Given a second chance, Derek Willis hits decisive shot against Alabama

Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)


Maybe you weren’t surprised by the play Kentucky coach John Calipari called at Alabama Saturday with his team clinging to a 57-51 lead. Coming out of a timeout, UK ran a play for senior Derek Willis to get a 3-point shot.

Kentucky was 0-for-6 from 3-point range in the second half but Willis did what Calipari wanted — he buried the shot with 1 minute, 18 seconds left to push the lead to 60-51 and help seal the eventual 67-58 victory.

“Look, I ran that last play for Derek Willis, but you have to know I ran it three minutes before, and because he didn’t want the ball he tried to screen. That’s not a play for him to screen,” Calipari said.

“And I called him over, ‘Why did you do that? You didn’t want to shoot the ball did you?’ So then I ran it again. We’re running it again. ‘De’Aaron throw him the ball.’ And the kid made a 3.

“I gotta give him credit. That’s growing, especially me calling him out a little bit saying, look, man, you can’t – Kenny Payne’s saying this, ‘If you don’t have confidence Coach shouldn’t play you at all. Shouldn’t play you. If you’re going in the game without confidence then he shouldn’t play you and I’ll tell him to take you out.’”

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