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Season without Noel got off to the wrong kind of record-setting start for Cats

UK coach John Calipari turns his back on referee Doug Shows during the Cats' loss at Tennessee. (Victoria Graff photo)

UK coach John Calipari turns his back on referee Doug Shows during the Cats’ loss at Tennessee. (Victoria Graff photo)


Life without Nerlens Noel got off to a record-setting start for Kentucky here Saturday, but it was not the kind of records the Wildcats wanted to be part of.

Tennessee beat UK 88-58 — it’s biggest victory margin in 216 games against Kentucky — and snapped a six-game losing streak to the Wildcats. It was Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin’s first win over Kentucky.

Tennessee’s previous biggest win over UK was 87-59 in 1968. The only other 20-point victories came in a 107-85 victory in 1992 and 30-10 win back in 1917.

Kentucky coach John Calipari came into this week with his worst loss being a 17-point setback to eventual national champion Connecticut in the 2010 Maui Invitational. Then UK lost by 17 points at Florida Tuesday and now by 30 points at Tennessee.

It was only the fifth time in Calipari’s college coaching career that he’s had a team lose by 30 or more points. The others were 88-56 to West Virginia on Feb. 16, 1989; 105-74 to Duquesne on Feb. 18, 1989; and 109-79 to Penn State on Jan. 5, 1989. All came when he was coaching at Massachusetts and all came in his first year. Calipari’s worst loss during his tenure at Memphis (2000-2009) was a 23-point loss against Stanford (83-60) on Nov. 24, 2000.

“We gave up four offensive rebounds in the first two minutes — you aren’t going to win. We have to go back to the drawing board. I’m going to have to figure out what we are going to do offensively, and we’ll go from here,” said Calipari after the game. “I’ll burn the tape from this one. I won’t watch it. I had to sit through it, so I’m not going to sit through it again.”

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  1. Mike

    This nauseating loss feels just as bad today as it did yesterday. I just can’t understand the mindset of these players. I almost used the word “young” , but we are too far into the season to continue to blow that horn. This collection of immature misfits does not want to win, be coached, play with pride, bond with their teammates, or represent our university to the best of their ability. I was watching sports recaps last night and in all of the other games you could tell that the players were strutting their stuff and more importantly having FUN. This team is so disjointed and undisciplined that it is possible to predict continued implosion. We only really had one MAN on the team and he is injured.

    1. larryvaught

      Good points Mike

    2. Kokamo Joe

      Calipari often uses the “young” word. Calipari’s teams are young by design. So, young can never be used as an excuse. I am having a hard time trying to put my arms aound the failure of this team. Clearly there is talent on this team. But as you say, they are disjointed and undisciplined. Perhaps it is a sign of the times, young people are different than they were even a generation ago. Perhaps it has to do with the attention that has been lavished on kids with talent as early as the 7th grade. Perhaps it is the AAU and basketball factory mentality of “me and my moves”, offense and no defense that talented kids are exposed as they mature. Perhaps there is no mature leadership on this team. Perhaps Calipari has lost control of this team. Who knows? All I know is that next year we get to start over with a whole new cast of players. Will they right the ship? Probably. But at this time last year, we were talking about this year’s bunch being the number one recruiting class and that by March we would content for a second national title. One things that this year has taught us. You can never be certain of the outcome when you depend on a bunch of freshmen.

  2. Rob

    I feel for Calipari. He’s pulled out every stop, tried every trick, and the light just hasn’t gone on for some of these kids. I also feel for the kids, especially Archie Goodwin, whose chances to score big in the NBA draft have evaporated. Goodwin quite possibly will have to transfer next year, because he might end up being third at the shooting guard position and would rarely see the floor. If he stays, Poythress may mature and compete for playing time. If he doesn’t he too might end up sitting far more often than playing.

  3. Larry T Clemons

    Duke got beat, Texas got beat by 30…this is a crazy season…I Love My Wildcats and I feel bad for The Players. Were with You Guys, don’t be to hard on yourselves, But, Please, Please, listen to Coach Cal. He will make you better Alex and Ryan !

  4. LindaS

    The past 3 teams had swagger, this team has not even had any to lose. But, they are still my team. Someone pointed out all the teams wearing the new Nike uniforms lost. Ban the new Nike uniforms in the future, they put some kine of evil dust in them so players don’t play to their ability and potential.

  5. Mike

    Good comments Linda S….really do applaud you acceptance that they are still your team. They are my team on the outside of the unis….it is what’s inside that gives me a problem.

    1. Karen Sprinkle

      I do think they should burn those “one-time” uniforms…… :-)

  6. Larry Pup

    If many of you are going to give up on these kids then give up on Coach too. It’s his system. It works both ways don’t it? If they are not playing well who’s responsibility is it? He is responsible for their play. It’s his team. I choose to keep believing in him and these kids. He can sit some of their asses on the pine and win or lose without some of them. That is an option he can choose. I say they are young and need more college playing time, not the NBA development league. UT’s athletes Sat were better than ours, older, and more experienced. A blind man could see it. Simple as that. UK will survive this season and grow from it. I love our team win or lose. Cal will get it done in due time. We have much to be thankful far.

  7. Larry T Clemons

    Well Said, LP !

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