By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calipari said Saturday he was not giving up on his team despite its awful shooting in a 69-60 defeat at Missouri that dropped it to just 6-4 in Southeastern Conference play going into Tuesday night’s home game against Tennessee.
But Calipari may accurately sense that some UK fans might be ready to give up on the Cats — or already have — after their sixth loss of the year.
He went to Twitter asking fans to show patience for his team.
“BBN, I’m trying to do everything in my power to help this young team come together. I’ll be honest, after being in the office last night and again this morning watching tape, we played well enough defensively to win that game forcing 20 turnovers. These are good kids who are just understanding how bad they need each other. They’re just so young, but we’re going to get this,” Calipari posted on Twitter.
It was missing shots, not the defense, that doomed UK Saturday and led Calipari after the game to speculate that his team could lose any or all of its next eight games. Kentucky needs a win over No. 18 Tennessee — a team that beat UK in Knoxville — for its NCAA Tournament resume and to stay in the league race where it already trails Auburn by three games. The Cats are also a game behind Tennessee for second place.
Calipari pleaded with fans to do what they can Tuesday to help his team.
“We need you Tuesday to be at your best from the tip to the finish. If we’re going good, ride it and push us to make the lead unbearable. If we’re struggling some, encourage us and bring us back. The last eight minutes of the game, do not sit down! We need you more than ever now!” Calipari posted on Twitter.
“To our students, let’s pack the place. We need your help. Student tickets are still available by going to the UK ticket office starting at 9 a.m. on Monday.”
I have no doubt this is a sincere plea for fan help/support. He knows his team needs it.
But will Kentucky fans respond in a way that this team might need more than any team Calipari has had at UK.