[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Life after Nerlens began today on the road in Knoxville in an arena filled with the worst possible shade of Orange in the universe. Anytime you lose the potential number one pick in the draft and defensive player of the year you know things have the potential to be rough. However this team is still loaded with talent and an ability to rally around their fallen comrade. Well today that just didn’t happen as the Cats were outmanned from the get go and ran off the court. The sooner we get through this post the sooner we can forget, here’s how the game played out:
-Earlier this week Cal was critical of a couple guy’s effort in practice and I think we can assume who those two were as Alex Poythress and Ryan Harrow were left out of the starting lineup. Instead Polson and Wiltjer got the nod to join Mays, Goodwin, and Cauley-Stein. The lineup brought in the opening minute with a few blocks and intensity but that quickly began to fade as shots refused to fall.
-Unfortunately for the Cats just about every attempt for the Vols found its way to the bottom of the net in the first half. Tennesee made it look easy as they shot 57% and 4-4 from beyond the arc en route to fifty first half points. FIFTY! This is the same UT team that scored 36 points in a loss to Georgetown earlier this season. Yet without the defense of Nerlens Noel they looked like world beaters.
The second half was more of the same as UT had their way with the Cat’s offense and continued to roll pushing the lead to as many as 38. Tennessee would finish shooting 58% , 5-5 downtown and Trae Golden would lead the way with 24 points. The win marked the largest margin of victory for Tennessee over the Cats and just the 5th time since the fifties the Cats lost by over 30 points. So what was the reason for this blowout?
-Archie Goodwin continued to play without poise or any semblance of control. Which lead to Coach Cal yelling “I can’t coach you” to the freshman guard. At one point in the game Goodwin, Poythress, and Harrow were all riding the pine resulting in a lineup nobody could have predicted coming into the year. Goodwin scored 7 points on 2-9 shootin while racking up charges and dumb fouls. He hasn’t changed to this point in the year, I just don’t think that it’s going to happen.
-Alex Poythress didn’t respond to coming off the bench very well as he finished with four points and fouled out with 9 minutes left in the game. Poythress was the guy we needed to step up with Noel gone and that just didn’t happen. He shot just four shots and never looked like he wanted to be playing in front of his home state. This team is going to go as he goes and today’s result was a result of Alex’s poor effort.
-Willie Cauley-Stein also didn’t perform well in his starting role. Following Poythress fouling out Willie decided to join him moment later as he finished with 2 points and 2 rebounds. WCS didn’t look awful at times on the defensive end but he’s just not in the same league as Nerlens. He will have to reign in his game and quit fouling if he is going to help this team win.
-Ryan Harrow also coming off the bench saw all the other guys fouling out and decided he wanted in on the fun as well. 0 points, 0 assists in 18 minutes of play was his final line and he never looked like he really cared. This is not what you want to see from the guy who should be your starting point guard. Just a month ago it appeared Harrow had made the leap but lately he has regressed back to his from at the beginning of the year. What is the next step for the man thought to be the floor general of our team?
-If not for the three guys who give consistent effort this game could have been much worse. Polson, Wiltjer, and Mays are the three most unathletic guys who actually get some playing time yet are always out there playing to the best of their ability. Polson finished with 11 points and even though he was outclassed by Golden played tough defense the whole game. Wiltjer finished with 18 points to lead the Cats despite not having his shots fall early. Mays was mister consistent once again as he scored in double figures for the fifth straight game. If we could somehow take the intensity from these guys and put it into the others then perhaps we would have a different outlook on the rest of the season.
Since debuting the new cursed jerseys Kentucky has now lost Noel to an ACL tear and suffered their worst loss to Tennessee. Can we just agree to burn the new look?
So what now? We just suffered the worst loss of the Calipari era and answered the question of the teams resolve with a disappointing no. Next up is Vandy at home. Yes the team we nearly collapsed against down in Nashville. How are the Cats going to respond after today’s absolute destruction? Hard to say but at this point it’s looking like a trip to the NIT is all but guaranteed.
[powered by WordPress.]
32 queries. 0.457 seconds