Kentucky coach John Calipari didn’t mince a lot of words to open his postgame press conference Sunday after Kentucky lost 75-73 to North Carolina in the South Region.
Kentucky had four players — De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo and Derek Willis — with two fouls in the first half.
“You know, it’s amazing that we were in that game where they practically fouled out my team. Amazing that we had a chance. So proud of how these guys fought. So proud of Isaac (Humphries). Can you imagine his first real opportunity to do this was in this game, and he performed? Amazing,” Calipari said.
“But they never stopped, and the only — I told them, they’ve got to self-reflect because we made some plays, some individuals made some plays down the stretch, like what were you thinking, but young kids.
“But hats off to Carolina. What a great team. Well-coached. Roy deserves to be there. They out-played us, but I am proud of these guys. Really am.”
Calipari was not happy with the officiating but credited North Carolina for what it did.
“There was a lot of stuff that went on, and our kids fought through it. I told them at halftime, it is what it is. And you’ve got to beat who’s out there, and let’s go, and don’t worry about it. And I even said, I’m going to back off because it’s on TV. It’s tape. You can’t — you can say that — but deal with it, and they’ve got to deal with it, too,” Calipari said.
“But don’t take away from North Carolina. I mean, you think of the plays they made, down five, to get back, and I mean, it was bang-bang. And then to get up, and then us come back and tie the game, and then they make one at the buzzer? Come on. It was a terrific game.
“I just wish we could have played a first half with a full roster. But it is what it is. I mean, you look at it, and guys stepped up. I mean, somebody just said, you played even with a group that you never played before. We never played those guys. We play them in practice some, but I was proud of them. I was proud of how they fought in the first half. Should have been down 15. We were down five. It’s crazy.”