Kentucky basketball: Another blood pressure, heart attack grinder of a win

Kentucky Wildcats forward Jacob Toppin hugs forward Bryce Hopkins (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats forward Jacob Toppin hugs forward Bryce Hopkins (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Kentucky basketball
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari guard Kellan Grady and forward Keion Brooks ( Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /

Kentucky needs its ball handlers back in the worst way after bogging down

Don’t get me wrong the wins are great and the veteran players know how to keep their composure and gut out win after win.

However, with just three regular-season games left opposing coaches know what each of these UK players is capable of both in strength and weakness.

All can shoot and they communicate exceptionally well possessing a high basketball IQ.

But LSU exposed their flaw without Wheeler and/or Wheeler there are no solid ball handlers who can break the press and get the offense off in transition.

Case in point, Jacob Toppin had to bank home another 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, and the Wildcats were called for a 10-second backcourt violation. They had to use consecutive timeouts just to get the ball inbounded with 3.7 seconds left in the game, and when they did they had to lob it high into Tshiebwe.

They looked flustered and unsure and Calipari let everyone from the players on the court to his assistant coaches all the way down to the managers and support staff it seemed like. His face was blood red as he fumed in frustration.

Cal knew the final two minutes were not great but actually took it in stride when asked about it.

"“I tried to tell the guys we’ve got in three timeouts. Call them; they still threw them in. Like, call a time out. We’re fine. You know, there were things that we did down the stretch trying to dribble through two guys, all you do is pass the ball now, just pass it. Why did you do that? ‘He grabbed me.’ You didn’t even need do to that. So, we did some things dumb down the stretch, but the reality of it is you’re up 10 or 12 with a couple of minutes to go, you know, it’s a good win.”"

They handed out just three assists in the game all from Grady.

As Corey Price who does PR and Communications for UK Athletics pointed out since the start of the 2010-2011 season, Division I men’s basketball teams had a combined record of 72-628 (.103) when they had 3 assists or less in a single game.

It was the fewest assists in a single game since February 14th, 1976 at Vanderbilt where they had just two in the 69-66 loss. Jack Givens and Reggie Warford had the two for you history buffs.