Sidelines with John Clay

Links: Reviews of Kentucky basketball’s loss to Kansas

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) scores two of his 21 points as Kansas defeated Kentucky 79-73 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday, November 28, 2017 in Lexington, Ky.
Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) scores two of his 21 points as Kansas defeated Kentucky 79-73 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday, November 28, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Sunday:

The clock is ticking on this Kentucky basketball team, says my column. “Forgive the coach if he’s more optimistic, or putting on a more optimistic front than most of his team’s followers. You would have thought that after Tuesday night’s upset loss at Tennessee, the Cats would have been motivated and determined to turn it around Saturday. Despite all the hype of ESPN’s “College GameDay,” of having Michael “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” Buffer on hand, and Steve Zahn’s push to have the Rupp crowd break an indoor noise record for the Guinness Book of World Records (accomplished), the Cats went quietly in the second half. “

Kansas doesn’t wilt in the heat of Rupp Arena, writes Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star. “With a rare sense of disarray swirling around the program and days after a dud loss at West Virginia, Kansas entered its game at Kentucky on Saturday ranked second in the nation, yet seeming to be reeling. Considering the fourth-ranked Wildcats are again teeming with NBA prospects and 129-5 at Rupp Arena under coach John Calipari and that KU would be playing with just eight scholarship players in the wake of the suspension of Carlton Bragg, even Kansas fans had to be skeptical of what was going to happen here.”

Kansas caps UK’s week with a second straight loss

Kansas’ strength, Kentucky’s weakness coincide in blue-blood showdown, writes Pat Forde of Yahoo. “His team trailing by nine points and his only reliable big man in foul trouble, Bill Self switched his Kansas team into a zone defense late in the first half against Kentucky. The Jayhawks promptly gave up an open foul-line jump shot to De’Aaron Fox that he swished, making the score 31-20. And that was the last easy possession the Wildcats had against the Kansas zone for a small eternity – certainly long enough to let the game slip away.”

Signature win for Kansas is a missed chance for Kentucky, writes Eamonn Brennan of “If the Wildcats were actually wild cats and the Jayhawks’ 79-73 road victory on Saturday was a nature film, the final 10 minutes of the first half -- when Kentucky committed eight turnovers and went into the half leading just 32-27 over a Kansas team that had shot 0-of-8 from 3 -- would confound even Richard Attenborough. How often do cheetahs, having successfully stalked and wounded their prey, casually refuse to finish it off?”

Kentucky suffers a damaging loss, writes Matt Norlander of CBS Sports. “This game and resume value for both teams meant a lot, of course. Kentucky needed it more, and had more to lose, because it was hosting and it plays in a far inferior conference and it lacked/still lacks top 40-type wins in comparison to Kansas. So this outcome will certainly have tangible effects come Selection Sunday, barring a double-digit winning streak. The Wildcats have no chance of leapfrogging the Jayhawks for a No. 1 this season. KU is still in the driver’s seat to land on the top line. Kentucky’s 1-seed hopes aren’t totally gone, but with a 1-3 record against the four toughest opponents they’ve faced (UCLA, North Carolina, Louisville, Kansas), and with only one of those games being on the road.”

Another Kentucky team, more growing pains, writes Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal. “When It was all over but the shouting, the shouts came from Kansas. The University of Kentucky set a quasi-official arena noise record Saturday night at Rupp Arena, its home crowd reaching 126.4 decibels in front of a representative of the Guinness Book of World Records. But at the end, earplugs were unnecessary. When the final buzzer sounded, the visitors had scored a 79-73 victory as a boisterous crowd dwindled through early departures.”

Cal: Better defense and toughness are UK priorities going forward

Calipari questions Kentucky’s toughness, writes Rick Bozich of WDRB. “On Saturday when Kansas and Kentucky played at Rupp Arena, this is what the wise guys said was on the line: A number one seed. Write this down for further reference on Selection Sunday: advantage Kansas. The short-handed Jayhawks crackled into Rupp, fell behind by a dozen points 10 minutes into the game and then surged past John Calipari’s team for a 79-73 victory. The Wildcats (17-4) have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season and for the first time since they lost to Tennessee and Kansas in consecutive games last season.”

Lights, camera, collapse for the Cats, writes Kyle Tucker of SEC Country. “Everything about Saturday night at Rupp Arena mirrored the Kentucky basketball team that lost there to Kansas: It was all a big tease, so much sizzle before the fizzle. There was enormous buildup to the fourth-ranked Wildcats hosting the second-ranked Jayhawks, thanks to ESPN and its traveling College GameDay show. There was sensory overload, thanks to Michael Buffer on the microphone, national championship trophies sprawled out on the court before tipoff and repeated attempts to break a world record for indoor crowd noise – which they did. And then it was "Let’s get ready to STUMBLE!" Kansas 79, Kentucky 73.”

Kentucky’s problems persist, writes Alex Forkner of the Cats Pause. “Kentucky has problems. A few of them, in fact. In the Cats’ 79-73 loss to No. 2 Kansas, UK’s deficiencies were laid bare in front of a crowd loud enough to set a world record and a national TV audience. The problems weren’t new, as John Calipari had described his team’s ‘slipping’ days before tipoff. Against the Jayhawks, the backsliding continued. While UK’s sloppy play – the Cats committed 17 turnovers, tying their season-high – was bad enough, the lapses on the defensive end doomed Kentucky to just its sixth loss in Rupp Arena over the past eight years.”

For Derek Willis, a good night takes a bad late turn, writes Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “For Willis, the shame of being on the wrong end of the game’s pivotal play was that Kentucky would not even have been close without his shooting. Willis hit both his three-point tries in the first half when Kentucky had a chance — but failed — to put cold-shooting Kansas (12-of-30 field goals, 0-of-8 three-pointers) away. Up 31-19 with 3:39 left before halftime, UK (17-4) watched KU end the half on an 8-1 run to pull to 32-27 at the intermission.”

Calipari’s comments after loss to Kansas

How AP Top 25 fared on Saturday

  • No. 2 Kansas beat No. 4 Kentucky 79-73
  • No. 3 Gonzaga beat Pepperdine 96-49
  • No. 5 Baylor beat Ole Miss 78-75
  • No. 6 Florida State lost to Syracuse 82-72
  • No. 9 North Carolina lost to Miami 77-62
  • No. 10 Oregon lost to Colorado 74-65
  • No. 11 Butler lost to Georgetown 85-81
  • No. 14 Note Dame lost to Georgia Tech 62-60
  • No. 15 Wisconsin beat Rutgers 61-54
  • No. 16 Creighton beat DePaul 83-66
  • No. 17 Duke beat Wake Forest 85-83
  • No. 18 West Virginia beat Texas A&M 81-77
  • No. 21 Saint Mary’s beat Santa Clara 72-59
  • No. 22 Maryland beat Minnesota 85-78
  • No. 23 South Carolina beat Missouri 63-53
  • No. 25 Florida beat Oklahoma 84-52