Just call it what it was, Saturday in Knoxville was a hot mess all the way around for Kentucky (24-5 13-3) in their 71-52 loss to Tennessee. Jordan Bone did any and everything he wanted to do all afternoon long. Kentucky couldn’t throw it in the ocean from the field or the free throw line. Tyler Herro had been in a nice groove on the road and anticipation continued to build for him to have one of those games at Rupp Arena. Ironically, he shoots the lights out and is the biggest reason Kentucky defeated Arkansas and followed that up with his poorest road outing to date. E.J. Montgomery, Keldon Johnson and Ashton Hagans had their struggles as well.
Immanuel Quickley's jumper is one of the only bright spots about today's game.
— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) March 2, 2019
Immanuel Quickley’s three made field goals led the team. It was that kind of day.
Recent history in Knoxville hasn’t been kind to the Cats. Back in the day history has been tough as well. Rex Chapman was on the pregame show with Buzz Baker reflecting on how tough it was to play at Tennessee. Joe B. Hall had his troubles too. There have been lots of Kentucky teams as good or better than this year’s edition of the Cats that have gone to Knoxville and struggled with and/or lost to inferior editions of this year’s Vols.
There’s no time to dwell on all of that or let any of it carry over. Up next is a date with a solid Ole Miss (19-10 9-7) squad in Oxford. The Rebels are solidly in the NCAA Tournament according to all of the mock brackets out there. They just let a nice win against Tennessee literally slip through their fingers and followed that up with a one-point loss at Arkansas. They are sixth in the SEC in scoring just behind Kentucky and make just a tad over eight three-pointers per game on average.
They would love nothing better than to send their seniors out with a win in their final home game and pad their resume and seed by knocking off Kentucky.
Kentucky has worked all year to play themselves back into the #1 or #2 seed conversation. The last thing they want to do is undo all of their good work by stumbling down the stretch and letting one loss become two. More importantly, it’s now March and time to time to be playing as close to right as you can be. Seeding doesn’t mean a hill of beans if you’re not right in March. Let the 2017-18 Virginia Cavaliers say Amen.
Kentucky faces a strong test in Oxford and it will be interesting to see how they respond.