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Links: Kentucky basketball takes a fall on Rocky Top

Kentucky guard Malik Monk (5) slipped on some water near the bench after a timeout turning the ball over as Tennessee defeated No. 4 Kentucky 82-80 on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 in Knoxville,TN.
Kentucky guard Malik Monk (5) slipped on some water near the bench after a timeout turning the ball over as Tennessee defeated No. 4 Kentucky 82-80 on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 in Knoxville,TN. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Wednesday:

Kentucky can’t get out of its own way in loss at Tennessee, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “Kentucky, which had shot 50 percent or better in seven straight games, struggled against Tennessee. Calipari suggested UK’s 41.7 percent shooting (fourth worst of the season) reflected not getting the ball to Bam Adebayo enough and holding on to it too much instead of passing."

My three takeaways from the loss on Rocky Top. “As much as anything, however, the Cats were hurt on the defensive end of the floor. Tennessee shot 53.3 percent from the floor in the second half. Rick Barnes’ team is young, too, but the Vols turned the ball over just nine times, compared to 18 assists. Coming into the game, Tennessee was averaging 18 assists and 11 turnovers in its 10 wins and 10.6 assists and 15.6 turnovers in its nine losses."

Tennessee’s Rick Barnes knows how to beat Kentucky, writes Mark Wiedmer of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “As Kentucky’s fourth-ranked Wildcats ran onto the Thompson-Boling Arena court for their final warm-up before Tuesday night’s game against Tennessee, a chorus of boos blanketed the visitors as had not been heard inside the Boling Alley all season. ‘I always feel a little extra excitement when Kentucky comes in here,’ Bob Kesling, the radio voice of the Volunteers, said an hour from tipoff. ‘I think everybody does.’”

Tennessee deserved this one, writes Mike Strange of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “So if this was a teaching tool for Kentucky, what is it for Tennessee? If nothing else, it was a terrific evening at Thompson-Boling Arena, the best of the season. It was worth staying up late for ESPN’s 9 p.m. tip-off. Bernard King, noted Kentucky-killer, dropped in for a standing ovation. Ron Slay, the 2003 SEC player of the year – he’s back at UT finishing his degree – took a bow.”

Are road games Malik Monk’s Kryptonite? asks Kyle Tucker of SEC Country. “It’s a good thing for Kentucky basketball that no NCAA Tournament games are played on the road, because opposing gyms are apparently Malik Monk’s kryptonite. Tuesday night’s upset loss at Tennessee, in which he went 3 for 13 from 3-point range, was just the latest flop. In the first five true road games of his college career, Monk is shooting just 27.8 percent from beyond the arc and averaging nearly three turnovers. In home and neutral-site games combined, he’s shooting 43.6 percent from three and averaging 1.8 turnovers.”

Calipari says players aren't putting team first, reports Alex Forkner of the Cats Pause. “The Cats’ head coach declined to call any particular player out but did say he could “go right down the line” and point to undisciplined play. Defensively, Kentucky allowed 42 points in the paint, the most the Vols have scored against any SEC opponent. Stops were few and far between, especially when UK needed them most. Tennessee made all five of their final field goal attempts to close out the win.”

Kentucky trips up at Tennessee, reports Fletcher Page of the Courier-Journal. “”Maybe we got arrogant,” UK coach John Calipari said. “It comes back to what I’m accepting as a coach, and obviously I’m accepting this kind of play from young kids. I’ve got to do a better job, and I will.”

Maybe Kentucky was looking ahead to Kansas, writes Keith Taylor of KyForward. “When you are coaching young teams and starting four freshmen, and playing a couple of sophomores, you get this sometimes,” Calipari said. “Now we have got to go back, and hopefully this grabs their attention and we get back to how do we have to play as a team to try to beat one of those teams? What we were tonight, we are not. A lot of that credit goes to Tennessee.”

West Virginia whips visiting Kansas, reports Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star. “Frank Mason — who had four rebounds, two assists, two steals and three turnovers — scored just five points on 2-of-9 shooting in the first half as KU (18-2, 7-1 Big 12) trailed West Virginia (16-4, 5-3) 38-35 at the break. “

Louisville destroys Pittsburgh, reports Rick Bozich of WDRB. “Desperation defined Pitt’s pre-game dialogue. The Panthers (1-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) had not won in 20 days, and coach Kevin Stallings questioned his team’s performance to the media earlier this week. Motivation edge, Pitt, right? Wrong. The only trap was thinking this was a trap game. Louisville. Easy. Ridiculously easy. Historically easy. Looks like a misprint easy. Make it 106-51 easy, the second-largest loss in Pitt (as in Quit) history.”

Kentucky shooting percentages last 10 games

Date

Opponent

FG

FGA

Pct

12/17/16

vs. North Carolina

40

74

0.541

12/21/16

@Louisville

23

58

0.397

12/29/16

@Ole Miss

37

74

0.500

1/3/17

Texas A&M

33

63

0.524

1/7/17

Arkansas

32

61

0.525

1/10/17

@Vanderbilt

34

67

0.507

1/14/17

Auburn

32

56

0.571

1/17/17

@Miss State

33

65

0.508

1/21/17

South Carolina

28

48

0.583

1/24/17

@Tennessee

25

60

0.417

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