This was just one of those games, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, that simply didn't go Kentucky's way in any aspect. There was no lack of effort on the part of the Wildcats, but unfortunately, they simply couldn't do what you have to do to win basketball games; put the ball through the hoop.
Congratulations to the Duke lady Blue Devils on an outstanding game. They had a very good game plan coming into Rupp Arena today, and that was to utilize their superior size to defeat Kentucky. They did that, especially Tricia Liston, who Kentucky simply couldn't match up with. Liston had a huge game with 28 points and was simply too much for Kentucky to handle. Duke played very good team basketball and did a nice job in transition. They also did a very good job of handling Kentucky's press and getting runouts.
For Kentucky, this was just a game that too many things were going against them. They were a bit too small with the absence of DeNesha Stallworth, they got a surprisingly unfriendly whistle in front of a sold-out Rupp Arena crowd, and they simply shot the ball as if they were required to do so with one eye closed, especially from the free throw line.
What went right
- Kentucky played very hard and didn't give up, and forced Duke into an uncharacteristic number of turnovers.
- Kentucky forced Duke to play at their tempo.
- Kentucky had a good effort on the offensive glass, especially by Samarie Walker and Azia Bishop.
- Kentucky was able to score a lot in transition on the Blue Devils, particularly Janee Thompson, who kept getting into the lane early in possessions and getting layups or floaters.
- Kentucky took relatively good care of the basketball. They were loose with it in the first half, but in the second they committed very few turnovers.
- UK won the second half by 4, but they lost the first half by 12.
What went wrong
- Honestly, the officiating wasn't awful, but the number of calls in favor of Duke made it look that way. You usually see that go the other way for teams on the road.
- Kentucky shot 34% from the free throw line, 8-19. Shooting even a reasonable percentage of 65% would have had the game within 4.
- The Wildcats shot loathsomely from the arc. Kentucky averages 39% from the arc, but in this game made only 3 of 14 despite getting many clean looks.
- The Wildcats took a lot of bad shots in this game, uncharacteristically so.
- Kentucky had a dearth of assists, which was the result of too much one-on-one play.
This is not a bad loss for Kentucky. Getting beat, even at home by the #2 team in the land should not cause fans to throw up their hands and give up, especially since Stallworth should return to the lineup before the SEC season gets too far along, and it's when she gets back that Kentucky will be hard to beat. Right now, the lack of size is going to hurt UK against better basketball teams if they have cold shooting nights, as they did today.
Basketball is a game of minutiae, and it was the little things that hurt Kentucky today, like shooting unopposed 15 footers. Still, that's going to happen from time to time. The effort was there, even if the execution was not, and Kentucky did have a chance to win this game with only a few things going the other way. That's encouraging, if a bit retrospective now.
The Wildcats have one more non-conference game, against Grambling, on the 29th of December. After that, it's on the road to Alabama and the lady Crimson Tide on the second day of 2014.