P.J. Washington did whatever he wanted in the post in the first half and Wenyen Gabriel took care of the jump-shooting as he went 3-3 from the three point line. Washington’s 13 points and Gabriels 9 points helped the Kentucky Wildcats to an eight point halftime lead over the Tennessee Volunteers in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Then the script flipped. The Vols came out with the energy and tenacity the Cats displayed in the first half. They were playing tougher defense and executing efficiently on offense. The lead was erased in the first four minutes.
The Washington went down with cramps and he didn’t return. Shortly after, Gabriel was forced to play with four fouls. He fouled out. A ton of time was left on the clock. From that point with the loss of their energy guys the Wildcats fell flat. The Vols consistently beat Kentucky to the loose balls and the rebounds. UK was out of position. They got bullied.
This was a discouraging performance for many reason, primarily that Kentucky’s two superstars, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo, combined for 11 points and 3-14 shooting. That cannot happen. Those guys have more talent than anybody and all they’ve been doing recently is jacking up perimeter shots.
With Texas A&M coming in as a wounded animal to Rupp Arena on Tuesday night, the Wildcats will be in for another tough, grind it out affair.
Tweets of the Day
LOL— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 7, 2018
I have no earthly idea what Coach Cal did to get this technical. One again the refs are the stars of the show. Pathetic. pic.twitter.com/WquVqOIlI2
The officiating isn’t the reason why Kentucky lost, but once again we have refs wanting to be the focal point of a college basketball game. Calipari got a tech for being out of the coaches box which he denied. This is an epidemic and something needs to be done about it.
Obligatory Jarred Vanderbilt pregame video. (No, not playing tonight.) pic.twitter.com/vm0g22cWCr— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_SEC) January 7, 2018
Jarred Vanderbilt went through the full warm up sequence with the team yesterday but was back in plain clothes on the bench. Kentucky really needed him last night.
THE National Championship:— SEC Country (@SECcountry) January 7, 2018
Alabama vs. Georgia
SEC haters are FURIOUS!
Toughness issues on display in Knoxville | SEC Country- P.J. Washington is tough. Wenyen Gabriel is tough. Quade Green is tough. I wouldn’t say Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is tough necessarily but works hard 100% of the time. The rest of the team.... nope.
Cal sees no quick fix to toughness problem | Lexington Herald Leader- Calipari singled out Washington as the guy that is getting the toughness message and he’s trying to drag his teammates along with him. He tried putting Kevin Knox with the bigs during practice to bring in it out in him.
On Friday, Calipari announced that Kevin Knox was practicing with UK’s “bigs” in an attempt to make him more aggressive and more of a presence around the basket.
The results were mixed. He made only one of nine shots (0-for-5 from three-point range). He scored six points and grabbed five rebounds.
“He just needs to keep going at it,” Calipari said. “And when that part of his game comes around, then he’s that guy.”
Calipari acknowledged in instilling toughness there are no quick fixes.
Where were Hami and Knox | Courier-Journal- The two have been pulling disappearing acts consistently. This team will not reach its potential with one or both not playing to their highest levels:
Kentucky has seen hits and misses all across its roster, so this didn’t feel out of the ordinary. But that weathering disappointing nights for more than one starter has become normal does not make it right. And it certainly doesn’t make it a viable strategy for success moving forward.
Duke loses at North Carolina | CBS Sports- The Blue Devils dropped their second game to an unranked team, are 1-2 in the ACC, and are allowing a staggering 93 points per game in conference play. And yet they’ll still be in the top five on Monday.
TV Teddy suspended, considering retirement | The Athletic- After Teddy Valentine decided to upstage UNC’s Joel Berry by turning his back on him, the NCAA finally takes some action against a rogue ref. Teddy was supposed to work to Big Ten games this weekend but was told his services would not be required. Valentine’s reaction was as tone deaf as his self-image:
I’m thinking about retiring,” Valentine said. “I’ve had enough of people blowing up stuff. I think I’ve had a stellar career, and I think it’s time to get ready to walk away
Reboot the Chiefs? | ESPN- The Chiefs lost their fifth straight playoff game by blowing a 21-3 lead at home en route to losing to the Titans. Andy Reid and Alex Smith have a lot of questions to answer going forward. I expect one or both to be gone in the offseason.
Could the Falcons upset the Eagles? | Sporting News- Atlanta’s tough defense was on display as they defeated the Rams in LA in the NFC Wildcard game. With Carson Wentz done for Philly, are the Falcons poised to make a run back to the NFC Championship game?
Virginia defeats North Carolina | SB Nation- North Carolina drops their second in a row as the Cavaliers stomp the defending champs 61-49. It seems that Tony Bennett’s team is for real this season.
Tremont Waters two threes down Texas A&M | SB Nation- Waters is going to be a great guard in this league for a while and he’s putting LSU on his back. The Tigers are much better than they have a right to be because of him.
The pride of New Haven, Tremont Waters, FTW! Undermanned Texas A&M falls to 0-3 in SEC play. pic.twitter.com/EqqDKkdhhw— Mike McCurry (@Mike_McCurry16) January 6, 2018
I mean... that’s sick.
Chris Chiozza crushes Missouri with last second steal and lay up | SEC Country- Chiozza stunned Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen last season as he beat them with an improbable last second shot. He did it again last night to down Mizzou on the road.
Late game heroics by Chris Chiozza! Comes up with the CLUTCH steal on the last possession of the game for a clutch layup at the buzzer. Florida beats Missouri 77-75. pic.twitter.com/wuxEJwRPTn— Eric Fawcett (@Efawcett7) January 6, 2018
Amid Central Florida uproar, CFP eight team bracket not in the cards | Sporting News- That’s a damn shame because Central Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio State all deserved a chance to be in the playoff.
Alex Trebek taking leave of absence from Jeopardy! | Rolling Stone- The host of the iconic quiz show had brain clots removed but he is in great shape and will be back in the studio soon. Speedy recovery, Alex!