Game breakdown of UK’s loss at Florida


Photo by Taylor Pence. || Staff. 

Chris Angolia

In what was its worst performance of the year, No. 8 UK men’s basketball was completely dominated by the No. 24 Florida Gators 88-66. It is the Cats’ third loss in four games, and had it not been for Malik Monk’s big performance on Tuesday, this UK team could very well be on a four game losing streak.

From the start of the game, it was abundantly clear that the Gators came to play in what was their biggest game of the year. For coach John Calipari and the Cats, it was an ugly performance for a team that is in the midst of its ugliest stretch of basketball.

Coming into the game, it was abundantly clear that it would be no easy task for UK, but regardless the Cats were completely out-played on Saturday.

Here are some other notes and standouts/disappointments from Saturday’s game:

MVP: De’Aaron Fox

Despite practicing just once in the last five days due to an illness, Fox gave it a go Saturday and was the only player for UK who looked to give constant effort against Florida. Fox finished with 19 points on 5-11 shooting in the loss and was the only player who was not completely swallowed up by the Gators.

Even though Fox was not 100 percent, the effort and intensity that he played with on both ends is something that the rest of the team should look at. As the Cats have struggled, it has looked like the team as a whole lacks intensity, but for Fox to go out there and put up 19 points while feeling nowhere near 100 percent should show his teammates something.

Key Stat: Florida out-rebounding UK 54 to 29

Even though this stat may just show rebounds, it tells a deeper story of the intensity and hustle that UK played with on Saturday. From the start of the game, it was clear that the Gators were going to come out with all sorts of intensity, and that showed on the glass.

Florida out-rebounded UK 35-13 in the first half alone, and that carried over into the second half resulting in UK’s worst rebounding performance since 2013 (That game was also in Gainesville and was the first after Nerlens Noel tore his ACL).

The lackluster performance on the glass tells a much bigger story then just rebounds, as it boiled down to hustle, something UK did not have Saturday. Being out hustled was the story of the game for UK, and it is something that this Cats team has not shown all year up until Saturday.

Trending Down: Team defense

In an alarming trend, UK continued its struggles on the defensive end and more specifically in the second half. After allowing their last three opponents (Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee) to shoot over 50 percent in the second half, things were not much different on Saturday against Florida.

The Gators shot only 48 percent in the second half, but came out with a blistering 63% early in the half to continue that trend despite UK’s best efforts. It was clear that neither the 2-3 zone that Calipari mixed in or man defense was working on Saturday, and neither defenses have worked as of late in this 1-3 stretch.

For a team that was in early discussions as one of Calipari’s best defensive teams, the Cats have struggled mightily. Not only are the struggles alarming, but the recent trend downwards is what is even more alarming to UK.

Trending Down: Malik Monk in road games

The struggles for Monk on the road continued Saturday against the Gators right off the bat as Monk went scoreless in the first half shooting 0-5. Monk was unable to get onto the scoresheet until just over 16 minutes were left in the game.

The difficulty for Monk on the road is nothing new, but in a game like Saturday’s against a good ranked team like Florida, those difficulties are magnified. In his previous three road games leading up to Saturday’s, Monk shot 7-19, 5-14 and 6-15 at Tennessee, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt respectively.

Despite finishing with 11 points, as previously stated, it was a struggle early for Monk and slow starts in road games are something that the Cats can afford. Not only that, but when Florida comes out firing as it did on Saturday, Monk disappearing kills the Cats offensively.