The Kentucky Wildcats have lost four games in a row for just the second time in the John Calipari era.
Their abysmal 1-4 start to the season has fans and college basketball analyst scrambling for the panic button.
Saturday’s one-point loss to Notre Dame produced a range of emotion that ultimately ended in heartbreak for Wildcat fans when Olivier Sarr’s deep corner jumper just missed as time expired.
Despite fighting their way back from a huge 22-point halftime deficit there just wasn’t enough gas in the tank down the stretch and now turmoil surrounds the entire program.
The only solve for these woes will be winning games and up next is a date with a fellow blue-blood school that has a familiar name on the roster.
Kentucky will play the UCLA Bruins on Saturday December 19th in Cleveland, OH inside the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse as part of the annual CBS Sports Classic. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 pm EST with another national television audience via CBS.
The game will also set up a reunion of sorts with former Kentucky shooting guard Johnny Juzang, who now plays for Mick Cronin on the west coast.
The Bruins are off to an impressive 5-1 start and have recently added Juzang to their starting lineup. In their last game, he scored nine points in 26 minutes but only made one of his eight three-point attempts.
If Juzang gets hot from behind the arc on Saturday, it’s sure to send the Big Blue Nation in a frenzy considering this year’s team is still struggling immensely to make long range shots.
The Cats are now just 22/90 on three-point attempts this season which is good for 24%. Freshman guard BJ Boston has taken the most attempts on the team with 26 but he’s only knocked down five.
Making jump shots is a legitimate concern that has without a doubt been one of the biggest contributing factors during the Cats’ four-game losing streak.
The Bruins, on the other hand, are shooting it at nearly 36% from deep and averaging 79 points per game.
Lead by sophomore Jacques Jaime Jr., who’s pouring in about 15 points per game, the Bruins have a balanced offensive attack. Seven different players are averaging 8.8 points or more.
Kentucky will have to guard on Saturday if they’re to have any chance of snapping this embarrassing losing streak.
UK has a 3-3 record in the CBS Sports Classic, which includes a 1-1 record against UCLA.
There isn’t a team or a coach in America interested in showing the Wildcats any form of sympathy as they look to figure things out.
With just UCLA and Louisville remaining for non-conference games, the sense of urgency must be turned up to full throttle because the Cats potentially missing the NCAA tournament is a real discussion to be bad.
So, I’m comfortable in saying that this is a must-win for John Calipari.
Game: Kentucky Wildcats vs UCLA Bruins
Location: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio
Date: Saturday December 19th
Start Time: 2:00 PM EST
TV Channel: CBS
Radio: UK Sports Network.
Odds: No line has been set, but ESPN’s matchup predictor gives UCLA a 56% chance at victory. KenPom gives the Bruins a 55% chance of winning.
Early Prediction: KenPom projects a 68-66 win for the Bruins.