There's an old addage concerning never going into a gunfight with a knife. I think Coach Matthew Mitchell will remember it. This game between the #1 Baylor Lady Bears and the #6 Kentucky Wildcats was labeled by the media (and myself)as the first premier game in Women's NCAA Basketball this year. Unfortunately, other than serving to solidify Brittney Griner's legacy and Baylor's stranglehold on 1st place in the world of Women's Basketball this game delivered very little.
When UK went into Waco they had to know that Griner was going to make their life a living nightmare. What they should have felt fairly comfortable about was facing the rest of the Baylor team. Griner cannot beat you alone. I know that Mitchell told them that. I know Mitchell also told A'Dia Mathies that UK could not win without her. Unfortunately for UK, A'Dia disappeared early in the game and was never a factor before fouling out with 5:20 left in the second half. None of her 12 points ever came at an opportune time, and defensively she looked more like the Freshman A'Dia Mathies, than the Senior leader of the UK Hoops squad.
Mathies is going to have to shake this game off. Although this game will call her toughness into question for the rest of the season, and it well should. A'Dia simply does not have the luxury of taking a night off. And tonight, she really never showed up. Her assist came in the second half when the game was already over and her night was almost done.You have to credit Baylor's Sims. She played Mathies like a harp. And she took her game over the top of A'Dia. That's something that should not have happened.
Unfortunately for UK, with the notable exception of Bria Goss, no one was making many shots. Credit Baylor for playing tough defense and defending their home court like a true champion would do. Griner, as I said before, is exactly as advertised. She makes very few mistakes, and only shot one or two times from further out than just below the basket.She put up 26 points and could have scored 50 if she wanted to. She is that good. she plays in the paint like she owns it, and to be honest, she does. Baylor intimidated UK from the beginning and UK could never get their heads right again.
UK, now 1-1, shot terribly from inside and outside the arc. They evidently forgot how to drive and dish, and they couldn't hit a 3 if their life depended on it. However, make no mistake, this game was lost on the defensive end. UK didn't cut off passing lanes, did not play good man to man defense, and did not use their strengths to any advantage. Losing is one thing, losing by 34 is another. It seemed as though for everything UK did right, they did two things wrong. You simply cannot beat the #1 team in the country playing that way. UK lacked aggressive offense, but more importantly, they lacked smart offense AND defense. Some folks were calling it poor coaching, and while they are welcome to their opinion, I saw it as terrible execution by a team that played like they were on stage for the first time in their lives.
Luckily, it is early on in the season, and UK will not see another Baylor for quite some time, and they have a few games to catch their breath before they travel to Louisville to take on the Lady Cards. So Baylor 85-UK 51 it is. Short memories folks. We have to have short memories.