- Saturday, January 7 2006 -
Kentucky - 46 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 19th by AP and 21st by ESPN/USA Today]
Kansas - 73 (Head Coach: Bill Self) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kansas 41, Kentucky 19
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Central Florida 59 - 57|||||Vanderbilt 52 - 57|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
UK rocked and chalked in Kansas
LAWRENCE, Kan. Ð Kentucky strode onto the Allen Fieldhouse floor named for the inventor of basketball and promptly performed as if the game was a foreign concept, likely causing James Naismith to roll over in his grave.
For the second time in a month UK set a new low-water mark for the Tubby Smith era, getting blasted out of the old barn 73-46. The demoralizing loss was the third failed attempt for the Cats to prove they are a team capable of competing with the nation's elite, and it left Smith to finally state the obvious.
"We're just not very good," Smith said.
That might be an understatement after the effort the Cats put forth in their last non-conference battle before the 16-game Southeastern Conference race begins. UK never led in the contest and was down 25-8 before it knew what hit them. By halftime, the deficit had reached 22, the deepest hole the Cats have been in after a half since 1990.
"They came ready to play and we weren't," sophomore guard Rajon Rondo said. "There is no answer to that. They came out from the jump and got on us early.
Nothing went right for the Cats. The offense was bogged down under the weight of missed jumpers and no movement. At one point UK was just 3-of-17 from the field on its way to a 21.4 percent shooting clip in the first half. It was the second time the Cats managed just 19 points in the first half of a game this season and the eight points they had in the first 13 minutes came on the heels of scoring just nine in the first 11 minutes against Central Florida.
The offensive futility came in many forms for the Cats, but followed the same path as it has most of the season. The lack of a credible post presence allowed Kansas to pressure the Cats' guards into taking contested jumpers and took them completely out of any rhythm. The 46 points UK ended up with least since a December 2000 game against Michigan State.
Nothing was more evident of the challenges on offense than the Cats not recording a single assist in the first half, and only five for the game.
"You saw what I saw," Smith said. "Nobody was screening. Nobody was passing. Dribble, dribble, dribble that took us out of our offense. You can't win like that. You have no chance of competing if you don't pass the ball.
"I thought they all tried to go one-on-one. That's why we had no assists. Everybody that played took a shot, which told me one thing everybody was going to do their thing. We are going to make some changes."
The Jayhawks admitted their game plan was to frustrate and shackle Rondo and force the rest of the Cats to beat them. The plan worked to perfection, as shooters Patrick Sparks and Ramel Bradley missed all 13 of their field goal attempts, including seven three pointers. It was only the third time in 113 career games that Sparks did not score.
"We cut the head off from the start," Kansas forward Brandon Rush said.
Meanwhile, Kansas was dominating the Cats with their athleticism and explosiveness on the other end of the floor. Rush, who briefly considered UK when he was picking a school this summer, had nine points in the first 12 minutes of the game on his way to a 24-point, 12-rebound effort. The Jayhawks shot over 58 percent in the second half and ended the game right at 50 percent.
"You would think that somebody would read the scouting report and make him go left one time, but that didn't happen all day," Smith said of Rush.
"I'm disappointed we aren't defending very well. When you not scoring its one thing, but when you don't defend and give up so many easy baskets, lay-ups and dunks (it is something else). It wasn't just Kansas, it's been the whole year. It's a smorgasbord of things."
About the only positive coming out of the blowout loss is the impending return of sophomore center Randolph Morris, who sat out the final of his 14-game suspension. Of course, given UK's performances in three of its biggest games to date, a lot more than Morris will be needed to cure its ills.
"We've got a lot of games left to play," sophomore guard Joe Crawford said. "We aren't going to be broken. We will turn things around. We heard what was said in the locker room. Things have to change."
Brandon Rush upends Joe Crawford and the Wildcats
Former UK recruit Rush shoots over Bobby Perry