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Calipari: “We had some guys that the game was a little bit above them”

As you might imagine, John Calipari was frustrated with his team following the 81-78 loss to South Carolina. The Cats allowed the Gamecocks to score 56 points in the second half and shoot 55.6% from the floor, a far cry from their 39.7% mark in the first half. What went wrong? A lot of things, but Calipari started his postgame press conference with a rant about selfishness.

“Guys breaking off stuff, doing their own thing. We’re up 10, we call stuff and they just — you can’t play that way in a big time game. We had some guys that the game was a little bit above them. They couldn’t come up with rebounds and balls, which I thought they would. But you’ve got to give South Carolina credit. They never stopped. I thought we had them when it was 14. Let’s get it to 20. And they didn’t stop.”

At times in the second half, it seemed like Kentucky couldn’t do anything right. You can blame a lot of that on officiating, but Calipari instead pointed to defensive lapses and sloppy play.

“There were so many breakdowns,” Cal lamented. “So many turnovers. We’re a team that turns it over 11, 12 times. We had 15 and most of them were running somebody over or trying to make a play when you should be passing. We just became — the discipline issue I’ve been talking about came through today and I keep saying it, ‘You have to be a disciplined player.’ This is about a group of guys coming out together and playing together. You can’t be the guy that comes out and does your own thing. It’s not just one. And then we had a couple of guys we need to be able to step up and guys that want more minutes. When you look at it, we had three guys go 2-13 and they’re all trying to get more minutes. Well, you’re 2-13 and we’re trying to win. Those guys have to figure out, where are you going to make baskets or free throws.”

Calipari didn’t name names, but if you look at the box score, he’s probably talking about Keion Brooks (0-5), Kahlil Whitney (1-4), and Johnny Juzang (1-4), whom Kentucky was forced to play with so many players in foul trouble. There were 54 fouls called tonight, to the point every other South Carolina possession seemed to end with an and-one.

“I’ve got to give them credit,” Calipari said. “They had free-throw shooters who don’t make free throws made every free throw. Made every free throw. And we had guys that make free throws missing free throws. But they deserved to win the game. It would have been a shame if we had somehow thrown one in and won the game. I would have been happy, but it would have been a shame. Frank [Martin] did a great job in this game.”

Simply put, this team must develop a killer instinct before March. Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley hit some big shots late, but the game should have been over before then.

“There were spurts in the first half where we could have had it to 10 or 12 instead of 8 and this team doesn’t get that yet. When you get that chance to get somebody to 20, you do it. This team does not do it. We haven’t done it all year.”

“Every possession matters. And when you get a chance to put somebody down, you do.”


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

14 Comments for Calipari: “We had some guys that the game was a little bit above them”

  1. ColoradoCatFan88
    10:23 pm January 15, 2020 Permalink

    If we don’t get any contributions from the combination of Brooks/Juzang/Whitney other than 1 made shot out of 13 attempts, then we are a sweet 16 team at best. This freshman class has been the most disappointing of the Calipari era.

  2. makeitstop
    10:35 pm January 15, 2020 Permalink

    It’s by far the worst Freshman class he’s ever gotten but we kind of suspected that. We were counting on EJ and one more freshman to be ok and it’s just not happening. As Cal says we are who we are and who we are is 3 good guards, one of them young, and one good big man w a serviceable 4 in Sestina. And that is One sandwich shy of a picnic, maybe 2. Note to self: big men matter.

  3. Boro Boy
    10:48 pm January 15, 2020 Permalink

    A major disappointment has been Montgomery…I know Brooks was 0-5 but he did have 7 rebounds and go after the ball. Montgomery makes me sleepy watching him…he relentlessly just gets caught watching instead of hustling. I agree in that this freshman class has been the most disappointing but I can contribute some of that to too much loyalty to Monty, Cal is giving Montgomery the loyalty treatment he have to Andrew Harrison when alot of fans knew Ulis deserved more time even as a freshman…. Montgomery hopefully has prepared himself to play overseas because unless there is a drastic change that’s where hes headed

    • syrin23
      1:41 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

      EJ STILL jumps on every pump fake, and EJ plays SMALL. He misses shots right at the rim trying to avoid contact rather than power through hoping for an and one. Pathetic.

  4. Righteous1
    10:49 pm January 15, 2020 Permalink

    Well coach do you think that coaching was an issue?

    • meeksfor3
      9:06 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

      Let’s hear your keys to the game coach.

  5. kjd
    10:50 pm January 15, 2020 Permalink

    Camp Cal didn’t change anything. We are what we are. A sweet 16 would be an over achievement.

  6. Boro Boy
    10:55 pm January 15, 2020 Permalink

    Maybe had a few coaches were the game was above them as well ????????….Martin’s team the 2nd half was better prepared for sure

  7. KYJelly
    10:59 pm January 15, 2020 Permalink

    I’ve said it many times on here, but I don’t blame Cal for this team’s struggles. He had the 2nd best recruiting class and I don’t think anyone could have foreseen this many guys being busts. Whitney, Brooks, Juzang, and EJ are all disappointments and the only one in that group it should be expected from is Juzang, and even he had some preseason hype.

    This team will get better and while I understand the cap for this team being Sweet Sixteen, I do still see a path to #9. We have the best trio of guards in the country, Richards has been great and is still improving, and this is the least amount of talent in college ball I’ve seen across the board. Usually we are looking for our 7th man to emerge, right now we’re still waiting on our 5th. Fingers crossed

  8. UKgrad80
    11:40 pm January 15, 2020 Permalink

    The only 9 we are going to achieve this year is in the loss category!

  9. ColoradoCatFan88
    2:56 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

    We shoot our season average at the ft line, we win. They don’t call that ridiculous tech on Maxey, we win. If they don’t bank in a buzzer beater 3, we win in ot. These types of losses happen to us every season besides the 2015 season. We will learn from it & become better. Hate to lose that game, but it’s not gonna break our season. Let’s hope we show up more focused on Saturday & get a solid w

  10. UKLugo
    7:19 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

    I get what Cal is trying to do with Brooks and Whitney, and it may help us in the end, but it was one of many factors that cost us tonight.

  11. sp
    7:34 am January 16, 2020 Permalink

    I’m tired of UK being so dependent on incoming freshmen to be major contributors. It’s blown up in our face this season. There’s really only two five star freshmen in this entire class. The rest were just getting window dressing because they had to put together a McDonald’s All American game. This was the worst crop of incoming freshmen nationwide we have seen in years. Whitney and Juzang shouldn’t see the court. I’d rather give the baseball player a shot at this point. At least with his size he might get a rebound or get fouled underneath and get a free throw or two. That’s more than we’ve gotten from Whitney and Juzang all year.