Sidelines with John Clay

A Hamidou Diallo revival would help Kentucky basketball’s cause

Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo (3) is held back by teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22) after a foul call during UK’s loss to the Tigers 69-60 in a college basketball game against the Missouri Tigers at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo., Saturday, Feb. 3 2018.
Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo (3) is held back by teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22) after a foul call during UK’s loss to the Tigers 69-60 in a college basketball game against the Missouri Tigers at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo., Saturday, Feb. 3 2018. aslitz@herald-leader.com

Kentucky’s chances of knocking off a resurgent Texas A&M on Saturday night in College Station would be greatly helped if Hamidou Diallo could find a way to shake out of his current slump.

For the first time in his college career, the redshirt freshman guard failed to score on Tuesday night, playing a season-low 13 minutes in UK’s 61-59 loss to visiting and 15th-ranked Tennessee.

Dillao missed all three of his shots from the floor, including two three-point tries. He failed to get a rebound and committed two turnovers in what has become a trend for the 6-foot-5 Brooklyn product.

As you remember, Diallo joined the team the second semester a season ago, but stuck to his plan of practicing and not playing in games. He put his name in the 2017 NBA Draft and impressed scouts with his 7-foot wingspan and 44.5-inch vertical leap, the second-highest in NBA Combine history.

Questions about perimeter shooting prompted Diallo to return to Lexington, however. And he started the season well, scoring 18 points in the season opener against Utah Valley, 16 in the win over Vermont, then 14 in UK’s 65-61 loss to Kansas in the Champions Classic in Chicago.

During a stretch from Nov. 26 through the SEC opener against Georgia on Dec. 31, Diallo scored in double figures in seven straight games, including a season-high 23 points against Monmouth back home in Madison Square Garden and 20 points in the win over ACC member Virginia Tech in Rupp Arena.

Of late, however, Diallo’s production has tailed off considerably. He has reached double figures in just three of UK’s last 11 games. He’s managed just 10 points in the Cats’ last three games.

Shooting has continued to be a problem. Though third on the team in scoring at 11.5 points per game, Diallo is shooting just 42.9 percent from the floor and 31.5 percent from three-point range. Over UK’s last six games, he’s 4-of-15 from three-point range.

He’s also just a 62.2 percent free throw shooter, though he has made six of seven from the foul line over the past four games.

Kentucky basketball individual game-by-game stats in a Google Doc

Diallo has become frustrated, noticeably so in some instances when he has appeared to argue with head coach John Calipari on the bench. That’s not been unusual for Calipari’s players over the year and the coach has said he doesn’t have a problem with feedback, but the player has to be right in what he’s saying. According to Cal, that hasn’t always been the case.

In the final moments of UK’s 69-60 loss at Missouri last Saturday, Calipari was upset when Diallo fouled a Tiger in the backcourt as Mizzou tried to bring the ball up the floor. Though not going into specifics, Calipari later complained that some players were not listening to instructions in the huddle.

Though a redshirt last season, Diallo is still a freshman. He’s obviously more talented than what he’s shown in SEC play, especially what he has shown lately. After all, Diallo was a second-team preseason All-SEC pick by the coaches.

Over these last seven regular-season games, Kentucky needs that Hamidou Diallo.

Hamidou Diallo game-by-game

Date

Opponent

MP

FG

FGA

3P

3PA

FT

FTA

TP

11/10/17

Utah Valley

25

8

16

2

4

0

0

18

11/12/17

Vermont

30

6

13

1

2

3

4

16

11/14/17

vsKansas

30

4

11

0

3

6

7

14

11/17/17

ETSU

27

3

7

0

1

1

2

7

11/20/17

Troy

29

3

12

0

1

2

6

8

11/22/17

Fort Wayne

28

3

7

2

3

0

0

8

11/26/17

UIC

26

8

11

0

0

3

3

19

12/2/17

Harvard

26

7

16

0

3

5

6

19

12/9/17

vsMonmouth

30

8

13

1

2

6

10

23

12/16/17

Virginia Tech

34

7

16

4

7

2

4

20

12/23/17

vsUCLA

29

7

18

1

5

3

5

18

12/29/17

Louisville

29

5

11

1

2

3

6

14

12/31/17

Georgia

34

3

8

0

1

4

8

10

1/3/18

@LSU

22

3

8

1

2

0

0

7

1/6/18

@Tennessee

16

2

5

1

2

0

0

5

1/9/18

Texas A&M

34

6

9

0

2

6

9

18

1/13/18

@Vanderbilt

39

2

7

1

2

5

8

10

1/16/18

@South Carolina

25

1

5

0

0

3

6

5

1/20/18

Florida

31

3

8

1

4

1

2

8

1/23/18

Miss State

27

3

8

0

2

0

1

6

1/27/18

@West Virginia

25

4

8

1

1

4

5

13

1/30/18

Vanderbilt

31

5

11

2

4

0

0

2

2/3/18

@Missouri

22

3

8

0

2

2

2

8

2/6/18

Tennessee

13

0

3

0

2

0

0

0

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