Kentucky basketball: Despite loss Cats go from panic to fight behind Sarr

UK guard Terrence Clarke
UK guard Terrence Clarke /
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The Kentucky basketball team caught fire after another woeful half as Olivier Sarr ignites a second-half rally that comes up just short.

After another disastrous first half by the Kentucky basketball team against Notre Dame, it appeared it was time to push the panic button. Reminiscent of the Titanic sinking the Wildcats season appeared to also be in peril.

Suddenly Olivier Sarr and the rest of the Wildcats finally found some life and fought for their lives in the half but ultimately fell a bucket short as Sarr’s final attempt at the buzzer was just off the mark.

Sarr had the game we all had been waiting for from the Wake Forrest transfer. He finished with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and a pair of assists.

The last time he faced Notre Dame while playing for Wake Forest he went off for 30 points and 17 boards.

What will have many concerned and that was evident by social media during the game is the 1-4 start including imploding against Georgia Tech last week, and that may be true.

The 64-63 loss marks just the second time since 1928 that Kentucky has started a season 1-4 with the other coming in the 1984-85 campaign. That team had just 1.5 years of experience led by Kenny Walker (22.9 ppg, 10.2 reb) who was the only player to average double figures.

This season is looking eerily like that as that team averaged just 65.2 points which were 219th in the country. They reeled off 7 straight wins after that but lost in the opening round of the SEC Tournament to Florida and made the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament before falling to St. Johns.

This game was a matchup of the veterans against the youngsters. A familiar analysis that Kentucky fans are drawing tired of with no stability and upperclassmen.

That showed in the opening half as Kentucky lead 4-2 only to have the Fighting Irish scorch the nets the remainder of the half.

Kentucky headed to the locker room trailing 48-26 marking the largest halftime deficit in a non-conference home game in school history trailing by 21 to Cincinnati in 1926. The largest in any home game was 24 against LSU in 1987.

Everything that could go wrong went wrong in that half.

Notre Dame went on a 19-0 run including draining 6 of 11 threes in the half until Brandon Boston made a steal and layup that made it 38-11.

In the half, Kentucky was 1 of 13 behind the arc and Notre Dame 6 of 11.