Skip to main content

Kentucky Loses Its First-Round NIT Matchup To Robert Morris

That's a wrap for Kentucky basketball.

Score: Robert Morris 59, Kentucky 57 

Star(s): RMU: Russell Johnson 14 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Stl. UK: Archie Goodwin 18 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl. 

Story: After missing out on an NCAA Tournament bid, one would think the overall No. 1 ranked Kentucky Wildcats would be motivated to win the NIT. Maybe not. 

The Cats started back at square one as soon as Robert Morris scored the first basket of the game. Kentucky had no will to win, no heart, no fight - aspects of the game that have seemingly been missing all season.

The Colonials started the game on a 10-0 run and their confidence never wavered. Though UK eventually fought back to take over the lead twice in the first half, Robert Morris never let the Wildcats hang on to it for long. The Colonials snatched a one point lead heading into halftime.

Kentucky continued to make rookie mistakes throughout the second half - numerous turnovers, missed free throws and botched layups. With 7:22 remaining in the game, the Colonials led the Cats by 11 points, leaving UK with a sizable deficit. But after Lucky Jones, star forward for Robert Morris, was thrown out of the game for an intentional foul on Archie Goodwin, the Cats finally seemed to respond. They even tied the game at 57-57 late.

Sadly, it wouldn't be enough. On Robert Morris's final offensive possession, Alex Poythress, who was defending the ball on the inbounds play, was squared up to the ball and angled towards the sideline. The Colonials inbounded the ball right into the paint, eventually leading to a shooting foul.

(Side Note: This possession took me back to my middle school basketball days when my coach constantly yelled, "You have to put your body between the ball and the basket, ball and the basket" on defending inbounds plays. Poythress failed here miserably - letting Robert Morris throw the ball right under the basket.)

RMU's Mike McFadden hit two clutch free throws to break the tie and give Robert Morris the two points that would be the difference in the game. 

This game has truly left Kentucky fans puzzled. How can a team with so much talent not be able to beat a team like Robert Morris? Where was the fight? Where was Julius Mays (who didn't score until mid-way through the second half)? Is there more under the surface of this team? Do they not get along? Not enough leadership? 

We could all play the guessing game for this season but Coach Cal is already looking forward to next year.