By LARRY VAUGHT
Letting a 21-point lead early in the second half melt down to eight points left Kentucky coach John Calipari frustrated Monday — and his players knew it.
“You could see in the game that we lost the second half. Guys including myself, we got a little comfortable in the game and we already thought that we had the game beat. With eight minutes left in the game we were up by 21, you know it’s just one of those things that we got to get over, got to finish games because we easily could have lost that game if it was any longer.”
Calipari was preaching the same message along with wanting his players to play smarter and more unselfish. He was disappointed that UK did not “bury” Troy before settling for a 70-62 win.
“That’s the old, I’m going to make a play myself. We had a bunch of those today. Again, guys trying to get theirs instead of just play the game and let it happen. And if it’s one of those games where you’re not on, okay, we’ll just count on somebody else. You’re not going to shoot as many. But they’re not ready to be that yet and it’s understandable. They’re a bunch of freshmen,” Calipari said.
Hamidou Diallo, who had 10 rebounds, preferred to give Troy more credit for the comeback than blaming UK taking its foot off the gas pedal.
“Troy started hitting shots. They started hitting a lot of shots they weren’t hitting in the first half,” Diallo said — and Troy did finish 3-for-6 from 3-point range after going 1-for-21 before that.
Sophomore Wenyen Gabriel said Calipari was “loud” in the second half.
“It was almost like he was in the Kansas game. He’s just trying to challenge us, he’s not focused on the game we’re in right now, it’s about how we’re playing. He doesn’t look at the scoreboard every minute,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel reminded media members that UK had some struggles lasts season, especially early.
“We didn’t start really picking it up until towards tournament time. That’s what happens when you have a lot of freshman out there and Cal tries to sit back and let us play, but sometimes he has to step up and put his foot down,” Gabriel said.
“To you on the court it’s more like focusing on the team, just kind of blurring everything out and not worrying about media or anything like that. It’s worrying about winning during the game so when you get up a lot you don’t have to start worrying and do your own thing. You just have to stay focused and stick to the plan every minute.”
Kentucky will get to test that plan again Wednesday night when it hosts Fort Wayne.