By LARRY VAUGHT
Remember the 2015 game at LSU when Karl Anthony-Towns got called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a dunk and coach John Calipari went berserk. Well, it almost happened against Tuesday night at Mississippi State when Malik Monk got called for the same type technical that ignited a State rally.
Calipari remembered that Towns came back and helped UK beat LSU. Monk had 14 points, but missed nine of 14 shots and had five turnovers.
‘Malik didn’t really help us – well, he made some free throws down the stretch. But that was not one of his better games. And I’ll say this: He had a great shootaround today, maybe one of the better shootarounds I’ve seen, and that’s really unusual,” Calipari said.
But Monk was not the only reason Calipari was not happy. He said his team went into “AAU mode” after building a big second-half lead.
“When you’re playing all freshmen and sophomores, there’s a point in the game that they just think it’s like, ‘OK, watch this.’ You’re never going to be that team if that’s what your mindset is. I told them at halftime: ‘I’m taking you out.’ And I did. Not just him (Monk), I told the whole team,” Calipari said.
“We’re still leaving timeouts and guys are doing exactly the opposite of what (he says). ‘We’re not setting a moving screen this time. So I don’t care if you even screen the guy. Do not …’ And the guy set a moving screen. We’re up 16, ready to go to … ‘What did you just do?’ That’s who we are right now.
“I thought we were a month away; we may be two months away. Now, that being said, Mississippi State played well. They shot 54 percent. They turned it over some, but we did, too, and the crazy thing was they didn’t press, they didn’t trap, they didn’t do anything and that’s the most turnovers we may have had all year.
“So their pressure and their toughness and, like I said, they shoot 54 percent from the floor and we win the game, which is incredible for us. Now, Wenyen is starting to get it. He’ll break down a couple times in the game, but he’s starting to get it. And I thought Derek did well, too. So you have our two ‘four’ men going 10 for 11 and getting 26 points and getting 13 rebounds from that position – that’s big. And I played them together some.”