For the second straight game, the Kentucky Wildcats were doomed by cold shooting. And while Kentucky’s shots were not falling, the nations longest home court win streak fell as well as the Baylor Bears upset the Wildcats 64-55. No offense to Baylor, they converted when they needed to and got the win, but at this point, I am still scratching my head as to how the Wildcats actually lost this game as they somehow lost when they had a 21-4 offensive rebound advantage. A stat like that should insure a win 75% of the time, but when you shot 29%, a lot of good efforts get thrown out the window.
Kentucky started strong with great ball control and using good looks on offense. Early treys by Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer put Kentucky up 11-6. Kentucky pressured Baylor into several turnovers and a Willie Cauley-Stein dunk off a missed Julius Mays three pointer brought down the house and gave Kentucky a 17-9 lead roughly 10:00 into the game. But at that point, it started to turn. Baylor pressed the tempo and the Wildcats took the bait, making poor decisions on offense and not taking care of the ball. Instead of playin poised, Kentucky got pulled into the racehorse type of play and overlooked several good opportunities on offense.
It wasn’t pretty, but Baylor baited Kentucky into playing out of control as a team and dominated the Cats 25-12 the last 10:00 of the half to take a 34-29 halftime lead. For the half, Kentucky shot just 28.6% for the half and had 11 turnovers. Kentucky also seemed totally lost by the Baylor zone and had no idea how to navigate it. Baylor was not playing much better, hitting 38.6% with 11 turnovers as well, but they turned the Kentucky turnovers into easy transition baskets. Brady Heslip, who had just two shot attempts in the March NCAA meeting had two deadly treys, they last coming at the halftime buzzer to give Kentucky their 5 point halftime deficit. Kentucky had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, but not not convert on them. It’s not like Kentucky was not getting good shots, they simply were not falling.
The second half began with Kentucky still having trouble with the Baylor zone and unable to attack it. A couple of easy Baylor layups made it 38-29 and made the idea of the Rupp Arena winning streak being snapped a viable one. Kentucky got back within five, but an Isaiah Austin trey made it 41-33. Baylor pushed the lead to 10 after a Wiltjer shot was blocked and seemed on the verge of blowing the Wildcats out but a pair of Goodwin drives made it 43-37. Three pointers by Jackson and Walton Kept Kentucky at bay, the latest making it 49-40.
But Kentucky had a rally left in them. The defense intensified and a Goodwin dunk and Mays three made it 49-46. Despite some solid play by Ryan Harrow, Kentucky could not get closer and Baylor went up 56-50. Ryan Harrow penetrated and missed a shot, but Nerlons Noel took the rebound away from Austin and slammed it home to make it 56-52. But that is pretty much where the cheering ended for Kentucky as they went 1-11 from the field the rest of the way as Baylor pulled away for the final margin.