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John Calipari recaps Kentucky Wildcats’ ugly loss to Missouri Tigers

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Calipari was critical of his team’s selfish plays but also said he loves their upside.

Vanderbilt v Kentucky Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Well, that was an ugly loss.

Kentucky didn’t look good from start to finish. They played sloppy, missed a lot of shots, and played flat on the offensive side of the ball.

I’m not sure what it’s going to take for this team to learn how to play like an actual team. For three straight games they’ve accumulated a deficit of at least 14 points. Luckily, they managed to win two of them.

With that being said, they can’t do that on a regular basis and expect to win. This team consistently looks uninvolved on offense, and the story of the year has been how many times Kentucky goes through droughts on that side of the ball. They shot 31% from the floor and allowed Missouri to shoot 46%... can’t happen.

There’s only two positives to this game; the fact that these guys never give up, and that Jarred Vanderbilt is continuing to improve.

Despite being down by a lot in the second half, again, the Cats fought very hard to try and come back. They shouldn’t have been down that much, but the fight is good to see.

Jarred ended with 8 points and 10 rebounds. This is his second game elapsing over 10 boards. He’s starting to be more aggressive on offense, so expect him to build off of this going forward.

Overall, this was a setback for Kentucky. Even though Missouri desperately needed this win for tournament chances, the Cats should’ve been ready.

Kentucky has all the tools to be successful, but can they put it together in a months time?

Here’s what John Calipari had to say in his post-game presser.

On why Kevin Knox couldn’t get going tonight …

”I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him. It wasn’t just Kevin. We made one jump shot in the first half, and that was by Sacha (Killeya-Jones). The biggest thing is we still refuse to pass the ball. I don’t have the answer for that. And then when a guy runs a guy over and takes a bad shot, he says, ‘No one’s passing.’ Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) had six assists, but he still had four or five plays where he could have passed it to guys and Quade (Green) the same thing. All of them. It’s almost like I don’t care if you’re open or not, you’re going to have to pass it. I don’t have the answer right now, but you gotta create shots for each other. You can’t—the game’s too hard. Give Missouri credit. They did a great job and fought and I thought we had our chances start of the second half. And then we come down and do freshman stuff and they go basket, basket. And all of a sudden, you look up it’s nine. Like, what just happened? And so, late in the timeouts, ‘We’re not fouling here.’ ‘We are fouling here.’ We did the opposite. Literally did the opposite. I was happy the players were getting on each other for not listening, but that’s what young guys do. What young guys do when they’re trying to establish themselves is they’re defensive and they’re into their own self. So they lose some of the stuff, the team stuff. And we gotta get through this.”

On whether he will have to consider benching Hamidou Diallo with his mistakes …

”I hope not. I’m hoping–and I keep telling these guys, I don’t think any of them are playing great. They’re not playing bad bad. And they’ve had some bad games, but I’m just waiting for them to break through. Most of it is, ‘Play this way,’ and guys are fighting that. Like, ‘I’m going to play my way,’ which means, ‘I am not passing,’ which means none of us pass, which means no easy shots and you’re in a dogfight. Which we’ve been in 15 times this year.”

On whether he’s glad in a way they didn’t find a way to win so they can learn a lesson

”No. I wish we would have won. No, not at all. No. No. No. Look, I told them at halftime, ‘Every game I coach, every minute I coach, I’m saying how do we win this game.’ And I don’t think about losing until the horn goes off. Even this game. We were five (points down) and I’m thinking, ‘OK, we got a chance.’ We got a 3 in the corner that got blocked. If that goes down, it’s a two-point game. And I’m just thinking, ‘How do we win?’ The problem is you gotta have a team thinking like you think as a coach and if a guy’s not playing well, when they’re this young, it’s hard for them. They’re not thinking about anything else. They’re thinking about how they’re playing. Disappointing, but give Missouri credit. They beat us. It wasn’t just what we did to ourselves. They beat us.”

On whether he has experience he can call on to get this team to share the ball …

”I’ve done this a long time, but I haven’t had a team this young. When they’re this young, each player is trying to establish who they are as a player and it just takes time. I was disappointed with a bunch of guys in the room. We need Shai to do some of the stuff he’s doing, but he took 16 shots. He needs to take about 10 shots. You had your two point guards take 27 shots.”

On falling behind early …

”We got a couple guys that are playing better when we’re down. My thing is, you can’t wait to be down to play this way. This has gotta be who we are. This one should sting them, but we’ll see. The road for us, the next eight games, shew. We could lose all eight. You look at them. You got four on the road, four at home and the ones you have at home are, you know. So we gotta pick it up and let’s go and figure this out and, as a coach, like I said, I coached the whole game. I wasn’t going to give up on them and I didn’t. I’m challenged when guys aren’t listening in timeouts. That’s a hard one. You call them over, ‘What didn’t you hear?’ ‘I wasn’t listening.’ ‘Oh.’ I mean, we got some of team. I still believe in this team and I still believe we have the most upside of any team in the country. It’s just that unless you play together as a team, unless you create shots for each other, unless you cover for each other defensively, unless you talk more, you can’t ever become a good team. And then, each individual player is hurt. Now all of a sudden you say, ‘He’s not that good and he’s not that good and what happened to him today? Why isn’t he that good? And he’s not that good.’ That’s what happens when you don’t play well together. When you play well together, you start saying, ‘Wow, he is really good and that extra pass. Did you see him make that shot?’ They create for each other. They’re still fighting it a little bit.”

On his frustration …

”I’ve just done it 30 years, so you kind of get to where this is all part of it. And the good news for me, I haven’t been through a whole lot of these. As you get older, they get harder to deal with. But I’ll say this: I love winning and enjoy winning and bringing teams together and seeing guys get better. Sometimes you gotta be hard on them. Tell them, ‘Your will is not stronger than mine.’ And so we’re kind of in that with this group. I try to find five guys that can pass it to each other. That’s all I was looking for. And I thought at the start of the half we did it. And then all of a sudden we kind of reverted and then all of a sudden it’s nine again and I couldn’t find five guys that would pass it to each other. But, these kids aren’t machines. They’re not robots. They don’t play great every night out. They get going the right way and the right way is really hard and you really gotta share and you really gotta be about everybody else. So they’ll try their own way again. ‘I don’t like that. I’d rather do my stuff.’ And it is what it is. That’s what coaching is. And it’s easy when you’re winning. When you get beat and you gotta bring a team together, that’s when I look at guys in our profession and say, ‘That guy’s really coaching.’ For us right now, we shouldn’t have won the last game. We shouldn’t have. Vandy did everything they should have to win. They missed two free throws. We get a lucky foul, boom, boom, make two, beat them in overtime, but it is what it is.”