Rewind: Baylor ends home streak

Dec. 1, 2012
Rupp Arena; Lexington, Ky.

Archie Goodwin fights for a loose ball in Kentucky's loss to Baylor (Darrell Bird/TCP)

Kentucky's 55-game home winning streak is over.

The Cats floundered on the offensive end for the second consecutive game and Baylor answered every run to pull out a 64-55 victory at Rupp Arena. The defeat was Kentucky's first at home under coach John Calipari, who was 54-0 since taking over in 2009-10. It also marked just the second time the Cats have lost consecutive games in Calipari's tenure.

UK was horrendous on the offensive end for the second consecutive game, shooting 29.6 percent overall and just 4-of-22 on three-pointers. The Cats had 21 offensive rebounds and just eight second chance points, continually missing shots in the paint.

Archie Goodwin led UK with 17 points, while Nerlens Noel pulled in 16 rebounds but made only 3-of-14 shots from the field. Pierre Jackson led Baylor with 17 points.

“Look, I'm fine. I mean, I'm not fazed. I knew we weren't very good. What I need our players to understand is that we're not a very good team right now and we are not individually very good...I've had teams that started like this. The team two years ago where we lost those late games, they hated to lose. This team, you've got to hate to lose. It can't okay to lose to Duke. It's not okay. We lost.”

“No question Kentucky missed shots they're going to make later in the year. They just missed shots in this game. Last game we missed shots so I know what that's like. At the end of the day, I know there were some shots they would normally make.” – Baylor coach Scott Drew, on Kentucky's 29.6 shooting percentage

“It's still early and we've still got a lot to do and a lot to figure out about ourselves. I'm still pretty shook up. It's a lot to handle I guess.” – Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein, on back-to-back losses

There wasn't much too get excited about in the aftermath of Kentucky's first home loss under John Calipari but you could at least appreciate the Cats' effort. No, they did not play particularly well, especially on the offensive end, but it was a much better effort than two nights prior at Notre Dame. No one player stood out, but at least Calipari got what he all but begged for after the loss in South Bend: effort and intensity. There were mistakes by the bushel but the Cats' rebounded well (48-37 advantage), produced 10 steals (six by Nerlens Noel) and didn't fold up shop despite the bricks continuing to mount up. It might not be much, but at least it shows they are willing to listen to the coaching staff.

Nerlens Noel struggled from the field, making just 3-of-14 shots (Darrell Bird/TCP)

Kentucky had opportunities to jump out to a big lead on Baylor in the first half but poor shooting undermined those chances and allowed the Bears to hang around and gain some confidence and momentum. That eventually came back to haunt the Cats when Baylor finished the first half on a 12-3 spurt that gave the Bears a 34-29 lead. Brady Heslip didn't hit open three-pointers he usually would but his long three at the buzzer took a lot of the air out of the Cats and seemed a foreboding omen for the Cats' chances of winning.

For Kentucky to be at its best Kyle Wiltjer is going to have to make open shots. For the second straight game failed to do that, missing eight of the nine three-pointers he hoisted against the Bears, many of which were quality looks. It's been a rough stretch for the sophomore forward since he made 7-of-11 threes against Lafayette, having connected on just 3-of-22 from beyond the arc in the four games since that outing. In his first 43 career games Wiltjer made 47 percent of his three-pointers, but his career percentage has dropped all the way to 40.1 percent with his recent cold spell.

1,368 – Kentucky's home loss was its first in 1,368 days, dating back to a 90-85 loss to Georgia on Mar. 4, 2009. The Cats had vanquished all comers since that time but you knew it had to end sometime and Baylor proved up to the challenge of making Kentucky pay for its mistakes. The fact it was the Bears who ended the streak might be more surprising than the fact it ended, as they came into the game without having ever won a road game against a Top 25 team. The Bears were 0-18 in those games.

The teeth-gnashing has already begun in Big Blue Nation, which is what happens around these parts. The reality might not be as bleak as some want to paint it but there is no question this is going to be John Calipari's most difficult coaching job since arriving in the Bluegrass. There are issues all across the board but until the Cats get their guard play situated it's going to be a real struggle against quality basketball teams.

Kentucky (4-3) will attempt to break its two-game losing streak on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against Samford in Rupp Arena.

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