Texas-Arlington Mavericks 76, Kentucky Wildcats 105:  Postmortem

James Young had a big game tonight. - Andy Lyons

Kentucky was challenged in the first half, but blew away the UTA Mavericks in the second.

This game was not a great one for Kentucky by any means, but neither was it a horror. There were some good possessions, and there were some really bad ones. It was about what we should expect after a very good game against the Robert Morris Colonials.

Congratulations to the Texas-Arlington Mavericks. Man, I was really impressed with this team — not just the fight in them, but the consistency of execution and unwillingness to go away quietly into the good night. They didn't come here just to collect a check, they came here to try to win the ball game. And they did try, they were just outmanned. Effort-wise, they equaled or exceeded Kentucky on almost every possession.

I am confident that Calipari will not be pleased with this game. There were way too many defensive breakdowns, too many early shots with nobody in position to rebound, too many offensive rebounds given up. There were a lot of things to criticize. But we'll get to that.

Team observations

  • Kentucky probably surrendered an eFG% near 55 or 60%. That's just unacceptable against a team from the Sun Belt.

  • Kentucky was beaten on the offensive glass in the first half. They responded in the second half, and that's a good thing.

  • Free throw shooting wasn't awful, but it wasn't great. 69% is just okay.

  • 42% from three is better, and if UK continues to do that, they will be hard to beat.

  • 18 assists. Not bad. Again, it isn't as good as it could be, but not bad.

  • 8 blocks is stellar, but with that many combined with forcing 16 turnovers, you wouldn't expect to surrender 76 points.

  • The defense just wasn't good enough. That's all there is to say about that. It did improve in the second half.

  • 8 turnovers tonight. Splendid. Give me that every night and we'll win every game.  They may be close, but I like our chances with that few turnovers in this many possessions.

Individual observations

  • James Young had 26 points in 29 minutes, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and no turnovers. Game ball.

  • Julius Randle had yet another double-double, although just barely. He had 22 points on 7/12 shooting, 8/10 from the line, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 2 turnovers. I would have liked more rebounds.

  • Andrew Harrison had a very solid game, perhaps his best as a Wildcat, and it is nowhere near his potential. 15 points on 3/7 shooting, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steal and 2 turnovers.

  • Willie Cauley-Stein continues to expand his game. He made a shot from the outside tonight, not a 3-pointer but about a 16-footer from the right baseline. He wound up with 14 points on 6/8 shooting, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block and no turnovers.

  • Marcus Lee keeps getting better and better. WCS had better watch out. 10 points on 4-5 shooting, 2 rebounds (to low), 3 blocks.

  • Aaron Harrison had a tough game this time. 5 points on 2/11 shooting, 2 rebounds 2 assists and 3 turnovers. Just not a good game for Aaron after a great game the other night.  Consistency is good, young man.

  • Dakari Johnson was steady. He seems to put up about the same numbers every game. 8 points, 8 rebounds, a block and a turnover. He could have had 30 tonight with enough minutes and enough touches.

  • Dominique Hawkins continues to impress, playing well in relief of the Harrisons. 3 points on 1/3 shooting, 1 rebound and 1 steal.

  • Alex Poythress continues his reversion to his mean.  0 points in 15 minutes, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block.  Not exactly inspired play. [Editor's note:  Entered this morning as I forgot Alex last night, for understandable reasons]

  • Jon Hood, Jarrod Polson and Derek Willis got cleanup minutes.

Overall, this was just a so-so game for Kentucky. Yes, UTA had something to do with that, but if we are going to let schools like this play us tough for a half, teams like North Carolina and Louisville (well, maybe not so much UNC) are going to make it really hard on us. We need to see better than this.

Next up, it's Cleveland St., a pretty good basketball team, on Monday.

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