Talk about a tale of two halves.
Kentucky had the Kansas Jayhawks doubled up, 20-10, early in the first half, and they seemed poised to blow the nation’s No. 2 team out of the water.
Then, the second half happened. Despite Derek Willis’ outstanding play, Kentucky couldn’t get anything right. Malik Monk went on a scoring drought that lasted more than a half, the Wildcats lost the turnover battle, and they couldn’t make Kansas pay for shooting 26% from 3-point range.
In the end, Kentucky blew that double-digit lead and fell to the Jayhawks, 79-73. At least the crowd was loud, right?
Derek Willis was red-hot
After a poor performance from both of Kentucky’s best players at the 4 spot against Tennessee, Derek Willis came up huge today. He’s not exactly a forward that’s going to play in the paint at all (despite that monstrous dunk a couple games ago), but today he did what he does best: shoot the three ball.
All of Willis’ first five shots were threes, and he made all five of them. He missed his last three, his only missed field goal of the game. He finished 6-7, 5-6 from deep, for 18 points. He also had 6 rebounds and 2 blocks, and was essentially Kentucky’s best player (especially in the second half).
Malik Monk went ice cold for most of the second half
Monk went on a terrible cold streak that started midway through the first half, and it lasted the majority of the second half. From around the nine-minute mark in the first half until the 3:16 mark in the second half, Monk didn’t score at all. A big three from him with 3:16 left gave him some life, but he finished the game with 15 points and he shot just 2-5 from deep. Not one to remember for Monk, who is becoming a bit of a streaky scorer.
Kentucky may have ruined its No. 1 seed chances
We’ve talked all year about how Kentucky’s favorable SEC schedule could help them immensely in their quest for a No. 1 seed. Now, it could work to their detriment. Losses to UCLA, Louisville and Kansas leaves them with a less than desirable non-conference record (for a potential 1-seed). With that loss to Tennessee, Kentucky would probably have to win convincingly over Florida and run the table in the conference. This is all dependent on the rest of the field of course, but any loss for Kentucky in SEC play (aside from Florida) is going to be a bad loss, and they can’t afford many more of those.