Arkansas shot 41.4% from the floor, committed 20 turnovers and gave up 26 offensive rebounds in Thursday night’s win over No. 17 Kentucky on Thursday night, and would you believe that it took less than 48 hours for the Wildcats to notch a loss worse than that?
On Saturday afternoon, Kentucky’s season hit what every member of Big Blue Nation hopes is rock-bottom. They lost at South Carolina, 72-67, in a game where they trailed by as much as 16 points in the second half and John Calipari was so fed up with the performance that he went and got himself ejected.
To their credit, the Wildcats stormed back late as Alex Poythress missed a three that would have tied the game with less than 20 seconds remaining. But the fact that Kentucky, a team with All-Americans and NBA prospects buried on their bench, needed a late-rally just to make the final score respectable against a team that was 3-12 in the conference entering the game and lost at home to Manhattan by 18 tells you all you need to know.
Quite frankly, there really isn’t much analysis to be had here. Kentucky imploded on Saturday. They jacked up bad shots. They didn’t play defense until Cal was gone with 10 minutes left in the game. They shot 26.9% from the floor and still only got Julius Randle seven shots and nine free throws.
The reason Kentucky lost this game had nothing to do with their talent or their offense or anything of that nature. Here’s my read: I don’t think the Wildcats are responding to Cal’s coaching methods anymore. He was very clearly frustrated with his team all day on Saturday. He spent more time screaming at his players than anything else. There are a lot of coaches that use that style of coaching as a motivational tool, but every player and every team has a breaking point.
If you yell at them and beat them down enough, eventually these kids are going to stop reacting positively. That’s what appeared to happen Saturday.
It’s worth noting that once Cal was tossed, the Wildcats finally woke up, played some defense and appeared to run a semblance of an offense.
Don’t get me wrong, Kentucky is still dealing with the same issues we’ve talked about all season long. Poor point guard play, no leadership, an inability to get the ball to Randle where he can score, inconsistent perimeter shooting, poor defending, etc.
Saturday’s loss to South Carolina?
That looked like a coach losing his team.
The irony isn’t lost on my, either.
On the day that Wichita State locks up their undefeated regular season, the team that was “supposed” to make a run at 40-0 lost to South Carolina.