Poor execution in the final minute kept Kentucky from closing out Kansas State.
A P.J. Washington free throw with 1:17 to play tied the game at 58. The Cats had multiple opportunities to get the win, but could not convert. “I’m proud of my team. Had our chance to win. Didn’t play particularly well for us, but still had a chance to win,” John Calipari said after the game.
Kentucky was a three-pointer away from sending the game into overtime. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could not find an open shot and was forced to put up a prayer as time expired. It was not what Kentucky was looking for in the final five seconds.
“It was a pin at the free throw line for Wenyen. It took a little too long to progress,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Then I had to take a tough shot. Obviously I missed and I’m disappointed with the result.”
“It was a physical game and it kinda got us a little out of rhythm, and it wears you down. I thought Shai got worn down,” Calipari said.
It was a poorly executed play, but Calipari does not believe that was the play that cost Kentucky the game. Trailing by two on the previous possession, Quade Green settled for a three with nine seconds to play. Coach Cal blames himself.
“I come back to the big play for us was down two, we were going to run a play to go weak-side corner for a three. We end up not having it, throwing it to Quade. I was trying to get a timeout at that point, but that’s on me. That’s not on these kids. That was a choice I made.”
Kentucky’s mishaps in the final minute reflected their sloppy play throughout the game. On a roll through the previous five games, they looked like a completely different team against Kansas State. Despite the foul trouble, missed free throws and horrible execution down the stretch, Calipari is proud of his team’s fight.
“These kids fought. They were down 13-1…There were plays in the game we just didn’t make, but you gotta give Kansas State credit.”