Feb 16, 2013, 4:01 PM EDT
There was no glossing over the fact that Kentucky was going to have difficulties adjusting to the lack of star freshman Nerlens Noel in the middle of its defense. That being said, Saturday was ugly for the Wildcats, even with expectations being as they were.
Kentucky led for a total of 23 seconds against Tennesse at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, shooting just 36 percent in an 88-58 loss Saturday afternoon.
The absence of Noel is where the problems began for coach John Calipari’s team, but certainly not where they ended. Let’s begin with the obvious.
Without Noel in the middle, Kentucky looked like an NIT bubble team (at best) Saturday. The Wildcats were outrebounded by 13 and allowed Tennessee, a team that came into the game shooting 43 percent from the field on the year, to shoot 58 percent on the afternoon.
Kentucky defenders continued to work the Tennessee offense to the rim. The problem was, no Noel guarding the basket meant easy points.Tennessee took just twelve shots from outside the paint on Saturday and, because of that, shot 20-of-38 on the interior.
That forced Kentucky to collapse even further, which opened up the perimeter. The Volunteers hit nine of their twelve shots from outside the lane, including 5-of-5 shooting from three. Tennessee came into Saturday averaging just 63.7 points per game.
But Noel’s absence defensively doesn’t necessarily explain the offensive woes, too.
Point guard questions continue to linger in Lexington, especially after Ryan Harrow failed to score and fouled out in just 18 minutes on the floor. That came after Calipari started Jarrod Polson in his place. Polson finished with 11 points but no assists. And the problems move outward from there.
Polson was unable to guard Tennessee’s Trae Golden, who tallied 24 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor and 11-of-12 from the free throw stripe. Moving forward, how much of the defensive liability can be tolerated, especially considering the compromised interior?
With the lack of control on the perimeter, Willie Cauley-Stein fouled out after 23 minutes.
Alex Poythress was replaced in the starting lineup by Kyle Wiltjer, but that didn’t help to (excuse the ‘coach speak’) light a fire under him or any other applicable cliche. He, too, fouled out after posting four points. His lack of development is in part due to the lack of consistency at the point guard spot, but some of it could come down to effort especially considering his immense physical gifts and the flashes of dominance we have seen throughout the season.
There are a lot of pieces to this Kentucky puzzle. Taking Nerlens Noel out means it cannot be complete, but it is up to Harrow, Poythress, Wiltjer, Archie Goodwin, and others to prove how far this Wildcats team can go.
May 21, 2013, 10:25 AM EDT
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May 20, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT
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May 20, 2013, 8:30 PM EDT
Looks like Juan Anderson had second thoughts about leaving Marquette, because he’s headed back to the Golden Eagles’ program. Anderson had announced he was leaving the program last week. The junior-to-be has played sparingly in his two seasons on campus, and originally wanted to transfer to be closer to home. Turns out he would rather…
May 20, 2013, 7:28 PM EDT
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May 20, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
Bill Self might be challenging Rick Pitino for the title of “best college basketball offseason”. At least from a coaching perspective. Less than a week after top prep player Andrew Wiggins committed to the Jayhawks, Self got another big commitment, this one of a different one-year variety, as former Memphis forward Tarik Black has committed…
May 20, 2013, 6:15 PM EDT
Justin Tuoyo’s next stop is with a familiar face. The sophomore-to-be will be transferring to Chattanooga, where he will be reunited with Will Wade, who took over for with the Mocs after spending the past four seasons on Shaka Smart’s staff at VCU. The 6-9 Tuoyo averaged 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in his lone…
May 20, 2013, 5:35 PM EDT
Recently, the big trend has been to redesign a team’s home court with a cool graphic. Florida International recently pulled it off with a beach theme, Long Beach State did the same a few years ago. Oregon seemed to be one of the originators (as Oregon can be with this sort of stuff). Add George…
May 20, 2013, 4:50 PM EDT
A big announcement came today for Sacred Heart and Conference hoops as a whole as word came out that Dave Bike will retire as head coach after 35 years at the helm. His replacement has apparently already been found in assistant coach Anthony Latina. A news conference is expected sometime next week. Bike took over…
May 20, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT
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May 20, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT
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May 20, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Frank Haith has added yet another transfer to his program, as former Baylor wing Deuce Bello will finish up his playing career at Missouri. The news was first reported by Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com. “I have decided to play for Mizzou,” Bello told DeArmond. “We played them three times while I was at Baylor. I…
May 20, 2013, 12:16 PM EDT
We’ve known that Long Beach State was heading towards some roster upheaval for a few weeks now, but the news will soon become official: five players from last year’s team will not be on the roster next season. The three biggest names: Keala King, Tony Freeland and Deng Deng. They’re 49er careers are caput. A…
May 20, 2013, 11:44 AM EDT
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May 20, 2013, 10:23 AM EDT
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May 20, 2013, 9:17 AM EDT
It’s official now: Zay Jackson will be returning to the Murray State basketball team next season. That’s according to Andy Katz, who reported on Monday morning that Jackson had practiced with the Racers and earned a 2.75 GPA after spending 49 days in jail. If you’ve forgotten, Jackson was locked up for an incident in…
May 19, 2013, 10:06 PM EDT
Next October head coach Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies will begin their quest for a second consecutive (and ninth overall) national title. On Saturday the program continued a streak of sorts, as signee Saniya Chong was named Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year by Parade Magazine. Chong, who hails from Ossining, N.Y., is the…
May 19, 2013, 8:47 PM EDT
On May 8 it was reported by Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com that Marshall’s leading scorer, guard DeAndre Kane, would transfer to Pittsburgh for his senior season after graduating from Marshall. With an average of just over 15 points and seven assists per game last season, Kane would give the Panthers a needed perimeter scorer for…
May 19, 2013, 7:26 PM EDT
One byproduct of conference realignment has been the rebranding of some leagues, mainly to display the charting of a new path. That’s the case for the Sun Belt Conference, which will welcome multiple new members on July 1. The Sun Belt unveiled new primary and secondary logos on Sunday, as well as its new mantra…
May 19, 2013, 6:21 PM EDT
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May 19, 2013, 5:06 PM EDT
For all the accolades heaped upon Kansas signee Andrew Wiggins (and deservedly so), Parade Magazine went with another player for its 2012-13 Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. Semi Ojeleye, a Duke signee from Ottawa, Kansas, averaged more than 38 points per game this season while also getting the job done in the classroom to…
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