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  • Oakland 80, Kentucky 76 FINAL

    John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats put all their eggs in one basket when they laid an egg in the SEC postseason tournament, losing for the second time to Texas A&M in the opening contest. Before the tournament began, Calipari said that he didn't care about that tournament, he only cared about the one after.

    And now we have the one after.

    Oakland, a Horizon league #14 seed sporting a record slightly worse than Kentucky's record, dealt Calipari and Kentucky their 10th loss of the season. The contest featured Jack Gohlke, who launched a massive twenty 3-point shot attempts, making half of them to lead all scorers with 32 points. On the night, Oakland's three-point shooting could not be stopped, as they went 15-31 from three-point range, 48.4 % for the game.

    Meanwhile, Kentucky's nation-leading three-point shooting was mostly impotent until late in the game. Freshman Reed Sheppard, by some accounts the #1 draft pick in the NBA draft this season, played 26 minutes, scoring only 3 points on 1-5 shooting. Freshman DJ Wagner went scoreless in 17 minutes, 0-5. Rob Dillingham managed 10 points, but on 2-9 shooting in 28 minutes of play, while Justin Edwards matched him with 10 points on 4-9 shooting in 15 minutes of play. Freshman Zvonimir Ivisic scored 3 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in 13 minutes, while Aaron Bradshaw added 3 points and 3 rebounds in 4 minutes.

    The graybeards of Kentucky led the team tonight, with grad students Antonio Reeves playing his final game for Kentucky, and going out with 27 points on 11-18 shooting, 5-9 from three-point range, and Tre Mitchell Kentucky adding 14 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out in 31 minutes of play.

    The rebounding battle between the two teams was mostly even, with Oakland winning it 40-39. Oakland came into the contest with one of the loosest handles in the country, but took good care of the ball, only turning it over 7 times. Kentucky, meanwhile appeared to be the most nervous team, turning the ball over 11 times with Oakland managing 5 steals on the night.

    Where does Kentucky go from here? John Calipari is a Hall of Fame coach whose credentials cannot be disputed or denied. Notwithstanding this, Kentucky basketball has been a mere shadow of itself, winning only 1 NCAA tournament game in the last 4 years.

    Kentucky has failed to secure a #1 seed since 2015, and has fallen short of the SEC regular-season championship the last 4 years, and has not won an SEC tournament championship since 2018. If it was not for the grace of the NCAA causing Kansas to forfeit games, Kentucky would have still been in the #2 spot for all-time wins, a source of great pride for many fans. As it is, with 0 added wins and postseason play both SEC and NCAA tournament Kentucky failed to add to their lead, despite Kansas having two star players succumb to injury, one for the remainder of the season.

    What will it take to right the ship at Kentucky? Is John Calipari still the coach that can do it? Will a loss like this and continued pressure on the coach because him to seek greener pastures? There have been some back channel talk of an interest from Michigan. Would he choose this as an easy exit?

    If so, who is on the Kentucky Athletic Director shortlist to replace him?

    And is that the only way he would depart Kentucky? Would the Athletic Director ever consider making a change without being forced to do so?

    It may be an interesting off-season.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Final Score: Oakland 80, No. 12 Kentucky 76

      Team Records and Series Notes

      Kentucky finishes the season 23-10.
      UK was 9-6 this season away from Rupp Arena, including 2-3 at neutral sites.
      Oakland is 24-11 and extends its win streak to five games.
      This was the first meeting between UK and Oakland in men’s basketball.
      Kentucky and Coach John Calipari in the NCAA Tournament

      Kentucky is now 130-55 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
      Kentucky holds NCAA records for most tournament appearances (61) and most games played (185). UK is second for most victories (130) and fourth in winning percentage (.703, 130-55, min. 20 tournament games).
      UK is 49-12 in its opening game in the tourney (regardless of seeding/position in the bracket).
      UK is 6-4 as a No. 3 seed in the tournament since seedings began in 1980.
      Calipari is 57-22 (72.2%) in NCAA Tournament games.
      UK is 32-12 (72.7%) in the NCAA Tournament under Calipari. Since he took over in the 2009-10 season, going into this year’s tournament, no team has more:
      NCAA Tournament wins – 32 (tied with Kansas)
      Final Four appearances – four
      Elite Eight appearances – seven
      Sweet 16 appearances – eight

      Team Notes

      The game featured eight ties, 15 lead changes and the teams were separated by no more than seven points the entire game.
      Kentucky shot 75% on free throws, 15 of 20, the 12th straight game at least 70% at the line.
      Although Oakland won the rebounding, 40-39, and offensive rebounds 14-11, UK won second-chance points 18-5.
      Kentucky blocked six shots. The Wildcats entered the game third in the nation with 6.3 blocks per game.

      Player Notes

      Antonio Reeves had 27 points, his 20th 20-point game of the season.
      He scored in double figures in every game but one this season.
      He also hit at least one 3-pointer in every game but one this season.
      He finished with 1,155 points in his two seasons as a Wildcat. Tonight, he moved past Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones (1,151) and Vernon Hatton (1,153) to finish 45th on the UK career scoring list.
      He remains No. 2 among Wildcats who played only two seasons at UK. Bill Spivey owns the two-year mark with 1,213 points.
      Tre Mitchell had 14 points and 13 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the season.
      Justin Edwards had 10 points, his 14th double-figure game of the season.
      Rob Dillingham had 10 points, his 27th double-figure game of the season.

      Coach John Calipari

      Calipari has an 855-263 (76.5%) all-time on-court record, including 410-123 (76.9%) at Kentucky.
      Calipari is 171-60 as a collegiate coach in games played in March or April.
      Calipari is 336-72 (82.4%) against unranked opponents while at Kentucky.
      Calipari is 1-1 vs. Oakland, including a 69-63 home win on Dec. 29, 2003, while at Memphis.

      In the First Half

      Kentucky started D.J. Wagner, Antonio Reeves, Justin Edwards, Tre Mitchell and Ugonna Onyenso for the second time. UK is 1-1 with this lineup.
      Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard were UK’s first substitutions with 15:55 remaining.
      With Kentucky leading 13-11, Oakland went on an 8-0 run to lead 19-13.
      Kentucky reclaimed the lead, 33-31, on a Dillingham 3-pointer at the 3:11 mark.
      Oakland scored the final five points of the half and took a 38-35 lead into intermission.
      Jack Gohlke of Oakland led all players in the first half with seven 3-pointers/21 points while Reeves paced Kentucky with 14 points.
      UK is now 3-7 this season when trailing at halftime.

      In the Second Half

      Kentucky began the second half with Wagner, Reeves, Edwards, Mitchell and Aaron Bradshaw.
      The teams went back-and-forth until consecutive threes by Oakland gave the Grizzlies a 49-45 lead.
      Oakland stretched the lead to seven, the largest margin of the game for either team, at 59-52 with nine minutes left.
      Kentucky pulled within 75-74 on a Dillingham 3-pointer with one minute to go.
      Oakland’s DQ Cole made a 3-pointer from the left corner with 29 seconds left to make it 78-74.
      Oakland added a free throw to make it 79-74.
      Edwards’ layup with four seconds left cut it to 79-76.
      With 3.9 seconds left, Oakland made a free throw for the final score of 80-76.
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