There is no easy fix for Kentucky basketball right now.
A preseason top five team, a humiliating 78-52 loss at No. 7 Alabama on Saturday dropped the Wildcats to 10-5.
The 26-point loss was UK’s largest margin of defeat in 157 meetings ever against the Crimson Tide and the second-largest SEC loss in 14 seasons under the coach. John Calipari.
Kentucky made just 28.8% of their field goal attempts, their lowest field goal percentage since shooting 28.1% in a 70-64 2OT win at Texas A&M on January 10, 2015 and a 52-point tie for third at Calipari. era and also tied an all-time low against Alabama.
Even the player of the year title holder Oscar Chibuy He struggled badly, making just 1 out of 7 shots and finishing with as many turnovers as points (4) and being lost to a first-time opposing player in 47 appearances as a Wildcat, finishing with only 6 boards, not even half of it. average season.
Tshiebwe was also benched several times for his defensive efforts, and gave up numerous balls on the edge.
As good and productive as he can be, Fox Sports college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb says Chibui has flaws both offensively and defensively.
Kentucky’s problems start with Oscar. His defense on the ball screen is tragic. Can’t switch, not tall enough to play a touchdown. Bama constantly attacked him. UK tried to sit on the ball screens, but it was basically on top (can’t ice) And even when they did it was slow to stop driving,” Gottlieb wrote at Long Twitter thread.
“Offensively, he’s limited when faced with a legitimate length. Bama came down to ‘dig’ on the bounce and he’s a terrifying passer-by, if he passes. More than anything, just no juiciness. With a great disposition.”
Wildcats’ top three finishers – Chibui, Casson WallaceAnd Jacob TobinCombined to 3 shots out of 30 (10%). The UK’s five starters combined to score just 28 points on 12 of 52 shots (23.1%) and 1 of 12 three-pointers (8.3%).
Calipari’s offense has come under heavy criticism this season and in recent years for being archaic, not using modern offensive principles of spacing and shooting, and stumbling into the half area.
“They don’t have real putt players (sort of Toppin’) but the floor doesn’t have space and the SEC has insane talent and length,” Gottlieb said. “Oscar from the ground the defense is strong, but there is no space, the occasional shady shots, every group of young people is bad.”
Gottlieb also says that the rest of the SEC has caught up to the level of talent in Kentucky.
“Arkansas and Bama have two better players,” Gottlieb said. “Part of it being in the UK with some bad kills, and part of it being that they can’t shoot. Also, their defense of the transition was a mess because [Sahvir] Wheeler consistently drives into the middle range versus “downs” coverage.
Calipari, in particular, has come under fire this season from fans locally and analysts nationally. After going 9-16 in 2020-21, Kentucky finished 26-8 last season, but was bounced back in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by No. 15 seed St. Peter’s. After losing to Alabama, UK are now 0-4 against first-quarter opponents this season with those losses coming in at an average of 16.5 points per game. In those four losses to Gonzaga, UCLA, Missouri, and Alabama, the Cats led with 96 seconds of action.
“I don’t agree with ‘Cal can’t coach,'” Gottlieb said. Overtime, mind you, Ignite and all the SEC’s have gotten rid of the talent they always used to have.”
The good news for Kentucky is that in a stacked SEC, the Wildcats still have plenty of opportunity to grow and collect quality wins this season.
Last year I watched Kentucky roll in Kansas [Allen Fieldhouse]. “Kentucky felt like the best team, Kansas was a mess,” Gottlieb said.
The Wildcats return to action Tuesday against South Carolina at Rupp Square.