Calipari taking suggestions on fixing slow starts
1. The Malik Monk double-figure streak is over
The Arkansas native came one game -- one game! -- from scoring in double digits in every single regular season game of his freshman, and probably only, college season.
Monk scored just six points by going two-of-10 from the floor, zero-for-four from three-point range and two-for-two from the foul line. “Malik was awful,” said head coach John Calipari matter-of-fact afterward.
Box score from UK’s 71-63 win over Texas A&M
Monk’s previous season-low was 10 points in the season opener against Stephen F. Austin when he went four-of-14 from the floor. So you could say his two worst shooting games came in the first game of the season and the last game of the season.
It also continued the trend of where the 6-foot-3 guard has not played nearly as well on the road as he has at home. As I blogged this week, Monk entered Saturday averaging 25.4 points in SEC home games and 18.2 in SEC road games.
He finished the conference season 48 of 126 from the floor on the road for 38.1 percent compared to 71 of 142 at home for an even 50 percent. Monk made 35 of 66 three-pointers at home for 53 percent. He ended up 16-of-54 from deep on the road for 29.6 percent.
As I wrote in my column, however, the good news is UK has no more road games.
2. Robert Williams is going to be a stud
Texas A&M’s 6-9 freshman from Vivian, Louisiana has come a long way from January when Kentucky rolled to a 100-58 win over the visiting Aggies. Williams scored eight points and grabbed two rebounds in 17 mintues in Lexington.
Saturday, nearly two months later, Williams scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Aggies. He was nine-of-15 from the floor. He even made one of his two three-point attempts. He was just one-of-five from the foul line, but he blocked two shots and grabbed six offensive rebounds.
“He killed us,” said Calipari.
It’s little wonder the NBA scouts -- several of which made the trek to College Station on Saturday -- are in love with Williams. Draft Express has him 12th on its ratings board. ESPN’s Chad Ford has Williams ranked 14th.
3. Isaiah Briscoe contributes but he has to make shots
Kentucky finished with 17 assists compared to just six turnovers, its best assist-to-turnover ratio since piling up 24 assists compared to just eight turnovers in the 99-76 win at Ole Miss in the SEC opener way back on Dec. 29.
Isaiah Briscoe had much to with Saturday’s success in that area. The sophomore led the Cats with eight assists to go with his seven points and six rebounds. He had just one turnover in 32 minutes.
He also went just three-of-eight from the floor, missing both his three-point attempts, and one-of-four from the foul line.
“I didn’t think he had energy to start the game and when Dom (Hawkins) went in everybody saw it, like oh my gosh, it just changed what happened,” Calipari said. “But then De’Aaron Fox gets the second foul and (Briscoe) goes back in and he has a will to win. He’ll will his team.”
Kentucky basketball individual game-by-game stats in a Google doc
“But making free throws, making open shots, got to do it. He can’t (say),’ ‘Well, I’m ok.’ No you’re not. He is a good enough shooter to make free throws. He’s a 33-34 percent three-point shooter. He’s a 70 percent free throw shooter. And he’s going 1-for-4 or 5. Not acceptable. Not acceptable. Can’t have that guy in late game if it’s a close game, they’ll foul him.
“Defensively, you look at every tough ball he came up with in that game: The offensive rebound on the free throw, that was him. There were two rebounds down at the other end, where they missed, that was Isaiah Briscoe. That’s who he is.”
Kentucky in SEC under John Calipari