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.
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