Well, that was bad.
Kentucky started out slow. Very slow. They went into the half down 34-30. And they never recovered.
Next up, the Cats will face the Utah Valley Wolverines, hopefully with a little more hustle and effort, next Monday night.
No. 1 hangover
The sluggish start that many expected to see on Friday night reared its ugly head tonight. Both the offense and defense was poor to begin the game.
Kentucky was trailed the Purple Aces for a large portion of the game. It looks like the big wins last week finally caught up to them Tuesday as UK faced their largest deficit of the season. To be fair, that deficit was only eight points, but UK did go into the half down and that continued.
Despite shaking off the new No. 1 ranking, it appears they let it go to their head a little bit.
Foul trouble and depth in the frontcourt is a problem
Look, we all knew this already, right? But we hadn’t yet faced the issue to date. When Nick Richards picked up two fouls in the first 10 minutes and Nate Sestina picked up his second shortly after, it quickly became an issue tonight.
Playing Keion Brooks, Jr. at the four is okay at times, but it doesn’t work in extended periods. And it’s never okay when he’s playing center. Brooks has great rebounding instincts and he hustles like crazy, but he’s too skinny. He really is a three and he just gets pushed around inside. He’s at his best when he can rebound from the perimeter.
Where does the offense come from when shots aren’t falling?
This is a question Kentucky failed to answer tonight. We’ve seen scoring droughts through the first two games, but there just wasn’t a go-to scorer out there tonight.
This will be imperative. Everyone can’t be turning the ball over and missing shots. Someone has to be the backbone.
It might be Tyrese Maxey, who got hot in the second half, or Immanuel Quickley. We’ll see moving forward, but Kentucky needs someone to step up when things aren’t pretty.
Turnovers are becoming a problem
The Cats looked great against Michigan State and EKU, but turning the ball over has become an issue.
UK only committed 10 turnovers against the Spartans, but they compiled 18 against EKU and a bunch tonight. That can’t happen.
It’s laziness and getting ahead of yourself. Kentucky needs to focus, especially with two second-year point guards on the roster. Freshmen mistakes are one thing, but excessive turnovers from guys who should know better is unacceptable.
It takes away scoring opportunity and UK needs to shore it up. That won’t fly against good teams, whether that be in SEC play or come March.
Immanuel Quickley is the team’s most consistent scorer
Quickley has been nothing short of impressive so far this season. He can score, he’s smart, and he rebounded tonight.
His scoring ability comes from a multitude of levels. He’s a solid shooter, but he’s not afraid to drive and shoot a floater, or go straight to the rim.
He’s consistent. Period. But Kentucky also needs him to be more assertive on the offensive end when others are struggling. He can put the ball in the bucket as well as anyone on this team. Maxey can fill it up, but as shown by his nine points against EKU, it might not be consistent.
Quickley has epitomized consistency thus far. Hopefully, he keeps it up.
This was no doubt a hangover game. Ashton Hagans looked either hurt, sick, or he just didn’t care. No one could hit a shot. And hustle was at a minimum.
We became accustomed to these things being a given through the first two games, but we saw weaknesses tonight.
Let’s hope we don’t see many more duds like tonight.