The late Tuesday match up between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Kansas Jayhawks was not a game for the history books. No matter which side of the fence you were on, two blue bloods clashed for a truly forgettable game in the 2020 rendition of the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
The Wildcats continued their 3-point shooting struggles by following up with an 0-10 outing in their loss to Richmond with a 3-21 nightmare from deep against the Jayhawks. That includes an 0-8 combined performance from Kentucky’s star-studded duo in Brandon Boston and Terrence Clarke. That brings Boston and Clarke to a combined total of 0-19 from distance on the season, while the team shoots a combined 9% from beyond the arch.
The young Wildcats continue to show their youth with their inability to stay poised when backed into a corner. These young Cats managed to score just five points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, which is a recipe for disaster when facing any opponent. The most panicked of the bunch was freshman guard, Devin Askew, who committed a game high 4 turnovers in the loss.
Perhaps the biggest story of the game is not the mistakes of a young freshman, or the fact Kansas allowed a player with flu-like symptoms to take the court during a pandemic, but rather Olivier Sarr’s effect on the game by not being in it. Sarr picked up his 4th foul with just over 12 minutes to play in the second half, essentially forcing John Calipari to sit him for the majority of the game. Sarr finished the game with a +/- of 6 in a 3-point loss, proving just how important his presence was in a front court missing sophomore veteran Keion Brooks Jr.
However, it may not be all doom and gloom for the Big Blue Nation, as there’s plenty of positives that allow faith to be kept in this team. Calipari’s teams tend to struggle early in the year, as is evident with a loss to the mighty Evansville Purple Aces last season, even with a veteran laden team. Calipari tends to get his teams together right when it matters, fans just have to bare through the growing pains of having a completely new roster.
Kentucky also looks as good as advertised on the defensive end of the court. Isaiah Jackson led the way by blocking a total of eight shots by himself against the Jayhawks. Having rim protectors like Sarr and Jackson on the court will give any opposing team in the country fits when attempting to get a shot off in the paint. It’s safe to say, if the offense ever starts to catch up with the defense of this Kentucky team, they’ll be able to beat anyone in the country.
All in all, starting 1-2 on any season is a disappointment in the eyes of BBN, but there is still plenty of time to right the ship in Lexington. Kentucky will look to bounce back against a struggling Georgia Tech team when they take a visit to Atlanta on Sunday.
Written by: Pat Duerr