OXFORD, Miss. — As UK (16-5, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) continues to struggle on the road we learn more and more about the nations No. 10 team.
1) UK can’t find ways to win on the road. Despite being beat on a long, desperate shot with 2.9 seconds remaining, UK still isn’t playing to win the game. With 18 seconds left in the game and UK clinging to a one-point lead, junior Darius Miller received the ball wide open in the corner. Instead of taking the uncontested three, Miller swung the ball out to junior forward DeAndre Liggins. Liggins wasn’t aware of the collapsing shot clock and seconds later threw up a desperate shot that didn’t skim the rim.
Against Georgia on Saturday UK led 59-46 with four minutes left to play. UK was outscored 14-7 the remainder of the game and hung on to win 66-60.
2) Freshmen Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight are the leaders of this team. Despite only being student-athletes at UK for five months, the two freshmen have to play well for 40 minutes UK wants to win. The two combined for 37 points in the loss at Ole Miss and that still wasn’t enough to win. But the tandem only had 16 of those points in the first half, including Knight only shooting once. Knight also had five turnovers in the first half. In order for the Cats to be assured a victory the two will have to find a way to play well for an entire game.
3) This season’s team doesn’t have the, “Refuse to Lose” attitude of last year’s team. People tend to forget last season’s team had ten games decided by six points or less, UK went 9-1 in those games. This season UK is 2-4 in games decided by seven or less. Of course, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins aren’t walking through the door but UK needs to develop an attitude of losing isn’t an option.
Said UK head coach John Calipari: “You have to give Ole Miss credit. They wanted it worse than we did, and we’re not going to win that way.”
No team on UK’s schedule last season wanted it more than the Cats. Last year’s team only lost four games.