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John Calipari explains not calling timeout on final play vs. Seton Hall

This was a brutal blunder by UK.

North Carolina-Greensboro v Kentucky Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Well, that was not an ideal start to the weekend. The Kentucky Wildcats fell to the Seton Hall Pirates 84-83 in overtime at Madison Square Garden.

Like most of you, on the final play I sat there wondering, “Why in the world did Calipari not call timeout?” The Cats had two timeouts with less than 10 seconds left after Seton Hall hit a three-pointer to take the lead 84-83. Kentucky came down and did this:

Two timeouts left and that’s the shot Kentucky takes? I was furious. I couldn’t believe it. But John Calipari explained why.

“That last play, we talked about, if they make a shot, here’s what we’re doing on our end: Nick (Richards), you’re going to be in the middle. If they make a shot, this is how we’re doing it. Nick ran the sideline, but the issue was, I probably should have called a timeout.

You can’t call a timeout because the players have to call a timeout. They’ve gotta call it anyways but again, that inexperience, not being in that situation, that’s something we haven’t worked on.”

As a reminder, only players are allowed to call timeouts in live-ball situations. So, Coach Cal couldn’t have called timeout once the ball was thrown in. A player would have had to call it.

On the last play, Cal said the plan was for Nick to set a screen in the middle of the court, but that didn’t happen, and the play broke down. As you can see in the video, Nick’s running down the sideline and Calipari pushes him towards the middle of the court.

Richards was supposed to set the screen, so Kentucky could attack the basket. He didn’t, the play broke down, and the end result was what we saw.

However, Calipari acknowledges he should have just yelled timeout. The referees wouldn’t grant him it, but hopefully one of the players would have heard him and called it themselves.

However, he went on to say that he doesn’t like calling timeout in those situations, anyway.

“Those of you that know me know I don’t like calling timeouts with nine or 10 or 12 seconds to go,” Cal said. “You’re better off doing it like we did which was drive it down and Keldon (Johnson) makes a three verses a scramble defense. And that’s what we tried to do with nine seconds to go. Instead my man went down there and didn’t run a screen, but again, we’re just an inexperienced team.”

Well, the Cats learned their lesson the hard way. But hopefully, this was a learning opportunity for everyone.