The possibility of a blowout loss to North Carolina certainly existed before yesterday's game, and judging by the betting line in Lexington (UNC -13) versus the line outside the Cats' home base (UNC -10), many UK fans thought this is exactly what would happen.
But it didn't.
In fact, Kentucky got what it wanted, controlling the tempo, holding UNC's powerful offense to 75 points, under 38% shooting and kept star center Tyler Hansbrough in check (7 points). UK center Randolph Morris scored 23 points, missed one shot all night and had no foul trouble. The team outrebounded UNC 42-26.
And yet Kentucky lost, 75-63. Huh?
So what was the problem then? Wasted opportunities. Have the ball, down 5, under 10 minutes remaining. Turnover. Tie game, Cats on a roll early? Turnover.
What happened? I'll tell you what happened: offense happened. In what has become a familiar refrain, the Cats came to play defensively, but looked as if they hadn't practiced offense for three weeks. Which left me wondering, do they really have such a hard time budgeting their time in the 20 hours of practice a week that they can't possibly improve offensively? Are the assistant coaches actually hurting these players on offense somehow?
And then there's the rotation pattern. Got a freshman giving you 7 rebounds and no turnovers? make sure he sits behind Sheray Thomas all night. Far from being a guy who generally does this, Thomas is an absolute momentum-killer. Worse yet, he's a momentum-swinger ... the WRONG WAY.
Thomas can't shoot, he's slow afoot, he's not a good rebounder and I fail to see how he adds any energy or hustle, since he seems to do neither.
I'm really at a loss, so I'll drop it rather than pile on more.
Frankly, I don't have much to say. Kentucky could have -- maybe should have -- won given the gameplan and how it worked. And yet, they never led. Not once. What does that say, exactly?
Getting really tired of running out excuses we can no longer beat teams we aren't expected to beat. I still think this team can and is better than we think, but how many more losses will it take to find out?
At 4-3, out of the top 25 and facing Indiana and Louisville the next two weeks, I'm ready to see some wins, not more "we nearly had 'em" losses.