By LARRY VAUGHT
When Kansas State went ahead 60-58 with 19 seconds to play, John Calipari didn’t call timeout to set up a play.
Instead, he trusted his players to run a play they had been working on in practice that would have got a 3-point shot for Wenyen Gabriel in the corner. Instead, Quade Green heaved up a wild 3-point shot that had no chance of going in.
Kansas State rebounded, hit a free throw and won the NCAA Tournament South Region game 61-58 over Kentucky when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed a 3-pointer after Calipari did call timeout, set up a play for Gabriel that didn’t work and the freshman point guard had to shoot before time ran out.
“I should have called that timeout late with 19 seconds to go, but we had worked on something, and I thought we could catch them off guard,” Calipari said after the loss. “Veteran team, should have called a timeout. Can’t put that on these guys. That’s right on my shoulders. Proud of our kids, though. Proud of their effort.”
Remember, Calipari prefers not to call timeouts at the end of games. He likes to let his players just make plays. But he did his best to put the blame for the loss on him, not the players who had trouble matching Kansas State’s physical play.
“They gave us a chance to win,” Calipari said. “I would say I was not at my best the last couple of plays. If I had it to do over, I would have called timeout (before Green’s miss).
“They had a little more toughness than us. But they (UK players) fought. They didn’t give up. I’m proud of my team. Had our chance to win, didn’t play particularly well for us, but still had a chance to win.”