By LARRY VAUGHT
One thing Kentucky did not do well at Vanderbilt was adjust to the officiating. Kentucky got in early foul trouble — both Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox had two fouls in the game’s first three minutes — and that set the tone in the 87-81 win.
“Just, start off not picking up those silly fouls early. Me and Malik, we both had two fouls in the first four minutes of the game. It’s just, once you pick up that first one you can’t pick up a second one,” Fox said.
“Usually Coach Cal doesn’t play you the rest of the first half, but he let us play and it was something we needed. I feel like we gained discipline when we picked up those two fouls and had to play through it. So it was a game that we needed just to show that we could adjust. We gotta get disciplined quickly.”
Monk and Fox avoided a third foul in the first half when John Calipari did put them back in the game in the first half.
So I asked him after Tuesday’s game whether he liked how they handled playing with two fouls?
“No, I was mad at how they handled playing with one foul. I mean, what are you—the kid fouled before he fouled. And I’m yelling the whole time, ‘Don’t foul. Give him some space. Play him. Don’t body him when he goes up and tries to steal the ball.’ And then he goes inside—and then Malik did the same thing,” Calipari said.
“Wenyen broke down. OK. I keep saying it’s not a touchdown. It’s two points. In eight seconds we’ll get another two and it’s even. Don’t foul. Wenyen broke down. Why would you foul? Let the guy shoot the layup. It’s two points.”
But at least the two didn’t get a third foul. That has to count for something, right?
“Right. But we broke down defensively. There were times that they would have fouled but they didn’t want to foul so they just let a guy drive and they’re shooting layups. That team did what they wanted to against us,” Calipari said.
But Calipari did want to make sure his understood that it did win the game.
“You gotta enjoy the wins. I’ve been doing this 30 years. Enjoy the wins. When we win a game, it’s not relief for me. It is joy. I am happy. And it was a hard-fought game, which even makes me happier,” Calipari said.