This has been a real disaster of a season so far, and many were underwhelmed by the Kentucky Wildcats versus Louisville Cardinals rivalry game on Saturday. And even though the offenses struggled on both sides, the game still came down to the wire in true rivalry fashion.
Ultimately, the Wildcats fell to the Cardinals by the score of 62-59. Davion Mintz led the Wildcats in scoring with 19 points hitting 67% of his three-pointers on the game. Terrence Clarke went scoreless in limited time coming off of an injury. And an overall abysmal offensive performance kept the Cats from avoiding a 1-6 record.
Here is what you need to know from Kentucky’s sixth consecutive loss.
Better Ball Movement
It was not always perfect. The Cats still turned the ball over 11 times. But the offense looked a little more, for lack of a better word, organized. In fact, John Calipari even drew up a baseline out-of-bounds play for a wide open corner three...which was missed.
This offense has been the most hard to watch thing we have seen since Calipari arrived in Lexington. There is little room for error if Kentucky wants the chance of a tournament bid. But today’s offense, as far as a system and taking care of the ball, looked leaps and bounds better than we have seen from this group.
Devin Askew Improves
Part of the improved ball movement had to do with Devin Askew’s individual strides forward. He was forced back into a starting role against Louisville due to an injury to Terrence Clarke, and he ended up earning more time and contributing throughout the game. He started the game with Kentucky’s first five points, and ended with seven for the game to go with his three assists and three rebounds.
Solid Bench Play
I know Askew started today, but he normally comes off the bench behind Davion Mintz. However, the Wildcats got solid contributions from other reserves against the Cardinals.
Lance Ware was very good offensively. He his the offensive glass hard, scored the basketball, and looked like is he absolutely heading the right direction. Jacob Toppin brought much of the same with his energy and confidence, hitting back-to-back buckets in the first half and again in the second half from mid-range.
Especially if Olivier Sarr and Isaiah Jackson are going to give you nothing offensively, like they did today, it is vital that some of these bench guys can come in and contribute. Today was a good day for the front court reserves, and based on what I saw they deserve more opportunities to show what they can do.
Mintz is the Leader
Yes, Mintz led the team in scoring with 19 points today. But if you look at the team during games, they look for the Creighton transfer to lead them in every facet of the game. And he sets a quality example in everything he does: discipline with the ball, hustling on defense, hitting the boards from the guard position, and as of today...shooting.
Mintz his four three-pointers against Louisville, and every one of them was at an important time. In a lot of ways, Mintz’s shooting kept the Wildcats in the game.
Many (including myself) expected Olivier Sarr to be that guy with Keion Brooks sidelined. But Sarr’s contributions have faded game by game, especially on the offensive end. And Mintz continues to solidify himself as a vital part of this team.