Back to square one: UK reverts heading into March


Kentucky head coach John Calipari talks with his players during the game against Missouri on Saturday, February 24, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. The Wildcats won with a final score of 88-66. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Before the month of March came across the calendar, Kentucky put together a four-game double-digit win streak that gave people the sense that the Cats would do well in March. 

Then the calendar flipped to March and the Cats played the same way they did before the win streak, which resulted in an 80-67 loss to Florida to close out the regular season.

“We reverted, this is how we played a month ago, and so now you end up with six assists, 13 turnovers,” head coach John Calipari said after the game. “Come on, you can’t win playing that way.”

Recap: Cats drop final game of regular season by 13 points to Florida.

UK’s six assists were the lowest the team has had all season, and the 13 turnovers were the most recorded since the win over Alabama on Feb. 17.

“I don’t have any idea why we didn’t pass the ball to each other,” Calipari said. “If you have two guys on you, even you guys can figure this out, somebody is open.”

Another area in which Kentucky reverted today was on defense, as Florida put up the most points on the Cats since Texas A&M scored 85 in its home arena against Kentucky on Feb. 10.

The Gators were able to reach the 80-point mark by knocking down 10 of their 24 three-point attempts, which are four more threes than they made in the previous matchup in January.

“We just got to be more disciplined on defense and do what coach asks of us and we’ll be good,” said Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished with 17 points, four assists and five turnovers.

The main question that arises from the loss is will UK really be good as Gilgeous-Alexander put it? They are out of chances to “figure it out,” as championships and seasons are on the line in the next part of UK’s schedule.

It’s hard to tell if UK will be good. If the Cats play the way they did during the four-game win streak, they will perform well, but if they revert the way they did against Florida, Saturday’s result should be a good description of what can happen.

“It looked like we figured it out but I kept telling everybody you just don’t know with young kids, they’ll revert in a minute,” Calipari said.

The loss also put Kentucky at risk of not receiving a double-bye in the SEC Tournament, as UK’s seeding depends on the result of the Arkansas versus Missouri game later on Saturday.

If Missouri wins, UK gets the double-bye and No. 4 seed. If Arkansas wins, they leapfrog UK in the standings, making UK start the conference tournament on Thursday instead of Friday. 

Calipari said after the game that he doesn’t really care for the SEC Tournament, and is mostly focused on playing well in the NCAA Tournament.

“The only thing we’ll use this weekend is for the next weekend, that’s it,” Calipari said. “I’m not a big conference tournament guy.” 

No matter what day the Cats start the SEC Tournament, or how bad the results to Florida look, they’re still confident they can do some damage in March.

“I feel like we got a lot of stuff to work on but were still in good position,” Washington said. “I feel like if we work on these things and get better, we’ll make a deep run in March.”