John Calipari's Kentucky teams that are this reliant on first-year players always experience a bumpy path. I've written and talked about it many times. So nobody should be too surprised that his Wildcats have struggled in the opening 12 days of this season. But even I didn't expect UK to start 1-3 with losses to Richmond, Kansas and Georgia Tech.
"Everybody is knocking us around right now," Calipari acknowledged following.
This rough start is the byproduct of Kentucky losing eight of the top nine scorers from last season's team that won the SEC by multiple games — and the lone returning player, Keion Brooks, is sidelined with an injury. So the Wildcats are, at this moment, nothing but new faces. And though they have some talented pieces on the roster in the form of BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke, the lack of experience, lack of shooting, and undeniable problem at point guard, has made everything difficult.
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The Wildcats are shooting 25.8% from 3-point range. That ranks 244th nationally. They're turning the ball over on 25.4% of their possessions. That ranks 262nd nationally.
An obvious issue is Devin Askew.
UK's starting point guard is a talented prospect, for sure, someone who ranked 32nd in the Class of 2020, according to 247Sports. But he is not a five-star freshman like former UK point guards John Wall, Marquise Teague, Andrew Harrison, Tyler Ulis and De'Aaron Fox were once labeled. So the adjustment to this level has been tough. And it's impossible to ignore the fact that Askew is averaging just 6.0 points and 2.0 assists — with 3.3 turnovers — in 28.5 minutes per game.
None if it means Askew can't be good someday. But he's not good enough right now. So Calipari will likely need to exhaust all other options at lead guard even if there isn't a perfect place to turn.
There is no sensible way to continue to rank Kentucky with a 1-3 record. So the Wildcats have been removed from Monday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1. They've been replaced by Saint Louis, which is 3-0 with a win over LSU heading into Tuesday's game with Central Arkansas.
Monday's Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Corey Kispert finished with 19 points and five rebounds in Wednesday's 87-82 victory over West Virginia. Andrew Nembhard added 19 points and six assists off the bench.||--||31-1|
|Adam Flagler got 18 points off the bench in Wednesday's 82-69 victory over Illinois. Davion Mitchell added 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds.||--||28-2|
|Luka Garza finished with 35 points and 10 rebounds in Thursday's 99-58 victory over Western Illinois. The senior center is averaging 34.0 points and 9.7 rebounds through three games.||--||22-9|
|Jalen Wilson finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds in Saturday's 65-61 victory over North Dakota State. The Jayhawks' lone loss is a neutral-court loss to top-ranked Gonzaga.||--||21-9|
|Joey Hauser made six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds in Sunday's 79-61 victory over Western Michigan. Aaron Henry added 12 points and five assists.||--||15-13|
|Marcus Zegarowski finished with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists in Friday's 93-58 victory over Kennesaw State. Ryan Kalkbrenner added 14 points and six rebounds off the bench.||--||22-9|
|The Illini allowed Baylor to shoot 45.5% from the field in Wednesday's 82-69 loss in Indianapolis. Illinois gave up 51 points in the second half.||--||24-7|
|Matthew Hurt made six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points and six rebounds in Friday's 76-54 victory over Bellarmine. Duke's lone loss is a single-digit loss to Michigan State.||--||13-11|
|The start of the Vols' season has been delayed because of COVID-19 issues. Tennessee is now scheduled to open Tuesday against Colorado.||--||18-9|
|Keve Aluma finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds in Thursday's 64-57 victory over VMI. The Hokies' 4-0 record features a win over Villanova.||--||15-7|
|Jeremiah Robinson-Earl finished with 19 points and eight rebounds in Sunday's 68-64 victory at Texas. The Wildcats' lone loss is an overtime loss to Virginia Tech.||--||18-7|
|Miles McBride finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in Sunday's 80-71 victory over Georgetown. The Mountaineers' lone loss is a single-digit loss to top-ranked Gonzaga.||--||19-10|
|Jay Huff finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds in Friday's 71-64 OT victory over Kent State. Sam Hauser added 18 points and seven rebounds.||--||18-7|
|Quentin Grimes finished with 23 points and seven rebounds in Saturday's 77-67 victory over South Carolina. The Cougars are 4-0 with a neutral-court win over Texas Tech.||--||28-4|
|Texas finished with 12 turnovers and just nine assists in Sunday's 68-64 loss to Villanova. The Longhorns' 4-1 record is highlighted by wins over North Carolina and Indiana.||--||19-8|
|Kyler Edwards finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in Sunday's 81-40 victory over Grambling. Marcus Santos-Silva added eight points and six rebounds.||--||18-11|
|Micah Potter gave up an offensive rebound and the winning bucket in the final second of Friday's 67-65 loss at Marquette. Brad Davison finished with zero field goals and five fouls.||--||18-13|
|E.J. Liddell finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday's 77-44 victory over Morehead State. Kyle Young added 10 points and nine rebounds.||--||21-10|
|The Tar Heels were just 1-of-9 from 3-point range in Wednesday's 69-67 loss to Texas. Caleb Love finished with four turnovers and zero assists.||--||18-11|
|Nathan Cayo finished with 18 points and six rebounds in Sunday's 76-64 victory at Kentucky. The Spiders won despite shooting just 28.0% from 3-point range.||--||14-9|
|Ron Harper Jr. finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in Sunday's 70-56 victory over Hofstra. Jacob Young added 17 points and three rebounds.||1||16-12|
|Remy Martin finished with 22 points and five assists in Thursday's 70-62 victory at California. The Sun Devils' lone loss is a neutral-court loss to Villanova.||1||11-14|
|M.J. Walker finished with 17 points and four rebounds in Wednesday's 86-58 victory over North Florida. Balsa Koprivica added 13 points and five rebounds.||1||18-7|
|Dre Davis finished with 21 points and two assists in Tuesday's 75-54 victory over Western Kentucky. The Cardinals' 4-0 record also features a win over Seton Hall.||1||13-7|
|Hunter Dickinson got 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench in Sunday's 80-58 victory over UCF. The Wolverines' four wins have come by an average of 16.3 points.||1||23-5|
|Hasahn French finished with 15 points, six assists and four rebounds in Saturday's 107-54 victory over Arkansas Pine Bluff. SLU's 3-0 record features a win over LSU.||NR||14-7|
IN: Saint Louis