By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calipari pointed out that Kentucky’s strength of schedule and RPI are both very solid after UK lost 85-74 at Texas A&M Saturday night.
He did that knowing that many are starting to question whether UK will be in the NCAA Tournament. The Cats are still safely in the tourney today, but they also have road games at Auburn, Arkansas and Florida. Home games remain with Alabama, Missouri and Ole Miss. As of today, Auburn, Florida, Alabama and Missouri are all above UK in the SEC standings.
Kentucky freshman Kevin Knox, who had 18 points against Texas A&M, didn’t seem alarmed about UK’s NCAA position.
“We have to play a complete 40 minutes to win games but this will be a learning experience for us to get ready for March,” Knox said.
So he doesn’t feel like the team’s back is against the wall and has work to do just to make sure it reaches the NCAA?
“No, not really. Coach tells us even after losses to come out and play like you won. We just have to figure out how to get there. We have a lot of guys that really want to get there and play in March,” Knox said.
What team doesn’t?
In fairness, Kansas lost Saturday. So did Oklahoma. So did No. 2 Virginia as it fell at home to Virginia Tech, a team UK beat earlier this season.
Duke has had recent issues, too, including that shocking loss to St. John’s
“I thought they made us look bad, but we made ourselves look bad. We did not play basketball the first 32 minutes worthy of our program. And we had blank faces, we didn’t talk, we were like five individuals out there, and it was disgusting, really,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said after that loss. “I do not know why. I can tell you, that’s not the group I’ve coached all year, and they were a very frustrating group to coach today because they didn’t respond to anything until the last eight minutes, and that’s unacceptable.”
That’s about what Calipari had to say after Saturday’s loss. He said he was tired, not frustrated.
“I feel bad for individual players when they play like they did (tonight),” Calipari said.
The numbers would back him up, but the problem is he has nowhere else to turn. The roster is what it is.
Calipari also wisely admitted not to be tricked by the way UK finished the game and cut into the lead. In the words of another former UK coach, that was fool’s gold.
“They were just trying to run the clock out, so no,” Calipari said when asked if there was anything late in the game to build on for his team. “There just is not enough pride and fight. They have to trust each other and trust what this program is about.”