By LARRY VAUGHT
Buffalo coach Nate Oats said he apologized to Kentucky coach John Calipari before Saturday’s game for saying the UK coach had been “whining” about how young his team was this year.
What he said was true, but he admitted he should have used a better word even though Calipari made it clear after his team beat Buffalo Saturday in the NCAA Tournament South Region second round that he was not upset.
Some Kentucky fans were not happy with what Oats said then. They should appreciate more what the coach had to say after Saturday’s loss.
“You’ve got to give Kentucky a ton of credit. They shot it well from 3. We needed them to shoot a little more like Arizona did. So part of our game plan was to try to get them to shoot 3s and keep the ball in the lane. I didn’t think we did a good job,” Oats said.
He was right. Kentucky had 22 baskets on layups or dunks.
“They’re pretty good athletes and pretty good players. There’s a reason three of those guys are supposed to go in the first round (of the June NBA draft). Probably some more that are going to be pros,” Oats said.
“They have more length all over the place. And I think it affected our shooting. Usually we shoot a lot better. We were 7 for 31 from the 3. A lot of that had to do with Kentucky’s length and just challenging shots. We had eight assists, usually we’re pushing 20 assists. Our turnovers weren’t bad, but didn’t get the ball moving,” Oats said.
Bingo. Kentucky’s defense a month or two months ago was not good. It’s got better. A lot, lot better.
“They’re a great team. They’re a great defensive team. Cal has them playing really well at the right time in the year. They’ve won 10 of their last 11 and we ran into a buzz saw tonight,” Oats said. “They’re great defensively. I talked to (Arizona coach) Sean Miller after our game, he said they guard way better, and it’s true. They’re unbelievable defensively. Cal gets them to play hard. And they were playing with a chip on their shoulder.”
How good is UK?
“They have a great chance to make it. I think they play Cincinnati if they can get by the next round. But they have a good shot to go to the Final Four. And they’ve got a chance to win these next two games,” Oats said.