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Kentucky Loses Ugly, Winnable Game at Auburn as Calipari Discontent Grows

Shanna Lockwood/AU Athletics

Shanna Lockwood/AU Athletics

“We let one slip away on the road.” That’s one thing John Calipari was right about on Saturday.

Days after letting Alabama drain 14 three-pointers, it effectively took away the shot from the SEC’s second-best three-point shooting team, yet it still wasn’t enough to leave Auburn Arena with a win. The Wildcats have now lost at Auburn for the fourth time in five years after the 66-59 loss dropped UK to 4-8. There hasn’t been a Kentucky team with a worse record through 12 games since Adolph Rupp became the Cats’ head coach.

The loss at Auburn is more infuriating than the previous seven for a few reasons and John Calipari only made it worse in his postgame press conference. Before we get to that, here’s how it all unfolded.

Hideous First Half

“Ugly” can’t quite accurately summarize the first half. The score was 2-2 at the first media timeout. Kentucky missed its first six shots. Auburn started 1-of-15 from the floor. Both teams weren’t missing a bunch of contested shots; neither could make a layup. Thankfully, Dontaie Allen and Jacob Toppin entered into the lineup and gave UK something offensively, taking a 9-2 advantage at the 11-minute mark. It all started with an emphatic finish at the rim by Allen.

Kentucky had a chance to run away with the game early on, but failed to find a rhythm offensively. At least they found out who could provide points, even if it wasn’t enough to earn second half minutes.

Where are Allen and Toppin?

It’s the question the BBN was asking when neither player, who each led the Cats in scoring with eight first half points, was on the hardwood at the start of the second half. It took more than four minutes for Toppin to get into the game and more than six for Allen to receive some playing time. Why weren’t they playing?

“I want to win every game I coach, but the other side of it is, I’m not trying to take anybody’s heart away,” Calipari said, “so you can sub them when three, four minutes and go.”

They only got a few minutes at a time. Allen came in cold for the final minute of the game, finishing with eight second half minutes as the only player with a positive +/- over the final 20 minutes.

BJ Boston: Still not good

At the beginning of the season, the BBN’s fascination with Dontaie Allen appeared to derive from his status as a home state hero. Even though the head coach may feel that’s still the case, now fans want him to play because he’s one of the few players that can actually make shots. The frustration is amplified when BJ Boston is the reason Allen is on the sideline.

Boston scored five points, making just 2-of-9 field goals in 27 minutes of action. It’s not that he is just not helping — Boston is hurting the team when he’s on the floor. He committed five turnovers, two of which were in the most important stretch of the game. It’s one thing to give a player a long leash. All that extra slack on Boston’s leash is choking the rest of the team.

The Turning Point

Despite the poor play from the Wildcats, they actually led by one with ten minutes to play and appeared to be scrapping their way to victory. Then officials fell for the floppingest flop since Chris Jones set the standard for awful flops in 2015.

It’s safe to say that Mintz was not happy about the call, sharing this to his Instagram story after the game.

The play was reviewed for a flagrant foul. Unlike college football’s targeting, officials cannot waive off an ill-advised foul. Sharife Cooper’s acting gave Auburn the ball and started a 16-5 run over the next five minutes that was fueled by transition points off a few Boston turnovers. Despite a late push, this run proved to change the game.

One Final, Impressive Push

Even though Boston will draw the ire from most fans, Olivier Sarr was a significant part of the problem too. Sarr was -15, the worst on the team, and uninspiring in the post as the Tigers grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. Once Boston and Sarr were pulled, Kentucky made a push that was almost enough to win.

Trailing by ten points with five minutes to play, the Wildcats turned defense into offense. A couple of blocks led to transition layups for Mintz and Askew to cut into the deficit. With a minute to play, Toppin but a BODY on an Auburn defender. Unfortunately, the nastiest Wildcat dunk of the season was not called an And One, but it still made it a two-point game.

Despite giving up a layup to Cooper on the ensuing possession, Kentucky had one more chance. Askew made his first free throw, then missed the second. The rebound was corralled by Keion Brooks. Instead of calling a foul on either of the two Auburn defenders that swarmed the UK sophomore, officials called a jump ball. Possession went to Auburn, the Tigers made their free throws and ended the game.

A Harsh Reality

Kentucky is most likely not going to make the NCAA Tournament. It’s a difficult pill to swallow, but it’s the reality we must accept after the loss at Auburn.

Even though UK has struggled at Auburn Arena over the last five years, the Tigers are not a great basketball team. This was just their second SEC win of the season. Every advanced stats proprietor called this game a toss up. This was a game Kentucky needed to win, they were in a position to win and failed to finish the job. John Calipari deserves all of the blame for this loss.

Next week’s schedule will take it easy on the Wildcats. After that four top 25 teams await. This team has done nothing to convince us they can defeat good teams and their head coach has not done anything to suggest he will make significant changes to ensure UK will not miss the NCAA Tournament.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

52 Comments for Kentucky Loses Ugly, Winnable Game at Auburn as Calipari Discontent Grows

  1. HackRichards
    6:21 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    Kenny Payne is missed much more than we realize.

    • Not Dan Issel
      6:25 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      Without a doubt. And it is becoming more and more obvious every game.

    • makeitstop
      6:32 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      Appears he was the glue guy.

    • brassnux66
      8:00 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      They are definitely missing Kenny. Brandon Boston appears to have been vastly overrated. The biggest issue is there in no continuity. No kids staying to pass down the knowledge and to lead. There is no one on the team except Allen that is playing for “KENTUCKY” across their chest. For the rest of them it could say “Northern Maine” as long as they only have to stay a few months then cash a paycheck. We the fans, the university, the tradition or the state mean nothing to them. Kids like Juzang and Baker transfer out because they know Cal won’t play them because he’s more interested in creating a few millionaires than he is in hanging banners. Trouble is, he’s getting paid to hang banners.

    • brassnux66
      8:05 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      And maybe Toppin

    • BeejeCat
      1:29 am January 17, 2021 Permalink

      And Ware. And Brooks. And Jackson. Some of these players have yet to figure it out but it’s VERY difficult to figure it out on such a short amount of time together (remember, COVID is a real setback for these young teams).

  2. Bigblu30
    6:22 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    Cals comments are crazy. I dont get how anyone can be ok with him basically saying hes not gonna play kids who are helping us so he doesnt hurt anyone elses feelings.

    • Beaver_Fever
      6:30 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      Draft night! It’s all about draft night.

    • catsby.5
      6:42 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      Unless there is an NBA GM or two out there that is on crack, he’ll be at home like the rest of us on draft night. Pick 5 games, any 5, and it’s clear that no one on this team should be considered a lottery pick or invited to the green room on draft night. Maybe that will give Cal the kick in the ass he needs to realize that the more we win, the more of his players get drafted in the lottery. He seems to have forgotten that recently. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a giant Calipari apologist, I think what he has done for our program after BCG and Tubby has been absolutely phenomenal, but even I can’t deny it’s starting to get stale when his grandstanding and excuses don’t result in winning. This team is hard to watch and I honestly wish Boston would just opt out so Cal wouldn’t have to worry about “taking his heart away,” and can actually play the kids that want to play team ball and deserve the playing time instead of Boston who only cares about getting his stats and getting to the NBA. We’ve had plenty of great one and dones, and some of them (Archie Goodwin comes to mind) were the same type of selfish, me-first players, but how many have literally filmed a documentary mid-season about being a one and done athlete? I’m sure he’s a fine kid but he’s not only hurting our team on the court, but I’m sure his documentary and attitude in general are killing our team chemistry off the court.

    • Rixter
      8:15 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      Cal loves to say ‘we dont promise anybody minutes, you gotta earn it here’.
      BULL. SH*T
      The last few years, Cal is giving us exactly what Tubby and BCG gave us. I’m underwhelmed with his coaching.

    • GravesCntyKid
      1:58 pm January 18, 2021 Permalink

      @catsby.5 – You said, “but how many have literally filmed a documentary mid-season about being a one and done athlete?” I might be the only fan that doesn’t know this, but are you saying the Boston is having his season taped for documentary? That’s just icing on the cake, isn’t it!

  3. bluebew
    6:25 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    It’s official – we are a football school. Not a great football school but a football school.

    Either that or Cal just wants enough of us to want to kick him out that it is easy to leave. No other explanation. He’s clearly deranged.

  4. Demolition_man
    6:26 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    I wonder if Wan’dale Robinson can play basketball?? First losing season in forever. I’m behind this team also, but the coaching sucks. Time to start over.

  5. jaws2
    6:37 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    Seriously Roush? We wouldn’t have an easy schedule next week if we were playing Bellarmine and Spalding!

  6. rockyou
    6:43 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    I didn’t(and won’t)watch the game, however I have joined team#firecal. The kneeling is what put me over the edge, and his BS double talk and caring more about getting his players drafted than winning games and championships confirms it for me. I won’t cheer for another team, but I’m not pulling for Cal’s 5* boys either. He needs to go!!

  7. bosch8184
    6:49 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    Welcome aboard everyone, we told you it was going to get much worse and fast.

    -The “bad” fans that can go root for UL but who don’t value 1 man above the program

    • TBW3011
      7:23 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      Bingo! Could see this coming a mile away. Some just refused to. The writers here and radio show guys included.

    • just a guy
      9:33 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      Yep been on this board for years preaching it was a house of cards. Was told by the Cal Crusaders I was an idiot and accused of being a Duke and UL fan.

  8. dhard
    6:54 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    Yes, officiating is awful, especially Doug Show, but cals coaching is just as bad or maybe worse. Play kids that help you win,

  9. RexRox
    7:02 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    Jimmy Dykes, DO NOT compare Sharife Cooper to Tyler Ulis! Not after that obvious flop tonight. That is the absolute opposite of Tyler Ulis, the epitome of toughness.

  10. dex
    7:05 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    This year has completely turned me against Cal and it has nothing to do with wins and losses or politics, but his complete lack of integrity and his incompetence as an actual coach. It was always true: a great recruiter a sh*t coach. He won’t be, but he deserves to be fired

    • Urincatland
      11:09 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      Antigua was the GREAT recruiter. A combination of KP and Antigua not being on the bench, Cal will NEVER win another Championship as a Kentucky Coach.

  11. Stop Hammer Time
    7:23 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    I bet we lose more players to transfer than the NBA draft.

    • EdC
      7:27 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      I bet you are right. I don’t have any idea why any player would stay after their Soph. year given Cals history of giving all the love to the shiny new toys.

    • EdC
      7:28 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      (meant stay FOR their Soph. year, not after)

  12. EdC
    7:24 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    Georgia is 89 KenPom so yea, should beat them but we have already lost to Notre Dame who is 87 KenPom so don’t put any money on it.
    LSU is 22 KenPom The highest rated team we have beaten was Miss. State at 77 do don’t hold your breath that they beat LSU.

    Next week is likely a split at best.

  13. gasman01
    7:29 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    I didn’t waste my time watching this crap today. I think Cal will head toward the pros. He’s lost interest in College ball.

    • just a guy
      9:38 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      Me either. Took my kid to the Ark exhibit, and I’m not even a religious guy. I’d rather look at wax animals than watch that trash

  14. JGo
    7:55 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    BLUF we lost due to bad coaching. Just call it like it is. Decisions to play certain people over others is BAD COACHING

  15. Carl
    8:00 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    I’ve stopped watching. Wonder how many other fans have done the same. Would love to see data on this.

  16. lecantrell
    8:00 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    Why would he head to the NBA? No team would have him!

  17. kurofmi
    8:02 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    I grew up poor. But proud. We were taught to never beg. 67 years later I take exception to my heritage. Cal…PLEASE go! I’m Begging!

  18. Johnnycat
    8:36 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    Fans can get upset all they want. Cal ain’t going anywhere. No where else can he make the gravy he is in Lexington. No NBA team wants him. Only 3-4 universities would even pay him 6 mil a year….versus UK’s $9,000,000…or this year that may amount to about a million per win. Yeah…he ain’t leaving and Mitch ain’t firing anytime soon.

    • Urincatland
      11:12 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

      Yeah he’s gonna ride that lifetime contract as long as he can.

  19. just a guy
    9:40 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    Calipari said on the day he was hired “if I’m still here in 10 years something went very wrong”… oh the fortune teller is is

  20. JT55
    9:56 pm January 16, 2021 Permalink

    Team is an embarrasment. Pitiful

  21. The Big Lebowski
    12:51 am January 17, 2021 Permalink

    Been saying it for four or five years now. Kentucky will not win another Championship until there is a new coach.

    Cal lost interest in winning the moment he won that ’12 Championship.

    Cal will leave Kentucky in the same shape that the Tubby/BCG madness left it.

  22. waytolongcal
    3:05 am January 17, 2021 Permalink

    Time to start putting real heat on Cal. It is obvious he feels to comfortable losing games and being 4-8. His comments are insulting to every cat fan with an IQ over 4! This is Kentucky Basketball, we made Cal legit. For the ones who have forgotten, Cal was suspect at every school he coached, and not a fan favorite of the NCAA. Cal needs to respect who we are, we are the BBN, and expect more than 4-8 and used car salesman talk.

    • Brad Gregory
      12:17 pm January 17, 2021 Permalink

      I agree 100%, and to top it off he’s got a lifetime contract so he’s more comfortable with losing than he should be.

  23. Papaw
    7:49 am January 17, 2021 Permalink

    It’s past time to just admit, Boston was HIGHLY overrated. Turnover after turnover that lead to opponent scores. If Allen never took a shot he still is the only consistent offensive threat from outside and opponents know that. 13 games into the season Cal finally needs to make changes everyone on the planet, but him, knows

    • Papaw
      7:50 am January 17, 2021 Permalink

      *12 games in

    • trumpetguy
      3:20 pm January 17, 2021 Permalink

      Papaw, you got it. BJB is not the player anyone envisioned, including Cal. Matt Jones said on a broadcast earlier in the week that an NBA scout told him BJB is the biggest miss in at least the last 5 years from an actual talent stand point. EVERYONE assumed he was a sure fire top 10, maybe top 5 pick! Very loose ball handling/passing, and lack of jump shot…sound like high lottery material? For whatever reason, he is struggling. Time for Cal to come to grips with it, and make tough personnel moves. One of the worst shooters on the team has taken the MOST shots! Enough. Finish out this season with BJB in a lesser role, let him come back for Soph., perhaps even more at UK, and see how much he has improved. BTW, a Soph. or more season player at UK is not a bad gig!

  24. JGo
    8:34 am January 17, 2021 Permalink

    The double talk Cal spews is why he is failing at being a coach. Not coaching to win, when your more concerned about trying to get players into the draft. The point is….he is missing out on Toppin and Allen’s potential while blinded byBoston’s lack of potential

    • trumpetguy
      7:52 pm January 17, 2021 Permalink

      JGo, with all of the DA lack of minutes discussion, Toppin kid going a little under the radar. I too believe he has quite a bit more in the tank we haven’t seen…perhaps he is another one Cal needs to prod more on offensive end. IMO Toppin has some untapped game in half court offense that hasn’t been utilized yet…just a hunch.

  25. EdC
    9:07 am January 17, 2021 Permalink

    John Calipari is a genius. He figured out the perfect loophole.

    College students can’t hire an agent through the traditional agent relationship so he fills that need.

    Calipari has managed to be an agent narrowly focused on players he is pretty sure are going to get into the NBA. Everybody knows who they are so finding them is easy. He is glib and charming when he wants to be and tells the parents and players exactly what they want to hear. PLAYERS FIRST!!!

    Compared to all other sports agents he gets 8 million per year without any commission risk. He only worries about 5 clients maximum per year because after their freshman year he is on to the next batch. The next set of guaranteed starters in a program that “doesn’t play favorites.” (unless you are the coach’s son) When he prospects for his new clients he does so on an amazing expense policy from his employer that includes private jets to wherever he wants to go.

    He doesn’t have to really win games at this point because his boss gave him a contract that doesn’t require it.

    Bravo John Calipari! Every other sports agent in the world has to bow to your genius.

    • BigBang-BigCrunch
      7:13 pm January 17, 2021 Permalink

      This is what I’ve been saying for a while about the one and done phenomena. Cal’s only true genius was to come up with this philosophy. It’s easier, when you can get overwhelming athleticism, to act like an agent for six months rather than a basketball coach for 4 years.

  26. JT55
    9:40 am January 17, 2021 Permalink

    Is it to early to start compiling a list for replacements for Cal once he leaves? If not, I’d like to put Nate Oats at the top.

  27. Howdy Doody
    12:10 pm January 17, 2021 Permalink

    “We’re close,” Calipari said at one point in his post-Auburn news conference.

    Really? Close to what?

  28. sonnyg333
    2:28 pm January 17, 2021 Permalink

    Cal has a players ONLY club going.
    When they choose to take a knee they had NO consideration for BBN, The State of Kentucky or the University itself. Coach has said the players wanted to use their platform to express themselves by taking a knee. That’s a lie as they don’t have a platform themselves. They used the platform of Kentucky, BBN and the State of which is on their jersey. They represent the University and fans of the program when they wear those uniforms . The kneeling during the Anthem was misrepresenting the fans and the state in their disrespect of our Anthem and its flag. I’ll be no part of this garbage.
    It took decades for BBN, Coaches and all the supporters of the University of Kentucky to build the program to what it has become, and in a moment of kneeling by pass through players and a self promoting coach to destroy it.

  29. AmazzzingLarry
    11:52 pm January 17, 2021 Permalink

    Please stop protecting Boston’s ego and bench him. He’s not getting any better. Allen’s defense sucks but he can shoot and you can tell he’s trying to improve.