For the first time on the Big Blue Bahamas Tour, Kentucky was defeated, coughing up a double-digit lead in the final minutes. That lapse set up Jack Martinez’s last-second mid-range jumper to give the Dominican Republic national team a 63-62 win over the Wildcats on Sunday afternoon at the Sir Kendal Isaacs Gym in Nassau.
Martinez caught the ball just above the block with seven seconds remaining. Martinez had be physical up to that point, trying to force his way to the basket against players roughly 13 years his junior. On his initial dribble, it appeared he would look to do the same, but instead took a step-back fadeaway in the middle of the lane for the decisive bucket.
Kentucky had led by double figures for the majority of the half, holding a 59-46 advantage with under seven minutes to play. The Dominican Republic ended the game on a 17-3 run.
This result wasn’t shocking by any means. The Dominican Republic had given the Wildcats a competitive game just two days earlier. Kentucky was also feeling the effects of six games in eight days. In the second half, Alex Poythress, who through five games was the team’s leading scorer, went to the bench and did not return. John Calipari said in a post game interview his junior forward was “exhausted”.
Poythress resting on the bench shifted the Kentucky lineups. Mostly, the Wildcats had been using hockey-like lines — five guys in, five guys out. To close out the game, for the second day in a row, Kentucky went with a three-guard set with Tyler Ulis and the Harrison twins. Ulis came up big in Saturday’s win with a steal and fast break layup which secured the victory.
Ulis and the second unit — Dominique Hawkins, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis, and Karl-Anthony Towns — outplayed the starters in the first half, giving Kentucky a 36-29 halftime lead.
Kentucky returns to Lexington with a 5-1 record on the summer trip, which is more impressive when you factor in Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles are still working their way back on to the floor.