After a quick 10-0 start to Sunday night’s game against Lamar, Kentucky backed off and let their opponent back in the race. It understandably happened early in the first half – every team has to score eventually, right? However, the momentum didn’t stop after Lamar’s initial “catch up” period. The Cardinals went on to score an unanswered 10 points of their own, at one point evening the score at 19-19.
How does that happen? According to head coach John Calipari, that kind of run happens with inconsistency, which comes with – you guessed it – a young team. Giving up one basket can lead to giving up “another and another. Now, it’s an 11-point game instead of 20,” according to Coach Cal. It’s something the Cats are going to have to focus on for the entirety of the season.
“That’s the stuff they’ve got to understand. You have to put a premium on every possession,” Calipari said after the game. “I am playing every possession as though it matters. We’re not there yet. We’re playing about 60 percent of the possessions. [That’s when] we’re really fighting and digging in and playing.”
The Cats won by 25 points against Lamar, but that wasn’t enough for Coach Calipari. By his math, Kentucky should have won by 40 percent more, better known as 35 points. Tyrese Maxey, who had 21-points of his own against Lamar, agrees.
“He’s right. We’ve got to get to the point where we’re at 90 or 100 percent and playing 40-minute games,” Maxey said after the win. “He coaches for March and what is it, November right now? We’ve just got to keep building and getting better. There’s no doubt in my mind this team is going to be great.”
Even with his team only playing just over half of the possessions, Calipari was happy with the Cats’ overall performance.
“Look, we played better today. A lot of good stuff today; a lot of good stuff,” Cal said after the game. “Of the teams we’ve played – other than Michigan State – this team was as good as any of them, if not better than most or all of them. We played better.”