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Kentucky loses heartbreaker to Arkansas: 4 things to know and postgame banter

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Brutal.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Kentucky Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats took to the court on Tuesday trying to avoid their fourth consecutive loss. But after a decent showing in the first half, and a great comeback to take the lead in the final seconds, things once again crumbled with a late turnover as Kentucky lost to Arkansas 81-80 after two free throws with 4.3 seconds left.

The Wildcats were led in scoring by BJ Boston with 17 points. Kentucky showed a balanced attack in the scorebook, but it had less to do with sharing the ball and more to do with the fact that nobody could scored a ton. It seems that the struggles for this team have no end in sight, and here is what you need to know from Tuesday’s game.

Point Guard

At one point this season, the Kentucky Wildcats thought they had solved the point guard issue with Terrence Clarke. However, with Clarke lost to injury for the year, both Devin Askew and Davion Mintz have been relied on to lead the offense. Neither has been outstanding, and most of the time neither has been adequate.

On Tuesday, it looked like John Calipari finally threw his hands up and decided that he would try anything. At one point, BJ Boston was running the point with a bigger lineup. Of course, that did not necessarily produce better than other lineups we have seen. But what is the answer at this point? Try different guys out in search of something that works this year? Or get Mintz and Askew more reps to prepare for the future?

Turnovers

Am I having deja vu? Of have I written this column before? I know this was not the Cats’ worst game statistically for turnovers, but they have to be the worst passing team we have seen in Lexington. Their entry passes are a mess. They have trouble passing in the paint. And there is no player on the court that makes you feel like the ball is safe. If I had to pick the primary suspect in sabotaging this season, it would be turnovers.

Dontaie Allen’s Defense

John Calipari has recently spoken about balancing shooting with defense, and Arkansas certainly came in with a game plan to exploit Kentucky’s shooters. On the offensive end, the Wildcats continually went at Dontaie Allen and created open looks. When his guy was not scoring, the helper’s assignment was getting an open look.

However, we need to remember that this is Dontaie’s first season of college basketball. He is a freshman on the court, and has a ton of room to grow as a player, especially defensively. Is he struggling now? Absolutely. Does that mean he cannot defend? Absolutely not.

The Future

I know this list is supposed to be about this game, but what about the future? At what point does a team change its strategy to start focusing on the seasons ahead? Which young players should be getting experience at the expense of veterans closing out their career?

Coach Cal has often spoken about focusing on these kids and this season. But from a program perspective, do you not have to consider scrapping this season? There is a lot of talent coming in next year and potentially just as much returning from this roster. How can the remaining games on the schedule be used to prepare this program for the future?