The Kentucky Wildcats looked incredible early in the first half in many ways, but ultimately they couldn’t stay with Kansas for a complete game. After a promising start, the Kentucky Wildcats experienced every bit of the good, bad, and ugly against the Kansas Jayhawks.
The first half defense was some of the best defense we have seen from this team all season. They were forcing mistakes, causing great transition opportunities, and were keeping offensive rebounds to a minimum. They set the bar incredibly high for what they can do. Unfortunately their first half offense couldn’t put this game out of reach.
Derek Willis, who was the absolute stand out player, led Kentucky in points for most of the game with 18. Although he ended up in a tie for points with Malik Monk, he was arguably the best offensive player against the Jayhawks. Willis went five for six behind the arch and was a defensive presence with two blocks and six defensive rebounds.
The offense was subject at best all game they only scored 32 in the first and then 41 in the second half. The first half was really their opportunity to run away with this game. Their defense was playing big, but their offense could turn opportunity into points on a few key occasions.
The offense at one time led by 12 points in the first half, but went quiet late in the first half and allowed the Kansas Jayhawks to claw their way back in. In the second half, they just were trying to force opportunities and even good looks weren’t dropping at the rate of their opponents.
The turnovers were near a season worst, definitely worst in a loss. The Wildcats had 17 turnovers as they were forcing their own mistakes in transition and trying to hard to force the ball inside to create points. Their ball movement and foot movement was lacking late in the game.
Free throws were also a ugly point of contention going 13-22 for a 59.1% from the line. The issue is that they lost by six points, which free throws could have made a difference. If you even give them their average 69.1% average, they are down by four and could have played the last few positions differently.
Up next for the Kentucky men are the Georgia Bulldogs at Rupp Arena on Tuesday night. They will look to erase their two game losing streak and get back into the win column. This young team will need to forget about this past week quickly.