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Kentucky players, coaches won’t let Duke blowout define their season

For the fourth-consecutive game, exhibition and regular season, the Kentucky Wildcats left a lot to be desired out on the floor. They’ve been inconsistent shooting the ball, horrendous on defense, and for a group Kentucky head coach John Calipari raved about this offseason, it’s just been a massive disappointment.

We thought this group would be hungry coming into their second regular season game against a potential NCAA Tournament team in Southern Illinois. The official Kentucky basketball social media accounts preached throughout the week that they’d come out firing on all cylinders against the Salukis.

But for the first 30 minutes of the game, we found ourselves in yet another head-scratcher, leaving fans questioning just how good this team actually is.

John Calipari said in his postgame press conference that he’s frustrated that he scheduled such difficult games to start the season.

“Hard second game,” he said. “I’m still mad we scheduled it. I’m mad we scheduled the first one when we did. And after we played two exhibitions games I knew where we were.”

Calipari continued by saying he was caught off guard by his team’s performance in Indianapolis against Duke. In his mind, he didn’t prepare his team well enough against such a talented opponent.

“I never saw coming what happened up there,” Calipari said. “You know why? Because I really didn’t have a good read. That’s my job as a coach is to have a good read on where we are. I had no read at all. … Obviously I wasn’t as disciplined myself or asking enough from them.”

Fortunately, the Cats were able to turn roughly 70 minutes of extremely poor basketball to start the regular season into a winning performance down the stretch to pull off the 71-59 victory.

Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley, who finished with a team-high 15 points, acknowledged his team’s sluggish start, but was pleased with their ability to bounce back down the stretch. He believes the Wildcats are just scratching the surface.

“Nobody was rattled, really,” he said. “That just shows the resiliency and toughness of this team. I think we can really be good.”

Quickley said the only way to bounce back from a horrendous loss is to move on and understand there’s still a long way to go in the season.

“You bounce back by moving on,” said Quickley. “I think this team is a great team, we still believe in each other, coach still believes in us. We just have to come to work each and every day.”

Freshman center EJ Montgomery said it was a mindset issue, and he believes they got it back down the stretch.

“We had to get our mindset back together, try to go out there and fight and be together as a team,” he said. “Just go out and get a win.”

For Sophomore center Nick Richards, the difference between the Duke game and their performance against Southern Illinois comes down to that brief stretch in the second half when the Cats found themselves down by seven points. Instead of sulking and chalking up the ugly performance as a loss, they fought back to take control for their first victory of the season.

“You just have to put stuff in the past,” Richards said. “Coach tells us all the time, what happens in the past stays in the past. You just have to look toward the future because that’s what really matters. We just looked on to this game and not last game, and you see what happens. We were down seven at one point, fought back to get the lead, guys stepped up their game.”

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

11 Comments for Kentucky players, coaches won’t let Duke blowout define their season

  1. BigolBlue
    11:04 pm November 9, 2018 Permalink

    It defines my season

  2. Jiminy Crickets
    11:31 pm November 9, 2018 Permalink

    The difference in this game and the duke game was when we got down by 7, we fought back??? No the difference is this was southern Illinois, not a top 50 team, much less Duke

    • KYCat4EVER
      4:32 pm November 10, 2018 Permalink

      Right on! Somebody give Jiminy the “post of the month” award!

  3. Jiminy Crickets
    11:35 pm November 9, 2018 Permalink

    So this team plays Duke, UNC, Kansas, and Louisville. When we go 0-4 will that define our season? After watching Auburn tonight, UK will be lucky to finish 4th in the SEC.

    • henderblue
      12:45 am November 10, 2018 Permalink

      Why don’t you switch teams? You and BigolBluedumbass move on up the interstate.

    • KYCat4EVER
      4:37 pm November 10, 2018 Permalink

      OK! Henderblue, everyone has a right to their opinion… and you are as well. But if you don’t agree with the opinion of another poster, like Jiminy, why do posters like you ALWAYS play the “troll card” or “not a true blue fan” card? LOL Comical!?

    2:31 am November 10, 2018 Permalink

    All you all do is bitch and moan about everything unless we beat every team by 30. You’re so lucky to have a program like you do but you act as though….

  5. Aar
    8:45 am November 10, 2018 Permalink

    I hope the opening night loss does define this team. Every setback is an opportunity to redefine yourself. The way this team reacts to that loss will, inevitably, define them.

    They have six games in the friendly confines before Seton Hall in MSG starts the much tougher stretch of the season. Actually, the fifth and sixth games against Monmouth and UNCG take a bit of a step up in level of competition.

    I expect and hope that each player finds themselves and this team finds ways to play together through each of the next three games. The second half last night saw them starting to get a few two man game pairings that worked.

    We’ll know They’re clicking when team execution turns shooters into makers by finding them shots within the rhythm of the offense and using the extra pass to take the easy shot. It’s in them and they need to make progress each and every game. Last season they never figured it out.

    If they’re not using team action to create easy shots by the Monmouth game we’ll know that they didn’t completely rise to the challenge that the opening night loss offered them. That would allow that loss to define the season the wrong way and make for a long season in big blue nation.

    Regardless of their rate of progress and to what height they rise, I’m completely behind them and support all of the coaching staff’s work to maximize their potential. Go Big Blue!

  6. Swizzle
    9:16 am November 10, 2018 Permalink

    I’ll wait for Carolina to see if we’ve improved. They can be good. But something seems off from the Bahamas.

  7. zoupman
    9:52 am November 10, 2018 Permalink

    It’s going to be fun watching these guys grow and improve. They will be rolling by March.

  8. Wade
    1:15 pm November 10, 2018 Permalink

    It should define everything. That should be the motivation to get better. I’d watch clips everyday. I know it’s a lie bc I heard cal say that’s why you lost by 34 a few times already!