By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calipari offered no excuses for his team after it lost 97-92 to undefeated UCLA in Rupp Arena Saturday.
It was the first loss for No. 1 Kentucky and also snapped a 42-game home win streak for the Wildcats.
“They manhandled us. They outfought us,” Calipari said after the game.
At least four Wildcats — Derek Willis, Isaac Humphries, Dominique Hawkins and Sacha Killeya-Jones — were sick this week. That’s one reason Calipari did not have a shootaround before Saturday’s game as UK normally would have had.
But Calipari said that had no impact on the outcome.
“The factor in the game is that they played better than us,” the UK coach said.
The game changed with a 23-6 run by the Bruins to end the first half and start the second half. The Cats made a big rally late to get within three points on a Derek Willis 3-pointer with 8.2 seconds to go but that was as close as they were the second half.
Freshman Malik Monk had 24 points, including eight in a 1 1/2 minute span to cut the lead to six with 5:44 left, but that was about it.
Kentucky was just 8-for-24 from 3 point range and shot 41.3 percent overall. Monk was 10-for-19 from the field, but the rest of the team was 23 of 61. Freshman Bam Adebayo had 18 points and 13 rebounds but was just 4-for-12 from the field. UCLA shot 53 percent made 10 of 23 3-point tries.
UCLA was 17-for-21 at the foul line and many UK fans — and players — were upset with the officiating. Kentucky got to the foul line 27 times and made 18.
Former Wildcat Cameron Mills, who played on UK’s 1998 national championship team, had an interesting observation during the game.
“Are we getting a bad whistle? Maybe. But watching our guys reacting to every call is more telling. We are young. We will learn,” Mills tweeted. “Nothing to do with Cal. Our players haven’t experienced a loss. They are young and this is valuable lesson. Big games are only in March.”
I would agree.
Another former Cat, Perry Stevenson, had a Twitter observation that was accurate, too.
“We’re not getting any 2nd chances.. They’re getting a ton. Can’t win like that,” Stevenson tweeted during the second half.
Kentucky’s average time of possession was 12 seconds, UCLA’s 17. The Bruins averaged 1.169 points per possession to 1.095 to UK.