By Ricky Blair
UCLA hands Kentucky it’s first loss of the season with an 87-77 win. The Wildcats youth and inexperience were exposed in Los Angeles as the Bruins led pretty much from start to finish.
Skal Labissiere really struggled with the physical play of UCLA’s front line of Tony Parker and Thomas Welsh. Welsh finished with a game high 21 points and 11 rebounds, Welsh was 8 for 11 from the field and UCLA as a team shot an incredible 53 percent. Labissiere on the other hand was pretty much a no-show, with 6 points and only 1 rebound. He was limited to only 16 minutes, mostly because of foul trouble, but even when he was on the floor his effectiveness was not very good. Fellow UK big man Marcus Lee left the game early in the first half with a head injury and did not return to the game. He was limited to 4 minutes, but did have a basket and two rebounds, before the injury.
UK was led in scoring by freshman Isiah Briscoe who had a career high 20 points, it was the second game in a row in which he posted a career best. Briscoe was one of the few bright spots for the Wildcats as the Bruins completely dominated the game; UCLA led for 38 of the 40 minutes and was up by as many as 15 points in the second half. Fellow freshman Jamal Murray chipped in 17 points, it was his sixth consecutive game scoring in double figures, but Murray was not as assertive as Briscoe and waited until late in the game before he really tried to make a difference.
Kentucky’s futility was shown by allowing a season high 87 points and allowing the opponents to not only shoot 53 percent from the field, but also a season high 45 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. In addition the Wildcats committed a season high 27 fouls on the day. It was a hard lesson for the younger players on how physical you must play at this level, but it will be a learning experience for the youthful Wildcats.
With the loss the Wildcats will fall from their national number one ranking with a 7-1 record and will have to regroup as they take on the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Wednesday.
On the bright side Kentucky has now been ranked number one in the nation in five of Coach John Calipari’s seven seasons.
By Ricky Blair