What was a rather disappointing year for Kentucky ended in similar fashion with a defeat at the hands of Mississippi State 74-73 in the second round of the SEC Tournament. They finish the season with a 9-16 overall record, the first losing season since 1988-89, qualifying as a “throw away” year in a history of basketball greatness for the university.
If there was one bright spot for the Cats yesterday, and there were few, it was the play of redshirt freshman guard Dontaie Allen. After a few weeks of barely seeing any game action, Allen regained a spark and rhythm on the court, scoring 23 points on 6/13 shooting from downtown and nearly draining what would have been a game-winning three-point shot. It was his second career games scoring 20+ points, the other being at Mississippi State earlier in the year.
The Kentucky native was obviously upset at how the season ended, and went as a whole, but also asked for fans to stick with the team in following years.
“Obviously I’d say to stay with us for the following season. That’s one thing, if you really look at the team, you can say they didn’t have the best of records, you could say they wasn’t good. You can have any excuse you want. Like, this team fought every single game. That’s something you can’t say we didn’t do. You can look literally, there was fight every time. I would just say to stay with us,” he said.
With all of the commotion of a “throw away” season, UK does find itself in desperation mode to turn things around because of the expectations in Lexington. What UK Head Coach John Calipari could start by doing is turning Allen’s comments to a large core of his players, that way they can be developed with a real offseason that doesn’t involve as much quarantine.
Now, of course, who would that involve? Well, freshman forward Isaiah Jackson is probably gone — he currently is the only ‘Cat projected as a lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Everyone else could be fair game considering the NCAA has granted another year of eligibility to all seniors, and none of the underclassmen players really stick out as for-sure first rounders.
Not often do you see UK have to respond from this kind of debacle, but it will be interesting to see the moves made this offseason by the coaching staff and players.