Calipari: “We had them down 21 and they came back and beat our brains in.”

By LARRY VAUGHT

KNOXVILLE — For once it looked like a Kentucky road game was not going to be a Super Bowl for an opponent.

Kentucky came off its overtime loss at Kansas Saturday by roaring out to a 34-13 lead here Tuesday night over Tennessee.

But just when it looked like UK really had turned the corner as coach John Calipari had been hoping, the Cats collapsed. I mean really collapsed.

Kentucky quit rebounding. Kentucky quit defending. Kentucky quit winning lose balls. Kentucky started fouling. So for the first time in UK basketball history, Kentucky blew a 21-point lead and lost 84-77 to a team that had recently blown leads of 18 and 14 points in first halves to lose games. But this time it was the Vols doing the spoiling.

The previous biggest collapse for UK came in a loss at Mississippi State in 2002 when the Cats blew a 20-point lead.

Kentucky fouled way too much and the Vols went 30 of 34 at the foul line. Isaiah Briscoe and Alex Poythress both got their fourth fouls early in the second half and from that point on the Vols grabbed control of the game

Why did Kentucky foul so much?

“I can’t ….,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

So what happened to that 21-point lead?

“We were up 21. Possessions don’t matter right now with certain guys on the team. All of a sudden it is a six-point game at halftime and then we were in a dogfight,” Calipari said. “Tennessee was down 21 but they were not stopping.”

Kentucky did. It had taken the crowd out of the game and then let the fans get back involved. Fans got louder in the second half. They took pictures of the final score. They called Calipari a “choker who has had all that talent but just one national championship.”

But the Cats let that happen just as they had in perplexing losses to Ohio State and Auburn.

“It was more than just one guy,” Calipari said before rattling off a list of plays that were not winning plays. “They beat us 30 in (the last) 25 minutes and it could have been 50. We had them down 21 and they came back and beat our brains in.

“I was worried coming off the Kansas game but the way we started I thought we would be fine. We had them ready and they just backed off. Stuff gets rough and we back up. We’ve got to do some soul searching. We are what we are right now.”

He says his team just “didn’t have the right” to win on the road. He said the players have yet to surrender to making winning plays for an entire game.

“They are like, ‘My stuff still works.” Calipari said.

Maybe one day it will, but it sure didn’t against Tennessee.

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  1. I’m glad I am not on that bus/plane back to Lexington tonight….I wish I had an answer to what went wrong tonight but there was so much that was wrong…some players still are not showing up and if they do, they are not taking the game seriously. 4 pts from the bench is not any way to win a game. Not protecting your basket for an offensive rebound is no way to win…what ever happened to being under the basket just in case? They need to learn to keep their arms out of the way or stop being a half step too slow or something.They need to learn to keep their arms out of the way or stop being a half step too slow or something. They need to learn to keep their arms out of the way or stop being a half step too slow or something, quit leaning in….learn how to move your feet, don’t walk, but move. They are out of position and besides not moving their feet, when they do they have bad footwork at times. They really are driving me crazy under the basket…defend it if you are not making the basket and get an offensive rebound.

    1. Nice to hear you tonight talking to Calipari on his call-in show. Hope he listened to what you were saying

      1. Thanks Larry, not sure if he listened or not he changed the subject real quick to Coach Stoops and the recruits he signed.

  2. I am, and have been, so disgusted with POYś attitude and lack of mental intensity and lack of a strong desire to win. IMO he has lost us more games than he has won since he jumped on board. His play has been disgraceful, and I think his serial fouling and lack of intensity is by design and intended to get him back on the bench and out of the spotlight. Lee has clearly not improved since being here and is actually regressing. The only think Skal has going for him is his menacing crouch (LOL). This year will not go down as one of Cal´s best years of player development. Can Isaac and Tai really be that bad that they cant be an improvement over the aforementioned. We may never know because we may not see them this year.

    1. Folks, so many reasons to be upset with no inside game. Need to have the early season Marcus Lee come back and rebound and run the court.

  3. To me its a constant lack of an inside game. Yes when the outside game is on , well it can be a good day, and that hides the inside woes. You have to be able to have a main stay on the inside . Alex has been good in spurts. I am going to go back and say , that Skal is really the one hurting this team . Its not in what he does , but what he doesn’t do. And please— Cal rightfully so takes up for Skal, but when Cal recruited him, we all know he had bigger plans for him than what he is getting out of him. To me , a lot of what was supposed to happen this year was supposed to go through Skal. And although D. lee is an upperclassman , You have to be able to lead by example, lets face it , he has zero offensive game . Zero!. They are struggling for any ever present continuity on the inside and thats why we are seeing teams come back against UK. Jump shots– versus chippies underneath the hoop when you are up, will kill you. I think this team can play with anyone on any given day, but like Cal said , they can be beat by anyone, and he is right, without any post play , well good luck.

  4. I refuse to be negative.A true Wildcat fan sticks with the team.A tough loss yes but the sky ain’t falling….Saturday is another day..Beat Florida and play well the band wagon jumpers will be back..Go Big Blue!!!

    1. Florida has now won five of 6 after beating Florida tonight

  5. I agree with Grant. Our lack of floor balance, and in particular, an inside game is hurting this team. Marcus had just not played the same since his head/nose injury against UCLA. I love Alex, but his inconsistent play is upsetting, given that he is a four year player. I trust Cal, given his “demonstrated performance” as he is fond of saying, but I wish Isaac and Tai would get a chance. Surely they couldn’t be worse than our current post players when they are struggling.

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