Head coach John Calipari’s team was incredibly flat out of the gate, which has been somewhat of a trend against quality teams so far this season. The Wildcats made lineup adjustments late in the first half to inch closer to tying the game, but never saw a lead in the second half en route to losing their third game of the season.
For whatever the reason may be, the Wildcats simply can’t put together a complete, 40-minute performance — especially away from home. Inconsistency and lack of creativity on offense has plagued Kentucky early, creating deficits the Wildcats simply can’t climb out of.
Kentucky held UCLA to 45% shooting (25% from downtown) and saw the Bruins make just 46% of their free throws. But defense only goes so far when the Wildcats made just 32% of their field goals (28% from downtown) and shot a pitiful 38% from the free throw line.
It’s difficult to have much enthusiasm when looking at the rest of Kentucky’s season. There are several ranked teams in the Southeastern Conference and non-conference games with teams like Kansas also lie ahead.
Kentucky’s best lineup of the night was Sahvir Wheeler, Cason Wallace, Chris Livingston, Lance Ware and Oscar Tshiebwe. If you missed the game, yes — you’re reading that correctly. If there’s any sort of “bright spot” to take from Saturday night’s loss, it’s the play of Livingston. The highly touted freshman hasn’t had many opportunities this season, but he made the most of his minutes against UCLA by leading the team in scoring with 14 points on 5-7 shooting and grabbing four rebounds. His ascension against a top opponent has to be a major confidence boost moving forward and that could lead to a more consistent scoring option for Kentucky, which is much needed from the wing position.