only 12 turnovers.
Freshman Wenyen Gabriel didn’t do anything at all scoring zero points and fellow freshman big man Bam Adebayo only chipped in with 10 points.
The play of Willis helped a lot, but Kentucky needs multiple guys to play up to their ability to win games.
For the season, Kentucky now has a 17-4 record. The Kansas game is their third big non-conference loss on the year and the second one that they have lost at home. Besides this Kansas lost, Kentucky also lost to UCLA at Rupp Arena and Louisville in an away game. With these three non-conference losses and the loss to Tennessee, the Wildcats have a very small chance of being a no.1 seed in March. They may not even have enough to be a 2 seed. The only impressive non-conference victory the Wildcats have the whole year was against North Carolina, which is troubling.
With the rest of the regular season being only SEC play, Kentucky’s goal should be to not lose any more games. That would give them a much-needed boost going into March. However, that is much easier said than done. Currently, they have back to back losses and all of their momentum is gone.
This Kentucky basketball team needs to grow up fast and live up to their potential if they want to go deep in March.
The Wildcats play Georgia at Rupp Arena this Tuesday.