Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky basketball stays unbeaten, but has things to fix

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari directed his offense as #1 Kentucky defeated Boston University 82-62 on Tuesday November 24, 2015 in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari directed his offense as #1 Kentucky defeated Boston University 82-62 on Tuesday November 24, 2015 in Lexington, Ky. Lexington Herald-Leader

In addition to my column, three more things from Kentucky’s 82-62 win over Boston U on Tuesday:

1. "We do have good shooters. We just don't have good makers."

That was John Calipari's assessment after his team went three-for-15 from three-point range in the 20-point win over the Terriers. The Cats were two-of-11 from behind the arc in the first half. They were one-of-four in the second half.

Tyler Ulis missed four of his five treys. Jamal Murray was just two-of-five from three. Derek Willis missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc.

"It's just one game," Murray said.

Not really. Through five games, UK is 19-of-73 from three-point range for 26 percent. Ulis has made just four of 19. Murray is eight-of-26. Isaiah Briscoe has missed six of his eight three-pointers.

"I thought Tyler should have taken a couple of others," Calipari said. "Like he took a tougher shot on a drive. I said, 'You got to shoot the first one, and we've got to live with it. And then you got to get in the gym and make sure you're getting more confident shooting the all. Because we all watched him, he was a 43-percent shooter last year. What is he this year? 16 percent. Think about that."

2. Better effort than last Friday

Tuesday night was a better performance than last Friday's sleepwalk of a win over Wright State. That was the post-Duke letdown game. Kentucky was more into it against Boston U, especially in the second half.

Consider that Friday night, Kentucky claimed just 26.9 percent of its offensive rebounds. That's a low number, especially for a Calipari team. Tuesday, the ORP number was back up to 48.6 percent, ranking second this year behind the NJIT game when Kentucky got 57.9 percent of its offensive rebound opportunities.

Alex Poythress had another double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Five of those rebounds came on the offensive glass.

Transcript of John Calipari’s post-game press conference after Boston U

3. More on Skal

I wrote on Skal Labissiere for my game column, but deadline considerations kept me from getting much of what Calipari said about his freshman center into the column.

Here's the rest:

"He's getting better," Calipari said. "Look, last year, I think I'm going to get for him to see where Karl (Anthony-Towns) was in some of these games, because it may have been Buffalo he had three points and two rebounds last year. Couldn't get it to the basket, was shooting fadeaways, couldn't get a ball, had a couple of blocks. It's going to take time.

"Skal, he's trying, but this is all new. He doesn't react like the other guys right now. He's got to start reacting quicker. React quicker to voice. When someone says something to you, you can't look at them, 'What? What? What?' You got to react to it. 'Switch. Help. Step up, Skal, step up.' You can't be stepping back. And that's kind of where he's still figuring stuff out.

"And I say that, he had 16 points and seven rebounds and three blocks and a steal. And we're like, he's got a long way to go. So we're looking for like 25 and 20 and 12 blocks."

Cal said the last part with a look of disbelief on his face.

Kentucky men’s basketball next five games

  • Nov. 27 @South Florida (5:00/ESPN)
  • Nov. 30 Illinois State (7:00/ESPN2)
  • Dec. 3 @UCLA (9:00/ESPN)
  • Dec. 9 Eastern Kentucky (7:00/ESPN2)
  • Dec. 12 Arizona State (3:15/ESPN)