Baylor Bears 67-Kentucky Wildcats 62: Postmortem

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Still up? Let's talk about what went wrong in this disapointing loss.

Baylor started the game red-hot by making seven of their first eight shots. They took a nine point lead; then, Kentucky stormed back with some nifty shooting of their own from behind the arc. The ‘Cats attacked Baylor's zone to perfection by going inside to either Julius Randle or Willie Cauley-Stein, collapsed the zone, and then the big guys kicked the ball out to a wide open Aaron Harrison or James Young, who proceeded to knock down open threes.

The Wildcats took a 38-35 lead into the halftime break, came out like gangbusters, took a nine point lead of their own, and then everything collapsed. They went over six minutes without an offensive bucket and they seemed to have abandoned their previous strategy of attacking the Baylor zone. They looked confused and discombobulated on offense at times and Baylor was able to take advantage of empty trips for Kentucky.

Hats off to Baylor; they did what they do best, which is rebound the hell out of the ball, and won the game. They attacked the offensive glass and gave themselves second and third chance opportunities.

Observations

  • For the first time this season, Kentucky was destroyed on the boards 41-25 in favor of Baylor. The Bears were in better position and, many times, outhustled the ‘Cats for the rebound. Rico Gathers from Baylor had 13 by himself, five of those offensive. Kentucky is going to continue to go against teams just as big as them in the SEC and next Saturday against UNC, they better tough up. They have zero excuses for that rebounding disparity.
  • Kentucky turned the ball over only three times in the first half. They ended up with 9 overall. You do the math. Like I said previously, they looked utterly confused and sloppy on offense in the second half. That regression is inexplicable to me. On the plus side, they countered their nine turnovers with 19 assists.
  • Baylor won the shooting percentage war in two out of three categories: overall field goals 47.3% and free throws 59.1% to 52.2%. Kentucky shot 47.1% from the three, compared to Baylor's 18.2%. The three was what kept them competitive. They were smacked around pretty much everywhere else.
  • The bench for Kentucky provided next to nothing. Outside of some good minutes and two points by Dominique Hawkins, the bench had no impact whatsoever. That cannot happen.
  • Kenny Chery is 5-11 and was the shortest guy on the floor all night. He had 18 points and torched our guards and their perimeter defense. Kentucky will face other quick diminutive guards that are scoring machines in the next couple of weeks. They better have learned a lesson.
  • I saw no fight in this team in the last seven minutes of play. Once things started going wrong, I noticed a lot of standing around on offense and people out of position on rebounds; those are effort mistakes.

Player Observations

  • Julius Randle gets the game ball with 16 points and 8 rebounds. He also had four assists and did a fine job of breaking the zone down with his passes back out the perimeter when he had the opportunity. I felt he competed the entire game but he needs to assert that effort on the rest of the team. He needs to be the leader.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein had a very mediocre game a week after having his praises sung to the heavens. Baylor's bigs took him out of the game. He had eight points and only three rebounds. He did a good job playing defense and had three blocks.
  • Aaron Harrison played well until he picked up his third foul in the second half. He was relegated to the bench. He made his first three-three pointers in a row and ended up scoring 15 points. But what bothered me is that he ended up with only five threes for the game. He quit shooting for whatever reason.
  • James Young had 14 points and was hot early from beyond the arc. He was 5-11 from the field.
  • Andrew Harrison has got to get it together. Yes, he had six assists and only one turnover, but Kentucky needs more from him offensively. He had seven points and was 2-9 from the field. His defense continues to be suspect and that is why we see Hawkins in the game more often each game.
  • Paging Alex Poythress.
  • Didn't see much out of either Dakari Johnson or Marcus Lee. They combined for three rebounds, no points and two fouls. Not good.
  • Dominique Hawkins is all hustle. He doesn't do anything flashy but he plays hard on the defensive end and doesn't make mistakes when the ball is in his hands. He isn't going to win games by himself but he gives Calipari a nice option at point guard off of the bench.

Overall I wasn't happy with the performance and neither was John Calipari. He was visibly angry with his team during the postgame press conference. He called out their lack of effort and heart, and stated flat-out that they didn't compete. I agree 100%, now what are they going to do about it?

They don't have any cupcakes left for a while Their next four games are against Boise State, at North Carolina, home against Belmont and then home against Louisville. If they continue this kind of play, they could easily find themselves with three or four losses heading into January.

The excuse of being young will work for only so long.

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