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Kentucky falls to Notre Dame: 5 things to know and postgame banter

Kentucky lost again, despite a strong second-half performance.

Notre Dame v Kentucky Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats fell to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday afternoon by a final score of 64-63.

Kentucky came out fast with four quick points, but the Fighting Irish exploded and went up by as many as 24 points in the first half.

It was ugly for most of the game, but the Cats finally woke up in the second half and valiantly fought to get back into the game. They had a chance at the buzzer, but Olivier Sarr’s long jumper didn’t fall.

A loss is a loss, but the second half should give fans at least a glimmer of hope.

Next up, the Cats will travel to Cleveland, Ohio to take on the UCLA Bruins next Saturday.

Davion Mintz gets his first start

Devin Askew’s early struggles have been well documented, so it was fair for fans to wonder why he was still starting every single game. That changed today.

Davion Mintz finally got his first start for the Cats. While Mintz has had his fair share of struggles, this team needed his veteran presence in the starting five with so many young guys on this team.

At this point, he’s the better option than Askew. That’s subject to change, but for now, it’s the right move.

However, Terrence Clarke started at point

As mentioned above, both Mintz and Askew have struggled early in the season, and it had fans begging for John Calipari to switch things up. Well, he did.

While Mintz got the start over Askew, it wasn’t at the point guard position—it was an off-ball role. Terrence Clarke was on point guard duty.

This is similar to what Calipari did at Memphis with Tyreke Evans, and that worked out pretty well. It didn’t look great and it probably isn’t the long term solution, but he had to try something.

The offense is bad, but the defense got better throughout the game

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what was worse for most of the game—the offense or the defense. This team should be elite defensively with their length and despite struggling for most of the game, they really woke up in the second half and showed their potential.

The offense is anemic, but defense wins games and UK finally realized that. They can’t shoot threes, but they can attack teams in transition and get steals for easy baskets. It took a little longer than expected for them to figure it out, but they did.

There was a point in the first half that I thought this team was done for, but they fought back. Unlike most young teams, they relied on their ability defensively to claw back instead of just giving up when the shots wouldn’t fall.

The Cats aren’t very good right now, but they’re playing hard. They aren’t just giving up. You can see the hustle. They still have a lot to figure out, but the last half of the game should make most feel a little bit better.

Kentucky made history

Well, Kentucky made history today...but not in a good way. The Cats were down 48-26 at the break, which was the largest halftime deficit at home in UK history.

That about sums up how this season’s going so far. It was hard to watch, but at least they didn’t fold. They came back and made it a great game.

Youth and inexperience shows, especially early in the season, but they showed maturity by settling in defensively and fighting back.

Olivier Sarr was a beast

I mean the offense should run through Sarr. Point blank period. He was a beast down low today.

Foul trouble has hurt Sarr so far this season, but today showed why he was the No. 1 ranked transfer this fall. When he gets going, there’s no stopping him.

Whether it be the pretty midrange jump shot or a big dunk down low, he’s almost always contributing in a positive way for this team. He even protected the rim in a big way today.

Thank goodness for the Frenchman.

Now, let’s hope the Cats build on that strong second half performance. Oh, and keep feeding Olivier Sarr.