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By LARRY VAUGHT

NASHVILLE — He had a towel draped over his head and tears streaming down both cheeks as he proclaimed he was the reason Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament hopes may have disappeared.

Sophomore point guard Ryan Harrow wasn’t the only reason UK lost 64-48 to Vanderbilt here Friday night in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, but he certainly had a game to forget.

He was 2-for-15 from the field — and almost all the shots were in the paint. He had four turnovers and just one assist — and often got beat on defense, too.

“This loss is just on me,” said Harrow. “I am the reason we lost. There’s nothing else to say. If I play well, we usually win. That’s how it always is. If I don’t play well, we lose. This loss is on me.”

Not entirely.

Harrow wasn’t the only reason UK lost. The Commodores made 23 of 46 shots from the floor, including 8-for-17 from 3-point range. They had just five turnovers. They were more aggressive, tougher and smarter than UK from start to finish even though Bridgestone Arena was filled with UK fans — remember Vandy coach Kevin Stallings predicting Thursday night that the UK fans would not intimidate his players. Kentucky also missed 34 of 52 shots as Julius Mays was 2-for-8 and Willie Cauley-Stein 2-for-6.

“It was a combination of a team that played well and had every shot bounce in for them and do what they had to do and played great basketball game. They won seven out of their last right,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “They’re playing great right now, and it was us laying an egg.  It was a combination, which is why the score was what it was.”

Calipari didn’t mention Harrow by name in his brief postgame press conference. But he didn’t shy away from letting everyone know how he felt about his point guard’s play.

“Let me go back to, we laid an egg, but let me say this, Vanderbilt is playing great basketball right now. They had more energy than us,” Calipari said. “I told my team for three days, the hardest thing in a tournament play is to have a bye, have a team that’s playing well, play a game and then come up against you.

“So, it was a combination of everything. I’ll tell you. I don’t want to take anything away from Vandy. They played great. We laid a egg. We had one guy go 2-for-15, miss 12 lay-ups.”

That guy, of course, was Harrow.

He’s been a source of frustration for Calipari and UK fans all season. He was not John Wall, Brandon Knight or Marquis Teague, Calipari’s point guards the previous three years. He was not a great finisher at the rim or a tough defender. One had to wonder about his leadership, too, after he took a three-week hiatus early in the season for personal reasons.

Sure, he had some terrific games. But he also had many where he never seemed to get the team into offense or do the little things that Calipari wanted.

“I missed all those shots I was supposed to make,” Harrow said. “This loss is on me. We had practiced hard. Coach got us ready and I just did not show up. I got the basket and got good looks and just missed shots. It was my fault. I should have played better than I played.”

How could that happen in a game UK needed to win to solidify a NCAA tourney bid? Now the Cats likely are headed for the NIT barring a collapse by several other teams.

“I don’t know (why I did not show up). I just take full responsibility,” Harrow said.

Kentucky led only once at 6-5. By halftime, Vanderbilt led 37-23. Early in the second half it was 47-26 before a 10-0 UK surge cut the deficit to 48-27. Trailing 53-39, UK had Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein both miss the front end of the bonus, Harrow drive and miss in traffic, and Goodwin miss a 3. Vandy finally recovered to push the lead to 58-41 and the game was over.

“Since I didn’t start out well (1-for-9 in the first half with four turnovers), it trickled down to everybody,” Harrow said. “I apologize.”

Harrow said Kentucky still wanted to get in the NCAA tourney because “if we play well we can play with anybody.” Really? Since Nerlens Noel went down, UK has not won a game away from Rupp Arena. The Cats are 4-4 without him and all the road losses have been decisive and one reason has been ineffective guard play like what UK got in this game.

“I just messed it up,” Harrow said.

Teammates tried to defend him — as they should have. It was not a one-man loss even if Harrow’s play would have made it near impossible for UK to win.

“Not one guy can put this on himself,” Kyle Wiltjer, who had 10 points and three rebounds, said. “It’s a team effort. We just did not show up. We did not play as a team. It is not one player’s fault.”

Freshman Archie Goodwin, who led UK with 12 points, said it was “everybody’s fault” for the loss and season-low point total.

“You will never hear me say it was on one person. We all did it,” Goodwin said. “We’ve all had games like Ryan had. It was not just his fault.”

However, bottom line is that UK did “lay an egg” starting with the point guard and lost a game it knew it had to win to salvage a NCAA bid.

13 Responses to Harrow says “this loss is just on me” after Vandy loss probably knocked Kentucky out of NCAA Tournament

  • Pacman says:

    Since Calipari was asking questions about the loss like” a player going 2 for 15 and missing 12 layups” maybe he should ask why a coach goes back to man to man after his team cuts the lead by 10 and gains all the momentum by going to a 2-3 zone. Maybe Cal should be a “baller” like he tells his players and do what it takes to win instead of doing what you like to do (play man vs. zone). Cal had the chance to take over the game and pull it out but he switched back to man to man, Vandy drove right through the UK defense for a layup and all the air went out of the balloon. After that Vandy moved back out to an 18 pt lead. I think all the blame doesn’t go on the players. I love Cal as a coach but he did an extremely poor job coaching this game.

  • Judi Cole says:

    Pacman, I too think Cal deserves some of the blame and agree that he needs to play a defense that gives his team the advantage. The offense had no flow either and we are lost in the half court game. I feel sorry for Harrow because he can’t do what he’s not capable of doing since he’s not quite the talent of our previous guards under Calipari. That’s too much pressure to put on a kid who certainly wanted to win, but doesn’t have a great team to win with. All players are right to share the blame.

  • UKFAN197TONE says:

    I know Harrow means well, but he’s full of it if he actually believes this loss was all his fault. There isn’t a person on the planet that believes that.

  • King Ghidora says:

    There was plenty of blame to go around in the game. Mays certainly didn’t play well. When you just pass the ball to the other team for apparently no reason people start to wonder if you’ve been paid to lose or something. I don’t think that but I know people who would. I could go on about Kyle not moving his feet on defense, And why did Alex only get 3 shots when he was clearly working very hard early on? He made 2 of those 3 including a 3 pointer. Yet the ball never gets to him in the rotation. And I don’t understand why it is so hard to throw a lob pass to a guy who’s 7′ tall and can jump. It isn’t just Harrow who can’t. No one seems to be able to do that. I don’t understand all the standing around on offense and the lack of hustle on defense. I don’t understand the constant stream of mental mistakes. Yes Harrow is supposed to lead the team and he didn’t do it. But Teague didn’t really lead the team last year. It was either Miller or MKG.

    The only guy who shows any leadership at all is is WCS and it’s too easy to get him in foul trouble. He’s too anxious to get his block stats up apparently because way too often he leaves his feet when players can just step under him and get a cheap foul.

    It was a team loss. All the losses this year have been team losses because IMO there really is no team. My brother said it best. He said there are 5 guys out there but they aren’t a team.

    I feel for them because they will have to live with this the rest of their lives.

  • Gene T. says:

    Like I have said all year, if you saw my post. Harrow is a great kid, just not the point guard for UK. He is too soft and the rest of the team falls right in behind him.

  • grant says:

    Said it before and I will say it again , this is just not a good basketball team. The one consistent with this team was inconsistency. Now we can say youth is to blame , but that is the model Cal prefers so really he has to shoulder some blame too. Talent over experience? The hay is in the barn , to late to cry now, I really do not care if they make it in the tourney or not, i would like to think that everyone that makes it in has a some sort of shot, but when I look at this Uk team , it seems impossible for them to string together any kind of run that would get them anywhere. Just not a good basketball team. Is it football season yet?

  • Little Baron says:

    Pacman hit the nail on the head. Why go back to man-to-man after a 10-0 run using a zone defense put us back into the game. I asked that same question to a UK fan… there is no reason for such a PATHETIC move!!!

    AND… what coach keeps a pathetic PG on the floor who CANNOT shoot the 3 and has a game where he can’t even hit from point-blank-range. Harrow was as bad as any PG in any UK game I have ever seen, in 50 some years. Get a fan in the stands to quickly put on a UK jersey, and they could do just as well… 2-15 and 1 assist with 4 Turnovers. Absolutely PATHETIC, and should have been relegated to the bench at the beginning of the season when he was upset team chemistry by disappearing in the early season.

    I also need to mention that the 2 EARLY fouls on Archie and Willie certainly undid our chances in the 1st half, and those calls made all the difference early. A couple of bad calls with a game-long impact. Would someone tel Cal to play the key players with 2 fouls in the 1st half, instead of letting the game get out of control to where we don’t have a shot at recovering from the deficit. What was he saving them for? the NIT?

    Very pitiful PG and coaching… plain and simple.

    Yes, Cal has done a lot after receiving an empy cupboard, with an E8, FF and Title, and so much more than the 2 pseudo-coaches he followed. But, he needs to hire an assistant coach who has some game-time proven experience and then listen to him when the chips are down.

    NIT… Not Interesting Tourney

    We should not accept an invite to the NIT… but since we need to recover from letting Kansas make up some ground in total wins, we simply need to TRY to win SOME games in the NIT.

    We were just 6 games behind Vandy in consecutive games with a 3-pointer, and a win yesterday would have given us an opportunity to gain a little ground, plus post-season.

    This has been a down year for UK basketball… not according to TLT (Ten-Loss-Tubby) years, but by the new and higher Calipari standards.

    I hope Cal keeps his negative comments about players behind closed doors next year. Poythress had 4 consecutive games with 20 pts or more, and never had back-to-back games again, after being “monitored” electronically and berated publicly thereafter.

    Yes, Cal is the coach we need, and that Title is awesome, with #9 just a year away. Glad we have him… just hope he learned some lessons this year, as well as some players…

    and hope he never picks another PG to run UK, with the inconsistency and lack of leadership as we have seen from our PG this year.

    Go Big Blue, and WIN at least some games, even if in NIT… we need them to hold back Kansas.

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    I never post after a game in which the Cats play badly (even if they win) until I give my emotions a chance to settle. However, I am still frustrated hours and hours after the game was over. Cal was asked about switching from the zone, which was effective, back to a man to man, but didn’t ever answer the question. If you’ll remember, though, Vandy had just made a wide open three when we were in the zone when Hood got caught behind a screen. Perhaps that’s why we switched back to man to man. Maybe not.

    With Alex’s family there, I truly expected him to have a better game. Even if, as one person opined, no one ever tried to get him the ball, that doesn’t explain not at least attempting to rebound the ball. As badly as UK shot, there were plenty of rebounds to go around.

    To me, UK looked like the team that was tired from playing the day before–they just didn’t seem to have any pop to their shots or any bounce to their step. On defense, our guys were hitting screens and stopping or making a minimal effort to fight over the top. With a team like Vandy, being a step slow to recover after a screen is deadly.

    As for Ryan, I appreciate his efforts to take the blame. Your point guard has to initiate the offense, and he simply didn’t, for whatever reason. Missing layups the way he did certainly didn’t help the cause. As much as I love Polson, and the energy he brings, he can’t seem to get the guys in the right spot in the offense either.

    I don’t know if UK gets a bid to the NCAA tournament. I suspect not, even for the dreaded play-in game. I am as dispirited about the loss as any time I can remember as it’s like Groundhog Day over and over again with this team. You get sucked into thinking they have learned valuable lessons only to have them revert the next game.

    That being said, they’re still my guys, for better or worse. Go Cats.

    • Anonymous says:

      Groundhog day. excellent analogy!!!

      However, in this case, the team seemed to play possum every other game.

      I REMAIN utterly disgusted that Calipari yanked UK out of the ONY DEFENSE that was effective all evening against Vandy… the zone. He can make any excuse he wants, but it was a pathetic move.

      TIRED? They looked tired? Very interesting observation. Did they over-practice to the point their energy was sapped before game time? LATE in the game, it looked like Vandy may start to show some tiredness from their game 24 hours earlier, but then they got second wind and blew us out.

      Off course, Vandy played their super-bowl game, celebrated, and then fell to Ole Miss… typical of SEC teams to play their one big game against the CATS and then fold up their tents, never playing another game the same. Last year, Vandy bowed out after winning the SEC tourney, with a quck exit out of the Big Dance… even with all seniors, their “goal” was already achieved when they beat UK in the SEC finals.

      I hope Cal learned a valuable lesson, and will no longer let valuable scholarhips be used on walk-ons who never play. We need depth for many reasons… give players competition, rest, and of course in the event there is an injury.

      • Karen Sprinkle says:

        I could be wrong, but I think the walk-ons were given scholarships only after the players UK were recruiting chose other schools and there were no other suitable recruits left.

  • Anonymous says:

    Dry those tears Ryan and come back for your remaining two years…it’s a learning process. You’ll be a lot stronger and wiser if you lightening up on yourself-I still believe in you!

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