Kentucky Basketball: What does Wildcats loss to MSU mean going forward?

John Calipari (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
John Calipari (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball team traveled to Indianapolis to take on Michigan State, ultimately falling short to the Spartans 86-77 in double overtime.  As a Wildcat fan, it’s hard to not walk away from this game with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.  However, the overall outlook is not all bad, and there are some positives to take away from this game.

Oscar’s Immediate Impact

First off, we have finally been graced by the return of Oscar Tshiebwe, last season’s unanimous Player of the Year, and his presence was very much felt.  Tshiebwe came off the bench and finished the game with 22 points and 18 rebounds, adding another double-double to his lengthy collection.

Wallace’s Defensive Playmaking

Secondly, Cason Wallace showed signs of greatness through his outstanding defensive performance, recording 8 official steals and showing the ability to finish around the rim.  Although the freshman missed some key free throws down the stretch, his showing of high energy and aggressive play should give the Big Blue Nation much to look forward to as the season progresses.

No Time To Panic

Lastly, and maybe the most positive aspect of tonight’s game, is that we are a seemingly long, long way from March.  No team is going to win a championship in November, and with plenty of season ahead, there is ample opportunity for the Wildcats to become more cohesive.

On various occasions, especially early on, the Cats showed signs of promise as they, at times, left spectators with the impression that they may pull away from the Spartans.  However, through a series of rushed possessions, ill-advised shots, and lack of an answer to the zone defense, Michigan State was able to hang around, producing several offensive runs of their own.

It seemed as though some of the Cats’ struggles involved a lack of cohesion, as many of the starters have had limited practice reps with Oscar in the lineup.  This chemistry issue was made evident as some of the guard play included forced entry passes down low to the big man, and there were other times when the boys in blue simply didn’t seem to know where the others were going to be.

All in all, the early season loss was a disappointing one, especially coming at the hands of an unranked team.  But let’s not take away from the Michigan State performance, as the Spartans played with grit, and Tom Izzo put on a coaching clinic drawing up plays to send the game into two overtimes.  Following their performance against second-ranked Gonzaga with a win over the Big Blue will likely earn the Spartans a spot in the Top 25 in the near future.

The Wildcats will look to bounce back as they host the South Carolina State Bulldogs on Thursday Night, hoping to build some momentum as they prepare to take on Gonzaga on Sunday evening.  The good news for the Big Blue Nation is that there is still ALOT of basketball left to be played this season.

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