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UK Basketball: Five Concerns After Five Games

UK Basketball: Five Concerns After Five Games

Your University of Kentucky Wildcats will play their sixth game of the young basketball season tonight, but before they do, here are five concerns after the first five games.

 

Turnovers.

Looking at you, P.J. Washington.

Washington leads the team with a staggering 20 turnovers, which is a pretty remarkable number considering he is a power forward. Julius Randle had 101 turnovers in 40 games in his one season as the Cats’ power forward, and Washington is well on his way to beating that mark.

As a team, Kentucky has 80 turnovers compared to 76 assists on the year. The 16.0 turnovers per game statistic is the second-worst during Calipari’s tenure in Lexington at this stage in a season, trailing only the 2009-10 team.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a close second to Washington with 17 turnovers this season.

The entire offense.

Outside of Kevin Knox, Kentucky does not have one reliable and consistent scoring threat. Hamidou Diallo is next in line in the scoring column, but it may be the case that Quade Green is the next best option for offense behind Knox, which isn’t ideal because he is the team’s only ball-handler.

This past game when Kentucky blew a huge second-half lead to Troy, the Cats made only two baskets in the final 10 minutes of the entire game, and both were scored by Kevin Knox.

Free throw shooting.

At a measly 62.7 percent from the line, this team would be John Calipari’s worst at Kentucky if things don’t change. Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander get a pass because they’ve been excellent, but everyone else needs to improve.

The three players with the most trips to the line — Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington — have all been horrible. Knox is 13-for-21 (.619); Diallo is 12-for-19 (.632); and Washington is 8-for-20 (.400).

Isaiah Briscoe was better than all three, if that tells you anything.

Rebounding (maybe).

Until Kentucky dominated Troy on the glass, rebounding was a real issue. But Monday’s game was much better and the Cats out-rebounded Troy, 53-30.

Another game like that tonight, and we can put the rebounding concerns to bed.

Effort and desire.

I’ll throw ‘killer instinct’ into this category as well. After the Cats got off to a great start against Troy, they should’ve kept their feet on the gas and blown their opponents out of Rupp Arena. What should’ve been a 40-minute drumming of a far inferior team, turned out to be an eight-point victory in the end. It’s concerning that Kentucky hasn’t played a full 40-minute game against any opponent, and its average margin of victory over the four non-Kansas teams is under 10 points.


An in-depth guide to all the Thanksgiving college basketball tournaments

An in-depth guide to all the Thanksgiving college basketball tournaments

Congratulations, you’ve made it! It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, meaning that –whether you’re actually done with work or not – you’re officially in vacation mode. It’s time to kick back, relax, half-heartedly text your friends about that 5k you promised to run tomorrow (even though you know you won’t) and get ready to gorge on enough turkey and mashed potatoes over the next four days to kill a baby rhinoceros.

Honestly, how great is Thanksgiving?!?!

Of course as great as Thanksgiving always is, there is one added bonus besides the food and booze: More college basketball than you can possibly handle. That’s right, over the next four days, virtually every important team is in action, often times for several days in a row, in what can only be described as the most action-packed part of the college basketball season until March. Feast Week is here, and with so much college hoops on TV, it’s fair to ask: What are the games you need to watch?

Thankfully, that’s what I’m here for. As KSR’s national college basketball analyst (frankly, I didn’t know that was my title until Matt told me it was, so let’s just roll with it) I feel it my responsibility to get you caught up on everything going on in college hoops this weekend, from the interesting to obscure and everything in between.

Here’s your guide to Thanksgiving hoops.

Maui Invitational Final (Wednesday night)

Teams to watch: Wichita State, Notre Dame

This is the only tournament in this preview that is actually underway (although the Battle 4 Atlantis starts today) so if you haven’t been watching, you’ve missed some good basketball. Among the big storylines was LSU – and first-year coach Will Wide – pulling an upset in Round 1, and basically looking like a completely different team from last year (somehow making the Johnny Jones era look even worse in the process). Also, former Kentucky guard Charles Matthews has looked awesome for Michigan, averaging 25 points in two games in Hawaii.

However with the opening rounds done, we’ve now reached the final, where we get a fun matchup between Wichita State and Notre Dame. Both are legitimate Top 15 teams and both threats to make a deep tournament run (although if we’re being honest, we all know what Wichita State’s future holds – they’re going to get matched up with Kentucky in the second round and lose a heartbreaker. That’s what always happens to the Shockers).

On the court, both teams are led by guards. For Wichita it’s Landry Shamet and Notre Dame it’s Matt Farrell. Skip the bars on Wednesday night and stay in for this one. I promise it will be worth it.

(more…)


Today on KSR: Cats back in action tonight

Today on KSR: Cats back in action tonight

It’s game day in Lexington!

(Again.)

 

Wildcats to host Fort Wayne tonight.

Kentucky basketball is back in action yet again Wednesday night with another 8 pm game in Rupp Arena, this time against the Mastodons of Fort Wayne. The Cats opened as 18.5 point favorites and that line has already jumped up to 19.5, despite the inability to cover the spread at home.

KenPom predicts Kentucky will win, 86-65.

What is a Mastodon anyway?

According to the internet, it is a large, extinct, elephant-like mammal of the Miocene to Pleistocene epochs, having teeth of a relatively primitive form and number.

It’s also a heavy metal band out of Atlanta.

Mark Stoops to speak again today.

Between his Monday press conference and special Tuesday night edition of his call-in show, we’ve heard a lot from Mark Stoops the past two days, and we’ll get a third opportunity for more questions today when he holds a press conference after Kentucky’s practice.

Matt House and the defense will also take questions, so check back this evening for updates from that.

C.J. Conrad is special.

Vince Marrow went to check on Conrad last night and found him watching video of his fellow tight ends from practice:

Nick Roush wrote about how Kentucky will adapt without him moving forward:

How Kentucky Will Adapt Without C.J. Conrad

In other injury news…

Michael Porter Jr. out for the season.

SEC basketball took a huge hit yesterday when Mizzou announced it will be without Michael Porter Jr., who will undergo back surgery that will likely keep him out the entire year. A preseason First Team All-SEC player and a contender for the No. 1 pick in next summer’s NBA draft, Porter Jr. was to be a superstar in his one season of college basketball. Mizzou will now struggle without him, and the rest of us will be robbed of seeing him play.

Mike Leach is a national treasure.

Why would anyone ask Mike Leach a football question?

KSR is at Double H BBQ in Lexington.

We’re taking the show to one of my favorite eateries in town today: Double H BBQ at 1244 Versailles Road. The show is sponsored by Becker Law Office and they’ll be giving away gifts to the first 50 people through the door. It’s also Wing Wednesday, and Double H has the best wings around. Get there.


Kentucky is the most inexperienced college basketball team in over a decade

John Calipari told us from the beginning this team would be rough to start the year, and he sure wasn’t lying. Five games into the year, the Cats are 4-1, but none of the victories have come in convincing fashion.

With just one junior and zero scholarship seniors, we all knew this Kentucky team was young, but how young exactly?

According to Ken Pomeroy’s data, this is the youngest college basketball team he has ever recorded since starting in 2007.

Over a decade, several ridiculously young Kentucky teams under Calipari, nothing like this.

Coach Cal talked about that statistic on the John Calipari Show and what it means for his Wildcat team this season.

Even with this team being so young, the Cats are still getting every team’s best effort, and they struggle as a result.

Because of this ridiculous youth, massive leads like the 21-point lead the Cats had last night against Troy magically disappear, and the end result isn’t as pretty as fans would hope.

We knew these kids were young, but I’m not sure people realized they were historically young.

No better time to mature than now, boys.


Jarred Vanderbilt participating in light basketball workouts

Just a few weeks ago, there were whispers five-star freshman Jarred Vanderbilt would not be suiting up for the Kentucky Wildcats this season. He fractured his foot in practice during the preseason, and despite an initial timetable for return listed as January, John Calipari was adamant that he wouldn’t rush him back to action anytime soon.

Following an exhibition matchup for the Wildcats, Calipari told reporters the team received positive news on a potential return for the injured wing sooner rather than later.

Last night before Kentucky’s victory over Troy, Vanderbilt was on the court for light warmups before fans got to Rupp Arena.

The Kentucky Men’s Basketball account posted a quick video on Twitter of the talented freshman moving around well:

On Friday night, Vanderbilt was working on light shooting drills and went through a small shootaround with the team.

This afternoon, Calipari released another segment of “The Mailbag,” where he talked about what the addition of Vanderbilt will bring to the Wildcats.

“Well the first thing is, we gotta get him on the court and see if he can play,” he said. “I wouldn’t want him to play at 70-80%. He’s gotta feel healthy enough to run up and down the court and fly up and down and feel good about it. At the end of the month, we’ll put him on the court, he’ll start practicing, and then we’ll play it by ear. Obviously having another talented player like Jarred really helps our team.

Sounds like we’ll see the talented freshman suit up for Kentucky in December at some point.

The Cats need an offensive spark, and they just might be getting one soon…


Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. likely out for the season

Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. likely out for the season

Major breaking news for SEC Basketball: Missouri just announced that star freshman Michael Porter Jr. will undergo surgery on his back today and likely miss the rest of the season. Porter suffered the mysterious injury only two minutes into Mizzou’s season opener on November 10.

Here’s the release from Missouri:

Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery, and the Mizzou Men’s Basketball program wishes Michael the best during this process.

And a statement from Porter Jr., projected to be one of the top picks in the 2018 NBA Draft.
“I really appreciate the support of my family & program as I begin this process. I’m thankful for the kind words & messages I’ve received from fans. Those mean a lot to me. I cannot wait to be completely healthy and playing the game I love, once again.”

The news is obviously a huge blow to Mizzou and Porter, but it’s also a blow to SEC Basketball. Even though Porter being out makes Kentucky’s games vs. the Tigers considerably easier, I was really looking forward to watching him play. After talking to him at SEC Media Day, I was floored by how down to earth he seemed for a player with his talent. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery.


Charles Matthews had a big night for Michigan

Charles Matthews had a big night for Michigan

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about Charles Matthews, but he broke out in a big way last night, scoring 28 points in Michigan’s 77-75 loss to LSU in the Maui Invitational.

The former Kentucky guard was 10-17 from the floor and 7-10 from the charity stripe for 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists in 33 minutes for the Wolverines. This is his first season playing for Michigan after sitting out last year for transferring from Kentucky after the 2015-16 season. Through four games, he’s averaging 16.8 points and 4.5 rebounds as a starter, a major increase over his numbers from his freshmen year in Lexington, when he averaged 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in 10.3 minutes.

We saw this in glimpses during his year at Kentucky, but Matthews’ energy was on full display vs. LSU:

In other UK transfer news, Marcus Lee had 2 points and 5 rebounds for Cal vs. #6 Wichita State in the same tournament last night, a quiet night after back-to-back double doubles; however, this block will make you miss him:

There’s a chance Lee and Matthews could face off in the semifinal of the losers bracket on Wednesday night.


Our Courtesy Acura Fans of the Game want a UK/Troy photo recap

Our Courtesy Acura Fans of the Game want a UK/Troy photo recap

A Message from our friends at Courtesy Acura:

Courtesy Acura has proudly served the greater Lexington area for more than 30 years, and is bringing you the KSR Fans of the Game and a recap of our spectacular photos from Kentucky’s 70-62 win over Troy. Whether you visit the dealership searching for a new or used automobile, or you’re seeking expert service on the model you’re already driving, they’re here for you. Visit their Acura dealership in Lexington, KY, and you’ll find a wide variety of the newest and most popular Acura models. With a convenient location at 3701 Nicholasville Rd. in Lexington, KY, Courtesy Acura is just a short drive away for our neighbors in Nicholasville and Georgetown, as well as our friends in Louisville, KY.


While Kentucky’s game against Troy certainly didn’t finish well, they still moved to 4-1 on the season. Each game is a learning experience for this young UK team and they will be right back at it tomorrow night to continue that process. The players can hopefully build upon that first half performance where they had a 16-point lead at halftime and a +15 edge on the glass. Now let’s take a look at some fantastic game photos through the lens of KSR photographer, Dr. Michael Huang.

Probably the most exciting highlight of the game came from this acrobatic dunk from Kevin Knox. Quade Green practically threw this pass from half court and Knox finished it above the rim. The freshman from Tampa also broke a long scoring drought late in the second half with an important basket. Knox was UK’s leading scorer with 17 points.

While there not might be a ton of bright spots after the way Kentucky finished the game against Troy, one thing they did do well is rebound the ball. UK had 53 total rebounds compared to Troy’s 30. Hamidou Diallo led the way with a career-high 10 boards, followed by Nick Richards and P.J. Washington with eight apiece. I think it’s clear Richards played his best game in a Kentucky uniform finishing with eight points to go with those eight rebounds.

Kentucky has one last game before the Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully they can put in a great performance against Fort Wayne tomorrow night. You can check out KSR’s complete photo gallery on our Facebook page:


Today on KSR: Troy leftovers and LaVar Ball on CNN

Today on KSR: Troy leftovers and LaVar Ball on CNN

Last night’s second half wasn’t exactly what we had hoped for, but Kentucky still beat Troy 70-62, and I have a feeling none of us will remember this game in a month or so. Regardless, let’s go over some quick hitters before moving on with our week, which includes another basketball game, Thanksgiving, and Saturday’s showdown with Louisville.

Wenyen Gabriel played well

The fact that Kentucky’s only capable of playing one good half of basketball right now is frustrating, but I was pleased with the play of Wenyen Gabriel. The sophomore was second on the team in scoring behind Kevin Knox with 12 points and 6 rebounds. Wenyen’s clearly got energy, but at times this season, that has means flailing around the basket instead of finishing. Calipari said he was pleased with Wenyen last night, but, as with this entire squad, he reverted to bad habits in the second half.

“Better,” Cal said of Wenyen’s play. “But there were two or three plays that he reverted again. Like his energy, his rebounding, and making an open three. But then there was a time where he could have just thrown it to this guy and he walked. Like what were you — it was kicked out to you, you swing it that way, why did you do that? And that’s the old, I’m going to make a play myself.”

It was good to see Kevin Knox drive the ball

Knox is capable of hitting it from the outside, but last night, he finally went at the basket, which earned praise from Calipari after the game.

“I love the fact that Kevin started driving the ball,” Cal said. “I need Kevin Knox to drive the ball. I need him to get to the rim and not settle for threes. If the ball’s driven in and out, shoot a three. If the ball’s posted and it’s kicked out, shoot a three. But we want to get — be aggressive.”

Catch up with highlights

And don’t forget our KSR Photo Gallery

Dr. Mike is so good.

New podcasts dropping

Since it’s a holiday week, we’re rolling out our podcasts a little early so you have something to listen to as you drive to grandma’s house. Last night, a new episode of Freddie’s Depth Chart Podcast was released and here in a few hours, a Thanksgiving edition of The OTT Podcast will do the same. Fair warning: if you’re anything like me, Fake Barney’s rant about stuffing will get you riled up.

LaVar Ball’s interview on CNN was just as ridiculous as you imagined

It happened right as Kentucky’s game ended, so you may have missed it, but LaVar Ball went on CNN last night to discuss his feud with President Trump, and, well, it was a hot mess. First, he bullied Chris Cuomo into thanking him:

Then he asked Cuomo if he thanked his delivery doctor:

And then he wished Donald Trump a happy Thanksgiving and I can’t stop laughing:

I know that man is a train wreck, but man, he’s entertaining.

College Basketball on TV tonight

7:00 PM Southern Illinois #19 Louisville ACC Network
8:00 PM Texas Southern #3 Kansas ESPN3
8:00 PM Alabama A&M #14 Minnesota BTN
9:00 PM UT Arlington #25 Alabama SEC Network

Did you see Ricky Jones on “Hey Kentucky!” last night?

If not, you should watch the clip below, because he announced he’s running for UofL president:

Radio in an hour…


WATCH: Wenyen Gabriel, Hamidou Diallo and Nick Richards speak to the media following 70-62 win over Troy

WATCH: Wenyen Gabriel, Hamidou Diallo and Nick Richards speak to the media following 70-62 win over Troy

Wenyen Gabriel, Hamidou Diallo and Nick Richards each spoke with the media following Kentucky’s 70-62 victory over Troy. Watch their full interviews below:

Gabriel discussed his improved game and how Calipari’s coaching style has changed from last season.

Diallo talked about what went wrong in the second half, the lack of three-pointers and if he thinks Kentucky was playing as individuals rather than as a team.

Richards spoke on Kentucky’s improved rebounding and how tonight’s win could help the team in the long run.


@MaggieDavisKSR


UK-Troy Game Recap: Cats should’ve won big, but didn’t

UK-Troy Game Recap: Cats should’ve won big, but didn’t

Kentucky moved to 4-1 on the year and 2-0 in the Adolph Rupp Classic with a 70-62 win over the Trojans of Troy University in a game that was much closer than it should’ve been in the end.

Kevin Knox was the Cats’ leading scorer with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, while Quade Green and Wenyen Gabriel joined him in double figures with 13 and 12 points scored.

Let’s hit the major storylines from the rest of the game…

 

The Cats were rolling, and then they weren’t.

The first half was some of the best basketball Kentucky has played all year. They were really firing on all cylinders and took a 16-point lead into the break with a 32-17 edge on the glass. Finally! A start-to-finish blowout win on the way!

So we thought.

The early part of the second half was more of the same, but things went way south with about eight minutes to go. Troy quickly turned a 21-point Kentucky lead into a single-digit deficit in a span of five minutes. With a little more time, who knows, maybe the Cats get upset in a choke job of epic proportion.

Let’s just be glad the clock ran out before it got any worse. I’m still kind of shocked it happened, to be honest. The offense completely disappeared.

Nick Richards started with a bang.

After taking criticism for his quiet night against East Tennessee, Nick Richards came out strong to begin the game. He got the nod over Sacha Killeya-Jones in the starting five (against many fans’ wishes), and quickly proved he deserved the spot by scoring the first basket of the game and grabbing four rebounds in the first three minutes. Richards finished with his best outing as a Wildcat: eight points and eight rebounds in only 12 minutes played.

Why in the world does P.J. Washington turn it over so much?

Washington did some good things, but he’ll never get credit for any of them until he stops turning the ball over. He had four turnovers tonight, which is right in line with his season average through five games. At least it’s not as bad as the six turnovers he had Friday night against East Tennessee, right?

The victory cigar was lit in the first half, which was way too early.

We were treated to a surprise Brad Calipari sighting when Coach Cal’s baby boy checked into the game with 10 minutes to go in the first half. It’s the earliest Brad Calipari appearance I can ever remember, and it’s unclear why he was subbed in. Is Cal in trouble at home with Ellen? Or, maybe it was an early birthday present for her? Whatever the case, Kentucky’s victory cigar was lit before halftime, and it almost backfired.

Kevin Knox is the only player who can go get a bucket.

When the Cats were struggling to make a basket in the second half, Kentucky went to Kevin Knox out of a timeout and Knox ended a six-minute draught without a field goal. It’s sad, but Kentucky only had two made field goals in the final 10 minutes of the entire game, and both were by Knox.

Offense is a real problem.

Rebounding was much better.

Of all the reasons to be frustrated after almost blowing a game against the 148th-ranked team in the BPI, rebounding is not one of them. Kentucky finally dominated its opposition on the glass, hauling in 53 total rebounds to Troy’s 30.

Hamidou Diallo led the way with a career-high 10 boards, followed by Nick Richards and P.J. Washington with eight apiece.

Free throw shooting was better, but not good.

It wasn’t the 3-for-15 night of a few days ago, but Kentucky missed some big free throws and finished with a 15-for-23 clip. The team’s two offensive stars were the problem: Kevin Knox (2-5) and Hamidou Diallo (2-6). Those two have to be better because they’re going to take the most trips to the line.

It may be time for a second “come to Jesus” chat with the team.

As Matt Jones told you on the radio show, John Calipari had a spirited heart-to-heart with his team ahead of Monday’s game, essentially telling them to get their rear-ends in gear if they really want it. After seeing the way his team squandered a big lead, it may be time to have that talk again and emphasize finishing.

The first talk did enough to get them to play inspired early Monday night, but it wasn’t enough to get them to play a complete game. This was the first real opportunity to beat a team for 40 minutes, and they couldn’t do it.

Up Next: Fort Wayne

Will it be more of the same or will Kentucky finally pound someone into the ground?

We’ll know Thanksgiving Eve.


TRANSCRIPT: John Calipari after his team’s win over Troy

TRANSCRIPT: John Calipari after his team’s win over Troy

 

Q: Cal, do you have to do an ice bath after these games? It looks you’re moving around, stomping around.
JOHN CALIPARI: I had to battle them too much in the second half and I got to teach them how to win. And if that game were closer we lose the game. You got to figure out who has got the courage to make free throws late in the game. When you’re getting fouled and you got to go up there and make free throws.

Defensively, you just don’t have let downs when you’re up 21 and you’re ready to bury somebody and you just start acting like it doesn’t matter anymore. That’s that old AAU high school stuff. And this thing you get on a run going the wrong way all of a sudden you look forward you can’t make a basket, you can’t — I’ve been in this 30 years. So I’ve got to get through to them. We had — I love the fact that Kevin started driving the ball. I thought Shai had a couple threes that he should have taken, that were open. I thought we passed out of the double team way better. I thought the first half for 20 minutes, man, I thought we were good. We had 20 minutes, we were really good. And what I’ve said is, we probably can play about 25 minutes right now. At some point we’re going to have to get to play 40 minutes of basketball. But we just have breakdown after breakdown as soon as we get a little fatigued and the game gets going a little bit and the other team starts grinding. But it’s expected when you’re coaching young guys.

But give Troy credit, they didn’t stop. They have been in a bunch of close games already. I mean, they played Hawaii on the road and it went to overtime and they were down and came back in the end and had a chance to beat them on the road. So they’re not afraid to make shots. They missed a bunch of shots early and then they started making them late.

Q. You guys didn’t shoot many threes. Was the plan to go inside, use your size?
JOHN CALIPARI: No. I thought we passed up some threes, but I need Kevin Knox to drive the ball. I need him to get to the rim and not settle for threes. If the ball’s driven in and out, shoot a three. If the ball’s posted and it’s kicked out, shoot a three. But we want to get — be aggressive. And we had some others that we could have shot, but we’re trying to figure it out.

Q. How big a concern is it at this time, it seemed like just game after game you keep hitting long periods that you go without scoring. 0-7, 1-10, 1-8. It seemed like you have —
JOHN CALIPARI: And if you look at it I’ll tell you what happens, too. So the ball swings out and my center has the ball and our best three-point shooter is standing right there and is yelling to him “one more” and my center shoots it. We go into a pick and roll and my point guard, instead of throwing back to the guy that’s wide open, tries to throw a pass because he wants to be the passer for the assist. And then all of a sudden it starts running downhill. Then you miss a shot or two and all of a sudden you’re right, your 1-7. But if you go over those stretches, you’re saying 1 out of 7, but there’s turnovers in there for no reason. Lack of execution. This is a freshman team. It’s the kind of stuff they do. And I told them I’m going to have to teach them how to win and they have to listen, when we’re in situations, every possession still matters. They don’t, they don’t see that yet. But they will.

(more…)


HIGHLIGHTS: Kentucky’s win over Troy

HIGHLIGHTS: Kentucky’s win over Troy

Miss tonight’s game? Check out all of the good plays and none of the bad, courtesy of KyWildcatsTV:


Calipari on why he put Brad in so early

Why did Brad Calipari check in so early?

That’s a question many of us asked tonight after Brad checked in at the 9:48 mark of the first half. When asked afterwards, his dad said the team needed shooting and Brad has impressed in practice lately, so in he went.

“I said, you know what, Brad’s playing so well in practice. I thought he had a couple of plays he could have taken a shot, and I’m like, we need you shooting. So, can we put him in games? Can he defend and stay on people? He was on [Wesley] Person. He wasn’t supposed to be, but he was and did fine. Person didn’t score on him.”

With a winnable slate of games on the horizon, get ready to see more Brad.

“I may start shoving him in in the first half and giving him an opportunity and seeing what he does, especially if we’re struggling to make baskets.”

It also doesn’t hurt to get a few brownie points with your wife before having the entire basketball team over for Thanksgiving. Just saying.


Calipari: “We had 20 minutes where we were really good”

John Calipari was thrilled with his team after the first half; not so much after the second.

I thought the first half, for 20 minutes, man, I thought we were good. We had 20 minutes [where] we were really good. We probably could play 25 minutes right now. At some point, we’re going to have to get to 40 minutes worth of basketball. We have breakdown after breakdown as soon as we get a little fatigued and the game gets going a little bit and the other team starts grinding. But that’s expected when you’re coaching young guys.”

In the first half, Kentucky only turned the ball over four times; in the second half, they tripled that number. Calipari said that after the lead ballooned to 21, his team took their feet off the gas and reverted to bad habits, forcing him to step in and get loud.

“I had to battle them too much in the second half. I have to teach them how to win,” Cal said. “Defensively, you just don’t have letdowns when you’re up 21 and you’re ready to bury somebody and you just start acting like it doesn’t matter anymore. That’s that old AAU, high school stuff.”

“I’m telling you, for 20 minutes — I told them, you played a great half. We’re just not ready to play 40 minutes because they’ll revert. They let go. They go back to their old ways. And that’s the fight. Whether it’s going to take a loss to a team we should beat and they all get together and say, we should stop, I don’t know. When there’s a dry spell, someone has to step up and make a basket or get fouled.”

How bad was Kentucky’s play at the end of the game? Cal said it may take a loss to get them to wake up. That means making the hard play instead of the easy one.

“Today, I was harder on them in the second half than I wanted to be. I told them, I had to fight you in the second half so we could win the game. You guys were giving up on the game and you just can’t do it.”