The No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats lost to the No. 2 Michigan State Spartans 78-74 in a game that saw Kentucky outplay the Spartans, only to be let down by mistakes. The biggest contributor to their errors was their consensus best player, Julius Randle.
The future first-round NBA Draft pick played an outstanding game against the No. 2 team in the country. He scored 27 points and pulled in 13 rebounds, which is something very few players in all of college basketball could ever dream of achieving against a team coached by Tom Izzo. However, his mistakes are what eventually led to Kentucky’s defeat.
Randle was clearly the best player on the court. He had his way with the Spartans defense throughout the game, but had seven crucial turnovers. On top of that, he missed six of his free throws. These little errors may not seem like much on the stat sheet, but when you look at the final score, they made a huge impact. A player of his talent level cannot let bad decision-making lose the game for his team.
The good news for the Wildcats is that it’s very early in the season. A close loss now to the No. 2 team in the country isn’t going to affect whether or not Kentucky goes deep into the 2014 NCAA Tournament. John Calipari has seen where Randle is weakest and as one of the best coaches in the NCAA, he will fix those problems before the season ends.
If Randle can make multiple mistakes in a game and still almost lead Kentucky to a win against Michigan State, he’s going to be unstoppable once he stops making minuscule errors. With the loss to Michigan State now on the minds of every Kentucky player, Calipari may have found motivation for his team going forward — making the Wildcats more dangerous than ever.