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Kentucky fell to 1-3 for the first time since the 2000-01 season with a 79-62 loss to Georgia Tech on Sunday. It was the third straight loss for the No. 20 Wildcats, who will almost assuredly drop from the polls on Monday amid their continued offensive woes.
The Wildcats made 8 of 19 attempts from 3-point range, which was a marked improvement after they hit just 3 of 31 long-range tries in their previous two losses. But Kentucky turned the ball over 20 times and suffered defensive lapses against the Yellow Jackets, who entered with an 0-2 record. Moses Wright led Georgia Tech with 21 points and eight rebounds.
For a Kentucky program that welcomed the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, the 1-3 start is unsettling but shouldn’t be totally surprising. The Wildcats are relying on a rotation that features no players who played significant minutes for the program last season, and coach John Calipari asked the fan base for patience after a season-opening win against Morehead State. Though some of the freshmen have shown flashes of brilliance through four games — like Terrence Clarke did with 22 points on Sunday — the team’s lack of offensive chemistry has been evident during the three-game slide.
The Wildcats play their next two games at home, starting Saturday when they host Notre Dame followed by a game with Detroit Mercy on Dec. 15. But they also have challenging games against UCLA and Louisville scheduled before SEC play begins on Dec. 29.
Beating Kentucky should be particularly sweet for Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner, who was an assistant for Calipari at Memphis and eventually succeeded Calipari as the Tigers’ coach. The victory for Pastner also carries some historical significance as it marks the first time a former Calipari assistant has defeated the Kentucky coach.
Though Georgia Tech is expected to be a mid-tier ACC team this season, the Yellow Jackets began the year with surprising losses to Georgia State and Mercer. This win could help change the trajectory of their season, which is a critical one for Pastner. The program has not been to the NCAA Tournament under his direction (it served a postseason ban last year) and hasn’t reached 20 wins since his first year.