Welp, a loss to Duke never feels right but surprisingly, I feel better about this team now than I did just 24 hours ago. Let me clear that up. Kentucky just went toe to toe with a Final Four contending Duke team despite coming nowhere near close to their potential.
In the second week of November, Duke is just simply further ahead than where Kentucky is. This team is still trying to find their identity, their rotation of who works best with who, and still barely fell short of a win.
- Duke (51%) outshot Kentucky (38%)
- Duke only made 1 three the entire game (should've helped us but didn't)
- Duke shot 16 more free-throws than Kentucky did, making 10 of them (UK lost by eight)
- UK had four more turnovers
- Five Wildcats only accounted for 5 points or less (two had zero points)
- TyTy Washington struggled offensively, shooting 3/14
- Outscored in the paint (48-38)
- Gave up 19 points off turnovers, 15 layups, 13 fast break points and 8 second chance points
- Oscar Tshiebwe is everything we thought he'd be
- Sahvir Wheeler is better than expected... way better
- Jacob Toppin held his own guarding Paolo Banchero
- Kellan Grady can get hot, quick.
- Five Wildcats scored 9 or more points
- Cats shot 40% from the three-pointer
- Out assisted Duke, 15-7
All of these points listed above were just statistical angles. There is more to the game than just that. Kentucky could have easily won this game with a few things turned around into their favor, and we were in positions at multiple points late in the game to do so. Kentucky's best freshman didn't play how he's capable of playing, Duke had three times the points from the free-throw line (16) which Kentucky only lost by eight - those make a difference - and we had no answer for Paolo Banchero and Trevor Keels. Jacob Toppin was the only one who came close to guarding Paolo and I don't think that should be your best answer. For Keels, we have the assets to handle him, it's just tonight he got hot and went off. Just one of those games.
It's late, I feel like I'm mumbling and jumbling but what I'm trying to say is that I have zero ounce in my body that this isn't destined for great things. Thats not just blowing smoke up your ass either. This team is talented. And deep. The day we put it all together is the day we run the show.
This was the first game of the season, against one of the best teams in the country. Chill out a little bit. Yeah, I wanted to win that one (and every other one) as well, but this is by no means the end of the world. This is just the beginning of the season, and our weaknesses tonight were some that won't be here for long. Plug and pull, kick some things to the curb and role out the best version of this team where we aren't beating ourselves on the easy stuff.