Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky basketball says effort isn't the problem with rebounding

Kentucky head coach John Calipari and the bench during the second half of UK’s 88-66 loss to Florida in Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Fl., Saturday, February 4, 2017.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari and the bench during the second half of UK’s 88-66 loss to Florida in Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Fl., Saturday, February 4, 2017. Lexington Herald-Leader

Two days later, still one of the more disturbing stats in a game full of disturbing stats was the way Kentucky was destroyed on the boards Saturday night at Florida.

In the 88-66 thrashing of the then No. 8-ranked Cats -- UK dropped to 15th in this week’s AP poll -- Florida outrebounded Kentucky 54-29, a rebound margin of minus-25 for the visitors, which is eight rebounds worse than any previous game in the eight-year John Calipari era.

Florida outrebounded UK 35-13 in the first half on the way to a 34-26 halftime lead. The second half was a little better. The Gators won the boards 19-16 in the final 20 minutes as they outscored Kentucky 54-40.

How much of the astounding margin was just a lack of effort on Kentucky’s end?

“When you go back and watch the tape, it wasn’t so much effort,” UK assistant coach Tony Barbee said during the preview for Tuesday night’s game against LSU. “I thought our guys were going after the glass. A little bit of (Florida’s) spacing offensively led to that. The four-out system that they run leaves one guy near the basket. So now they’ve got guys flying in. They’re big on the wing.”

There’s only one thing wrong with that explanation. Florida entered last Saturday as just an average rebounding team. In fact, in all games, the Gators ranked seventh in the SEC in rebound margin at +2.3. Kentucky ranked second at +5.7.

And heading into the Florida game, Kentucky had outrebounded each of its previous nine opponents, including a +13 margin in the overtime win over Georgia the Tuesday before the trip to Gainesville.

“Our guards have got to rebound better,” Barbee said. “When you see a guard like (Chris) Chiozza, who is a fantastic player, but he’s 5-9, 5-10, 5-11, come up with nine rebounds, and some of our bigger, more athletic guards don’t come up with as many as he did, we’ve got to get better rebounding from our guards. Our bigs are doing a fairly good job of holding it down in there.”

Isaiah Briscoe is averaging 5.1 rebounds per game, but remember, UK starts three guards. Malik Monk is averaging just 2.4 rebounds. De’Aaron Fox is averaging 4.4.

Still, UK center Bam Adebayo hasn’t had double-digit rebounds in a game since Dec. 3 against UCLA, when he had 13 boards. In fact, Adebayo posted double-digit rebound totals in three of the team’s first eight games. He hasn’t grabbed more than nine rebounds in a game since. He did that once -- in the loss at Louisville on Dec. 21.

Through his first 23 games as a freshman, DeMarcus Cousins had 14 games of double-digit rebounds. Anthony Davis had 12. Karl-Anthony Towns and Patrick Patterson each had five.

In 2010-11, his first and only year as UK’s starting center, Josh Harrellson had 10 double-digit rebound efforts in his first 23 games.

Kentucky outrebounded by double digits in Calipari era

Date

Opponent

Margin

Result

3/3/10

@Georgia

-10

W

3/12/10

vs. Alabama (SEC)

-12

W

11/9/12

vs. Maryland

-16

W

2/16/13

@Tennessee

-18

L

12/6/13

vs. Baylor

-16

L

1/18/14

Tennessee

-15

W

12/5/14

Texas

-11

W

1/24/15

@South Carolina

-12

W

2/3/15

Georgia

-12

W

4/4/15

vs. Wisconsin (NCAA)

-12

L

12/26/15

Louisville

-10

W

1/5/16

@LSU

-14

L

1/30/16

@Kansas

-11

L

2/4/17

@Florida

-25

L

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