CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WDRB) -- North Carolina now has the most impressive three wins of any team in college basketball -- Louisville, Michigan State and now Kentucky after beating the Wildcats 82-77 Saturday in the Dean Smith Center. And Kentucky? Well, John Calipari is still trying to figure out what he has. The Wildcats have faced three ranked teams and are 0-3 against them. Not the start he was hoping for, nor the Wildcat faithful. Here are five reasons the Wildcats fell to 8-3 on Saturday (in no particular order):
1. TURNOVERS. North Carolina turns most teams over, and feeds off those miscues. Kentucky was no different. They gave it up 17 times for 20 North Carolina points, while scoring only 10 off turnovers themselves. Point guard Andrew Harrison had four turnovers -- but he also had seven assists, 17 points and six rebounds in 37 minutes. His turnovers were ones you can live with, and will have to if your point guard plays that many minutes in an up-tempo game. The turnovers Kentucky can't live with were the four by Willie Cauley-Stein and by Julius Randle. Both players need to be getting the ball in better position to score in the post -- particularly Randle, who is doing as much damage as good with his play on the perimeter, though Calipari continues to have him out there.
2. JAMES MICHAEL McADOO. With ESPN's A-team in attendance and a prime national showcase spot, this figured to be a showcase game for someone. Most figured it would be Randle. Instead, it was McAdoo, who finished with 20 points, four assists and five rebounds with only one turnover in 37 minutes. He went 12 of 19 from the free-throw line. And for the first time in his three seasons in Chapel Hill, he led the Tar Heels in assists. Randle finished with 12 points and five rebounds but wasn't a positive factor much of the night.
"McAdoo made a statement," Calipari said. ". . . I thought he just absolutely killed us."
3. FOUL TROUBLE. In its first true road game, Kentucky found the whistle more harsh than it has in neutral site games, and certainly more than it has been in Rupp Arena. Three starters had two fouls in the opening 12 minutes. And in one of the game's key sequences, Cauley-Stein picked up his third -- and Calipari drew a technical -- in the final seconds of the first half. That left the Wildcats a bit tentative defensively, and North Carolina took full advantage in the second half. After the game, both teams said the other was the more physical team coming in.
"We had to get after them because that's part of the way they score and part of the way they're successful is by beating up on other teams and using their size on the glass," North Carolina guard Marcus Paige said. "So we had to match that, otherwise it was going to be ugly for us."
4. NORTH CAROLINA SECOND-HALF SHOOTING. The Tar Heels made 17 of 30 shots in the second half (56.7 percent). Paige was a big reason for that. The sophomore guard scored 21 of his 23 after the break, and made 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. Paige shredded Louisville, and his second half against Kentucky was of the same caliber.
5. FREE THROWS. It's maybe a bit too simplistic to say, but when you lose by five and miss 14 free-throws, it's going to be something you point to. The Wildcats could've shot it better from the line. But so could North Carolina. The Tar Heels were a woeful 26 of 45 from the line. Perhaps more important were the two offensive rebounds North Carolina got late off missed free throws. But UK got four of those during the course of the game, too. Make this a minor factor in the loss, and take this bonus from John Calipari.
BONUS. THE CALIPARI ASSESSMENT. From Calipari's postgame news conference: "Here's what you had. You had a team that came at us physically. We couldn't even get open on the wings. They fought us in the post. We couldn't throw post passes. We ended up going down to a pick-and-roll trying to create and the only thing we were creating was a shot for the point guard -- and we still had a chance (to win). The rebounding, we missed two dunks, and then the rebounding at the end of the game where we just couldn't come up with a ball that mattered. What we are right now is not a good basketball team. We're not a good team because everything, our emotion, is all based on our individual play instead of our team play. Like, 'We just got a great stop, let's all five chest each other and let's go nuts.' We're not close to that right now. Our stuff is all based on, 'Did I miss a free throw? Did I get beat on the dribble? Did I miss a shot? Did I turn it over? We've got to get through this, but we had chances to let go of the rope, and we didn't. We are what we are right now. We've got a long way to go."
More to come from Chapel Hill. Including Eric Crawford's column on where the Wildcats are, and where they could be headed.