It’s already been a crazy season for college basketball, and we have not even seen a full month of action yet. At this point in the year, the AP No. 1 team has already gone down three times: Michigan State to Kentucky, then Kentucky to Evansville, then, just last night, Duke to Stephen F. Austin. This month marks the first time in history the No. 1 team has lost more than once during the month of November.
It doesn’t stop there. The Blue Devils’ loss is the biggest upset in college basketball in the last 15 seasons; Duke was favored by 27.5 points. But Stephen F. Austin’s 64 points in the paint, including the buzzer-beating layup, was simply too much for Coach K and his team.
The game was amazing, and the story behind the player who secured the win for the Lumberjacks makes it even more special (more on that here). During Kentucky’s pre-UAB media opportunity Wednesday afternoon, John Calipari and his players were asked about the latest upset in college basketball. Coach Cal, of course, was shocked by the news, asking reporters “what happened last night?” before saying Stephen F. Austin “probably almost beat” Kentucky, too.
“They beat [Duke] down there? Wow. I imagine it was close; I imagine it was a buzzer game,” Calipari riffed. “When you have young kids, a veteran team can do that to you. Especially if it’s not going right, then those young kids have never been in that situation, especially early. I would imagine the veteran teams have a big advantage on all that stuff.”
He ultimately shifted the question back to his own team.
“At the end of the day, I like my team. Let’s get this team right.”
We now have a season where Duke has lost to Stephen F. Austin, Kentucky has lost to Evansville, Michigan State has lost to the team who was picked to finish 14th in the ACC. And we havent hit Thanksgiving yet. UN. BELIEVABLE!!!!
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) November 27, 2019
The Kentucky players had their own perspective.
“Everybody is going to go out there and fight against you no matter who you are, especially if you’re a Duke or Kentucky or North Carolina. They’re going to come at you because they want to go home and tell their parents they just beat a Duke or a Kentucky,” Ashton Hagans said. “The little teams are coming to fight this year – I can say that. You’ve just got to be on the lookout and fight back.”
Kahlil Whitney agrees.
“It just shows anyone can get beaten. You have to give it your all every night,” Whitney said. “We look at [Kentucky’s] loss as an opportunity to learn from it, and just can’t let that happen again. We have to come out and play no matter who it is… Don’t roll your eyes at any level of competition.”
Did the Duke game give them flashbacks to the team’s own loss during their stint as the No. 1 team in America?
“Nah, not really,” Hagans shrugged. “It was just another loss for them. It’s just time for us to get prepared and play Friday.”
The Cats will be back in action, post-turkey, on Friday night at 7 p.m. against the University of Alabama-Birmingham.