Most Recent Posts
- NCAA trends: Scoring, FG percent up, fouls up; turnovers downs
- Center Jon Toth named to SEC All-Freshman Team
- So you want to be a photographer? Clay Jackson shows the hazards of the profession
- Cauley-Stein on comparison to Rodman: “I ain’t wearing no wedding dress or nothing.”
- UK freshman James Young on team’s effort against Boise State: “We wanted to prove a lot of people wrong”
- John Calipari and Rick Pitino part of new CBS Sports series “NCAA Men of March”
- Guest post: Schedule ‘custom made’ for Calipari’s Cats to improve now
- Despite 8th double-double, UK freshman Julius Randle says “I still can do a lot better”
A limited number of tickets remain for Kentucky’s upcoming men’s basketball games against Belmont (Dec. 21) and Mississippi State (Jan. 8).
eRUPPtion Zone tickets will be available to the public for the Belmont and Mississippi State games, which occur over the university’s holiday break. Tickets in the eRUPPtion Zone will be $5 each (cash only) and are limited to one per person (must be present at time of purchase). Tickets will go on sale 90 minutes prior to tip-off at the Rupp Arena Box Office and are available on a first come/first serve basis.
Additionally, tickets for UK’s games against Tennessee (Jan. 18), Texas A&M (Jan. 21) and Georgia (Jan. 25) go on sale Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. ET. The game against Louisville (Dec. 28) is SOLD OUT. Tickets will first be available online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 800.745.3000 beginning Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. ET. Any tickets remaining after Wednesday’s sale will be available to purchase through the UK Ticket Office by calling 800.928.2287 on Thursday, Dec. 12 between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Remaining tickets for sale will come from the unsold student ticket allotment. Upper level tickets are $42 each.
By ASHLEY SCOBY
In Blake McClain’s first collegiate game, he forced a fumble from one of the more highly regarded running backs in the country: Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews.
From that point on, there wasn’t much of a downhill slide for McClain, who finished the season with 59 tackles (tied with Za’Darius Smith for third on the team), including 37 solo (good for second on the team, only behind Avery Williamson). He recorded five pass breakups and a tackle for loss, and was the only freshman to record a forced fumble.
McClain originally committed to Kentucky under former head coach Joker Phillips, and became a “soft commit” once the new coaching staff was announced. He stuck it out, though, and he saw the dividends of that decision this year: significant playing time and production in the SEC.
“It’s a learning experience coming from high school ball to arguably the best conference in football,” he said. “There’s a lot of learning experience. I’ve learned just to be tough. SEC is a tough conference, so you’ve got to be tough and you’ve got to be big.”
The “tough” part of the equation, McClain says he has mastered, and the numbers he posted this year would reflect that. Getting bigger, however, will be a focus for McClain heading into the off-season.
“Next year, everything will be polished. I’ll be bigger, stronger, faster, and have a great feel for SEC football,” he said. “It’s going to be a great turnaround.”
A turnaround at what position, though, is probably still to be determined. McClain was recruited as a high school cornerback, then started fall camp as a safety, played linebacker against WKU and eventually settled in as a nickelback in defensive coordinator DJ Eliot’s scheme. McClain started in 10 of Kentucky’s 12 games, usually playing nickelback.
As a fifth defensive back, a nickelback has to have solid cover skills. But he also has to be a great tackler in case the offense runs the ball. McClain feels that he has all the skills necessary to be successful in that kind of system.
“You can play fast in this defensive scheme,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot of checks. You just look at your guy and look at your keys and just play fast. That’s what I like about it.”
For a guy who has been clocked at 4.5 in the 40-yard-dash, a system where his speed can be utilized is perfect for McClain. But even with that speed, his transition to the Southeastern Conference still saw its rough patches.
“Everybody we played had that guy where it was like, ‘Woah, this is SEC,’” he said. “I was very impressed with Amari Cooper (Alabama wide receiver) and TJ Yeldon (Alabama running back). Those are great players. Once I played them, I was like, ‘Dang, I’m really playing SEC football.’”
Although McClain stuffed the stat sheet this year, he did not record an interception: something that all of his fellow defensive backs besides Ashely Lowery can sympathize with. Besides Lowery’s pick in the final game of the year, Kentucky’s two other interceptions on the year were by linebackers (Josh Forrest and Khalid Henderson). With McClain set to be a statistical leader as a defensive back next season, he says that anemic number will soon change.
“It just says we’re young, basically,” McClain said. “It just says we’re inexperienced, and we’ll get that fixed in the off-season. Next year there are going to be a lot of picks.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Marshall County Hoop Fest organizer Dan Hudson has again revised Saturday’s format after games tonight were postponed because of the weather.
Here’s the new, and final, schedule.
Here’s the revised schedule …
Saturday at Marshall County High School
Noon — Arsenal Tech vs. Ballard
1:30 p.m. — Huntington Prep vs. Atlanta Sports Academy
3 p.m. — Marshall County vs. Hopkinsville
5 p.m. — Prime Prep vs. Quality Education
6:30 p.m. — Ballard vs. Moss Point
8 p.m. — Huntington Prep vs. Arsenal Tech
9:30 p.m. — Oak Hill vs. Atlanta Sports Academy
(All times Central)
Kentucky signee Trey Lyles plays for Arsenal Tech and UK signee Devin Booker plays for Moss Point, the team from Mississippi that is making an all-night bus ride to Benton after playing a game tonight in Mississippi.
Lyles also hopes to be close to full speed after being sick earlier this week and missing school.
By ASHLEY SCOBY
In a season of multiple 13-yard punts, an anemic offense and late-in-the-season suspensions, it seems fitting that an interception by Kentucky’s Jaleel Hytchye would skirt off his hands and into Jason Croom’s for a Volunteers touchdown this weekend. It’s been a season of mishaps and misfortune for UK, full of injuries and bizarre plays that have put a damper on Mark Stoops’ first season in blue and white.
The light at the end of the tunnel for Kentucky fans, though, has been the recruits Stoops has brought to the program – players like Hytchye, who, although he couldn’t reel in that particular interception Saturday, has seen significant playing time this year and looks to make an even bigger impact next season.
Hytchye came out of high school rated by ESPN as a top 25 cornerback, as well as the 20th-best recruit in Ohio last year. He became Stoops’ first 2013 recruit and quickly took it upon himself to help the coaching staff recruit other top players to Lexington.
Now, Hytchye has a season in the SEC under his belt, having played in eight games, and starting against Georgia when the position was decimated by injury (Nate Willis) and suspension (Cody Quinn). He recorded 9 tackles on the season, including 7 in the Georgia game he started.
“I came out here and I got on the field,” Hytchye said. “I got the experience I needed. Everything I need to move forward is right in front of me. All my goals are still there. Everything I want to accomplish is still there. The season was a great season of experience and now I’m ready to get after it next season.”
The cornerback position next year figures to be much improved from this season’s. Not a single Kentucky corner recorded an interception this year, and safety Ashely Lowery’s pick in the Tennessee game was the first one by a UK defensive back.
“I’m not going to say it’s not frustrating,” Hytchye said of the 2013 season. “But at the same time, I feel like it’s going to define who we are in the future as far as being a better team because we’ve already been through it and the ‘almost making it.’ The only place we can go now is being better, making the plays we need to make to win the games, winning in close game situations and just being better in all areas.”
For Hytchye personally, he says he wants to focus on getting bigger, stronger and faster – a popular goal for the team, thanks to Stoops’ focus on improving the team’s physical stature. A tenet in sports has long held that a team will take on the personality of its coach, and Hytchye’s physical goals certainly reflect that.
His passion for the game, too, is something that meshes well with the coaching staff, he said. Late in the Tennessee game, Hytchye was flagged for pass interference – a call that he, the fanbase and the rest of the Kentucky sideline strongly disagreed with. Stoops was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for his verbal attack of the officials after the call.
“I’m not going to say I was happy, but it was kind of a good thing that he had my back because I was upset about it,” Hytchye said. “We’ve both got to settle down in a situation like that, but I feel like I was in great position. I feel like by no means did I interfere with the other receiver and so when they called that, I was furious. He reacted the same way.”
That refusal by the head coach to give up on his player is what gives Hytchye the most faith that next year will be a better season for Kentucky football.
“Even though our season didn’t go as planned, there’s a lot of teams that would have folded,” Hytchye said. “Just them (the coaching staff) keeping the same attitude towards us and us keeping the same attitude, you can tell something’s going to happen. Something’s going to change. We’ve been close in a lot of games. … This coaching staff is going to get us there. … It’s the best coaching staff in the country, and I think the coming years will show that.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Because he’s in better physical shape, sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein has “come a long way” since last season when he was the least heralded member of Kentucky’s recruiting class and a backup for Nerlens Noel.
“He’s in good enough shape he can continue to play. There have been times before, he’d just stand there and just let the guy drive in and like hold onto his guy and say, ‘Well, I was … I was holding my guy.’ Now he knows he can go get it,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said after Cauley-Stein had 15 points, nine blocks and eight rebounds against Providence Sunday.
“And then the second thing is, we’re doing a better job if he does leave to block out, cracking down and taking his man. But to have nine blocks in a game like this? Big-time. Big-time. And then to play the way he did and to run like a gazelle. Did you see him run the court? Oh, my gosh.”
Cauley-Stein has 31 blocks through eight games, or just five fewer than Anthony Davis did during his record-setting season two years ago. He’s almost averaging a double-double (9.6 points, 8.4 rebounds per game) and is shooting 60 percent from the field.
“I think just more aware. Like before in the past it was like I was hesitant on going (to block a shot),” Cauley-Stein, who has 17 blocks in the last two games going into Friday’s game against No. 20 Baylor. “Now I’m just going. Like coach said, ‘Don’t even worry about it. Try to go block every ball.’ So that’s what my game plan is coming into the game: just go try to block everything.”
Cauley-Stein says his improved offense is due in large part to his better play on defense this season.
“It definitely feeds off the defense, just flying around everywhere. It makes it where you’re not thinking about the offense. In the past that’s what I was doing: thinking about, like pre-thinking what move I need to do. Now, it’s just I’m reacting and just trying to go up,” Cauley-Stein said.
Teammates know how valuable Cauley-Stein has been.
“When Willie picks it up on defense, it just gives us the extra energy boost that we need. We clap, clap it up on defense, which really picks us up on defense,” freshman guard James Young said.
Freshman Dominique Hawkins says Cauley-Stein’s defense “sparks” the team.
“It makes us want to play defense better. To give the energy that he’s giving, we all want to give that same energy and we know that he probably has our backs as guards if somebody drives around us that he’s going to be on the help side to block their shot or change their shot or anything like that,” Hawkins said. “Running up and down the court has really been effective for him. I think he probably got at least two alley-oops a game just because he’s running up and down the court. And definitely he’s improving on his offensive game every day. If you ever watch practice, Willie, he’s always going as hard as he can and working on his post moves.”
Hawkins says Cauley-Stein is simply doing what Calipari is encouraging him to do on defense.
“He tells all the bigs to go after the shot block because that’s how team defense becomes better and he wants us to get the loose balls once the shot is blocked. So basically he’s telling Willie to be an effective shot-blocker,” Hawkins said.
Freshman Julius Randle, UK’s leading scorer and rebounder, says Cauley-Stein is embracing his role as a team leader.
“He’s maybe not going to say as much. He’s starting to become really vocal, but before anything he’s going to lead with his actions or how hard he plays,” Randle said. “You can tell that’s what he does by having nine blocks last game and then scoring the ball there at the end. He’s changing the game and making our team a lot better.”
Calipari said he asked players why Cauley-Stein has been playing so well and one answered that he was “not thinking” and was just playing. That was the wrong answer.
“The statement you don’t think, that’s not true. You got to think. He’s reacting better, and I’ll tell you why: because he’s practicing like crazy. He is attacking practices, which make the games easier,” Calipari said. “We have other guys that the practice is attacking them every day. One guy shut it down: ‘I can’t breathe!’ And they looked at his heart rate and it was at 82 percent. Well then you have a lung disease, OK?
“So it’s not — you just can’t push through the comfort level. There are times, I have a couple guys, their heart rate gets in the 90s and I tell them — they’ll tell me, ’94!’ Who? ‘Willie.’ Step off, Willie. Step off, Dominique.”
Calipari said Cauley-Stein is “going like there’s no tomorrow” at the last part of every drill compared to teammates who just want the drill to end.
“There’s a difference. You finish the drill; the hardest part is those last seven, eight seconds. ‘Ah!’ And those other guys are looking at the clock: ‘Can I get through it? The clock.’ Well, you’re not going to get better. What got you here, won’t get you there. You’ve gotta change,” Calipari said. “So some guys are changing. Willie’s changing. Other guys are not.
“Until they accept they’ve got to change, they won’t. But all in all, I’ve been really pleased. I’m dragging this team faster than they need to go, yet taking some things back to the very elementary that they needed to be doing when they got here.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
For the first time today, Kentucky coach John Calipari admitted he was worried about senior Jon Hood.
He has not played since suffering a concussion in practice. He was not on the bench for two games in Rupp Arena and Calipari did not take him to Brooklyn for Sunday’s game with Providence because he did not want him flying in a plan. The coach did not say if Hood would make the trip to Dallas for Friday’s game against Baylor.
Calipari saw the blow Hood took to his head. He practiced after that and had headaches, according to the coach.
“I know our doctors and trust them and they are going to be really conservative (clearing Hood to practice and play),” Calipari said. “I am concerned but I know he is in great hands and no one is going to ask him to do anything he shouldn’t do.”
By: ASHLEY SCOBY
Seventh-rated Kentucky used a 23-9 run in the second half to take down fourth-ranked in-state rival Louisville in a game Sunday that featured two lead changes and five ties.
DeNesha Stallworth, who was held to 1 point in the first half, came out of the locker room with a newfound confidence offensively, scoring 15 points in the final 20 minutes.
Stallworth’s lack of production mirrored much of the rest of her team’s in the first half: Kentucky shot 31 percent in the face of Louisville’s pressure defense. The Cardinals also held a 23-13 rebounding advantage in the half, leading to nine second-chance points (compared to UK’s 0 during the same period).
Louisville jumped to a 15-4 lead by the 16:08 mark behind three early offensive rebounds. The Cardinals rolled off 11 straight points after an initial 4-4 tie, with Kentucky native Sara Hammond scoring six of those points.
The Cardinals’ lead would not fall below eight points for the rest of the half, as the Cats struggled to score in the halfcourt. A lack of focus on both ends of the court is what Kentucky attributed to its slow start, as they fell behind by as many as 14 at one point.
“They were playing tougher,” UK guard Jennifer O’Neill said of Louisville. “We kind of got punched in the mouth in the first half. When (UK head coach) Matthew (Mitchell) came in and started basically yelling at us and telling us that what he needed us to be doing, we weren’t doing, it just made us want to play and show him we’re ready to play. We’re ready to compete. We didn’t work this hard to get where we’re at to just quit in a game like this.”
Quit they did not, as the Cats cut Louisville’s lead to two (42-40) by the 14:00 mark of the second half off a Kastine Evans tip-in. Shoni Schimmel would stroke a three-pointer for Louisville at the 12:53 mark, getting the margin back out to five, but Kentucky rattled off its own 11-0 run that mirrored Louisville’s from the first half.
Bernisha Pinkett hit a long-range three at the 10:54 mark for the Cats’ first lead of the game since they led 2-0 at the beginning. Stallworth tipped in an O’Neill miss on the next possession, and Pinkett made another three-pointer at 9:42 to give Kentucky the 51-45 lead, its largest of the game.
“This was not my first year being in a big game, so I knew when I got in, whatever he (Mitchell) needed me to do, I needed to be ready,” Pinkett said. “Whether it was getting a stop on defense, getting a rebound, or making a three, it so happened to be me being down and ready to get the kick-out for the three. I was just saying, ‘When I get this ball, put your elbow in and knock it down, then get back on defense.’”
Schimmel would hit two three-pointers in a row herself to tie it up again at 7:49 at 51-all. Two more ties would send the Memorial Coliseum crowd of 7,963 into a frenzy. But after the 6:28 mark, when a Hammond free throw would make it 55-55, Kentucky would lead for the rest of the game.
A Hammond layup at 2:14 would get the Cardinals to within one possession again, but Stallworth’s free throw at 1:55 and O’Neill’s jumper with 41 seconds on the clock would all but seal it for the Cats. They would lead 69-62, and then Schimmel’s basket with 5 seconds remaining set the final score of 69-64.
The difference in the game, according to both coaches, was the effort on the offensive glass. After only pulling down 5 offensive rebounds in the first half, Kentucky grabbed 13 in the second, leading to 10 second-chance points in the final 20 minutes.
“It was a mindset,” Mitchell said. “Nobody got taller at halftime. Nobody got faster. We didn’t give them anything so they’re jumping higher. Their mindset changed. … At halftime, there were two things we could control, and that was effort on defense and effort on the boards.”
Failing to prevent the Cats’ increased effort on the offensive glass was part of a lethal combination for Louisville: Missing easy shots was the other part.
“What cost us the game was we just did not rebound in the second half,” said Louisville head coach Jeff Walz. “I thought we did a great job in the first half. We just controlled the tempo of the game, playing it how we wanted to play it. … Then we come out in the second half and miss a lot of point-blank shots that we normally don’t miss. Then we started to give up offensive rebounds because we were starting to get frustrated. That’s a bad combination.”
The win against Louisville marks Kentucky’s 16th straight victory over the Cardinals at Memorial Coliseum. The two teams were each ranked the highest they had ever been ranked coming into the Cats-Cards rivalry game.
Overall, the Cats hold a three-game winning streak against their in-state foes. The magnitude of not just the rivalry, but also of the national ramifications of the game, is what made this a special one for Mitchell and his Kentucky team.
“It’s, I think, tremendous for women’s college basketball and the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Mitchell said. “Two of the best teams in the country are 60 miles apart.”
By: ASHLEY SCOBY
For John Calipari, three-pointers are just a bonus for his squad this year.
During a season where Julius Randle has had a double-double in every game he’s played, Willie Cauley-Stein catches three or four alley-oops a night and Alex Poythress is hitting the offensive glass with a newfound intensity, outside shooting just has not been a concern for Calipari.
“We don’t rely on three. I never coached that way,” he said. “If we make them, we beat you by 30. If we don’t, we’re just trying to win the game.”
Kentucky shot 3-16 from behind the arc Wednesday against Eastern Michigan in a game that was uncomfortably close in the first half for the 22,721 UK fans in attendance. The Eagles jumped out to a 6-2 lead after a couple of quick turnovers by the Cats. Kentucky would eventually grab a 10-point lead by the 4:41 mark after an Aaron Harrison free throw, but EMU fought back with a 13-6 run to close the half.
The Cats struggled in the first half not only because of poor three-point shooting (1-8 in the first 20 minutes), but also because their workhorse in the paint, Randle, came out of the gates slowly. He recorded a single (missed) shot attempt, 1 rebound, 1 turnover and 2 fouls in the first half.
“I didn’t even realize he (Randle) was scoreless in the first half,” said EMU Head Coach Rob Murphy. “Our interior guys, because we have size, we have pretty good athletes, we are able to make it tough on every team in the interior. Our plans was when he caught the ball centers were up and forwards came down and make it tough on him.”
Murphy knew that focusing on Kentucky’s offensive game inside the paint was EMU’s best option. It kept the Cats’ shooters honest, and they certainly struggled on Wednesday. James Young, who Calipari has said can be the best shooter in the country, was 1-8 on total field goals, and 0-6 from behind the arc.
“James is a great shooter,” Aaron Harrison said. “We’ve all seen him make 20, 25 in a row before. All shooters have a little slump. I know it’ll get better as the season goes on.”
Harrison himself finished with 22 total points off 5-12 shooting (3-7 from long range). He said that constant movement on the offensive end has been key for Kentucky when it faces teams that play primarily a zone defense.
“This game was probably the best game against the zone,” Harrison said. “I just think we’re getting better. We’ve just got to make sure we’re always ready to attack off the catch and no standing and waiting.”
Although the Cats couldn’t get much going from long range, their inside game carried the team. Willlie Cauley-Stein finished with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 7 blocks. Randle, after a slow first half, came through in the second period with a double-double: 14 points and 10 rebounds. Dakari Johnson shot efficiently from the field (he was 4-5) and finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds.
That inside game helped the Cats out defensively, too.
“I give Kentucky a lot of credit,” Murphy said. “They play pretty good defense and their size got the best of us. Our guards drove and as opposed to making the extra pass or making a drop-down pass for a finish we were trying to shoot over trees so to speak. They got their shots blocked a couple of times, and any time that happens early in a game then guys begin to think. … I thought those guys did a great job of covering the paint, protecting the rim and we didn’t make good decisions when we got into the paint.”
Outside that section of colored court, however, Kentucky continued to struggle with its shooting. But, with an 18-point victory under their belt, the Cats are not concerned with their less-than-stellar three-point shooting so far.
“We’re such a good offensive rebounding team,” Harrison said. “Threes are really an extra for us. We all can drive the ball, get some free throws.”
Making long-range baskets will only be an added bonus for a team with plenty of talent and offensive weapons already. Calipari says that his way of developing players is to focus on those individual talents, rather than their shooting stroke.
“I think part of the reason my guys go to the next level and play well, we’re teaching them how to play basketball, not a shooting contest,” he said. “We’re teaching you how to play. If we make threes, great. If we don’t make threes, we’re still able to win the game because I’m teaching you how to drive the ball, play off of one another, play when you’re not making shots.”
By: ASHLEY SCOBY
Wherever the ‘on’ switch was, Kentucky flipped it forward right when it needed to.
The Cats used a 25-0 run in the first half to stomp on the gas pedal and roll over Bradley, 117-77, in a pre-Thanksgiving game Wednesday afternoon.
Bradley would force five Kentucky turnovers in the first 6:43, and keep the game within five points for most of the first 10 minutes.
Kentucky had jumped out to a 13-7 lead by the first media timeout, but struggled after the starters were replaced by head coach Matthew Mitchell’s second five-player rotation. Bradley cut the lead to two points at the 11:30 mark, but would succumb to 25 straight Kentucky points starting with an Azia Bishop layup at 9:46.
“We got kind of rattled a little bit,” said Bradley assistant coach Skyler Young, filling in for head coach Michael Brooks whose son was born Tuesday. “I feel we had some bunnies and layups that we missed that we had to make to stop the bleeding of that run. … It’s a team of runs. It’s not a half-court basketball team. If you don’t counteract that with some type of scoring … it’s going to turn ugly real fast.”
After scoring the first six Kentucky points, senior Samarie Walker maintained her high level of production this season, recording 3 points, 2 rebounds and a steal during the run. She finished with a career-high 22 total points to go alongside her 14 rebounds. It’s the third time in the last four games Walker has recorded a double-double.
“I was just so happy she (Walker) came out with some energy on the boards early,” Mitchell said. “You can tell so much about our energy when we get on the offensive glass. She was fantastic on the offensive glass, and she just works. … She creates opportunities for herself by having the energy on the offensive glass.”
Of Walker’s 14 rebounds, 9 were on the offensive side.
“I’ve been telling myself for a while I need to be more aggressive on offense,” Walker said. “The only one who can stop me is myself, and today I think it finally just hit me.”
Jelleah Sidney had her own personal streak during the 25-0 run, stroking a three-pointer, then recording a steal on the ensuing Bradley possession, scoring again at the 8:16 mark and blocking the next shot from the Braves.
At that point, Sidney had helped propel the Cats to a 38-21 lead, but Kentucky’s rampage wouldn’t stop there. Jennifer O’Neill stroked a three-pointer, Walker swished a jumper at the 6:03 mark and Bria Goss recorded her own trey at 4:30 before Bradley’s Kelsey Budd ended the Braves’ scoring drought at 4:22.
By then, Kentucky was leading by 30 points, leaving in the dust a game that looked to be close early on. The Cats recorded only one more first-half turnover after their initial five in the opening minutes.
“I thought we had some energy in the press and finally started turning them over,” Mitchell said of the 25-0 run. “It was a devastating run for Bradley, and just hard for them to recover from that. … That was probably our best stretch of defense.”
In that 5:24 stretch of 25 straight Kentucky points, the Cats forced five Braves turnovers.
Bradley finished with 22 turnovers for the game, which led to 36 Kentucky points. The Cats turned the ball over themselves 10 times – well within the goal of 13 set by Mitchell before the game.
Kentucky’s lead would not fall below 23 for the rest of the game. The Cats closed out the final 6:41 of the second half on a 21-6 run.
This contest was the last tune-up for the Wildcats before their showdown with No.4-ranked Louisville on Sunday. Last year, Kentucky needed a last-second three-pointer from Janee Thompson to win on the road at the KFC Yum Center. Tip-off on Sunday is at 1 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Does a team have to lose to really learn a valuable lesson?
“I’d rather it be a close win. But sometimes it comes to a point, you got no choice, you got to take an L,” Calipari said. “I think, again, close wins are better learning experiences. I just hope they understand that you can’t start games like we’re starting ‘em. You can’t. You got to come out of the gate ready to go, get somebody down 15 0, not because they missed shots, but because you played the right way. Making easy plays, giving it up early.
“We’re still not a good team. We’re just not. I keep telling them. Rod (Strickland) came in at halftime. We’re talking. He said, They don’t talk to each other out on the court. They’re all into their own thing. When you’re into your own thing, it’s really hard to play basketball. But they’re young. It’s what we’re fighting. It’s what we’re battling.
”We just had three days, I’m telling you, I went back to old school UMass stuff that I did. Alex (Poythress) had his heart rate up to 90 percent for the first time since I’ve coached him. So we’re doing things to just make ‘em work harder so they understand what it feels like, that their legs are burning. Really, it’s supposed to do that? Nothing’s wrong with that.”
”It’s just a process. Probably should have done that from day one. But until you figure out your team, you just don’t know.”