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Kentucky Wildcats 62, Dominican Republic National Team 63: Postmortem

The Wildcats took a loss on Sunday in a game where they looked out of gas.

Wesley Hitt

Kentucky finally lost a game in the Big Blue Bahamas Tour, and it came against the best team they played there, the Dominican Republic National squad coached by Orlando Antigua. This was the final game of six contests in eight days, a rather brutal pace for any team to play, and one that none of these guys will see again, most likely.

First off, I regret the lateness of this post. Because life, I guess. But let’s get right into it.

Box score


Stats courtesy of

Team observations

  • The team was obviously tired. There is no doubt whatever that the pace of play finally got to them.

  • Kentucky’s offensive efficiency was the lowest of the tournament at 91.6 points per 100 possessions. Every other game had been at or above 100.

  • 27.8% is very low production from the 3-point line, and the thing is, Kentucky was getting excellent looks — they just missed them, some of them very badly. I attribute a good bit of this to fatigue.

  • The second group seemed to have more energy than the first group, but even they began to suck wind late in the second half.

  • Kentucky did a good job turning the Dominicans over quite a bit, and got more shots because of that. Unfortunately, they just didn’t make enough of them. UK took pretty good care of the ball, too, at 14.8% turnovers. The thing that bugs me is that so many of the turnovers were just careless.

  • Once again, Kentucky got outworked on the offensive glass.

  • This was a slower-paced game than the one versus Chalons-Reims that preceded it, but perhaps it wasn’t slow enough. I thought that John Robic could have run the offense a bit more deliberately due to the fatigue factor. He did, some, but perhaps not enough.

  • Kentucky managed only 26 points in the second half.

  • This version of the Wildcats is not getting to the line enough — only 27.6% FTA for this game.

Individual observations

  • Tyler Ulis was the best player on the floor Sunday. He was 5-8 from the floor for 12 points, two rebounds, 5 assists and zero turnovers. Heck of a game, young man. Game ball.

  • Marcus Lee had 4 rebounds and that is all. He was 0-4 from the field, the first time he has been shut out this year.

  • Devin Booker returned to his struggling ways. He was 1-3 from the field and made a free throw for four points to go with a turnover and a steal.

  • Karl-Anthony Towns had a solid game: 10 points on 4-8 shooting, five rebounds, three assists, three turnovers, three blocks and a steal. Of all the big men, he was by far the most productive.

  • Aaron Harrison just couldn’t throw it in the ocean on Sunday. 2-8 from the field, 1-2 from three for six points, one rebound and one steal. Not an impressive line from your starting shooting guard. But he had a lot of company.

  • Alex Poythress was obviously shot. He made both his field goal attempts for four points, but he was a non-factor on the boards with only one rebound, one assist, one turnover and a block. In the second half, he took himself out with about 7 minutes left and did not return.

  • EJ Floreal got in for a minute late in the second half, but did not impact the stats.

  • Dominique Hawkins had a good game. He was 3-6 from the floor for seven points, two assists, a block and two steals. He was very good defensively as well, and seems to be in better shape than most.

  • Derek Willis also had a very solid game. 4-9 from the floor (but 0-5 from the arc) for 10 points, three rebounds and a turnover. Derek played with a lot of energy out there and really made some great cuts to the basket. He just couldn’t make a three, though, and all five of his looks were good ones.

  • Dakari Johnson didn’t score much, but he was a man out there. Dakari was 2-5 shooting for five pionts, had nine rebounds (3 offensive) and one turnover. I think he had a block also, but he didn’t get credit for it.

  • Andrew Harrison played a lot like his brother. His only two points came on free throws, he was 0-5 from the field, and near the end of the game I thought he was going to collapse. He also managed three assists and a steal with only one turnover.

Tying it all up

Pay no attention to any apparent negativity in the observations above. I have to call them as I see them, but I know that this game was notable for what looked like extreme fatigue in the players. I have never seen some of these guys look this tired before, so I am positive that had a major negative impact on the outcome. Kentucky did have the lead up to as much as 13 in the second half, but by the time the last six or seven minutes rolled around, the tank was just empty and they couldn’t hold on.

This was an excellent experience for them overall, because it let them experience a game situation under duress with absolutely no consequences. Now, they know how it feels to lose a game as a team, and I hope it stings a little — in fact, I’m sure it will. It’s much better for them to internalize the unpleasantness of defeat rather than to blame it on fatigue. We fans can do that. They need to feel a bit of frustration, but not hold on to it long. A loss with no consequences is only valuable if they are able to learn from it, and get to hate the taste of losing.

I’ll have a final word or three on the Big Blue Bahamas trip, and then we’ll move on to football season, which is rushing upon us like a freight train.