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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari thought his team played selfish basketball in its 84-67 loss to Connecticut last week in Maui.
His players didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t disagree Monday with the coachÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s postgame analysis, but they also thought there was a sense of panic, especially among the freshmen, when UConn built a big first-half lead.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The new guys are not used to being down, especially by 21 points. When it was like 10, 11 or 12, you know that was fine. We could go into halftime, especially where we had foul trouble, and be okay,Ã¢â‚¬Â said senior center Josh Harrellson. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But when it gets to 21, everyone starts panicking not knowing what to do. It was really tough to come back from that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Junior guard DeAndre Liggins hinted that maybe Kentucky did a bit too much celebrating after beating Washington 74-67 in the tourney semifinals and was not focused like it should be on UConn.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think Washington was a big game for us and was an energy game that caused us to take UConn for granted the next game,Ã¢â‚¬Â Liggins admitted before UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s practice Monday. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They came out and punched us in the mouth. We were so fired up for Washington it took our energy away when they did that.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is a tremendous lesson for our young guys to learn. They have to learn what college is about. I have been here for a while and know what it takes, but I have to learn, too. We have to stick together as a team.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Did he sense any panic?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know. Maybe. We have to keep learning as a team and trusting each other and talking more on the court,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
The 10th-ranked Wildcats return to action Tuesday night when they host Boston University, the America East preseason favorite even though the Terriers only returned three players from last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team. Still, Boston University is 4-2 with wins over Cornell, George Washington and Nevada and lost only 82-66 at then No. 6 Villanova.
Boston returns starting forwards John Holland, who is averaging 17.9 points per game, and Jake OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Brien, who adds 9.9 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds per game. A third returning starter, junior Jeff Pelage, is out with an ankle injury.