This Kentucky basketball team can’t even make new uniforms exciting. In a decision that only Mitch Barnhardt could love, the Cats took the floor at Rupp Arena on an ugly, dull Saturday night wearing ugly, dull silver uniforms. Mitch must have been doubly excited because the grayness really highlighted the checkerboards (even more than normal).
I guess Kentucky was hoping the silver uniforms would bring good karma. The last time they wore them was also at home against Tennessee in the 2012 championship season. A game in which they won 69-44. But it would take more than a new wardrobe for this team to turn things around. Especially against a team as talented as Tennessee who is ranked number 11 in the country. In the end, the silver uniforms were not a silver bullet for the vast problems that continue to plague this team.
Terrible 3-point shooting, careless turnovers, an endless scoring drought, and poor execution on crucial possessions. Stop me if you’ve heard these before. I guess the silver lining if you cover UK sports for a living (or if you cover UK sports for free as we do here at Lex, Buds, & Pick ‘n Roll), is that you could basically write your post-game article days in advance and just fill in the score.
Kentucky had an opportunity to build a large lead in the first half as early foul trouble forced two of the Vols star players (John Fulkerson and Santiago Vascovi) to the bench in the first 5 minutes of the game. But as has been the story of the season, you can always count on this Kentucky team to respond to another team’s scoring drought, with its own even worse scoring drought. The Cats started the game making only 3 of its first 15 shots from the field, a putrid 20%.
Kentucky was able to maintain a lead most of the first half thanks to Devin Askew making his first 3-pointer since the Trump Administration and some excellent free-throw shooting, making all 10 of their first 10 attempts. That had to make Kyle Macy, who many women in the Bluegrass still consider a silver fox, quite happy.
Kentucky went to halftime with a 42-34 lead. But let’s be honest, we knew it wouldn’t last. We knew there was no way to maintain a pace to score 84 points, and Tennessee appeared to be scoring just too easily.
Then let’s talk about the 2nd half…Actually, let’s not. I can’t. You watched it, I watched it, we know this routine by now. This group of players had a silver spoon in high school and never had to face adversity. They clearly have still not figured out how to overcome it at Kentucky. As soon as Tennessee made a run, they wilted. Just like they always do. A 10-point lead with 11:58 left in the game, somehow turned into a 11-point loss, as Rick Barnes left Rupp Arena with yet another win. This time by the score of 82-71.
In his post-game press conference John Calipari once again seemed exasperated. For a guy who was silver-tongued with the fans and media his first 11 years here, Cal just can’t seem to get out of his own way when taking questions after games. Where is the confidence of the man who stood in front of a raucous crowd at Big Blue Madness and proclaimed, “We are the gold standard of college basketball.”? Come to think of it, maybe these new uniforms tonight were more than just a fashion statement. Maybe this was Cal’s way of admitting that by fielding what may be the worst team in the history of the program, he has reduced us to the silver standard of college basketball.