Jan. 22, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide guards Levi Randolph (20) and Trevor Releford (12) chase down Kentucky Wildcats guard Archie Goodwin (10) during the second half at Coleman Coliseum. Alabama won 59-55. Mandatory Credit: Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: A Great One Half Team

In what is becoming the modus operandi (MO) of this Kentucky Wildcats team, it was once again a tale of two halves and incredibly cold shooting stretches.  Our most dominant players, again, were Nerlens Noel who finished with 8 points, 13 rebounds and 7 blocks; and Kyle Wiltjer who finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds.  Take away those 7 blocks from Noel and we lose by double digits.  Mays contributed 12 points and 3 rebounds but we needed much more from the back court.  Much more.

 Despite not having scored another FG during the final 3:38 of the 1st Half, we still had a +11 rebounding margin and were up by 9 points (33-24).  We were able to use our size and athleticism to break their press without much effort and that proved costly in the 2nd half.  Because, you see, Anthony Grant saw what the rest of us did, and that was his defense wasn’t getting back once the press was broken so like any coach worth their salt, he dropped the press to start the 2nd.  I’m not on the team or in the locker room so I can’t say for certain, but I don’t expect that Calipari anticipated that move.  Bama’s coach made a critical halftime adjustment and it proved to be a great adjustment.  Alabama was able to be much more physical and aggressive on both ends of the floor because they had their energy and focus on lockdown, fundamental defense rather than creating turnovers.  The Cats didn’t respond accordingly because I don’t think they saw that coming.  Maybe Cal coached them up to that and they didn’t listen but it seems that anytime a new defensive wrinkle is thrown at them, they revert back to how they played at the beginning of the season and stand there like a deer in headlights.  Kentucky outrebounded Alabama by 9, but had twice as many turnovers (13-6) and did not get to the line nearly as much.

Our offense was embarrassing.  Only four of our players shot 50% or better (Wiltjer, Poythress, Mays, and Polson) but the most shots were taken by Harrow and Goodwin (12) yet they only hit 5 for a 21% clip.  It had long been talked about how the difference would be Alabama’s guards being superior to Kentucky’s and though I had been dismissing that, they made smarter decisions and played tougher defense.  That is exactly what cost us this game.  Listen, I don’t care if Harrow only shoots 3-12 but he better damn well have more than two assists because as the PG of this team, that is his primary responsibility.  He failed miserably.  Perhaps he doesn’t understand his importance to this team, which can be said of Poythress too, but we won’t go very far without either of those guys playing hard on both ends of the floor.

We also won’t go very far by standing around all the damn time on defense.  We have the premiere defender in CBB with Nerlens Noel and our defense is very well aware of that fact because they consistently play poor perimeter defense because Noel will clean up their mess.  That is not his only job.  He’s a post defender and help when the perimeter defense breaks down but he is not supposed to have both as a fulltime responsibility.  I know he loves blocking shots but for the love of all that is holy, give the kid a break and do your defensive job.  Add to that Poythress fouled out after only scoring 6 (2/3) and grabbing 5 rebounds then we might as well have played Hood more.  Apparently his disappearing act is rubbing off on the team as a whole.  Not good.

And as much as I want to complain about the officiating I can’t because the two out of bounds calls they missed didn’t cost us the game.  Sure they didn’t help us win but when it takes us almost an entire half to score our first FG, that’s as far as you need to look to find the problem.  Kentucky scraped together 22 2nd half points which is ridiculous.  We looked like Vandy out there at times.  That’s disgraceful.

This game was embarrassing and is the fault of not only one person, it’s the fault of the entire team.  Poor shot selection, porous defense and lack of aggressiveness in the second half are what cost us this game.  A game we should have won.  A loss that will force these Wildcats to rethink their lineups and strategy going forward because we are dangerously close to having to win the SEC tourney to get a spot in the NCAA tourney.


On, On, U of K

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