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Postgame notes from Kentucky’s loss to Ole Miss

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The Wildcats finish the season 4-6 in true road games.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The 70-62 result of Tuesday night’s game at Ole Miss handed the Kentucky Wildcats their 15th loss of the season.

A 15-loss season is certainly unfamiliar territory for head coach John Calipari, but the fact that Kentucky will be held under double-digit wins for the regular season is also quite troubling.

The Wildcats will return home and end their regular season on Saturday against the South Carolina Gamecocks. The best possible finish will be 9-15, though there’s a chance Kentucky could end the year with twice as many losses as they have wins (8-16). Either way, their odds of winning the SEC Tournament aren’t favorable.

All season long Kentucky’s team has felt like a “bunch of guys” on a basketball court. A lack of chemistry, lack of execution on offense and what seems to be a lack of quality coaching has all played an equal part in the down year for UK basketball.

While Kentucky has strung together a few “nice” seasons in recent years, no one can deny that the program has lacked in delivering on what a majority of Big Blue Nation expects coming in to each season.

Never in the Calipari era has there been any expectation short of competing for a national championship banner, or at least to appear in the Final Four each season. But that has of course changed this year and it’s difficult to imagine what the future holds for Kentucky.

Now, here are the postgame notes from Tuesday’s loss via UK Athletics.

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky drops to 8-15 overall, 7-9 in the Southeastern Conference.
  • UK is assured of a losing record in league play for the first time since going 8-10 during the 1988-89 season.
  • Kentucky is now locked into the Thursday games (quarterfinals) in the SEC Tournament next week in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • The Wildcats finished the season 4-6 in true road games this season.
  • Ole Miss is now 14-10 on the season, 9-8 in league play.
  • Despite the loss, Kentucky leads the overall series 108-14, including 29-11 in games played in Oxford, Mississippi.
  • The loss snaps an 11-game UK winning streak in the series and a four-game winning streak at Ole Miss.
  • Next up: Kentucky will conclude the 2020-21 regular season Saturday at noon in Rupp Arena vs. South Carolina. The game is a reschedule of the originally scheduled Dec. 29 matchup that was postposed due to a combination of positive tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the South Carolina men’s basketball program.
  • UK will finish with 24 regular-season games. Matchups vs. Detroit Mercy, Texas A&M and Texas were canceled due to COVID issues.

Player Notes

  • Keion Brooks Jr. led the Wildcats with 16 points. After making just 6 of 21 shots over the previous three games, he made 8 of 14 on Tuesday.
  • He also paced UK with eight boards, the sixth time he’s led Kentucky in rebounding in his 14 games played this season.
  • Olivier Sarr scored 15 points thanks to an 8-of-10 day at the free-throw line.
  • He has scored in double figures in seven of the last 10 games.
  • Davion Mintz tied his career high with eight assists (previously done vs. Marquette on Jan. 21, 2017) to go along with 10 points.
  • He has scored in double figures in four straight games and is averaging 16 points during that stretch.
  • Mintz led UK in scoring in road games this season with a 12.7 average. He was the only Wildcat to average double figures in true road games this season.
  • Isaiah Jackson reached double figures for the fifth straight game with 13 points and added three blocks but fouled out for the third time in six games.
  • He is averaging 14.6 points and 2.4 blocks over the last five games.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari is now 338-92 at UK.
  • Calipari has a 783-232 all-time on-court record.
  • UK is 274-54 under Calipari against teams unranked in the Associated Press Top 25.
  • Calipari is 16-5 in his career vs. Ole Miss.

Team Notes

  • After making 66 of 74 (89.2%) at the foul line over the last three games, UK made just 15 of 25 in this one, 60%
  • On the plus side, Kentucky dished out 16 assists and only seven turnovers.
  • Kentucky forced 17 turnovers, tied for its second most this season. In the previous two games with 17 or more opponent turnovers, UK won.
  • The Wildcats generated 19 points off those turnovers.
  • The Wildcats made only 37.5% from the field. UK is 0-9 this season when failing to make at least 40% of their shots.
  • Entering the game with a plus-3.0 rebounding margin, UK was outrebounded 42-28 and gave up 11 offensive rebounds.
  • The Wildcats fell to 2-6 this season when getting outrebounded.
  • The minus-14 rebounding margin was UK’s worst mark of the season.
  • Ole Miss entered the game averaging 5.1 3-point field goals per game on 28.5% from long range. Against UK the Rebels made 8 of 13, 61.5%.
  • UK fell to 1-14 this season when failing to score at least 76 points.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky started Devin Askew, Davion Mintz, Brandon Boston Jr., Isaiah Jackson and Olivier Sarr for the 10th time this season.
  • UK is now 4-6 with that starting five.
  • Keion Brooks Jr. was the first substitute at the 17:17 mark.
  • Ole Miss opened the game with a 10-4 lead, but the Wildcats answered with a 7-2 run.
  • The Wildcats went nearly six and a half minutes without making a field goal to fall behind nine and started just 5 of 23 from the floor overall.
  • After that 5-for-23 start, Kentucky made its next eight shots.
  • A 3-pointer by Boston at the 5:17 mark ended an 11-2 Ole Miss run to cut the UK deficit to 23-16 and was the Wildcats’ first field goal since a dunk by Jackson with 11:42 left in the half.
  • The Boston 3 was part of an 8-0 Kentucky run to pull withing 23-21.
  • The Wildcats went into the halftime locker room down 32-29.
  • UK is now 3-9 when trailing at the half this season.
  • Brooks broke out of a recent shooting slump by making 4 of 8 in the first half for eight points.
  • Mintz dished out five assists in the first half, one off his season high (six vs. Georgia Tech).
  • UK’s 29 points in the first half were its fewest before halftime since scoring 27 at Missouri on Feb. 3.

In the Second Half

  • Kentucky started Mintz, Boston, Jacob Toppin, Jackson and Sarr.
  • After falling behind by five to open the second half, UK went on an 8-0 run.
  • The Wildcats took their first lead of the game, 35-34, since 2-0 during the run on a circus 3-pointer by Mintz from four feet behind the arc as the shot clock expired.
  • Kentucky took its biggest lead of the game at 46-40 on a 7-0 run.
  • Ole Miss answered with a 13-4 spurt to take a 53-50 lead with 9:14 left. The Rebels would lead the rest of the way.
  • Ole Miss led by as much as 65-57. UK hung close but didn’t make a field goal after Brooks’ layup with 3:30 left until a Brooks jumper with 16.8 seconds left.