Sidelines with John Clay

Three take-aways as Kentucky basketball is blown away by Florida

Kasey Hill says 5-game skid vs. UK wasn't motivation

Florida guard Kasey Hill, who tied his career high of 21 points, said the Gators' five-game losing streak to Kentucky wasn't a factor in 88-66 win.
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Florida guard Kasey Hill, who tied his career high of 21 points, said the Gators' five-game losing streak to Kentucky wasn't a factor in 88-66 win.

Three take-aways from Kentucky’s 88-66 blowout loss to Florida on Saturday night:

1. Kentucky might not be sick, but the Cats aren’t well

If you’re a Kentucky fan, you were hoping to hear in the postgame press conference that there are bunch of Cats down with the flu, or mono, or some other mysterious illness that caused Mychal Mulder to miss a stretch of games, that knocked De’Aaron Fox out of the Georgia game last Tuesday and kept Sacha Killeya-Jones from even making the trip to Florida.

Sadly (not really), Fox said afterward that was not the case, that if there are other Cats playing under the weather, they haven’t told him about it.

You don’t need to be a doctor, or a “Basketball Bennie,” however, to know that there’s something wrong with this team.

Kentucky was outrebounded by 25 (54-29) by the Gators, which is seven more than any of Calipari’s previous Kentucky teams have been outrebounded. (Previous record was 18 at Tennessee in 2013, in the game after Nerlens Noel injured his knee at Florida.)

Here’s a stat: Bam Adebayo hasn’t had double-digit rebounds in a game since he had 13 against UCLA way back on Dec. 3. He’s your center.

Here’s another stat: Kentucky had a season-low seven assists. This is the same team that had 21 assists against Stephen F. Austin, 25 against Cleveland State, 24 against UT-Martin, 33 against Arizona State.

“We’re not passing the ball,” John Calipari said.

Kentucky Coach John Calipari talked about his team's 88-66 loss at Florida.

2. Refuse to lose became refuse to defend

Calipari said earlier in the week that his team needed more toughness and a “refuse to lose” attitude, but Saturday night, especially in the second half, the Cats refused to play defense.

Florida shot just 34.3 percent the first half on the way to a 34-26 halftime score, thanks in part to a 20-rebound advantage and Kentucky’s 30.0 field goal percentage. Calipari even went to a zone defense that was semi-effective, at least in keeping things close.

That all fell apart in the second half. Florida ended up making 18 of 27 shots for 66.7 percent over the final 20 minutes, but for much of the half, the Gators were well above 70 percent. They ended up at 48.4 percent for the game.

Florida outscored UK 54-40 in the second half on the way to not only snapping a five-game losing streak to the Cats but recording its biggest win by margin in the history of the series.

“I thought we were really focused,” Florida coach Mike White said afterward. “But then I thought we were really focused Thursday night (against Missouri).”

Calipari said he would have to look at the tape to judge the breakdowns on defense, but Florida ended up with not only a 32-30 advantage in the paint but an 18-8 margin in fast-break points.

Hill made eight of 16 shots, including a three-pointer. Devin Robinson was 5 for 7 from the floor on the way to 16 points. Florida turned it over 17 times, yet the Gators scored 88 points and averaged 1.169 points per possession.

Kentucky averaged a season-low 0.836 points per possession. The Cats shot 37.7 percent. Malik Monk, the league’s leading scorer, ended up with just 11 points, missing 10 of his 14 shots. He didn’t score in the first half.

Florida Coach Mike White talks about the Gators' 88-66 rout of Kentucky on Saturday.

3. Calipari: “Maybe we’ve hit rock bottom, maybe we haven’t.”

Florida is on the uptick. Since a 57-53 road loss at South Carolina and a 68-66 home loss to Vanderbilt, the Gators have won four straight, all by at least 22 points. Three were by 30 points or more.

Meanwhile, were it not for Malik Monk’s jumper that sent last Tuesday’s game with Georgia into overtime, a game UK won, the Cats would be on a four-game losing streak.

They lost by two (82-80) at Tennessee, a game in which Calipari said he told the team it had a problem. They then lost 79-73 to Kansas at home, then they rallied to beat Georgia 91-80. Then came the Saturday night blowout.

“I’m not cracking,” Calipari said he told his team afterward. “There might be some people in here that might be, but I’m not cracking.”

Calipari said he’d seen it all in his 30 years. He said he liked his team. He said he had good, talented kids who can stop the skid and get the thing turned around. They just need to go back to the way they played when things were going well. Defend. Rebound. Pass the ball.

Again, Calipari said his players are trying to make too many hard plays, too many “cute plays.” He’s right. There are too many fancy passes, lobs for dunks that aren’t there, "hero plays," as Calipari used to call them.

That goes back to the lack of discipline Calipari was harping on a month ago. At the time, he was talking about his team on the defensive end, but it applies to the offense now. Consider that UK has failed to cross the 1.0 points per game threshold in three of the past four games: 0.991 against Tennessee; 0.994 against Kansas; 0.836 against Florida.

How do you get it turned around? Luckily, a woeful LSU comes to Rupp Arena on Tuesday night. That’s an opportunity to get some confidence back.

As it stands now, however, Kentucky has dropped into a tie for second place in the SEC at 8-2. South Carolina is 9-1. In fact, the Cats would be the No. 3 seed right now in the SEC Tournament, behind South Carolina and Florida, which also is 8-2.

Kentucky guard De'Aaron Fox talks about UK's 88-66 loss to Florida in Gainesville.

Kentucky-Florida last 10 meetings

Date

Site

UK

UF

Dec

3/9/13

Lexington

61

57

W

2/15/14

Lexington

59

69

L

3/8/14

Gainesville

65

84

L

3/16/14

SEC Tournament

60

61

L

2/7/15

Gainesville

68

61

W

3/7/15

Lexington

67

50

W

3/13/15

SEC Tournament

64

49

W

2/6/16

Lexington

80

61

W

3/1/16

Gainesville

88

79

W

2/4/17

Gainesville

66

88

L

Kentucky men’s basketball 2016-17

Date

Opponent

UK

Opp

Dec

Rec

SEC

11/11/16

Stephen F Austin

87

64

W

1-0

 

11/13/16

Canisius

93

69

W

2-0

 

11/15/16

vs. Michigan State

69

48

W

3-0

 

11/20/16

Duquesne

93

59

W

4-0

 

11/23/16

Cleveland State

101

70

W

5-0

 

11/25/16

UT-Martin

111

76

W

6-0

 

11/28/16

vs. Arizona St.

115

69

W

7-0

 

12/3/16

UCLA

92

97

L

7-1

 

12/7/16

Valparaiso

87

63

W

8-1

 

12/11/16

vs. Hofstra

96

73

W

9-1

 

12/17/16

vs. North Carolina

103

100

W

10-1

 

12/21/16

@Louisville

70

73

L

10-2

 

12/29/16

@Ole Miss

99

76

W

11-2

1-0

1/3/17

Texas A&M

100

58

W

12-2

2-0

1/7/17

Arkansas

97

71

W

13-2

3-0

1/10/17

@Vanderbilt

87

81

W

14-2

4-0

1/14/17

Auburn

92

72

W

15-2

5-0

1/17/17

@Miss St

88

81

W

16-2

6-0

1/21/17

S Carolina

85

69

W

17-2

7-0

1/24/17

@Tennessee

80

82

L

17-3

7-1

1/28/17

Kansas

73

79

L

17-4

 

1/31/17

Georgia

90

81

W*

18-4

8-1

2/4/17

@Florida

66

88

L

18-5

8-2

2/7/17

LSU

     

2/11/17

@Alabama

     

2/14/17

Tennessee

     

2/18/17

@Georgia

     

2/21/17

@Missouri

     

2/25/17

Florida

     

2/28/17

Vanderbilt

     

3/4/17

@Texas A&M

     

John Calipari’s worst 10 losses at Kentucky

Date

Opponent

UK

Opp

Dec

Mrg

2/16/13

@Tennessee

58

88

L

-30

2/4/17

@Florida

66

88

L

-22

3/8/14

@Florida

65

84

L

-19

1/5/16

@LSU

67

85

L

-18

11/24/10

vs. Connecticut

67

84

L

-17

2/12/13

@Florida

52

69

L

-17

3/15/13

vsVanderbilt (sec)

48

64

L

-16

11/29/12

@Notre Dame

50

64

L

-14

3/2/13

@Arkansas

60

73

L

-13

1/12/13

Texas A&M

71

83

L

-12

2/27/16

@Vanderbilt

62

74

L

-12

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