By LARRY VAUGHT
Look for a tougher, more physical Kentucky team against Georgia tonight — and a team that values the basketball much more.
Kentucky coach John Calipari made that clear Monday as he looked back on Saturday’s 79-73 loss to Kansas.
He said toughness is also mental.
“When it’s late, four or five minutes to go in a game, you know, you’re tough enough that I’m not turning it over because I’m tough enough to know I’m making easy plays. Turnovers lead to easy baskets down the other end,” Calipari said. “We gave 21 points up last game from turnovers. You can’t win a game that way.
“The other thing becomes, it’s a 50-50 ball and I’m fighting for my life, I figure out a way to go and get those balls. Now, you may not get all of them, but you can’t give them all of them. The toughness late in the game, mentally and physically, that’s what I’m talking about.”
Calipari blamed “casual play” for Kentucky’s 17 turnovers. He showed the team every one of them.
“Was it necessary? Aggressive turnovers don’t lead to baskets down the other end. The causal turnovers, were you just dribbling across and just lose it? What happened? Did he grab you? ‘No, it just kind of got away from me.’ Excuse me? That’s the casual. The look away pass to a win when you didn’t have to. What’s the hardest play I can make? When the guy is open right there throw it. We saw it,” Calipari said.
“This is all stuff that, when you’re coaching young kids, you have to go through and reinforce. We went back to some of our older defensive drills just to get them in a different mindset, but Georgia’s good. I just watched their game with Texas. They had Texas A&M beat. The Alabama game was a little bit of an anomaly for them, but they’re a good team.
“We don’t play, you get beat again. I think we’ll be ready to play. How the game plays out, I don’t know. We’ll see.”