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John Calipari recaps Kentucky vs. Seton Hall, says team improving

“We’re a better team than we were two weeks ago.”

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Seton Hall Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

It was a game of runs and big shots as Kentucky fell 84-83 to Seton Hall in overtime on Saturday afternoon inside of historic Madison Square Garden.

The biggest shot of all proved to be a late three-pointer by Seton Hall’s Myles Cale with 9.9 seconds remaining that lifted the Pirates to an upset victory over the ninth-ranked Wildcats. The Cats had one final chance at the buzzer as Keldon Johnson’s desperation shot fell short as UK now falls to 7-2 on the season.

Tied at 67 with 49.5 seconds left in regulation, each team tried to snatch victory by hitting two improbable shots that would ultimately send the game into the extra frame.

After a Seton Hall timeout, Myles Powell hit a deep three pointer with 1.4 seconds to play in what looked to be the game winner as the Pirates took a 70-67 lead and control of the game. With the length of the floor to go, PJ Washington found Johnson with a baseball pass around half-court as the 6-foot-7 freshman took one dribble to his right and let it fly from the jump circle to tie the game at 70 at the buzzer.

In overtime, Seton Hall quickly went up by four points at 74-70 on two uncontested lay-ups. The Pirates extended the lead to 81-77 on a deep three pointer by Powell. An Ashton Hagans lay-up cut the lead to 81-79 and UK regained the advantage as Johnson hit a three with 43.9 seconds left to give the Cats an 82-81 lead. Hagans made a free throw to extend the Kentucky lead to 83-81 before Cale hit the game-winner.

Powell led Seton Hall with 28 points, while Cale added 17. Washington led Kentucky with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Reid Travis added 10 points, while Johnson and Tyler Herro chipped in with 10 points each.

After the game, head coach John Calipari and select players answered a few questions. Here’s a recap of what they had to say, courtesy of UK Athletics:

John Calipari opening statement

”I guess that was good for the fans, wasn’t so good for the losing coach.

”I like the fact, I told them after the game, we fought. We fought. That was good. I thought we started the second half and we just kind of did what we had been doing, which is let guys beat us to balls and all that and all of a sudden it’s anybody’s ball game. But at the end, I thought the second part of the second half, we fought. The second thing that happened is we got beat on the bounce, probably four or five times maybe in a row. Big guy, guard, big guy and then the kid goes crazy making threes. Now, we’re so inexperienced I was trying to get them to go trap. And they’re like kind of not trusting me. Like to the point I had to tell one guy ‘are you watching the game? Leave your man and take the ball out of his hands.’ ‘But, coach, are you crazy, what?’ But the inexperience that we have kind of showed. We came out of a timeout, posted the ball and one of my guys shot a three. He hadn’t made one all game and I’m like ‘you’re kidding me.’ But when you fight and you defend like we did in the first half, our team’s going to be fine. Kevin [Willard], they did a great job, especially to start the game and how they guarded us and then we missed a lot of shots that we just can’t afford to miss. P.J. [Washington] in the end of the game, that’s who he should be the whole game. That’s who you are. Why aren’t you getting 35 and 20? ’I don’t maybe feel like it?’ What? If that’s who you are, and you’re making free throws and you’re doing the things that you’re doing, you’re as good as any player in the country. Be that guy every night. Hard though. It’s really hard to be that guy every night. I mean you got to bring it. That’s lunch pail.”

”All in all for our kids to fight in a quote ‘road game’ for us and give themselves a chance to win and go to overtime, we made strides. We’re a better team than we were two weeks ago… I’ve got a lot to figure out offensively.”

”I am not discouraged in any way. I hate losing. I’m not discouraged but, you know, you have a chance to win that game. Win it. And then when you have a chance to look back and say ‘how did this thing finish? What kind of play was it?’”

On his team

”We’ve got a ways to go. I mean, every year I go through this, this is painful and aging, trying to figure out your team, trying to win games while you’re trying figuring them out, how you finish games and trying to get them to mature quickly. It’s just hard. And you know what? I’m going to have to go through it again.

Sophomore forward PJ Washington on the play of Seton Hall guard Myles Powell

”We played great defense on him in the first half and then in the second half he kind of got going a little bit. We gave him some crazy fouls for us and then he started going from the free throw line, so it started and then he just started making some tough shot. We played great defense on him, but he’s making tough, contested shots over us. He played his butt off and they’re a good team and we need to watch film and learn from it.”

Freshman guard Keldon Johnson on his shot to tie the game at the end of regulation

”It was a big shot. I mean it was pretty big. I guess it just hurt because we lost.”