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John Calipari recaps Kentucky Wildcats’ loss to Florida Gators

Cal comments on the missed foul call and even said “we’re going to be fine.”

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats have fallen on tough times.

Their latest setback was a gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of the Florida Gators. The Cats fought valiantly until the final horn, but they came up just short in a 66-64 loss. It was the second-straight defeat UK suffered after Tuesday’s loss at South Carolina.

As you can imagine, John Calipari was not in the most festive of moods after the game. Between his team’s losing streak, having five losses midway through January, and that bad missed foul call on the final possession, Calipari had a lot to say.

Here is a recap of it all, courtesy of UK Athletics:

Opening statement

Let me -- I’ve been asked some dumb questions in my life -- I don’t mean to embarrass you, but everybody saw it (referring to the missed foul call in the final seconds).

Let me say this, and start by saying this: We’re going to be fine now. What I saw today that, is one of the best offensive teams in the country. We held them to 33 percent and 20 percent from the three-point line. We didn’t come up with some loose balls. We didn’t understand the importance of it. We had some freshman mistakes, up three and throw the ball out-of-bounds; what in the world are you thinking? A blocked shot, a kid doesn’t have a shot, he ball fakes and shoots in the air -- what? Whoa. Those, I can cure those.

The ability to pass the ball to one another, the ability to really scramble defensively and do some good things, we’re going to be fine. I was worried after South Carolina now. I’m not worried after this. We’ll be fine. I was worried after Vanderbilt to be honest with you, and we won that game. They do this and they stay this course and this is who we are, we’ll be fine.

Q. How would you evaluate the toughness generally across the team today?

COACH CALIPARI: You’re talking 18- and 19-year-olds and there were balls we didn’t come up with. There were plays that we should have grabbed. There were offensive rebounds we accepted being blocked out.

In other words, the shot goes up and the guy blocks -- goes to block, you don’t stand there. You work to get even with him and if it bounces this way, you get it and if it bounces the other way, he gets it. It’s a 50/50. If you stay behind him, it’s a zero. We stayed behind most of the game. We’ve been working on it, but it’s hard for these kids.

But, proud of them. They gave themselves a chance to win. We got down eight. We started the half and it was like, oh, my gosh, what didn’t you understand?

But you know, I don’t want to get frustrated with the guys because they are trying. I’ve got great kids. The good news right now, I’ve got a full roster. So if you are really not giving it this game, I can play somebody else. So there’s not arguments on the bench, no back and forth. You don’t have to. Out next.

We had a full roster. Quade (Green) doesn’t shoot the ball first game back. If he makes a couple threes, the game’s different. But you know what, first game back, what do you expect? I thought Jarrod (Vanderbilt) did some good stuff but he got winded again. But like I said, this is very, very much encouraging, and we went one out of 11 attempts to end a half. Think about that. And we still had a chance. It’s because we guarded and we did some good stuff.

Again, we out-rebound them. You know, we’re okay. We’re okay. We’re not, you know, we’ve got a ways to go, but 16 turnovers, some of them unforced. Like, wait a minute. And that’s a young team.

Q. How much of you feeling okay after this loss has to do with Nick Richards and just these last couple games?

COACH CALIPARI: He’s getting better. He’s getting better. You know, Sacha (Killeia-Jones) did some good things, too. They both did. We did enough, we had stretches, three-, four-minute stretches, where either we couldn’t score, and then we had the zone, which I wanted to throw it out and they get four offensive rebounds. They miss the shots now, and they get four offensive rebounds and they make two threes, have to call a time-out and now you’re down eight. Come out of a time-out, go to throw it to a post and I think the kid walked and now I think we’re up against it. But they didn’t give up. They kept playing.

You know, that’s a veteran team, and we had our chances. Had our chances. But I’m saying this: I’m good. I know there’s some people out there that will be panicked and all this. Be panicked. I’m glad I’m not sitting with you because I am fine.

Do we have a ways to go? Yeah, I’ve got to clean up some stuff. But if they don’t share the ball; if they don’t play with the spirit to try to win games, all that other stuff doesn’t matter. They shared the ball today. They defended pretty well. We defended well enough to win this game. That’s what’s kind of disappointing.

And if I’m Mike (White), I’m happy as heck. My team shot 33 percent and 20 from the three and we won, on the road in Lexington. And you say, boy, they must have turned it over a bunch or you must have got a bunch of free balls. Yeah. Yeah.

Had a couple plays down the stretch, you know, and again, I haven’t watched the tape but Quade drove and got knocked, I don’t know if that was a foul or not but we’ll see. But at the end of the day, we had our chances, and I love the fact that we fought.

Q. Are you worried necessarily about the 3-point shooting from your team the last couple of games?

COACH CALIPARI: Quade being out has affected us. Kevin Knox hasn’t been shooting the ball particularly well. I would have liked us to have made six, two more, but when you look at it, where was my man -- Quade was 0-for-4. You’re hoping he’s a 2-for-4 and all of a sudden you’ve made six, seven, and that’s pretty good. That’s enough for us. We make seven, six, that’s good, we’re fine.

Because we’re such a long, active team, a team that can score around the goal; if you can’t score around the goal, you’re going to have to make threes. We can score around the goal and if we make threes, we’re a pretty hard team to beat but we’re injured. Kevin, there’s some in, out shots he missed. The one he made, he banked.

Q. How susceptible are young guys to maybe overreacting to adversity, a couple of losses?

COACH CALIPARI: I thought they did good today. I thought they were great. They tried to stay the course. You know, this is heavy stuff for them. But they were terrific today.

Q. When you’re building a team of freshmen every year, you always say you can’t skip steps. With someone like Jarrod, do you try to compress the schedule?

COACH CALIPARI: It’s hard, where do you want me to go -- and I need his energy and his rebounding and his toughness and his ability to pass balls. I need him out there for that.

But we just, he scrimmaged like two times with us, so now we play again Tuesday. So what do we do tomorrow, and we’re off Wednesday, and then we practice Thursday, fry Friday, play Saturday. It’s hard to get him acclimated. So what we end up doing is saying when he’s in, we’re only going to run these three for four things, and then we try to figure out what they should be. Right now, I still don’t know what they should be.

Q. It seems like there’s stretches in a game where they know what they want to do offensively, your team, and then there’s those stretches, almost right after that, where they seem confused. Do you see the same think?

COACH CALIPARI: No, I don’t see confusion. I see somebody trying to get their own, and now it leads to a turnover or a missed play. When we move that ball, and we drive and find people, we’re really good.

But you have to trust your teammates are going to pass it just like you. If you don’t think they are passing it, when you get it, you’re not passing it. There was a play late, Wenyen (Gabriel) had it and could have thrown it right to Quade in the corner and he wanted to do something else. Just bang, bang and let the kid try to make that three. Those kind of plays.

There were some swings of the ball where we stop and we walk because instead of catching it and going, or catching it and getting rid of it, or, ready for, this catch it and shoot it, we’re catching it and hold; we are ball stoppers. That’s when you’re not trusting each other.