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John Calipari talks OSU loss, Jamal Murray, Skal, the process, and more

Recapping what John Calipari had to say after UK lost to Ohio State and what to expect going forward if these Cats are to reach their potential.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

From winning a national championship to losing an NIT game to Robert Morris, John Calipari has seen the highest of highs and lowest of lows during his time at Kentucky.

After a shocking loss to Ohio State on Saturday, there's now reasonable concern the latter may be what this team is closer to than the former. Then again, we're barely 1/3 of the way through the regular season with Camp Cal barely having started. This team has shown flashes of greatness of times, but it's safe to say they're not what we thought they'd be before the season opened.

Following UK's loss to the Buckeyes, here is everything Calipari had to say after the game.

On having concerns with this team or challenges with this team that you haven't had with previous teams at Kentucky:
"Well, we still have to learn how to win. We had the plays. First of all, we didn't start the game. They were the aggressor, and they came after us.

"So you're down, the way we ended the half wasn't winning basketball. We took a bad shot. They make a three. Fifteen seconds to go, you take one shot, and the kid came down and went nuts. Threw it, five seconds and another three. Now you're down 12 instead of 6. That's not winning basketball.

"Again, these guys have just played basketball in the past. Now we've got to teach them how to win and what it means defensively, what it means rebounding the ball. I mean, late there were three, four rebounds. You bring that in, we're right there. We have our chance. You don't bring it in, they lay it in, and it's an and-one or whatever, and you don't have a chance to win.

"We fought in the second half and did some good things. We're a ways away. I've been saying it. I thought Skal was better today, but when the game got a little rough in the end, I just didn't want him to. I just went with Alex and Marcus Lee.

"But you know it's going good. You foul a kid on purpose because he's shooting 28 percent and makes two, swishes both. That's when you look down and say, this is about done, boys.

"But give them credit. They played. They made a bunch of threes to start the game. Five of them were tough. NBA, guy's hanging on him, and a guy makes it. That happens against us. Guys have bigger muscles and they start making plays they don't make all year. You've got to give it to them. They outrebounded us, out-toughed us, beat us 50-50.

"We probably should have done some things in the first half playing that pick-and-roll. We did a better job in the second half. That's not on the team. That's on me. It's just disappointing. I want them to be farther along than they are, but we're where we are right now."

On Jamal Murray's performance:
"The way he started the game, I had to take him out twice because you're not being aggressive. You're just coming down and dribbling and throwing it. We're throwing it ahead for you to score, and you're throwing it to a point guard underneath the basket with a 7-footer on him. Excuse me.

"Now in the second half, he got going, where we're down. We need to play winning basketball where we're up, taking good shots, taking care of the ball, you pick up fumbles. You pick up fumbles. You don't try to advance it. You don't try to go on the floor like I'm going to throw a lefty hook pass. Bring him in. He's got a lot to learn, but he's really talented. He can do some stuff with that ball. We've just got to get him playing right.

"I thought Isaiah (Briscoe) took three or four shots he had no chance of making. They got blocked. I mean, he had no chance. Why did you do that? Why did you, again, not playing winning basketball.

"Now, without Isaiah, it's not close. He made every tough rebound. He came up with tough plays. But there's the guts of the game. We just don't do it for 40 minutes. This is like probably the statement of statements. We play like freshmen."

On starting slow and trying to dig out of big holes:
"Like we start right, we're doing it right, we're playing, and they're executing a little bit better. They're making more free throws. You get down, you've got to make those kinds of plays. I like the fact that we didn't give up. Again, when we had it, we missed front end of a 1-and-1, almost shot an air ball. Then we don't come up with two rebounds. You've got to bring those in. That's winning plays.

"Then there was a loose ball that we were trying to advance instead of just grab the ball, we're good. It's our ball. We're fine. A tie-up was ours. But then again, I'm coaching young kids, and I'm being tough on them and challenging them and happy Skal did better. Still a ways away. I'll tell you, he does the jump hook, everybody's happy. The next time, he shoots a fadeaway. Shoot the jump hook again. Shoot the jump hook. Learning, that's all part of the process."

On Skal improving:
"Yeah, just, like again, there were two plays, two rebounds, and a missed lefty late, and we're trying to win the game. We don't have time. We'll work on that later. But I thought he made strides today. He's been pretty good in practice, and he's making strides now."

On why UK is struggling so much:
"They're freshmen. They're going through this for the first time. They're learning what it takes to win. They're learning what it means to be tough. Tough doesn't mean you fight, you push, you swing. Tough means you play people before the play happens. Tough means, when you go in there and I have nothing, I'm not trying to make a fabulous play. I'm tough enough to know it's done. I'm throwing it back out. We're going to go again, which we did late. We did not early.

"All that stuff is, it's going to be through experience. I wish we were farther along than we are, but I've been saying it. I mean, when you don't come up with those 50-50 balls, especially when you're a veteran and you don't, now you're counting on freshmen to do it. That becomes even more of a challenge."

On the older guys stepping up:
"The older guys, Tyler (Ulis) is trying to do what he can do. Alex is coming off the injury. I thought Marcus Lee, I thought, had a fabulous, we would have been down 20 at the half if it wasn't for Marcus Lee. This is a combination of everything and us still trying to figure out how we need to play.

"We're still trying to look at us offensively and say how did we play? Second half, we shoot 60 percent, you say what did you do different? First half we shoot 30 percent, can't make a three, not close.

"Did we do stuff that much different? Not really. I think a lot of it was we made stops. Then again, the end of the half, we stopped him for four straight minutes, couldn't make a basket."

On his thoughts on Duke losing:
"To be honest, I'm not following anything else or anybody else's score. I'm just trying to get my team right.

"I would say that I know this: We're not as good as we were a year ago. It's pretty obvious. I still think we have a good enough team to do some good things. Just you must play to win. You must play to win. That means defensively you don't take chances. You come up with balls. You win 50-50 balls. You're ahead of the action.

"On offense, you're making easy plays. You're creating different shots. You're offensive rebounding. If it's not there, if it's a big time play, I'm either getting fouled, or I'm making this play. I'm not throwing a ball up that I have a 20 percent chance of making. That means you're going to lose.

"When you come down and you throw a lefty leaner and just throw it, that's losing basketball. You get to that rim and get fouled or pass it to somebody else. That's all stuff we're still learning."

On the process of becoming a better team:
"They have to experience it. What's happened is we've talked about all this stuff, but they'll fight you a little bit because, and I say this to kids all the time. What got you here is not going to get you to there. So things you were able to get away with that you think were impressive, but those things have to change if you're going to get to here as a player and just keep going.

"Yes, some of it is mental. They must believe in themselves individually and believe in the team, and I think they do, but I think they get rattled at times, and that's just natural. I've coached a lot of freshmen, and it's a process.

"It would have been nice for them to come out of the gate and play better to start the game and not look passive, not look,€” you know, we were on our heels. We really were. And then they make some shots. Like I told them at halftime, I'm not worried about them making shots. I'm worried about how we ended the half.

"So in the second half, they didn't make all those threes. That's just kind of how it goes. And we got back in it. But that ending of that half and those three or four plays, missed rebounds and loose ball, you don't get it, and it becomes intentional foul. Those are huge plays.

"We're talking like six plays in the game. We're not a team that's going to beat people by 25. This isn't a year ago.

"Merry Christmas, everybody."