The Kentucky Wildcats returned home after an exciting win on the road on Saturday, and ultimately fell flat against the SEC-leading Alabama Crimson Tide. Behind an incredible shooting performance, Alabama ran away with the game to get the 85-65 victory.
This was certainly a set back compared to Saturday’s win against Florida, but there were also flashes of improvement and fight from the Wildcats that we did not see in December. Kentucky was led in points by Isaiah Jackson with 14, and eight different players put points on the board. Jackson also asserted himself in the paint with six rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Unfortunately, the Cats could not produce enough on the offensive end to keep up with the hot-shooting Crimson Tide. Here is what you need to know from the game, and an opportunity to share in the agony of defeat.
Honoring Ben Jordan
Ben Jordan was a member of Kentucky’s 2019-2020 basketball team in a walk-on role, but he was also part of the baseball team’s pitching rotation. Early Tuesday morning, the devastating news broke that he had passed away at the young age of 22. As part of their morning process and to honor their former teammate, the Kentucky Wildcats all wore No. 33 t-shirts to represent Jordan.
Keion Brooks is human, after all
Keion Brooks started this season off as he ended the last one, dominating in Gainesville. But in his second game back from injury, he struggled in a number of areas. He was only two for seven in the first half with four points, three rebounds, and two turnovers. He did not look like the same player we saw on Saturday, but he did turn it around a bit in the second half.
For this team to make a run at the tournament, they need Brooks to be the guy that gets the team going. They need him to be there to put an end to those long offensive droughts. They need him pounding the glass. They need him drawing attention to get other guys open looks. He was not that guy on Tuesday, but perhaps he set the bar just a little too high on Saturday against Florida.
Offensive woes return
In Gainesville, Kentucky looked like they had an innovative offensive game plan that was virtually impossible to stop. They were hitting guys on backdoor cuts, nailing three-pointers, and sharing the basketball like a veteran team that has been together for a while.
Reality hit the Wildcats in Lexington, however. The Wildcats were back to their ways of turning the ball over, forcing bad shots, and creating shots for themselves instead of sharing the ball. Fans had hoped that Saturday’s game was a revelation, but at this point it looks like it could have been an anomaly.
During the Wildcats’ six game losing streak way back in 2020, this team looked like they could not care less about losing and failing. And although they trailed the entire game against Alabama on Tuesday, they fought and fought to get back in the game. That kind of fight is what they will have to have to stay above water in the SEC standings. It’s just unfortunate the Cats were so bad in nearly every other area that it negated this.
Devin Askew continues to improve
After spending two and a half hours watching Alabama nail three-pointers, it can be easy to miss the subtleties of what was happening on the other side of the court. Throughout the season, Devin Askew has continued to improve incrementally, and he took another step forward on Tuesday.
After scoring Kentucky’s first six points of the game, Askew went on to finish second on the team with 12 points on the day. He shot nearly 50% from the floor, hit all of his free throws, and had only three of Kentucky’s 19 turnovers despite playing more minutes than anyone. His development will be important for the remainder of this year, but also potentially for the next season or two to come.