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By LARRY VAUGHT
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — There was only one positive Kentucky coach John Calipari could take away from Thursday’s 64-50 loss at Notre Dame.
“The good thing is we play in 36 hours (against Baylor Saturday). We cannot sulk over this. We didn’t play well. They played extremely well. they made shots. We didn’t defend them,” said Calipari after his team shot a season-low 40 percent and let Notre Dame go 8-for-15 from 3-point range.
There was a lot that Calipari didn’t like from his team.
“Guys stopped on defense. Played 25 seconds and fouled. Played and then lost their man. Guys didn’t talk and a guy shoots a 3,” Calipari said. “We weren’t looking for each other (on offense). Whoever had it was trying to score and we do not play that way. I hope we watch tape and figure some stuff out.
“We were out of control. My whole thing is we can play poorly, but we can still defend and compete. Two teams battling and Notre Dame wins … that was not what this was. This was Notre Dame throwing Kentucky around and winning by as much as they needed. I am disappointed. Maybe we can get back to do everything to compete and playing more physical.”
Kentucky jumped in front 12-6 in five minutes before the Irish went on a 21-6 run to take control of the game.
“They responded to us coming out the way we did and just out competed us. They got to balls and we didn’t. They went to balls and we didn’t,” Kentucky senior guard Julius Mays said. “They played harder on defense. They played harder on offense. Just all-around. They competed harder than we did.
“We just weren’t going like we usually do. I think we came out a little shellshocked that they came out like they did. We started playing their game. They like a slowdown and we are an up tempo team. Once we got to playing their game, we didn’t compete. We got away from what we do best and just did not play our game.”
Kentucky got back to going inside the second half after it fell behind by as many as 18 points.
“They did throw to the low post and started to get to us,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “My feeling with the lead was that as long as we did not give up 3’s, it would be hard to come back on us. If they were 2-point jump hooks, I think we can absorb that.
“Early they were so excited in transition and they were running by us. (Archie) Goodwin traveled in transition a couple of times. We dodged bullets.”
Calipari turned to sophomore point guard Ryan Harrow, who had missed the last four games, at times. He was upset that Harrow left a 3-point shooter open in the corner in the second half when UK was trying to come back, but overall was glad to have him back.
“He wants to play but he has got to play tougher, play with more energy,” Calipari said.
Even though he has little time to make adjustments before Saturday afternoon’s game, Calipari said that’s part of dealing with basically a new team because of the one-and-done players UK has had.
“That is hard. It’s part of what we have to deal with,” Calipari said. “I didn’t expect us to come in here and play out of our minds, but I thought we would compete. Against Duke (in a loss), we competed and battled and fought like crazy. In this game, we didn’t. We were trying things. Maybe there were different things defensively and offensively I could have done to help. Obviously, they needed help and didn’t get it from me.”