[caption id="attachment_341185" align="alignnone" width="2560"] Ole Miss Athletics
When it comes to Kentucky's losses this season, if you've seen one, you've seen them all. It's the same movie, same script, nearly every time. They're going to get you excited, they're going to go on a long scoring drought, and when it's close in the final minutes, the other team will find the way to win.
It happened yet again in Oxford, Mississippi in the late Super Tuesday game and now we're all up way past our bedtimes to have the same conversations we've had countless times already this season. Kentucky lost again. Kentucky lost at Ole Miss of all places. It sucks. We're not used to this. Seasons like this were never supposed to happen at UK, but it's happening and now a program that can't stomach 10-loss seasons will need to win its only two guaranteed games on the schedule for a 10-win season.
The latest version of the 10 takeaways following a 62-70 loss...
The Devin Askew conversation is a difficult one.
He's not ready, never has been. And that should be OK, but he is being asked to play 30 minutes a game because someone, not him, failed to recognize this problem ahead of time. So instead of being a true freshman playing 10-15 minutes per game behind a capable point guard he can learn under, he is the point guard and it's just not working in Year 1 of his time at Kentucky.
In the Ole Miss loss Askew scored a +/- of -19 in only 17 minutes played with zero made shots for a second straight game. His final stat line reads zero points, zero assists, zero steals and zero fouls, only one turnover (there's a positive) and a rebound to his name. The empty box score follows an 0-for-5 game with more turnovers than assists in 30 minutes against Florida.
Fortunately, Calipari made the decision to finally give Askew a rest and let Mintz take over. It worked, but it was only a small bandage on the overall problems. This team isn't equipped to be good and it begins with a severe lack of playmakers, or even a real point guard, in the backcourt.
And again, that's not Askew's fault. The staff whiffed on evaluations and now they're asking too much of the talent they recruited, leaving people like you and me to have these difficult conversations about what we're seeing from Kentucky Basketball. I think most, if not all fans support Askew in his struggles and believe there are good days ahead if he sticks around. But right now, he's not ready to be the lead role.
Davion Mintz sees Vince Carter in the mirror.
Mintz is 6-foot-3 and dying to put someone on a poster before his time at Kentucky is done. Tuesday night he got blocked while auditioning for the role of Dirk Minniefield, but I love the effort in trying to punch in a seven-point lead on someone's head in the second half.
Mintz also turned heads when he gave Kentucky its first lead in the game with this wild 3-pointer early in the second half.
He's easily the fan favorite, right?
Kentucky left too many free points out there.
It's easy to imagine a different ending if Kentucky makes its free throws. With the game on the line under that dreaded four-minute mark, UK missed five free throws, one being the front end of a one-and-one. There are six points alone, left at the line in the closing minutes of an eight-point game.
Kentucky shot 60 percent (15-for-25) in the entire game, so bad that Calipari broke character and called out his team's shooting in the postgame press conference. "Make a free throw," he said. "I got mad. Normally I don’t do much on that but I had enough of missed free throws."
Olivier Sarr and Isaiah Jackson got abused on the glass.
Calipari pointed to the rebounding differential as the No. 1 factor in Kentucky's loss to Ole Miss. The Cats entered the game with a +3 per game average on the boards, but the Rebels pulled down 14 more rebounds (42-28), the largest margin in a couple of years for Kentucky.
Olivier Sarr got pushed around all night. Only Keion Brooks contributed on the glass with a team-high eight rebounds and even he was getting abused inside by the Ole Miss bigs.
Foul trouble got Jackson again.
For the fifth time in the last six games, Jackson's minutes were cut short due to foul trouble. Things were looking good and then he got two cheap fouls in a matter of seconds early in the second half, thus earning him a spot on the bench where his extraordinary length and athleticism are useless.
Of course Ole Miss shot the lights out.
Kentucky did enough to lose the game on its own; it didn't help that Ole Miss hit double the number of 3-pointers it averages per game this season. Usually good for about four a game with a 29 percent success rate as a team, Ole Miss hit eight of 13 attempts against Kentucky, one of the unluckiest team in the KenPom luck rankings. Sammy Hunter hit three 3-pointers, more than he hit in the 23 other games combined.
ESPN broadcasts are so bad.
I'm sure Mike Schmitz is a wonderful person. This is not a statement about Mike Schmitz. It's about ESPN doing in-game podcast interviews with Mike Schmitz about BJ Boston when the game is going on. Also, Mike Schmitz was talking about BJ Boston's inability to score while the graphic on the screen gave Boston straight A's, including in scoring. Boston went 1-for-9 by the way and his confidence looks pretty drained.
I wish he'd consider another year in Lexington.
One positive note: the assist-to-turnover ratio was much better.
Kentucky had 16 assists and seven turnovers, the second fewest all season, against a team known for getting steals and creating turnovers. Kentucky turned Ole Miss over 17 times.
We shouldn't comment on Coach Cal saying he may give Dontaie Allen some of Devin Askew's minutes until we've all gotten a full night's sleep and calmed down from the loss and eaten a hearty breakfast and maybe even after a good workout or two.
In case you missed it, Calipari said Mintz may take over at point guard which would then open a spot for Dontaie Allen. “With (Mintz) at point," he said, "it gives a chance for Dontaie to maybe now come in and be that other guard too.”
Kentucky is headed toward the 8-seed/9-seed game in the SEC Tournament.
Get ready for a noon tip-off on Thursday of the SEC Tournament, completely new territory for this fan base. Win that one and it's another noon game on Friday. The opponent? No. 1 seed Alabama.
Y'all have a good night.