John Calipari did not hide from the blame after his team’s stunning loss to Utah in Las Vegas. He was gracious in defeat in his postgame press conference, saying, “That was a great win and they deserved it.”
“He out-coached me, the way they did it,” Cal admitted. “They out-played us. They deserve to win the game.
“It’s disappointing, but I say this,” he continued, “I’ve done this 35 years, so this stuff happens. What I gotta get a team to understand is — my team, more than any I’ve coached in the last five or seven years, that team needs each other.”
Calipari was unable to use the youth excuse in this one, considering he had the most experienced roster on the floor in T-Mobile Arena. Utah has 12 new faces on its roster, including 10 true freshmen, and that young bunch jumped on the Cats early and controlled the game until the very end.
“How about they had three freshmen starting, two sophomores, and they punched us in the mouth?” Cal said. “All of this stuff about my young team? He has a young team too. One guy weights 250 — no, 195. The other guy weighed 260 — no, 210. They weren’t beasts that way, what they did was they physically fought. They fought for position, they fought you on defense, they found for rebounds, they fought running down the floor, they out-ran you. It’s what I’m trying to get my team to do.”
Unfortunately it was too late in the game when Kentucky decided to fight back.