Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.
After a tough loss at #17 Auburn on Saturday, Kentucky returns home to face Mississippi State tonight in Rupp Arena. A few observations:
Despite what some have said, turnovers were only a minor problem against the Tigers, and mainly because Kentucky forced so few, not because they turned it over so much.
The big problem was UK getting punked on the offensive glass, and that’s what it is when a team gets 44% of their missed shots compared to your 20%. Shooting percentages were roughly comparable, so this stat is glaring and inexcusable. Kentucky is bigger, longer, and at least as athletic, yet Auburn took UK to the woodshed. That’s just a lack of toughness.
Auburn made more free throws that UK attempted. That is a very rare statistical anomaly in a UK game this year — it has happened exactly twice, once against Ohio State and again at Auburn. Both games by my lights gave the opponent a very, very friendly whistle. In both games, Kentucky had multiple players in severe foul trouble.
The Mississippi St. Bulldogs have had an up and down season, somewhat like UK but ... more down. Their biggest victories have come in league play against Florida on the road and Arkansas at home, but they have been a very poor road team this year. Their best effort were close losses to LSU and Oklahoma.
In conference, MSU has been offensively efficient and defensively challenged, having the second-best OE in the league. They are also one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, and considering the brutal beating Auburn laid on the Wildcats on the offensive glass, this has to be a major concern.
The Bulldogs also get to the line, and they make their free throws. So Kentucky is going to have to address two of the major problems they faced in the Auburn loss in this game, or they’ll wind up dropping two in a row for the second time this season. Unlike the Auburn loss, which is somewhat excusable, this one would hurt too much to contemplate.
Tweet of the Morning
Calipari says he’s going to try something new and different with EJ. Hmm? We shall see tomorrow night.— John Huang (@KYHuangs) February 3, 2020
Well, EJ has certainly underachieved his prodigious talent this season, so I’m all for it.
- Vince Morrow staying at UK could be the deciding factor in the recruitment of four-star all-purpose back Mike Drennen II.
- UK players celebrate as former UK defensive coordinator Matt House, now a part of the Kansas City Chiefs organization, gets a Super Bowl victory.
- How we’ll remember Kentucky’s 2020 recruiting class.
- Auburn’s strategy on Nick Richards worked — and may be copied by others.
- Dan Dakich says UK dealt with the “worst officiating of the year...” against Auburn. I don’t know if that’s true, but Auburn definitely got a friendly whistle. You expect that at home, but it should be subtle, not in-your-face, and I was feeling a facial on Saturday.
- Ashton Hagans among Bob Cousy award midseason finalists. He sure didn’t play like one on Saturday.
- Is there anything to learn from Kahlil Whitney’s exit from Kentucky? Nope. Nothing to see here but a lack of patience possibly driven by a family situation and pressure from incoming players. Move along.
- Cliff Omoruyi, a long-time UK 2020 big man interest, took a big step forward in the latest recruit rankings.
- Tom Leach is reviving a sports talk show killed by corporate downsizing.
- Former UK star Reggie Hanson talks about overcoming adversity and discovering your ability.
- UK signee Brandon Boston gets bump in rankings all the way to #4 in the country.
Other Kentucky sports
- Hoops star Rhyne Howard named to John r. Wooden Award late-season top 20 watchlist. She has a decent chance to win this if the Wildcats go deep in March.
- Gary Parrish takes Jesse Newell to task for refusing to cast a top 25 vote for Auburn. Parrish says he is a “bright and talented guy,” but this is evidence to the contrary, at least of the “bright” part.
- Bob Huggins takes the NCAA and NBA to task, saying the NBA has trickled down into NCAA basketball, forcing offensive-friendly changes that have “screw[ed] up the game.”
Other sports news
- Could Lynn Bowden Jr. be headed to the Ravens to join Lamar Jackson? Some mock drafts think so.