If you watched Kentucky’s 20-point loss to Alabama Tuesday night it was impossible not to notice two things.
One, Alabama hit a lot of 3-point shots and a lot of them were uncontested.
Two, Alabama drove to the basket and scored more often than I can remember happening to a John Calipari team at Kentucky.
Calipari readily admitted after the game when I asked him that he was not sure Kentucky had “anybody that could stay in front of anybody” during the game. I agreed and guessing most UK fans would, too.
That led me to ask freshman point guard Devin Askew this question: What were they doing to beat you guys to the basket so easily?
I thought maybe Alabama was just quicker and stronger. Maybe Alabama caught UK unprepared. Maybe UK was worried too much about trying to defend the 3. Maybe the Cats were just lazy.
Instead, Askew gave me what I considered a dismissive answer.
“They were driving the ball. That’s like when someone drives to the hoop off the dribble and then they get to the basket,” Askew said.
Really Devin? I have been watching basketball three times longer than you have been alive. I guess if I asked you about why someone hit so many 3-point shots you would say, “That’s like when somebody puts the ball in the basket.” Or if I had asked about getting to the foul line so many times you would have said, “If somebody gets fouled they get to shoot free throws.”
I resisted firing any of that back at him during the press conference. Obviously he had to be embarrassed by the way Alabama dominated the game, or should have been.
So I asked him if there was any way to stop teams from penetrating so easily knowing Auburn surely will try to do the same Saturday just like most teams have all season against UK.
“We just have got to play defense and tonight we let up a little bit on defense. We are going back to practice to work and get better,” Askew said.
Let up a little bit? Try just threw the gate open and waved the Alabama offense to the basket.
Kyle Tucker of The Athletic got to ask Askew the next question but started by saying, “Appreciate that lesson, Devin,” on how Alabama was getting to the rim at will.
Askew did admit Alabama made a lot of shots and it was “almost like they were playing an AAU basketball game, like a circuit game” and it worked for them.
It worked really, really well. Just ask Alabama coach Nate Oats.
“Our guard drill, take them off the dribble, we kind of got whatever we wanted off the dribble,” Oats said.
Ouch. Askew hopefully took that comment to heart because that showed no respect for the UK defense.
On offense Askew had 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting, three rebounds, two assists and one steal. He also had three of UK’s 19 turnovers in 36 minutes.
“I thought (Jaden Shackelford) Shack’s defense on (Askew was really good. Look at his offensive numbers, he was able to stay in front of Askew and not get beat, really sit down and guard. I was happy for him, proud of him,” Oats said.
I will give Askew credit for one thing — and I really don’t care if he didn’t like my question and decided to answer the way he did. He knew he played poorly.
“I take a lot of this game on me. I put the game on me. I didn’t show up to play today to the best of my ability,” Askew said. “I let my team down and I put this one on me. We just gotta come to play including myself. My mindset wasn’t that, it just didn’t click for us today and that’s on me. That’s on me.”
And part of “that’s on me” includes not being able to stop Alabama guards — Shackelford and John Petty combined for 42 points, six 3’s and eight assists — from getting to the basket or inside the lane.