The No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats suffered their first loss since March 2014 when the unranked UCLA Bruins took down the perennial Final Four contenders at Pauley Pavilion tonight 87-77. Sophomore seven-footer led the Bruins with 21 points and 11 rebounds and four of his teammates finished in double figures as UCLA picked up its first win over a top-ranked team since beating Arizona in 2003.
When it comes to a key reason why Kentucky lost this game, there are two answers: shooting percentage and speed. The Wildcats shot just 38 percent from the field while Steve Alford’s Bruins ran and gunned their way up and down the court to an in-game field goal percentage of 53. UCLA also shot 45.5 percent from long range while Kentucky made just 32 percent of its attempts from downtown.
This can be attributed to how 25 of Kentucky’s 66 shot attempts came from long range, meaning that all too often the No. 1 team in the country (for now) tried to shoot its way out of trouble. Considering how UCLA only took 11 of 53 shots from three-point land, that approach didn’t work. Oh, and committing 27 fouls to UCLA’s 18 also didn’t help, as Alex Poythress and Derek Willis both fouled out.
Isaiah Briscoe led Kentucky with 20 points, but freshman center Skal Labissiere was made a non-factor. He was just 2 of 3 from the field and finished with six points and a single rebound to go with two blocks.
Kentucky will look to shake off the loss and get back in the win column against the OVC’s Eastern Kentucky Colonels next week, while UCLA will look to ride the momentum and improve to 6-3 when it hosts the Big West’s Long Beach State 49ers on Sunday.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports