John Clay: Four key factors led to Kentucky's loss at Indiana

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistMarch 20, 2012 

Most everyone remembers Christian Watford's shot — ESPN has made it impossible to forget — and Terrence Jones' no-show and the raucous, red-clad Indiana faithful storming the home floor at the end of the Hoosiers' upset of No. 1 Kentucky earlier this college basketball season.

"That was four months ago," UK Coach John Calipari said Tuesday.

In real time, it has been just more than three months since Dec. 10 in Bloomington.

But here are four factors from that 73-72 game you might not remember — four factors that helped hand Kentucky its only loss of the regular season.

1. Kentucky did not take care of the basketball: The visitors committed 17 turnovers, compared with a mere nine assists.

Thirteen of those turnovers came in the first half. Jones committed five, Marquis Teague three.

"Marquis played better the second half," Calipari said. "His first half was not good."

That was UK's ninth game of the year, and the fourth time its turnover total was higher than its assist total. That would happen just five times the rest of the year.

It happened just twice in SEC regular-season play and did not happen at all between Jan. 15 and March 8.

2. Kentucky did not guard the three-pointer: Indiana made nine of 15 threes that wild afternoon. A couple of those triples enjoyed the luck of the bounce, including Will Sheehey's from the left wing that gave the Hoosiers a 10-point lead, 63-53, with 9:03 remaining.

Of teams that have attempted at least 15 threes against UK, only North Carolina shot a higher percentage. The Tar Heels were 11-for-18 from behind the line for 61.1 percent the week before.

Thanks to that three-point shooting, Indiana's effective field-goal percentage — which figures in the added worth of made three-pointers — was 50.9 percent. Only four other teams (Florida in the SEC Tournament, 57.5; Alabama, 53.0; North Carolina, 50.8; Mississippi, 50.0.) all year produced an EFG of 50 percent or better against the Cats.

(To figure effective field-goal percentage: Multiply the number of three-pointers made by 0.5. Add that figure to the total number of field goals made. Then divide that total by the number of field goals attempted.)

3. Kentucky did not stay out of foul trouble: OK, this wince-inducer you probably do remember.

Because of foul trouble, UK freshman Anthony Davis, who would go on to win numerous player of the year honors, played 24 minutes, his fifth-lowest floor time of the season.

Davis picked up his second foul at the 8:03 mark of the first half and sat the bench until halftime. He picked up his third foul just 2:25 into the second half. He got his fourth foul at the 12-minute mark when he touched Verdell Jones 25 feet from the basket.

Jones made all three free throws for a 56-47 Indiana lead, and Davis sat the bench until 6:28 remained.

"He left his feet twice, and he didn't need to either time," Calipari said on Tuesday when asked about Davis' fouls that day.

With 3:06 left, IU's Watford scored on a drive to the basket in which Davis failed to defend. When Calipari yelled at his freshman, Davis simply held up four fingers, signifying his four fouls.

Note: Davis finished with six points.

He hasn't had more than three fouls in a game since.

4. Kentucky did not close the deal: This was the second straight game in which UK failed to hit important free throws in the final minute.

Against North Carolina the Saturday before, Teague missed the front end of a bonus situation with 21.5 seconds left. Davis' block of John Henson's baseline jumper saved the day that day.

Against IU, Kentucky led 71-70 when Teague scored on a drive with 48.8 seconds remaining. But after Watford missed a jumper and Indiana fouled with 19.4 seconds remaining, Davis missed the front end of a bonus situation.

Then, after Victor Oladipo lost the ball on a spin move, UK's Doron Lamb was fouled with 5.6 seconds remaining. He missed the first free throw then, after a timeout, made the second for a 72-70 Kentucky lead.

Had Davis made his first free throw and Lamb made his second free throw, Watford's shot would not have mattered. Instead, it did matter.

Nearly four months later, it still matters a lot.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com

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