The Kentucky Wildcats fell to 1-5 as the North Carolina Tar Heels won Saturday afternoon by a score of 75-63.
Kentucky came out with some fight today after the ugly start to the season. The Cats carried over their momentum from the second half last week and it was a welcome sight.
Of course, they still made frustrating mistakes and unforced errors, but the improvement this team has made was clear as day. After an up and down first half, Kentucky went into the break up 38-34 on the Tar Heels.
After the break, Kentucky fell apart, as they’ve been prone to do. The Cats can’t put together two good halves of basketball and they can’t buy a win right now. Frankly, it’s just embarrassing.
Next up, the Cats will take on the rival Louisville Cardinals a week from today.
Foul trouble was a killer today
North Carolina is similar to Kentucky in that they can’t really shoot and they love going through their big men. The difference is that they are loaded down low and feed them nonstop. This led to big-time foul trouble for the Cats.
Both Isaiah Jackson and Olivier Sarr picked up two fouls in the first half. limiting their impacts. They also both picked up their third foul less than a minute into the second half and then proceeded to foul out on garbage calls. Their replacement, who is discussed more in depth below, picked up three fouls himself before halftime and fouled out.
The referees were absolutely whistle happy. It felt like there wasn’t a single possession where there wasn’t a foul called on one team or the other. Four players fouled out for Kentucky. There was no rhythm whatsoever.
And UNC just continued to feed the post. Kentucky did the best they could to limit the damage, but the foul trouble changed the game.
Askew is gaining confidence
Devin Askew has looked like a different player since he hit that three-pointer in the second half of the Notre Dame game.
Askew has stopped needlessly picking up his dribble as soon as he crosses halfcourt. He’s shooting with confidence. He’s not afraid to attack the basket when he needs to. His floater in the lane is pretty.
This is what we signed up for. It took a few games for the reclassified freshman to slow things down and begin to acclimate to the college game, but he’s certainly improving at a quick rate.
Askew is the most athletic or quick point guard, but he is good defensively and has a will to win. His continued improvement is pivotal moving forward. From what I saw today, I feel good in his ability to do so.
Ware played his best game as a Cat
Lance Ware hasn’t got much playing time so far this season, but as mentioned above, he was forced into action today when the Cats got into foul trouble.
Well, he definitely held his own. Ware got into foul trouble himself as he couldn’t exactly control the Tar Heel big men, but he did rebound, especially on the offensive end. He had a nice put-back dunk and fought all game.
His hustle is what set him apart today. He isn’t perfect, but he works hard. He’ll be a really, really good player in a year or two if he sticks around for it.
The biggest fight came from the smallest player
Davion Mintz looked like the true veteran leader of this team today. He was excellent on the ball and off and contributed in a number of ways.
Mintz was great on defense and he rebounded at a very high rate, including two big offensive rebounds where he came from the opposite side of the floor to grab the ball and gain a second possession.
He helped keep Kentucky in this game today as he had was fighting for everything he got. With how much this team has struggled in the early going, it’s good to see Mintz stepping up and leading this team.
It obviously wasn’t the outcome we hoped for, but the Cats continue to look better.
Let’s hope for a rebound against the Cards. Happy holidays to all of BBN!