Now with a 5-11 overall record, Kentucky has had to do some deep searching for answers as to how they can salvage a season that is only getting worse and worse by the game. Maybe the biggest criticism of both players and coaching staff, so far, is there inability to execute down the stretch.
In each of the last three losses (at Georgia, at Alabama and at Missouri), the Cats have either had a late lead or been within one possession and had the ball with three minutes or less. In the case at UGA, they were up six points with 1:30 before squandering the lead as the Dawgs had a layup off an inbounds pass to steal a victory.
Sophomore forward Keion Brooks Jr. addressed that in today’s press conference, exerting confidence in his teammates that they will be able to finally “figure it out.”
“I think it’s a mixture of we’ve got a little bit of bad luck, a little bit of we’re turning the ball over, and we also don’t get the best shot we can get late, down the stretch,” Brooks said. “But we’re getting at it. It’s just something we’ve got to continue to work at, keep pushing through, and hopefully this weekend we can play better the last four minutes and come out with a W.”
Part of this consistent issue is the fact that UK does not possess a “go-to-guy” like Malik Monk or even Tyler Herro that can come up clutch with a bucket in the closing minutes. Incoming five-stars have taken a while to develop, and each of the experienced players are just not fit for that role, so Brooks said today they are working as a unit in those situations.
“I mean, we’ve just got to get it done by committee. Even when a team has a go-to-guy, their other teammates still step up and make plays and do what they can to help him out. So, everybody has to step up and play their role, play their part and do what they have to do to help us win,” he said.
While it is not the only issue hindering Kentucky’s ability to be a top team this season, it certainly has been a head-scratcher.