By LARRY VAUGHT
With just one week left in the regular season, John Calipari still has a big concern that he has had since day one with his team.
When play gets rough, the Cats back down.
That’s what happened at Vanderbilt Saturday when Kentucky lost 74-62 despite getting 33 points from Jamal Murray.
Kentucky’s bigs other than Marcus Lee were non-existent. Lee had nine points, six rebounds and three blocked shots but Isaac Humphries and Skal Labissiere did not score and had only two rebounds in 22 minutes.
Senior Alex Poythress also failed to score and grabbed just three rebounds before fouling out after playing just 16 minutes — not what UK needed with Derek Willis out with a sprained ankle.
“The game got rough. Either you relish that or you run from it. They are terrific kids and great players but ….,” said Calipari before he said he had players run from the physical play of Vanderbilt.
So what is the minimum UK needs from its bigs?
“Anything,” he said. “Their frontcourt players were better than us today. They weren’t when they played us in Lexington. I wish I had the answer. I don’t. They took it right at us and we did not fight back.”
Calipari’s team has been the “best version” of itself at times this year but clearly was not at Vanderbilt — and that worries Calipari.
“This was like a NCAA Tournament game and some guys did not ring the bell. Now you worry can they ring the bell. You can say it was on the road, but we had a lot of fans here. Guys did not ring the bell. I don’t know why. You have got to want to do this.You can’t be afraid.”