John Calipari

No. 8 Kentucky’s 55-game home winning streak snapped with loss to Baylor

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Kentucky has the athleticism. Kentucky has the raw talent. But the Wildcats’ cold shooting and inability to find the right fit for all its different pieces led to a second-straight loss, 64-55, to Baylor at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Saturday afternoon.

The loss was momentous for John Calipari’s Kentucky program for a number of reasons, each of which speaks to what UK has been able to accomplish in Calipari’s tenure.

To put it in perspective, Kentucky had not lost at home since March 9, 2009, when the Wildcats, then coached by Billy Gillispie, lost to Georgia.

Since that loss, Kentucky had won 55 consecutive games at home, by far the longest active streak in Division I. The record now belongs to Kansas and Syracuse, who have both won 25 straight, according to ESPN.

Previous to Saturday’s loss to Baylor, Calipari had never lost a game at Rupp Arena during his time with the Wildcats.

Before this 2012-13 ensemble that Calipari put together, he had not lost two games in the month of November while in Lexington. Losses to Duke and Notre Dame have changed that.

Not only did Kentucky lose two games in November, but they lose their first game of December, marking the first time the Wildcats have lost two straight games since February 2011. At that time, UK lost to Ole Miss on Feb. 1, then again to No. 23 Florida on Feb. 5.

On Saturday afternoon, Kentucky shot just 21-of-70 from the field, including 2-of-9 from senior Julius Mays, 1-of-9 from sophomore Kyle Wiltjer, and 3-of-15 from freshman Nerlens Noel. The team collectively missed 10 of its last 11 shots on the game.

Some of the blame certainly falls on shot selection, but many good shots also simply weren’t falling for Kentucky. The Wildcats shot 4-of-21 from three-point range, failing to extend the Baylor defense away from the basket.

Kentucky had chances to make a push and, at times, did so. After Baylor ballooned the lead to nine points with just under 11 minutes remaining, Kentucky worked its way back and a Mays three pulled the Wildcats to within three.

But inexperience showed itself again, as Baylor guard Pierre Jackson pulled up for a mid-range jump shot and knocked it down while getting fouled. His free throw stretched the lead back to six.

Foul trouble thinned out Kentucky’s frontcourt in the second half, with Willie Cauley-Stein sitting with four fouls and Noel picking up his third foul with 18 minutes still left to play.

Noel finished with just one block, but grabbed 15 rebounds.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Key contests in Atlantic 10, Pac-12

Arizona head coach Sean Miller talks with guard Allonzo Trier (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern State in Tucson, Ariz., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. (Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP)  ALL LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; PAC-12 OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; GREEN VALLEY NEWS OUT
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: UCLA at No. 17 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.
The Bruins and Wildcats have already met once this season, with a Bryce Alford three-pointer giving UCLA an 87-84 win. But UCLA has continued to struggle with consistency since then, and the chance at payback should serve as a motivating factor for Arizona. Sean Miller’s team welcomed back Allonzo Trier in Saturday’s win at Washington, and in forward Ryan Anderson they have one of the conference’s best players. The “rivalry” aspect of this game should make it a good one, as UCLA tends to show up for big-name opponents, but it could also be another major blow to the Bruins’ fleeting hopes of getting back to the NCAA tournament.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 19 Dayton at Rhode Island, 7:00 p.m.
The Rams have struggled with injuries all season, most recently dealing with Jarvis Garrett’s broken jaw and Kuran Iverson’s concussion. Garrett’s back on the floor, playing with a face mask that appears to be inspired by Hannibal Lecter, and it’s that team toughness that makes URI a serious threat to first-place Dayton at the Ryan Center (Iverson’s been medically cleared but remains a game-time decision). Charles Cooke has been outstanding for the Flyers this season, and Dayton’s depth makes them a tough matchup for any team much less one as banged up as URI.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. As a result of No. 11 Oregon’s loss at Cal last night, No. 23 USC finds itself tied in the loss column atop the Pac-12 standings heading into their game at Arizona State (8:00 p.m.). Outside of keeping opponents off the offensive glass the Sun Devils have had issues defensively in conference play, and with the Trojans’ many scoring options led by guards Jordan McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs this will be a tough matchup for the home team.

2. Monmouth looks to maintain its lead atop the MAAC standings, as they visit Rider (9:00 p.m.). The Broncs haven’t been the conference contender many envisioned them being when the season began but they’re still dangerous, with players such as guard Teddy Okereafor capable of giving opponents fits. Justin Robinson, who’s been excellent at the point all season long, leads the way for a Monmouth team that still has hopes of earning an at-large bid should they need it.

3. Having lost to Yale last weekend, Columbia’s in a position where they need to hold serve ahead of the rematch in New York City March 5. That makes games like tonight’s against Penn (7:00 p.m.) that much more important for Kyle Smith’s Lions, who have done a good job of turning opponents over in league play (22.8 TO%). Penn’s had issues taking care of the basketball, and that combined with Columbia’s tandem of Maodo Lo and Alex Rosenberg could prove to be the difference at Levien Gym.

4. Two teams looking to make a push in the MAC East race meet in Buffalo, as the Bulls host Ohio (7:00 p.m.). Nate Oats’ team had its four-game win streak snapped by Toledo, with the Rockets beating Buffalo by two Wednesday night. They’ll look to rebound with a defense that has been the best in the MAC in conference play (tops in defensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage), but they have to take care of the basketball in order to do so.

5. Grand Canyon, which can’t play in the NCAA tournament as they’re still in the Division I transition process, looks to remain a game behind New Mexico State in the WAC standings. Dan Majerle’s Antelopes visit Seattle (10:00 p.m.), which handed GCU its first conference loss 13 days ago. GCU shot just 6-for-23 from three in that game, which they led by ten late in the first half. If Seattle is to win they’ll need to slow down the tandem of sophomore Joshua Braun and senior Grandy Glaze, who combine to average 31.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.