The Greatest Tradition In College Basketball ™ has been eliminated from its own event, the SEC Tournament, before the sun sets on Thursday’s playlist in Nashville. The Gold Standard ™ will return home to Lexington before the tournament’s top four seeds (Alabama, Arkansas, LSU and Tennessee) play their opening games of the tournament.
An unfathomable situation before the “only coronavirus can stop us” season began, is a reality after the University of Kentucky Wildcats lost to Mississippi state, the tournament’s No. 9 seed, in the game of the tournament. Noon on the Thursday of the first session of the first full day. of fun SEC. I can’t even believe I’m writing those words for Big Blue Nation to read: Your University of Kentucky Wildcats lost to Mississippi state, the tournament’s No. 9 seed, in Thursday’s noon game..
“They made a fool of us,” John Calipari said later in his post-game press conference following the 73-74 loss. Its truest statement all year, Kentucky did get hit and sadly will be the indelible memory of one of the worst seasons in the show’s history. 2020-21 ends with just nine wins, no hope for the NCAA Tournament and a loss to a 14-13 team from Starkville, Mississippi.
Stinks. There is no way to sweeten it. There’s also no way I’m going to stop writing this game’s edition of the 10 takeaways, so let’s finish with this roundup so we can all move on from what would best be an anomaly of a basketball season.
1. The state of Mississippi completely mistreated Kentucky on the inside.
One team showed up for a fight, the other showed up to get pushed, and it was pretty clear early on that Kentucky was in trouble. Things were so bad early in the game that Mississippi State, the team that showed up for a fight, had a 14-rebound lead at halftime. Halftime!
John Calipari said: “It was another 15 rebounds. Are you kidding me? I’ve never seen that. Maybe Division I versus Division III, but I’ve never seen 15. Are you going to drop 30 rebounds? Are they going to out-rebound you 15-20? I never heard of such a thing. “
It was better in the second half when Kentucky was trying to mount its unlikely comeback, but the Bulldogs still won the cup in the end by a staggering 46-30 margin.
“When you talk about how they scored, they probably scored seven, eight baskets with just offensive rebounds, where we just couldn’t get to the balls.”
Lance Ware was a big part of the problem. The reserve freshman was forced into a significant increase in minutes due to two first-half fouls by both Olivier Sarr and Isaiah Jackson, and was apparently abused on every possession. To be fair, Sarr and Jackson weren’t much better when they were inside, but the Ware experiment wasn’t working at all.
2. The UK’s leading scorer scored zero points.
Kentucky lacked a scorer all season, but the team’s top scorer, BJ Boston, has consistently scored his 12 points per game for at least giving a small hit to the scoring column in every game.
Boston scored zero in the SEC tournament loss. Boston, which was selected in the high school lottery in the eyes of draft analysts, went 0-for-4 from the field and played just 23 minutes in the game, perhaps his last as Wildcat.
Or maybe not the last? His audition for a game in the NBA postseason will only further damage his actions. However, we will discuss it at another time. Right now, all that matters is your chicken egg in a must-win game.
3. Devin Askew offered nothing again.
Askew’s stat line includes zero points, one shot attempt, no free throw attempts, no assists, no fouls, no turnovers or blocks, just a steal thrown straight into his hands, and a rebound. Those are the numbers you see in a two minute game at the end of a game, not the ONE POINT GUARDIAN on the team in 21 minutes of tournament basketball. However, he still found his way into the game once Kentucky made it a game again in the second half. More on that in a moment.
4. This team cannot score from one meter.
Kentucky, which was a problem all season, struggled again to complete the simple task of putting the ball through the rim when shooting directly from under or around the basket. In this one, the Cats finished 6 of 15 on layouts and missed one of two dunk attempts, and everyone on the team is guilty.
5. This person, whoever he is, deserved better.
6. This game further proved that John Calipari had no idea about this list, the list he built.
Jacob Toppin started and played seven minutes without foul trouble. Devin Askew, known for not being able to play towards the end of games, signed up for the end of the game; coincidentally, the UK struggled to score late in the game. Terrence Clarke hasn’t played since December, so sure, we’re going to release him as soon as possible because, again, the substitution patterns seem like something out of a hat and it’s been that way all year.
We can’t expect Calipari to have all the answers when his players are clearly not the caliber he’s used to, but some obvious adjustments weren’t made today and in many games throughout the season.
7. The last four minutes rang again.
Davion Mintz hit a triple to put Kentucky up five with four and a half minutes to go, completing a miraculous and exciting comeback in the second half when it looked like the season was dead. But then there came that four-minute mark on the clock, the Grim Reaper for this Kentucky team all year, and they scored just one more time before losing by one at the end. Mississippi State’s Iverson Molinar scored eight points in that span.
How many times have we written the same story this year? Don’t answer that. We know it was a lot.
However, the last play was good. It was everything you could ask for, especially after seeing some of the ways they ruined possessions late in the regular season.
8. UK shot 58 percent from the free throw line as a team.
Want to lose? Fight to hit half of the free games. Kentucky received 17 free looks from the line and missed seven of them.
9. Davion Mintz did everything he could to get Kentucky back.
While the three five-star Kentucky freshmen combined for two points, Creighton’s Kentucky transfer attempted to turn the team on its back as it has done many times before. Mintz hit four 3s and had eight assists with zero turnovers and a couple of big rebounds when his teammates weren’t rebounding, but the help wasn’t from anyone else.
Anyone else except …
10. Dontaie Allen.
Everyone stands up and applauds Dontaie Allen for taking on Mississippi State again. If it weren’t for Allen’s six 3-pointers, Kentucky wouldn’t even have a shot down the stretch. He and Mintz kept Kentucky alive with shots from the outside, and fans can’t help but wonder what might have been if Allen had had more chances earlier in the year.
Do you have many weaknesses? Yes. Did you play poorly in your limited action in various games? Definitely. But Dontaie Allen played 30 minutes only twice throughout the year and scored 23 points both times. BJ Boston (who I think may have played well with Allen) averaged 30 minutes per game and never had 23 points in a game all season. Devin Askew averaged 30 minutes per game and never scored 15. You will never convince me to give Allen some of his minutes (just Some minutes) was not the best for everyone. But every time Allen gave up two points or gave an open look, we found out at a press conference as if he was the only one making mistakes. The whole team made mistakes. Everyone had defects throughout the year.
Other players on the team were given one chance after another when they too were giving up baskets or missing shots or playing losing basketball. If Allen had been given a little more opportunity to get into the rhythm and overcome some of his shortcomings, of which he has many, I think the season would have been a little better (not very good, but better than it was) and the fan base wouldn’t be so upset by the obvious favoritism against one of our own.
Maybe I’m an idiot and he wouldn’t have improved at all, but is that worse than what we saw game after game after game from a nine-win team? He had the two highest-scoring backcourt games all year, and played the fewest minutes of the group.
It stands to reason that the season ended when he left to show that he deserved more. I guess we’ll never know what he might have become if he hadn’t been benched for the potential of other players that never materialized.
I didn’t mean to end this with a Dontaie Allen spiel, but there it is.
Now we are going to enjoy life away from the stress of this season and Kentucky losing to Mississippi State, the tournament’s No. 9 seed, in Thursday’s game at noon of the SEC Tournament.