For the 2nd straight season Kentucky has suffered an early December loss vs Baylor. Last year's game featured Kentucky only making half their FTs, and only making four 3-pointers. These were two problems which would plague the Wildcats for the duration of the season as Kentucky finished 313th in the nation in FT%, and 290th in % of their points scored from beyond the arc.
Friday night's game was very different, but like last year, it exposed some serious flaws on what is an incredibly talented team. The game was obscured a bit by Kentucky's hot shooting. In the first half they made 6-10 3s (to Baylor's 2-7) on their way to a 3-point lead. In the 2nd half, when they regressed to the mean (making just 2-7), Baylor slowly chipped away, taking the lead around the 6-minute mark, and never surrendering it.
First, Kentucky doesn't have reliable depth on the bench. The "other three" freshmen have been nonexistent in Kentucky's two losses, but what happened to Alex Poythress? His regression from last year has been staggering. All five Kentucky starters played at least 33 minutes. That's not a recipe for a long and healthy season.
Second, outside of Julius Randle, Kentucky has very little toughness. 6-7 sophomore Rico Gathers had 13 boards for Baylor, including 5 on the offensive glass. It's not just that he got that many boards, it's that he got them in traffic. He got them over much bigger players. He attacked the ball, and in some cases just took it away from Kentucky. On the night Baylor rebounded 55% of their own misses, and now Kentucky is the 203rd ranked defensive rebounding team.
Third, this team doesn't communicate. The pick-and-roll is difficult to defend. There's a reason it's the oldest play in basketball. But Baylor had five dunks off that play alone. Defending the pick-and-roll requires a team being in sync, a team communicating, and Kentucky failed that test miserably.
There's still a lot of basketball to be played, but this team has some flaws that championship teams don't have. Now, Calipari just needs to get them fixed.