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John Calipari: “They were just better than us.”

Kentucky just had no answers for R.J. Barrett and Duke Tuesday night. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

One thing John Calipari does after a defeat, even one as brutal as the 118-84 loss to Duke Tuesday night, is give an honest assessment of his team’s play.

That didn’t change and the UK coach didn’t try to sugarcoat how poorly his team played.

“We only created four turnovers. Either they’re a great (ball) handling team or we’re not doing enough defensively,” Calipari said. “They were just better than us.”

Way, way better and count me as one who thinks Kentucky wasn’t doing much to create turnovers.

Duke handed Calipari the worst loss of his coaching career at UK and he let his players know midway of the second half he had seen enough.

“With 8 minutes to go, I said, “I’m not calling a timeout. And if you foul, I’m taking you out. Let this thing run (out)….We have to do some soul searching,” Calipari said after the game.

Maybe Kentucky fans heard that because many had left by then, something that almost never happens at a Kentucky basketball game. But it did Tuesday night and Calipari didn’t fault the fans.

“They do travel. And they’ll watch this tape more than I watch this tape. … They take pride in the program, and this hurts,” Calipari said. “I may burn the tape and not even watch it.”

It does do that for a fan base that was giddy with the way the Cats played during a four-game exhibition trip to the Bahamas in August. Also remember Kentucky was ranked No. 1 in various preseason polls.

“I said in one of the huddles, ‘You guys thought this was going to be easy.’ I haven’t had many of these games, but I’ve had a few, and the most you learn from it is they wanted it more than we wanted it,” Calipari said.

The coach said he told freshmen point guard Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley he would be spending more time with them immediately to get “them on the same page with the rest of us.”

The coach said he hadn’t lost “faith” in his team despite Tuesday night’s score. Senior Reid Travis feels the same way.

“I feel like as we mature we will be able to take blows like that (and come back). … I love our group of guys and everyone wants to get better,” Travis said.

Travis did say getting down so early was “kind of a blow to your chest” and one that Kentucky did not handle well. However, he says fans should not question whether UK players do care about winning.

“We really do care,” Travis said.

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  1. Nashville sports jox said this morning that this loss was the biggest point spread of any pro or college game that Cal has ever coached, Thanks coach for saving it to set the tone for rest of year. Wonder if PJ or Richards have come out of hiding yet?

  2. Mike if that’s the way you feel about this team for the rest of the season. Then you have no business mouthing about the players or coach Cal rest of the season. You can go on cheer for Louisville cardinal for I care. Go Cats!!!

  3. Cats 79….do you always have to take everything so seriously? I am injecting some humor along with skepticism in many of my posts. You run your campaign and I will run mine…think I have said to you before.

  4. I am concerned about this team. In August, I was ready to bet the farm that this team will dominate its entire schedule, and be favored in every game this season until the Elite 8 or even Final 4. Then October arrived, and this group lacked any intensity or “killer instinct” against Transy or IUP and turned in the poorest exhibition season of the Calipari Era. Despite that, Calipari was not sending his usual warnings about being patient with this “young” team that will take its lumps early. No, this October, Calipari’s warnings were very non-Calipari-like. He was saying that he was worried that this team is so good NOW that it has no room for normal development and growth toward March.

    Then they go to Indianapolis and lay the biggest egg in my memory of UK Basketball. This generates all the questions, all the confusion, all the disgust.

    How could Coach Calipari not see this coming? That is my biggest question today, 2 days after the beat down, the humiliation that Duke dished out.

    Now I read that Coach Calipari essentially quit on his team midway through the second half. How can that be right? How can that support the usual coaching philosophy that players must never quit.

    I am so confused as a fan. I just want to have this team be everything their August trip promised, and I want to enjoy the ride of this season. To that end, I have decided to wipe the memory of this disaster from my mind as soon as possible and regard it as the greatest aberration in history.

  5. Calipari probably saw this coming I think if you listened closely to his pre Duke interview. I I don’t think he envisioned a 34 point loss for UK though.

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