LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- All right, what was THAT?
The only winners Tuesday night in the state of Kentucky were the distilleries. The men's basketball teams at the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky were so bad that their fans were too bummed to fight, and it was too cold to find a bridge to jump off of.
It's been a long time since I saw that much bad offense from both on the same night.
UK fans could take some solace in that the team that beat the Wildcats, Alabama, was the better of the two winners. The Crimson Tide, which beat UK 59-55, thumped Villanova by 22 points back in November.
Villanova ran away from U of L down the stretch of a 73-64 victory in Philadelphia.
But there can be no gloating from UK. U of L's loss merely shuffled it back in the rankings a bit. UK's could be an NCAA Tournament trip killer if the Wildcats don't get things together soon. U of L's might've been the worse loss, but UK's was more costly.
Taking them one at a time:
LOUISVILLE, for a second straight game, had the lead and the momentum with 7:30 left in the contest. It had Syracuse down by 5 points when it caught a bad break and Russ Smith was called for a block that could've been a charge when Syracuse looked shaky on Saturday.
Regardless, the Cardinals got their lead, then went about five minutes without a field goal.
At Villanova, the Cards were up six with 7:30 to play, then didn't make another field goal for five minutes.
This time, the culprits were missed free throws. U of L went 12 of 24 in the game. It missed front-ends in the bonus. Chane Behanan went 3-for-9. He was so mind-blown by the free throw line that three passes Peyton Siva tried to feed him under the basket late all turned into turnovers because Behanan was in such a rush to get the ball to the rim.
Russ Smith had one of his poorer games. He was 1-for-10 from the field. He broke off the offense to freelance.
And the Cards' offensive ineptitude eventually spread to their defense.
U of L does not put a bunch of gifted offensive players out on the floor. They have been pretty good offensively this season because Smith and Siva have able to break defenses down and because they've gotten contributions from a variety of players -- and turned turnovers into better than 20 points per game.
At Villanova, there was no movement. There was no looking for the other guy (except by Siva, who finished with 11 assists and could've had five or six more if the Cardinal big men could've caught the ball cleanly.)
U of L coach Rick Pitino wasn't happy.
"We had control of game," Pitino said on his postgame radio show from Nelligan Sports. "And we missed some free throws, and sometimes you get what you deserve in life. We got what we deserved tonight. . . . Every free throw was a turnover. . . . Our free-throw shooting was despicable."
Pitino said he's disappointed that his power forward spot is shooting 55 percent from the free throw line, yet he doesn't see Behanan and Montrezl Harrell spending time on their own in the gym to correct it.
He didn't like any part of Dieng's game. Of Dieng, who was playing his first game without a hard cast after suffering a broken wrist, he said, "He should put the cast back on. . . . I don't know where Gorgui was tonight. He was like in Senegal in the first half. He didn't give us anything."
The Cards did get 17 points from Wayne Blackshear. But they also come home with a two-game losing streak and a noon game at Georgetown waiting on Saturday.
"We can't get too down," Pitino said. "At this point, we just need to throw the rankings out the window. We've just go to play ball, live for today and get better."
KENTUCKY has no ranking to forget about. But it did have some momentum coming into its game at Alabama, and the loss in Tuscaloosa was a step backward.
UK coach John Calipari has been preaching to individuals to "buy in" to his system. But his guards bought into something else at Alabama.
It wasn't just the bad shooting from the guards (9-for-32 from UK's starting guard trio), it was bad decisions. Archie Goodwin going one-on-one too often, not pulling up with a floater in the lane the way Calipari has worked with him in practice to do. Bad decisions at the point guard spot from Ryan Harrow.
"He didn't play his best game," Calipari said on his postgame show from the UK-IMG Sports Network.
UK had one 15-minute stretch in which it made only one field goal.
"You get to where you're at a loss as to the way some of these guys are playing," Calipari said.
UK took a nine-point lead to the half, but did not respond well to more physical play from Alabama, and did not maintain defensive discipline in the second half, with Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress leaving their feet late to allow for Alabama scores or free throws or offensive rebounds.
The Wildcats got 14 points and 7 rebounds in 35 minutes from Kyle Wiltjer, but Julius Mays with 12 points was the only other UK player in double figures.
"We've got to go back and at some point it's got to be a total buy-in to how we're going to play and what we're going to do, and I'm going to play the way my team needs me to play and not the way I want to play. And until we get to this, we're going to have a lot of these right here."
WAIT, A WINNER. It should be noted, the No. 13-ranked U of L women held off a late rally from Marquette and got a fast-break layup from Monique Reid with seven seconds left to win 64-63.
And the No. 5 ranked UK women have won 17 straight and at last glance had an opposing coach complaining that they were running up the score by continuing to press when up by more than 40.
BUT FOR a season that began with U of L ranked No. 2 in the nation and UK No. 3, January hasn't shaped up like much so far.
There's plenty of time yet to make a move. U of L just needs to fix a few things to start moving forward again. UK, with young players, could have the light bulb go off at any time.
But Tuesday night was sobering, no matter what your consolation beverage of choice.
Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.
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