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The UK Wildcats fresh off an impressive 81-45 win over Morehead State in the Bluegrass Showcase, found the Richmond Spiders a much tougher opponent as the young Cats fell at home, 76-64.

UK appears to be starting to develop a pattern of early season disappointing losses.

In the early stages of the 2018-19 season UK played Duke in the Champions Classic. The Wildcats were beaten in every phase of that game by the absurd score of 118-84.
Jump forward to last seasons humiliating loss at home to the Evansville Aces 67-64.
Then there was todays Spider Bite. A 76-64 beatdown by a hard working Richmond team who didn’t show any fear playing the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena.

Call it several things. Richmond being far more experienced, Kentucky’s high turnover margin, or maybe the Wildcats poor Free Throw shooting (20-33). The one stat that stood out to me above anything else, the Spiders had 15 assist to Kentucky’s 5. Thats right 5 assists on 22 field goals.

A look inside the numbers show several areas where UK gave this game away, or more like Richmond took the game. As stated before, Free throw shooting and assists were a couple areas, another was turnovers, UK had 21 of them which Richmond converted in to 22 points. Conversely the Spiders committed only 10. Another mind boggling stat, Richmond had 10 steals to Kentuck’s 4. In fact, Richmonds’ Jacob Gilyard had 5 all by himself. 

After a slow start shooting the ball, the Spiders out shot UK for the game 43.3% to 36.1%. Speaking of shooting woes, UK went 0-10 from the 3 point line while Richmond drained 7 of 28 three point baskets. UK looked lathargic and not ready for the game. 

Scoring for Richmond was Burton with 11, Cayo with 18, Golden with 13, Gilyard 6, Francis with 18, Grace with 3 and Gustavson with 7. The Spiders had a very balance attack.

On the Wildcats side of the ball Kentucky had 6 players score with Fletcher dropping in 4, Sarr with 17, Askew with 2, Boston Jr. with 20, Clarke with 15 and Jackson with 6.

Kentucky went in to halftime with a 32 -28 lead before coming out in the second half and having the wheels come off.  At the 14:49 mark of the 2nd Half, Boston Jr. put UK up 41-39, from there it was all Richmond. The Spiders would outscore UK 37 to 23. 

UK will now move on to face #6 Kansas in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. That doesn’t leave alot of time for these young Cats to put this loss behind them and prepare for a very good Jayhawk team. It is a long season and Kentucky has the talent to make a run for the National Championship. Losses like this don’t do much to settle the fanbase during this odd 2020 year.

KENTUCKY MEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME NOTES 
RICHMOND at KENTUCKY / RUPP ARENA AT CENTRAL BANK CENTER | LEXINGTON, KY / NOVEMBER 29, 2020 
ATTENDANCE: 3,075

Final Score: Richmond 76, No. 10/9 Kentucky 64

Team Records and Series Notes                                       

  • Richmond takes the Bluegrass Showcase with a 76-64 win. Richmond is 2-0 and Kentucky is 1-1.
  • This was the first meeting between the teams.
  • Next: Kentucky plays Kansas in the Champions Classic on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The game will be televised on ESPN. 

Bluegrass Showcase All-Tournament Team

  • Nathan Cayo (Richmond), Most Valuable Player
  • Grant Golden (Richmond)
  • Brandon Boston Jr. (Kentucky)
  • Olivier Sarr (Kentucky)
  • Julius Dixon (Morehead State)

Player Notes   

  • Brandon Boston Jr. scored 20 points and recorded the first double-double of his career with 10 boards.
    • He led the Wildcats in scoring in both games of the young season, averaging 17.5 points per game.
    • He also led UK in rebounding in the opening week with 8.5 boards per game.
  • Olivier Sarr had 17 points and 11 rebounds. It is his first double-double at Kentucky and 12th of his career.
  • Terrence Clarke tallied 15 points, his second game in double figures, to go along with six rebounds.
  • Isaiah Jackson had six points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
  • Keion Brooks Jr. missed his second straight game with a left leg injury. He remains day-to-day.

Coach John Calipari 

  • Calipari is now 331-78 at UK.
  • Calipari has a 776-218 all-time on-court record. 
  • UK is 268-45 vs. Associated Press unranked foes under Calipari. Richmond is receiving votes in the current polls.
  • The Wildcats fell to 184-12 in Rupp Arena under Calipari.
  • Looking ahead to next game, UK is 55-13 under Calipari following a loss.

Team Notes 

  • Kentucky had a plus23 rebound margin, 54-31, and won second-chance points 19-10.
  • It was a tough shooting day for the Wildcats, who made 36.1% from the field, were 0 for 10 from 3-point range and 60.6% at the foul line.
    • It was the second time in the last 73 games that UK did not make a 3-pointer. The previous time came March 15, 2018, when the Wildcats went 0 for 6 but won an NCAA Tournament game over Davidson. Prior to that Davidson game, UK had made a 3-pointer in 1,047 straight games heading into that Davidson contest, which at the time was the longest streak in the nation.
  • Kentucky managed just five assists and zero in the second half.
    • The five assists are tied for the fewest of the Calipari era, tying a five-assist performance in an overtime win vs. LSU on Feb. 22, 2014.
  • The Wildcats’ 12-points loss in Rupp Arena is tied for the largest defeat at home of the Calipari era.
  • Kentucky’s 21 turnovers were its most since 22 mishaps in a win vs. ETSU on Nov. 17, 2017.
    • UK also lost by 12 points to Texas A&M, 83-71, on Jan. 12, 2013.
  • It’s only the third time in 12 seasons of the Calipari era the Wildcats failed to start 2-0.

In the First Half 

  • The starting lineup consisted of freshmen Devin Askew, Brandon Boston Jr., Terrence Clarke, Cam’Ron Fletcher and senior Olivier Sarr, the first start for that combination.
    • Davion Mintz and Isaiah Jackson were UK’s first substitutes at the 15:41 mark.
  • A closely contested first half saw Richmond’s largest lead at three points at 14-11 and UK’s largest advantage was four points on two occasions.
  • Tied at 26, Sarr scored UK’s final six points as the Wildcats went to halftime ahead 32-28. Sarr paced the Cats with 14 points in the opening stanza.

 In the Second Half 

  • Kentucky opened the second half with Askew, Boston, Clarke, Jackson and Sarr.
  • Kentucky lengthened its led to six points at 34-28 and 36-30 before Richmond put together a 9-0 run to take the lead at 39-36.
  • UK responded with a 5-0 run to go back ahead 41-39.
  • Richmond got a basket-and-one from Nathan Cayo, putting the Spiders ahead for good at 42-41.
  • The visitors steadily increased their advantage, including a 7-0 run that put them ahead 58-46.
  • UK got within eight at 58-50 with six minutes to go but got no closer.
  • Richmond stretched the lead to as many as 16 points at 72-56 and 74-58.

 

Kentucky Players Comments

#3 Brandon Boston Jr., Fr., G

On lack of assists in the second half …
“I feel like we we’re into the game too much. I feel like that’s something we have to work on everyday just getting one more, getting our teammates involved and knocking down shots and making the game easier for each other.”

On recognizing his offensive responsibility for this year …
“I feel like I have a big responsibility uplifting and encouraging the team to just fight through adversity all the time and just take it day by day. We’re a new team and we played against an experienced team and we just are taking this one game at a time.”

On experience against youth …
“It showed tremendously, you know they were going down, rebounding, making plays, executing and those things we just weren’t doing.”

On the new environment at Rupp with no ability to feed off of the crowd …
“We just have to stay locked into the game all 40 minutes and just trust our work. We need to go out there and compete all game long.”

On foul line trouble and 21 turnovers …
“I feel like those are two things we can fix in practice. If we would have lowered those numbers, we would have come out with a win.”

On the biggest lesson for tonight’s game and motivation for the next …
“The biggest lesson we learned is we gotta hit free throws. We gotta take care of the ball and we just have to play as a team, honestly. I feel like this had to happen to us now. I’d rather for it to happen to us now rather than later. I feel like next game we will come in with a clear mind and a fresh mindset.”

On improving shooting behind the arc …
“I feel like we just gotta get out there every day. That’s something we’re constantly working on every day. We just gotta get in the gym and put up more shots just to get our confidence back up. Our guys’ bodies are changing and there’s different ways to shoot so we’ve got to keep tackling it every day.

On hitting 3s in practice …
“Yeah, we’ve been hitting 3’ in practice and like I said that’s something we work on all day, every day in the mornings and again at night. It’s just a game that they weren’t falling.”

 

#30 Olivier Sarr, Sr., F
On his activity level tonight and the factors that led into it … 

“We knew it was about to be a tough game, so Coach just talked to me after the last game that I needed to bring energy from the jump and that’s what I tried to do.” 

 

On if today’s workload affected his play today … 

“No, I didn’t play that much last year because of foul trouble, so it’s something that I need to get used to now.” 

 

On his preparedness going into today’s game having played Richmond earlier in his career … 

“Obviously, the focus was, just be ready because this is an experienced team. They’ve been together since my sophomore year I think. We played them. I’ve got to do a way better job of being a better leader on the court, making sure guys are locked in, and making sure I’m locked in too and just making sure we just do the right play all the time and to take care of the ball. You know just the little things that’s what matters the most.” 

 

On the lessons for younger players on the team … 

“True, I mean it’s a lesson for all of us, but once again it’s the second game of the year. We have to pick our heads up because we have a whole lot of games coming up. We have another game on Tuesday and we just got to get ready for that one, watch film. Learn from our mistakes and just move on you know.” 

 

On how he prepares the younger teammates for the quick turnaround Tuesday night … 

“Don’t overthink it you know? Like I said on the court all the time, ‘It’s the next play. You make a mistake, next play.’ You can’t just stay on that one and put your head down and all of that. It’s the same games after games, plays after plays. I think it’s just next play keep your head up, just think about making the right play and everything will take care of itself.” 

 

On the lesson from this early loss in the season … 

“From that loss, we all learn, because its everybody. We are a team so it’s not just the freshmen its everybody. I hope we learn that we are better, just taking care of the ball and making the right plays you know, like just knowing that teams are going to just be more experienced than us down the stretch. But we just have to play to our strengths.” 

 

On if the large number of turnovers today were self-inflicted or mainly imposed by Richmond … 

“I think it was both you know. I think a lot of times they did a great job on defense coming from the back, tipping the ball just as soon as we get it and stuff like that. I think we just got to communicate with each other, just letting one another know that that’s coming, a trap is coming. That somebody is trying to steal the ball or something like that. It’s just playing with poison you know.” 

 

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