John Calipari did not make excuses for his team after today’s 77-75 loss to Alabama, but he did like how they rallied to give themselves a chance.
“We didn’t deserve to win the game. We really didn’t. It would have been – we would have run out of here saying, ‘Wow, how did we do this?’ But we didn’t have any business winning that game. We just kind of clawed and made it close and gave ourselves a chance.”
After Kentucky outplayed North Carolina and Louisville in back-to-back wins, the script was flipped in Tuscaloosa. For the majority of the game, it felt like Alabama wanted it more. The Cats were up by two at halftime, but a stretch of errors forced Calipari to yank Reid Travis and Keldon Johnson at the 18-minute mark.
“The biggest thing was, the start of the second half I was so disappointed. Had to sub two guys a minute and a half in. ‘Where was your warm-up? What did you do? Why weren’t you ready for a dog fight? You had to play the first half and know what this game was.’ That really, really disappointed me because it means that guys are into their own realm vs. how we have to be as a team collectively.”
Another issue: missed shots. The Cats’ inability to finish at the rim gave Alabama even more opportunities to pad the lead.
“They outrebounded us because we missed so many shots. We missed, I guessed ten layups. Ten one-footers. That stuff happens.”
If you see a silver lining forming, you’re correct.
“What we did on offense late in the game and what we did on defense late in the game gave us a chance. I want you to think about it. Keldon missed a wide open three in the corner, PJ missed a wide open three at the top.”
Calipari even defended Reid Travis’ three-point attempt when Kentucky was down by nine with 3:35 left.
“If you wonder about Reid’s three? He was supposed to shoot it. I called that in a timeout. You said, you wanted him to shoot that three? Yeah. Because I knew they weren’t going to play him and he could make that shot. Obviously he didn’t and we still had a chance to win that game.”
If we’re depending on Reid Travis threes to spark a comeback, I’m worried, but you’ve gotta admire how Calipari stands behind his players.