By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky’s 13-point loss at Florida not only ended UK’s four-game win streak, but it also sends Kentucky into postseason play on a downward trend.
National basketball writer Aaron Torres never thought Kentucky was buried the way many did. Even when UK lost at Auburn — it’s fourth straight loss at the time — he still thought UK could play well in March.
“Look at that four-game stretch they went through. They lost to a Missouri team that had got red hot and won five straight. They lost by a bucket to Tennessee. Texas A&M was one of the hottest teams in the country when they beat UK and Auburn was leading the SEC,” said Torres. “Calipari knew they were improving, and they were.
“There are still reasons for optimism. He is still figuring out what works and what players work well together. You have seen Jarred Vanderbilt emerge. You have seen Quade Green figure out his role and how he fits with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. There is still reason for optimism going forward because Calipari has a knack for making the right adjustments in March.”
However, Torres does share one opinion that most UK fans do — Hamidou Diallo is not going to be the player that is the March catalyst.
“I don’t think Hami will ever be the player he was projected or hyped to be coming into Kentucky,” Torres said. “I never saw him as a first-round draft pick, and still don’t. I know his measurable are great but his basketball savvy is just not there.
“They are going to need more from him. There could be a game where Quade or Shai is in foul trouble. He needs to do more but the idea he is a guy who is going to contribute 22 points and 35 minutes a game is just not realistic this year. He still needs to be a contributor, but he’s not going to be the main guy and I think everybody should know that now.”