Kentucky came out flat, and the Tigers simply couldn’t miss in the first half, leading to a 40-27 halftime lead. However, these guys played with a lot more energy after the break and got it close.
Every time Kentucky would cut the lead to under five, Mizzou would quickly respond and extend the lead back out. But UK kept fighting back and stayed in it until the end.
Next up, the Cats will return to Lexington to take on the Tennessee Volunteers, who are in a slump of their own after losing three of their last five games.
3 Wildcats didn’t make the trip
Two Cats and one assistant coach didn’t make the trip to Columbia on Wednesday night—Terrence Clarke, Jacob Toppin, and Joel Justus.
Clarke has obviously been out for several games now with his ankle injury, but Toppin and Justus were new to the absentee report. Toppin was apparently out with a non-COVID related illness, while Justus stayed home to continue working with Clarke on his return from injury.
Call me crazy, but it seems Justus could have been the one who either contracted COVID or came into contact with it that kept the team out of Saturday’s game against Texas. This isn’t confirmed, but seems plausible.
Fletcher is officially back
Cam’Ron Fletcher has been back with the team for over a month now, but he hasn’t played since the December 19th loss to North Carolina. He had been getting solid minutes prior to that time.
However, Fletcher played in his first game Wednesday night since being sent home back in December. He didn’t play much and he didn’t do anything notable, but it was nice to see the kid back on the floor with his team.
Ware came to play
Lance Ware took all of Toppin’s minutes Tuesday night and he made the most of it. He scored well, rebounded really well, and even block a few shots.
Ware has a long way to go, but he played really, really well. He’s not the most hyped recruit or the most talented, but he plays hard and that’s what this team needs. If he can give that kind of effort AND production, then he has to see the floor more going forward.
Mintz got hot
Davion Mintz got off to a slow start, but he got hot in the second half. Mintz knocked down multiple threes, usually when Mizzou was getting ready to pull away. He kept the game close and gave his team a spark they so desperately needed after the break.
Mintz has been inconsistent at times, especially shooting the deep ball. but he got hot and got into a rhythm in this one. He’s the Cats’ best shooter outside of Dontaie Allen. If he can get a little more consistent, that would be huge for this team.
A few other Cats chipped in, too
Keion Brooks, Jr. and BJ Boston played efficiently and gave Kentucky some really solid minutes. Boston’s struggles have been documented, while Brooks has been a steady positive, but both were on their game tonight.
Neither player dominated the box score, but both were in double figures and knocked down a couple of threes, and Brooks rebounded at a high rate.
Isaiah Jackson was his usually freakish self. He blocked a handful of shots, while recording multiple steals, rebounding at an elite rate, and scoring a few as well. Jackson is this team’s best player and pro prospect and it’s no secret.
We’re at the point where you have to highlight as many positives as possible or else you’ll go crazy watching this team. These three guys earned some praise for their play Tuesday night.
Askew finally made a shot!
I wish I was overexaggerating, but Devin Askew hadn’t made a field goal in Kentucky’s previous three games before Tuesday. He’s been struggling big time and seemingly regressed after a positive handful of game subsequent to Clarke’s injury.
While Askew still shot poorly, he limited turnovers, passed well, and finally made a shot! Well, he made a couple of buckets actually, and despite his poor play recently, it was nice to see the ball go in the hoop.
Kentucky played hard in the second half, but once again, they couldn’t pull out a win. On to the next one.