PC Friars (6-1) 38 - #1 Kentucky Wildcats (7-0) 58
Yes Ed, that's the same exact pose I was stuck in during the game too.
I knew that it was a very high ask for Providence to go into Rupp Arena in Kentucky and come out with a win, but for a while there, it seemed like they had a shot to pull off a little magic. The Friars were leading for most of the first half and went into halftime down only 4 points. That was even with Kris Dunn committing an ungodly 8 first half turnovers and LeDontae Henton attempting a measly 3 field goals (going 1 for 3).
I figured, with our two most important players playing about as bad as they could possibly play through the first 20 minutes, they could only play better in the second half, and in doing so, possibly erase that small 4 point deficit.
Unfortunately, and incredibly, they came out in the second half and played even worse. Dunn finished the game with 10 turnovers and never looked comfortable in any aspect of the game. Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis traumatized him the up and down the floor, forcing turnovers that led to easy points and Dunn chipped in with some unforced turnovers of his own for good measure, finishing with 10 total. He seemed to be getting caught in the middle of driving hard to the hole or dribbling stagnantly with his back to his defender 30 feet from the hoop. When he did decide to drive, he either over-penetrated and left his feet (a big no-no) with nowhere to go with the ball or made a solid move, only to miss a bunny. The size of the Wildcats down low obviously altered some shots but some of the missed layups were just plain missed layups. I'm hoping he can just wipe this game from his memory and forget it ever happened. There's really nothing for him to take away from this game except to be more decisive and his moves an limit those turnovers.
Henton entered the game with the 4th highest scoring average in the Nation. He ended the game going 1 for 8 for 3 points. He was guarded by 7 foot 2 inch monster Willie Cauley-Stein the whole game which was pretty much the worst match up for Henton's game that you could create. Henton's game isn't based of speed of a quick first step. He has more of a Paul Pierce type of herky-jerky game that gets the defender off-balance and he can either hit the jumper of creatively score down low. Cauley-Stein is quick enough to stay in front of Henton but way too tall for Henton to shoot over him.
It seemed like Cooley's strategy during the first half was to have LeDontae take Cauley-Stein away from the basket so that he couldn't help off against penetration down low. Henton didn't even look at the rim the majority of the time he caught it in the first half. But turnovers ended up killing any momentum the Friars were having in the first half and forced Henton into some crazy difficult contested shots in the 2nd half. I was OK with them since every Dunn possession seemed to have a negative outcome, but I don't think Henton will have a hard time bouncing back in the next game. He's a senior leader and has been through a lot in his four years. I'm not worried about him.
This was a Murphy's Law game if there ever was one. Everything that could've gone wrong, did go wrong. But its good to have some of these young guys play in a big time game against the highest level of competition. Just look at these absurd offensive stats below.
28.2% field goal percentage
25.0% three-point field goal percentage
4-24 field goals in the 2nd half (17 fucking percent)
11 Total Field Goals
38 Total Points
I'd be very surprised if they came anywhere close to those paltry numbers in any game the rest of the year.
Some quick notes on the game:
- Carson has me so confused on if I want him to shoot open threes or not now. He hit another one on Sunday but every time he shoots from outside, he makes me do that, "No, No, No, No, No......Yes!"
- Kentucky is HUGE. They have great size and are a tremendous defensive team. I would think that it would take a great outside shooting team to take these guys down. Negate their size and make them score with you. They didn't really need it in this game with all the points of turnovers, but they didn't look like an elite offensive team. Definitely elite defensively though.
- Really nice game out of Chukwu. Played against huge size and skill, and really held his own. You can see the improvement game-to-game so far this year.
- I really don't like Coach Cal. So, there's that.
- I really don't like anyone on Kentucky. So, there's that too.
- I still like you Ashley Judd. Not so much in movies, just more in general.
Next Up, the Friars have a couple days off before traveling to visit Boston College at 7 PM on Friday December 5th.