While the final score may indicate otherwise, this was absolutely a game Kentucky could have one and played very competitively in, but the young Cats just made too many mistakes to pull off a road win over a top-10 team.
Here are 4 things you should know about the 76-66 loss.
Wenyen Gabriel gets the start.
After starting 23 games in his freshman campaign, Wenyen Gabriel started his second game of this season on Wednesday. His first start came against Vanderbilt when PJ Washington was still nursing an injury, but this start was more predictable as the coaching staff openly discussed how they hoped he could give the offense a spark.
While there was no dynamic difference in the offense early in the game, Kentucky did have fewer long stretches during the game without getting a bucket. Also, Wenyen had some of the more impressive dunks of his Kentucky career and finished with 8 points. Washington had some good minutes, but I think Wenyen earned more playing time with his effort against Auburn. And, to be honest, they did not look bad sharing the court either.
Big game for Kevin Knox.
For the majority of the first half, Kevin Knox was the only offense Kentucky had. At halftime, he had 12 of Kentucky’s 33 points and ended up with 19 for the game.
He shot well from distance for the first 30 minutes, but he also did more around the basket and in the mid-range game. For some mind-boggling reason, it did not seem like his number was called for a 10 minute stretch in the second half. That was before pending several minutes on the bench down the stretch. The offense became very stagnant, and Auburn capitalized on the other end to pull out the victory.
Coming into Wednesday’s game against Auburn, Kentucky was only shooting 69% from the free throw line (269th in the country). During this game, they only made 13 of 20 free throws. For as many close games as the Wildcats have found themselves in, shooting so poorly from the charity stripe makes it very hard to find wins. Had they made all of their free throws, this could have been a different outcome.
One bad stretch.
Just as the coaching staff harped on all week, Kentucky’s demise came at the hands of one bad stretch. From the 8 minute mark to the 4 minute mark, The Wildcats turned a 4 point lead into a 7 point deficit.
Had that horrid stretch been avoided, Kentucky would have definitely been in the game down the stretch. But they dug themselves such a hole during those 4 minutes that they just couldn’t catch up.
Here is the final box score:
Now, let’s discuss the game.