Leading into yesterday’s Kentucky Wildcats vs LSU Tigers game, some Kentucky fans were more than worried about what ESPN’s Dan Dakich was going to say about their beloved Wildcats. Dakich has been considered a “troll” so the social media army of the Kentucky Wildcats were poised by the internet ready to blast Dakich into oblivion in case he says anything they may consider as biased against their Wildcats.
In the end, it did not matter. Dakich spoke the truth and anyone that attacks against him is just in denial.
Dakich perfectly summed up last night’s game when he said that one team was just playing and the other team was competing. The team that was competing beat the team that was just playing as LSU won in a much closer than it deserved to be 87-82 win.
But O’Bryant and Mickey got much the better of it around the basket. O’Bryant scored a season-high 29 points, one shy of a career high. Mickey, the SEC’s leader in blocks, blocked five shots as the point man in containing Julius Randle to six points and five rebounds.
LSU’s 11 blocks were the most by a Kentucky opponent in Calipari’s five seasons as coach. The last time an opponent blocked that many UK shots was Feb. 25, 2009, when South Carolina rejected 16.
“They took the fight to us,” Payne said, “and we didn’t respond. That’s just not good enough.”
James Young led Kentucky with 23 points.
But LSU, 13-6 overall and 4-3 in the SEC, had the steadier backcourt play. Anthony Hickey, the former Kentucky Mr. Basketball, gave the Tigers a floor leader.
Kentucky’s presumptive backcourt leaders, twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, displayed shooting as cold as the Baton Rouge area, which was coated by ice from the arrival of Winter Storm Leon earlier in the day. The Harrisons made seven of 20 shots.
An announced crowd of 12,124 in the Maravich Center saw LSU get a victory Coach Johnny Jones had said could grab the attention of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. “If you can knock down someone like (Kentucky), it certainly helps your chances,” he said on Monday.
Kentucky’s dull performance ended on an odd note. After a flurry of Aaron Harrison three-pointers got UK within 87-82, the Cats failed to foul as LSU dribbled out the final 11 seconds.
“What are you doing?!” Dakich exclaimed.
I hate to say it, but this morning the truth hurts and I really can’t defend this team after last night’s game.
Simply put, there has to be changes made with this team. And if there are not changes in the starting lineup on Saturday, well there may be a riot in Lexington. I’m not trying to play “Chicken Little” and to be honest, IF Kentucky can reverse this road worriers trend of the last two years (7-15) and win at Missouri, all the damage from last nights game will be minimized. Last night was just one game, but at just 9 hours removed from the end of the game, it’s hard to be optimistic.
There is no confusion however in saying that Dakari Johnson has earned a starting spot. In 20 minutes last night, Johnson was 7-8 from the floor, had 6 rebounds and a block and 15 points. You can go negative and say he fouled out but a lot of his fouls were trying to overcompensate for his team mates mistakes. Alex Poythress probably deserves a start as well, but it is hard to push James Young out of the lineup. In the Tennessee game and last night, Young was the only thing keeping UK in the game during horrible first halves.
I am not one of the “Bash the Harrison’s” contingent, but a message has to be sent. Last night was a game where they had about six inches advantage in length and they should have made the difference in the game, yet they did not. And not to be cruel, but Willie Cauley-Stein is not worthy of a starting spot at this time.
Am I too far out of line to suggest a starting line up of Hawkins/Polson, Young, Poythress, Randle, and Johnson?
I have to say that as editor of this site, I pride myself for trying to be the type of writer that does not over react and just bash to bash, but it’s tough this morning. The fact that John Calipari’s press conference was just 3:24 and that he sent Kenny Payne to the radio speaks volumes about how Cal felt about the game. Check out his mercifully short press conference.