Closing the book on Florida and Kentucky

Thomas Beisnerover 10 years

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Aritcle written by:Thomas BeisnerThomas Beisner
 kentucky-loses-florida1 A couple of late notes as we close the book on the Gators and Cats....  - Right off the bat, the immediate frustration seems to be with Coach Cal for not calling a timeout on the game's final possession.  When you're playing freshmen and you have a team that has struggled mightily in closing out games, a timeout certainly makes sense.  Having said that, though, it's hard to think Kentucky could get a better look at the basket than they did.  At this point, it's a given that Cal is not going to stop play at that point and he's more comfortable with his team playing against a defense in transition.  He just wants execution.  Against the Gators, he got it.  Brandon Knight just didn't make the shot. - Despite their furious frenzy to come back and take a lead before being unable to close it down, the Cats were again plagued by foul trouble and the inability to play a full forty minutes.  Florida is a good team.  But, playing on the road against teams that are good means that you have to play smart the entire game.  Kentucky didn't do it.  They committed dumb fouls throughout the game, leaving them without Josh Harrellson for the most part and without Brandon Knight at the end of the half when Florida put on a run.  After they came back in the second half, they didn't protect the ball after defensive stops and let the Gators go from down-3 to up-1 in a matter of seconds.  Now, they're saddled with yet another road loss, another close game that got away and the same questions that have lingered over their heads for the past several games.   - Along that same note, the question that seems to be being asked now is whether this team has regressed or if they just played above their heads early on.  As is the case with most things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but there is no question that Kentucky is a flawed team.  We knew it coming into the season, but it was masked for a long time as Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight carried the team and Josh Harrellson played above what anyone expected.  Now, the seem to be playing just as we thought they would all year.  Losing to Florida in Gainesville isn't a bad loss.  But, losing this game after dropping on the road in Athens, Tuscaloosa and Oxford is concerning.  As we've said a hundred times, the schedule only gets tougher from here.  - As has been typical of the majority of the season, Kentucky's second-half rally was keyed by the play of Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones.  Knight turned up the heat and took over the game in a very John Wall-like fashion (even yelling "This is my state!" at one point) and Jones played a nice Robin to his Batman.  Neither player was perfect (Jones struggled with some shot selection), but seeing them take over the game when Kentucky needed them to step up was a major step forward for a team that has seemed to struggle in finding that go-to person at times.  They just flat-out carried the team in the second half.  In the end, it wasn't enough, but it was a positive takeaway from the game.  Because of the flawed roster, they're going to have to continue to do it.  That means in practice and in the games.   - In what seems to be a recurring theme, Kentucky's bench was not productive in the least.  Eloy Vargas, Doron Lamb, Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood combined for 46 minutes and contributed only nine points and eight rebounds.  And Eloy was probably the best player.  Vargas played his best game as a Cat, logging 14 minutes in relief of Josh Harrellson and getting a bucket and grabbing four rebounds while commiting only one foul.  Again, good game by Eloy standards.  But that says a lot about the bench situation.  Throw in DeAndre Liggins' nearly absent four points and four fouls in 27 minutes and you have a team that is desperate for someone who can contribute.  Cal says he's comfortable with playing a six-man rotation.  You can see why he has to be.  - On a bright note, Darius Miller seemed to respond decently to what was probably his worst game as a Cat against the Rebels in Oxford.  Miller was again hardly noticeable for long periods of play (but who wasn't?), but he showed aggression in attacking the rim early and had the confidence to knock down a big three with the game on the line in the waning minutes.  It was far from his best game, but you could see signs that he'd shaken off "The Pass" against the Rebels. - Before the game, Coach Cal said he wasn't concerned with winning the SEC or the SEC Tournament.  He is worried about NCAA seeding.  It's tough to see the Cats getting a very favorable seed right now and a lot of that has to do with this: sec-standings That's it for now.  We'll be back in a bit to talk you through your Sunday.  At least the Super Bowl is coming!

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2021-09-19