Kentucky has to get better on the boards

Between John Robic getting tossed and John Calipari’s “uncoachable” comments and Kentucky’s historic 30-point loss to Tennessee on Saturday, lost in the shuffle was just how badly the Cats did on the boards.

You knew the loss of Nerlens Noel was going to hurt the Cats’ defensively. What may have been overlooked was how much the loss of the 6-foot-11 center would hurt Kentucky around the glass.

Tennessee grabbed 39 rebounds at Thompson-Boling. Kentucky managed 21. The Cats had not been outrebounded that badly since December 4, 2004 when North Carolina beat Kentucky 51-30 on the boards in the Dean Dome. That North Carolina team went on to win the national title, by the way.

Tennessee played very well on Saturday, but the Vols aren’t going to win the national title.

John Calipari said last Friday that to make up for Noel’s absence, he needed a little more rebounding out of every position. He said he needed one or more two rebounds from his guards, etc. That didn’t happen.

Archie Goodwin grabbed just two rebounds in 34 minutes. That’s one more rebound than Goodwin grabbed at Florida, but the same number he had against Auburn at home on February 9. It’s three less than he had against South Carolina on Feb. 5.

Ryan Harrow did not have a single rebound in 18 minutes. But then Harrow did not score a point or make an assist on Saturday, either. Harrow has fa grand total of five rebounds in his last five games.

Julius Mays snatched one rebound in 39 minutes. That’s one less than he had at Florida, five less than he had against Auburn at Rupp. Mays hasn’t grabbed an offensive rebound since the Texas A&M game at College Station back on Feb. 2.

But then it’s hard to blame the guards when center Willie Cauley-Stein managed two rebounds in 23 minutes. The 7-footer had twice as many turnovers (four) as he did rebounds.

No wonder Tennessee had 15 offensive rebounds to Kentucky’s nine defensive rebounds. That just doesn’t happen.

You know who did rebound for Kentucky on Saturday?

Jon Hood.

The junior had three rebounds, all on the offensive end, in 15 minutes on the floor. Project that out over 40 minutes and Hood would have had eight rebounds. Not a bad total for someone not known as a rebounder.

But then at Ole Miss on January 29, Hood had three rebounds in eight minutes. All in the first half. He had played just nine minutes in two games since that January 29 game in Oxford before Saturday in Knoxville.

Maybe we need to see more of Jon Hood. Maybe not. But one thing is for sure, forget the shot-blocking. John Calipari has to figure out a way to get more boardwork out of his depleted Cats.

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