The comeback fell short. Kentucky played terrible much of the game; only until Calipari was hit with his second technical and subsequently ejected did the Wildcats look interested in playing tonight’s game at South Carolina. And they had a chance. Down seven points with 33 seconds left, Kentucky scored 6 points in 11 seconds. But they would get no closer, losing 72-67. There wasn’t much good, a lot of bad, and plenty of ugly. Let’s review:
The Good: Kentucky made as many free throws as South Carolina attempted. They were +18 on rebounds. In the first half, free throw shooting and rebounding kept them in the game. Also worth mentioning: after Calipari was ejected with 10:25 left in the game, the team went on a 14-4 run to cut the lead to five, 58-53. But the Wildcats couldn’t get over the hump.
The Bad: James Young was 3-5 behind the arc; 8-10 from the free throw line; and scored 19 points. But he also had 5 of the team’s 11 turnovers, including a costly giveaway with 33 seconds left in the game, and Kentucky down 66-61. Young has the tools to be one of the best players in all of college basketball. But too often he plays careless; seems more interested in scoring than winning; and makes costly mistakes. Bottom line: He plays like a freshman, which would be okay if Kentucky didn’t depend on him to play like an experienced veteran. Young’s upside is ridiculous and because of that, he’s likely to leave after the season for the NBA. But he shouldn’t. He should come back, learn how to play within his game, and then leave.
The Ugly: Five field goals in the first half. FIVE. Kentucky, after missing 50 field goals on Thursday versus Arkansas, missed 38 shots versus South Carolina. Eighty-eight missed field goals in the span of two days. Any team that misses 88 shots in two games deserves to lose those games. And Kentucky did.