The Kentucky Wildcats fell to the Saint Peter’s Peacocks on Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by a score of 85-79.
Let’s just say this wasn’t pretty. The Cats struggled from the start—to score, to defend, all around. Kentucky went into the break tied 37-37, and they were probably lucky it was that close.
After the break, the frustration continued, but UK finally got some stops and looked poised to pull away.
It just never happened, and as UK led by four in overtime, missed free throws plagued the team as they fell apart.
Defensive struggles finally doom Cats
St. Peter’s ranks 260th in the country in offensive efficiency, but apparently that didn’t matter in this one. Kentucky has struggled on the defensive end for the better part of a month now, and they clearly haven’t those issues.
St. Peter’s scored 37 in the first half alone, while shooting 47% from the field and 56% from the three. To say the defense was atrocious is an understatement. The Cats have been showing red flags and the BBN should definitely be concerned.
Just a sad performance all around.
Toppin came to play
The defense was certainly poor, and has been, but the offense has been just as much a concern in the last few weeks. After a horrific showing against the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC Tournament, Kentucky came out sloppy and unprepared once again to play in the halfcourt.
One guy that did come to play is Jacob Toppin. Toppin’s obviously been a bit up and down this season, but when Keion Brooks has struggled, Toppin is usually there to pick up the slack just as he was in this one.
Even though Toppin is inconsistent and his offensive game isn’t nearly as polished as Brooks’, his ceiling is much higher and UK’s best lineup includes him in it.
Grady’s struggles continue
Kellan Grady’s struggles over the last several games have been duly noted and, unfortunately, he didn’t shoot himself out of his slump. Kentucky’s best deep threat has virtually disappeared, and it’s not a coincidence that UK hasn’t been the same during that time.
The Cats are not a championship caliber club, especially with the way their defense has been, without Grady putting things back together. Grady looked unplayable in this game. He’s reverted back to not taking open shots for whatever reason. Just not acceptable, and a brutal way for his college career to end.
Tshiebwe does Tshiebwe things
Kentucky’s biggest bright spot is the one that’s shown brighter all season long. The consensus first team All-American dominated once again on his way to setting the modern era single season rebounding record.
Tshiebwe has been UK’s rock all season long, and we all knew it’d be no different in March than it was the rest of the year. Big O finished with a 30-point double-double in this one. The most humble player on the court is the best, and it was tragic seeing him in tears when the game ended.
Awful way to end a disappointing season. Oscar deserved better.