Basketball season is finally here, and it got started on a huge stage, in the Champions Classic against Duke.
Out of the gate, Kentucky looked lost and had zero flow offensively, as they were taking bad shot after bad shot ,and Duke jumped out to a 14-8 lead at the first media timeout, and it continued to get more out of hand.
By the under 12 timeout, Duke had built up a 27-10 lead and were red hot on the offensive end of the floor. However, they didn’t look very impressive on the defensive end. It was just Kentucky shooting themselves in the foot with the poor execution.
Kentucky would finally start to play better as the half continued, but their inability to stop Duke’s offense allowed Duke to take a 59-42 lead into the break.
Out of the break, it was more of the same.
Duke completely dominated the Cats all over the floor all night. With just over 7 minutes remaining Duke hit the century mark on the scoreboard and Duke rolled to a 118-84 win over the Cats.
Thoughts on the game
Kentucky’s defense is non-existent
In the exhibition games, we saw the Cats struggle on the defensive end of the floor,, and we had hoped that it was just them not being fully into the game.
That was not the case…
Duke was able to get any shot they wanted at anytime, and Kentucky could do nothing about it.
Kentucky’s inability to stop the opponents from driving to the basket is a big issue and will cost them tremendously this season, unless Cal is able to figure it out and get them on the right track.
The offense wasn’t much better
I don’t know if the Bahamas trip was just a dream or what, because this team does not have the same offensive look that they had in August. They look like a completely different team on the floor.
They continued to take bad shot after bad shot and never looked like they were in an offensive set. They definitely have a lot of work to do going forward.
Don’t have a point guard
Coming into the year, we expected to be fine at the guard positions. However, point guard is an issue that must be solved. Neither Ashton Hagans or Immanuel Quickley showed that they wanted nor had the capabilities to “run the show” offensively, and that is a problem, because it made Kentucky look lost on the floor.
Quade Green got some run too but didn’t do much. Hagans had the most assists (4) but also the most turnovers of them (3).
Two bright spots from this game
Reid Travis and Keldon Johnson
All night Travis was stellar and showed up in a big way and played like we thought he would. He finished with 22 points and 7 rebounds on 6/8 shooting and took it to the Duke defenders all night.
Also, Keldon Johnson played like we all expected him to as he finished with 23 points on 8/16 shooting and showed the effort and skills that we knew he had.
The problem is, no one else showed up or even looked like they were prepared for a game like this and it showed.
This was a very poor performance form the Cats. Coach Cal and his staff have a lot of work to do before this team is remotely close to being a championship team.
Luckily, it is November, and there is a lot of time between now and March. Also, this team is extremely talented (we have seen it before), and they should be able to use this as a lesson and grow together as a team.
Now, here are the postgame notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:
UK MEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME NOTES
KENTUCKY vs. DUKE
BANKERS LIFE FIELDHOUSE | INDIANAPOLIS
NOV. 6, 2018
Final Score: No. 4/3 Duke 118, No. 2/2 Kentucky 84
Team Records and Series Notes
- Tuesday’s game vs. Duke marked the start of the 117th season of Kentucky men’s basketball
- Kentucky is 0-1 overall while Duke begins the year 1-0
- It marked the 22nd meeting between the two schools. Although UK dropped the decision Tuesday, the Wildcats still own the series lead 12-10
- Kentucky fell to 95-20 (no official games were played for the 1953 season, hence the discrepancy in record and total seasons played) in season openers, including its first official loss under John Calipari in a regular-season opener
- It snapped Calipari’s 14-game winning streak in regular-season openers, which dated back to his time at Memphis
- UK had won every season opener since losing to VMI 111-103 on Nov. 14, 2008
- UK dropped to 4-4 in the State Farm Champions Classic, tied with Kansas for the second-best record among the four bluebloods. The Wildcats will play Michigan State in Madison Square Garden in New York next season.
- It’s the first time in the Calipari era UK has been below .500
- Next for Kentucky: the Wildcats will host Southern Illinois on Friday for their home regular-season opener. UK has won its last nine openers at home, all under Calipari. That game is slated for a 7 p.m. tip on the SEC Network
In the First Half
- Kentucky started Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, PJ Washington and Reid Travis for its first official lineup of the season. It was the first career UK start for every Wildcat except Washington
- UK gave up 59 points in the first half, tied for the most points Kentucky has given up in a half under Calipari. The Wildcats surrendered 59 at Texas A&M last season in the second half on Feb. 10It was the most points UK has given up in the first half under Calipari
- Duke outscored Kentucky 15-2 in transition in the first half and 30-22 in the paint
- The Blue Devils began to pull away early with a 9-0 run over 2:41 to take a 20-8 lead at the 13:22 markStretched over 4:54, Duke went on a 21-3 run to take a 32-11 lead at the 11:09 mark
- Johnson kept the Wildcats afloat with 14 first-half points, including six in the opening minutes
- Travis was strong late with eight points and four rebounds, and EJ Montgomery contributed six points
In the Second Half
- Duke outscored Kentucky 15-5 to start the second half
- Duke went on a 10-0 run over 1:52 to take a 78-47 lead
- Duke led by as much as 37, 91-54, at the 11:45 mark
- Kentucky allowed 59 points in the second half – again tied for the most UK gave up in a half during the Calipari era
- Kentucky lost by 34 points, its worst loss since losing by 35, 76-41, to LSU on Jan. 18, 1987
- It was UK’s largest margin of defeat in the Calipari era
- It was just the second loss by 30 or more during Calipari’s tenure (UK lost 88-58 at Tennessee on Feb. 16, 2013)
- It was just the fourth time in Calipari’s coaching career that one of his teams lost by 30 or more points
- It was UK’s largest margin of defeat in a regular-season opener since losing by 38 (48-10) to Cincinnati on Dec. 18, 1926
- Kentucky allowed its most points in the Calipari era
- UK allowed its most points since losing 121-11- against North Carolina on Dec. 27, 1989
- Kentucky committed 15 turnovers, leading to 27 Blue Devil points
- Duke won points in the paint 60-38
- The Blue Devils also beat Kentucky 26-12 in transition
- Freshman Keldon Johnson led UK with 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting
- Reid Travis had 22 points and seven rebounds in his UK debut
- Tyler Herro littered the stat sheet, just missing a double-double. He scored 14, grabbed nine rebounds, dished five assists and blocked two shots
- Ashton Hagans dished four assists but committed three turnovers
- PJ Washington scored eight
- Calipari is now 275-65 at UK
- Calipari has a 720-205 all-time on-court record
- Tuesday’s 34-point loss was the largest margin of defeat in Calipari’s career. In his first career season as head coach at UMass, Calipari’s Minutemen lost by 33 points (88-55) at No. 14 West Virginia on Feb. 16, 1989