College Basketball – UK Stunned by Auburn

UK's Skal Labissiere is the key to UK's NCAA Tournament run (Photo by Brendon Miller
UK’s Skal Labissiere is the key to UK’s NCAA Tournament run (Photo by Brendon Miller)

It’s hard to figure this years Kentucky Wildcat team out. They have huge wins over Duke, Arizona St. & Louisville and have dumbfounded defeats to LSU, Ohio State, UCLA and now Auburn, yes I said Auburn. UK blew a decent lead in the second half and allowed Auburn to steal a game. Officiating not withstanding, Kentucky should have never lost this game.Auburn went to the line 31 times while UK only went to the charity stripe 18. The Cats had 25 fouls called on them compared to only 13 on Auburn. That was the ball game in a nut shell.

The LABISSIERE disappearing act continued it’s downward fall. Skal was supposed to be the top pick in next years NBA Draft. He was supposed to be at the top with LSU’s big man Ben Simmons. Simmons is playing 33.8 Minutes a game while averaging 20 PPG & 12.9 RPG Per game. Labissiere in his first 8 games with the Wildcats was playing 22 minutes a game and averaging 12.2 PPG & 3.9 RPG.

Since then, Skal has been playing roughly 14 minutes a game and averaging 3.7 PPG & 2.6 RPG . Almost non existent. For the season, Labissiere is now averaging 18 minutes a game and 7.7 PPG with 3.2 RPG.

Obviously, UK needs Skal to pick it back up and play to his potential. The fact is, some players take longer to get the college game. Some cannot handle the pressures of the game at this level, not to mention having to play at a school like UK. My guess, this team is more like the team that played UConn two years ago, than the team that lost to Robert Morris in the NIT. It may take this team a little longer to gel and hit their stride, but it is going to take Skal Labissiere to get there.

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
14/13 Kentucky at Auburn  – Auburn Arena, Auburn, Ala.
Jan. 16, 2016 – Attendance: 9,121

Final Score: Auburn 75, Kentucky 70

Team Records and Series Notes

 Kentucky is now 13-4 on the season, 3-2 in Southeastern Conference action. Auburn is 8-8 overall, 2-3 in league play.

 Kentucky leads the all-time series 91-18 but saw an 18-game winning streak against the Tigers end today.

 Next for the Wildcats: UK visits the Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. EST.

In the First Half

 Kentucky started with the lineup of Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee for the fifth game in a row.

 Murray made a 3-pointer on the game’s opening possession, extending UK’s streak of 956 consecutive games making a three. It was the first time all season UK opened with a 3-pointer on its opening possession.

 An evenly played first half saw neither team lead by more than five points.

 Tied at 30, Kentucky got the last two baskets of the half on a dunk by Skal Labissiere and a 3-pointer by Derek Willis, giving the Wildcats a 35-30 advantage at intermission. Willis had seven points and a career-high eight rebounds in the first half.

In the Second Half

 Having scored the last five points of the first half, UK extended its run with three foul shots by Ulis and a jumper by Murray to give UK a 40-30 lead. At the 15:41 mark, UK extended its largest edge to 12 points at 47-35.

 At that point, Auburn stormed back with a 21-4 run, giving the Tigers a 56-51 lead.

 UK responded with a 6-0 surge and went back ahead 57-56.

 With UK ahead 67-65, Auburn scored nine straight points to go ahead 74-67 and the Tigers held on for the victory.

Team Notes

 Kentucky extended its streak of 956 consecutive games with at least one 3-point basket.

 UK won rebounding, 48-38, and points in the paint, 32-16.

 UK has had a player score at least 20 points in all five SEC games this season. The last time UK had a player score at least 20 in the first five SEC games was 2009.

 Coach John Calipari has a 648-182 (.781) all-time record, including a 203-42 (.829) mark at Kentucky.

Player Notes

 Freshman Jamal Murray had 20 points, his 15th consecutive double-figure game.

 Sophomore Tyler Ulis had 17 points, a career-high 10 rebounds and eight assists.

 Junior Derek Willis had 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, his first career double-double.

 This was his fourth-consecutive 20-point game, sixth overall.

 He is the first player and first freshman with four-consecutive 20-point efforts since Alex Poythress achieved the feat during from Nov. 13-Nov. 23, 2012.

 He has made at least one 3-point shot in every game this season, the first player in program history to make a triple in each of his first 16 collegiate games.

 He totaled three steals in today’s game, the most since swiping four against No. 5/4 Duke on Nov. 17.

 It is the second double-double of his career.

 He is the first player to have a double-double in points and rebounds and points and assists in the same season since John Wall turned the trick during the 2009-10 season.

 He was two assists shy of the second-ever triple-double in school history.

 He is the fifth different Wildcat to produce a double-double this season.

 Willis hauled in eight rebounds in the opening half, bettering his career best in rebounds

which previously was six which he did against UCLA earlier this season.

 He extended his free-throw streak to 20 consecutive makes.