By LARRY VAUGHT
KNOXVILLE — John Calipari threw his arms into the air. He grabbed his head. He yelled at his players. He pleaded with his players.
His body language was off but was understandable as his team gave away a 21-point lead and lost 84-77 at Tennessee Tuesday night.
“I’m just trying to demand that they do it the right way and I’m asking them, ‘Why would you do that? Why didn’t you do what we’re teaching? Why are you trying to break off?’ And then when they do the same thing three times, I get a little more aggressive,” he said.
“‘Obviously you’re not hearing me, so Im going to say this louder and a little bit closer to your face so you hear what I’m saying.’”
What happens then? Calipari just mumbled, indicating the players pay no attention.
Kentucky had beat Missouri, Arkansas and Vanderbilt since losing at Auburn and then lost in overtime at Kansas on Saturday.
“We had four unbelievable efforts in a row. It’s hard to have 10 of those. But when you get up 21, you know, ‘Alright, we ain’t giving this up. I’m not taking that shot, I’m not losing that man because we’re going to win this game,'” Calipari said.
“They don’t think that way. They’re just, ‘What do you mean? It was a good play.’ And it’s, ‘It was only one time.’ But that’s where we are. But we’ll be fine.”
But will Kentucky. The Cats are now 16-6 and still have road games with South Carolina, Florida, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. They also have to play Florida and LSU at home. That’s six games out of the nine left that need a danger sign beside them for this team.
“We’ve got to do some soul-searching, individuals and as a staff. We’ve got to keep looking at ways that we can help this team get better, and demand more and more winning plays, but we are what we are right now,” Calipari said.