The loss for the Wildcats however, is their second of the season and it’s time to face the facts; this team has issues.
With that being said, it’s early and we all know that Kentucky will be a much different team when March rolls around. There is just too much talent on that squad for them not to figure it out. However, these youthful Wildcats need to start figuring things out quickly because it’s not their loss to Notre Dame that is mind-boggling, but some of the numbers and stats that were accumulated in the defeat.
Ryan Harrow returned to the team for Thursday night’s contest, but only played nine minutes in the loss. Harrow, who had missed the past four games with a sickness, scored two points on 1-of-4 shooting. While Harrow’s impact on Thursday night was not overly expected, the point guard issues are becoming more and more serious.
Head coach John Calipari started and went with freshman guard Archie Goodwin at the point for the fifth straight game, saying earlier this week that he had earned the job. Yet, is that the right move in this regard? Maybe for Thursday night, but moving forward it certainly can’t be.
Goodwin was brought into Lexington to play the wing, with Harrow running the point. Harrow’s start to the season has been anything but good, given his sickness and slow start. Yet, let’s be honest, he’s only played a total of 19 minutes in a Wildcats’ uniform. What success is to be expected in that short amount of time?
Goodwin is a slasher and can get to the rim with ease at times, taking contact and earning his trips to the line. Kentucky needs to get Harrow on the court, playing smart and pushing the ball in transition to Goodwin, allowing him to excel and attack the basket on the fly.
The whole back court situation aside, the Wildcats’ leading scorer on Thursday night was Julius Mays, who finished with 16 points. May I add, he scored 16 of the Wildcats’ 50 total points. That’s 32% of the team’s offensive production. Notre Dame played Kentucky to near perfection, slowing the game down and limiting possessions. In the contest, the Wildcats took only 47 shots. Stop and think and compare that to the 108 attempts that Grinnell’s Jack Taylor took by himself last week.
We know that Kentucky is not a deep team and bench production may be limited at times, but on paper if Mays can come off the bench and score 16 points, well then, the Wildcats should be in pretty good shape. The fact that he scored 16 and led the team in scoring is something that Kentucky just can’t live with.
In comparison, fellow freshman Alex Poythress, who is averaging 15.8 points per game, second on the team to Goodwin, took one shot last night. He made it, but let me repeat that. Poythress attempted one shot in 23 minutes of action. Foul trouble may have played a role, but looking back it’s just another mind-boggling statistic.
At 4-2 on the young season, Kentucky isn’t looking like a team that has Final Four implications. That being said, the time is aplenty for Calipari and the ‘Cats to figure things out and I truly believe they will, but when will they click?
More will be learned almost immediately, as Kentucky must shrug off the disappointing play from Thursday night and prepare for a home test against a Baylor squad that has had their own bumps in the road to begin the season.
Action begins from Rupp Arena on Saturday, as tip-off is scheduled for 12:30pm (EST).
Paul Seaver is the College Basketball Network Manager at Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS