Saturday afternoon played host to a matchup between historic teams Kentucky and UCLA.
The UCLA Bruins entered Rupp Arena as the 11th-best team in the nation looking to win their second straight against Kentucky being the #1 seed. Though the arena was as electric as it had been in years, the Bruins came out with a 97-92 win in what might be the game of the year for them.
With rumors circulating multiple Wildcats, including senior Derek Willis, had a stomach bug, many Wildcats lacked self-awareness in the home loss. Kentucky was out-rebounded and out-shot from the field, the three point line and the free-throw line.
While they forced UCLA into committing 18 turnovers, the Wildcats couldn't capitalize at the rim as they shot just 41% for the game and a horrid 66% from the FT line.
“This is a lesson for us,” head coach John Calipari said after the game. “We didn’t have the energy. I had to call a timeout a minute into the game. I mean, just wasn’t the same team. How about this one? We had 16 assists. Why didn’t we pass it today? Because it was national television, it’s my time? We all look bad.
As the game went back and forth in the first half, Kentucky found themselves trailing by four at halftime. Then, to start the second half, UCLA outscored Kentucky 11-2. UCLA then held a 13-point lead and Kentucky couldn't pull off the comeback win despite a fierce 11 points by Malik Monk in the last seven minutes.
Lonzo Ball of UCLA vs. De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky was the highlighted matchup coming into today’s game. While the game will overshadow their matchup, Fox clearly got the better of Ball on both ends of the floor. Ball was locked down by Fox, going just 1-5 for three points in the first half. Ball did pick up 11 points in the second half but finished 5-12 from the floor including 2-8 from behind the 3 point line.
Fox, despite his team losing, was far more efficient this afternoon.
The 6’3 guard shot 8-20 for 20 points while dishing out nine assists to add to his SEC lead. He also guarded Ball on the defensive end for most of the game, limiting Ball’s contribution.
Edrice “Bam” Adebayo played arguably his best game as a Wildcat, being charged with just three fouls and scoring 18 points with 13 rebounds and four blocks at the rim. The big man has improved each game, growing more into Coach Calipari’s system as he plays.
“That’s why you play a season,” Cal said. “The great thing about college basketball is you’d like to learn from close wins, but sometimes it doesn’t work that way, you got to learn from a loss. That’s what we’ll try to do.”
Monk led the way for the Cats in scoring, putting up 19 shots and hitting 10 for 24 points. He also stole the ball five times in the game.
Isaiah Briscoe took a hard fall and saw his production fall as well, shooting just 4-14 from the floor for 12 points while committing four fouls and three turnovers.
Here is the updated season stats for UK following the game:
And here are the postgame notes and milestones, courtesy of UK Athletics:
In the First Half
- Kentucky started the lineup of Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Wenyen Gabriel and Bam Adebayo for the second game in a row and third time this season
- UCLA scored the first two baskets, prompting a Kentucky timeout at the 18:40 mark
- Trailing 7-3, UK went on an 11-0 run for a 14-7 lead
- Amid the run, Derek Willis made a 3-pointer at the 15:37 mark, extending Kentucky’s streak to 983 games with at least one 3-pointer, the longest streak in the nation.
- Behind 41-37, UCLA regained the lead with a 7-0 spurt and never trailed again
- The Bruins led 49-45 at halftime. It is the first time this season that the Wildcats have been behind at intermission
In the Second Half
- Ahead 51-47, UCLA had a 9-0 burst to make it 60-47. Including the end of the first half, it capped a 23-6 run for the Bruins
- Kentucky got within seven points at 67-60, but UCLA pushed the lead to 14, the largest of the game, at 76-62
- Trailing 93-83 with only 43 seconds remaining, Kentucky rallied within three points, 95-92, on a 3-pointer by Willis with nine seconds left
- Bryce Alford closed it out with a pair of foul shots and UCLA prevailed 97-92
- Today’s game ended a 42-game home winning streak by Kentucky, the second-longest streak in Rupp Arena history and the second-longest active streak in the nation
- Kentucky has an all-time mark of 551-65 (.894) in Rupp Arena
- UK is 124-5 (.961) at Rupp Arena under John Calipari
- UCLA’s 97 points the most against Kentucky in the Calipari era
- UCLA shot 53 percent from the field. The last opponent to shoot 50 percent or better against UK was Mississippi State on Jan. 12, 2016, although the Wildcats won that game, 80-74
- UCLA had 18 turnovers today, the seventh time in eight games that UK’s opponent has had at least 17 miscues
- Kentucky is 69-7 (.908) under Calipari as The Associated Press No. 1 team. Calipari is 110-12 (.902) all-time when his team has been ranked in the top spot
- Coach John Calipari has a 669-188 (.781) on-court record, including a 224-48 (.824) mark at UK
- Freshman Malik Monk led all scorers with 24 points, adding a game-high nine assists
- It is his fourth 20-point game in a row and fifth of the season
- All five of his 20-point games have been at least 23 points
- He has reached double figures in all eight games this season
- Freshman De’Aaron Fox finished with 20 points and nine assists
- It is his second 20-point game of the season
- He has scored in double figures all eight games this season
- Freshman Bam Adebayo had his third double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds, career highs in both categories. He also had a career-best four blocked shots
- Sophomore Isaiah Briscoe had 12 points. He has scored double digits in all six games he has played, missing two because of injury
- Senior Derek Willis had 11 points, his second game in a row with double figures
Kentucky faced a tough loss Saturday and will look to rebound against the Valparaiso Crusaders Wednesday at 8 P.M. EDT