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Brucel Pearl on Kentucky: “They’re better than last year’s team.”

Bruce Pearl said his team couldn’t stop Keldon Johnson, right, and Tyler Herro. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl admitted he was “disappointed” with his team’s 82-80 home loss to Kentucky Saturday, especially with the “great environment” at Auburn Arena for the Southeastern Conference showdown between top 15 teams.

Kentucky built a 17-point lead early in the second half before Auburn came charging back to take the lead with less than a minute to play.

“It had a lot with us staying engaged. I thought the kids didn’t panic. We got down in the second half and took it one possession at a time,” Pearl said.

However, the Auburn coach was gracious in his praise of Kentucky.

“Kentucky’s bigger at every position. They’re more physical at every position, and the way they could beat us is the way they could beat us, coming off of physical pin-downs, posting us up on the inside. They fouled out both Horace Spencer and Anfernee McLemore,” Pearl said.

“We fouled them too much — sent them to the foul line way too much. This is the fourth straight SEC game where we’ve had a deficit when it came to getting to the foul line. We’ve got to finish more physically ourselves through contact and find ways to get to the foul line more ourselves.”

Wait. Pearl was not finished.

“I thought that obviously Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro had big nights (both scored 20 points for UK). I think they looked right over our guards,” Pearl said. “They just looked right over the top of our guards and made shots and was able to get to the rim. We weren’t able to put up enough pressure to be able to extend them far enough away from the basket where that was a factor.

“The second thing was just their ability to go inside and score.  Kentucky played well. They’re good. They’re good. Definitely. They’re better than last year’s team. And I think they’re going to have a really good year.”

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  1. This was the effort everyone was expecting against Duke. Let’s see how long it takes them to “revert”…again.

  2. Personally, I have always had a lot of respect for the coaching ability of Bruce, and it is hard to not enjoy the passion and sideshow he provides during the game. Rumor had it that losing the commitment of EJ was one of the biggest disappointments along his recruiting trail because he felt pushing him around in practice would be good practice for his physical players…LOL

  3. He is 2-4 against Calipari’s teams too, add that in there, and I think 7-13 or something like that overall against UK. He is loud, I will give him that. I think he kind of showed his A$$ a little yesterday on the sidelines. He loves attention. Good to see him beaten again by a young talented UK team on his home floor when all the experts had UK losing.

  4. LP….Pearl is out of control and a maniac on the sideline, but I do think that he is one of those coaches out there that can coach better than Cal. Let’s not forget that he hasn’t had a stable of 5* as much as Cal has had to work with in last few years. If he were at UK, I don’t believe he would be babysitting Nick and EJ like Cal does.

  5. You may be right, but he has every right to recruit talent just as much as Calipari does. If he don’t that is on him. UK fired Tubby because he couldn’t recruit talent, among other reasons some say. Recruiting is a big part of college basketball ain’t it? It sort of comes with the job. Great recruits and talent make good coaches out of many. Is he a better coach than Calipari? Just looking at his resume no he is not.

    1. He also hasn’t had the history or the platform to recruit like Cal has but obviously has done well with lower rated talent. I like the way he isn’t afraid to get in player’s faces and they seem to be attentive. When Cal tries to do that they mostly push ignore button and walk right by him. Some of the national pundits have said over the years that they feel better X and O coach. Cal has trouble getting the right bigs and motivating them once he does. Expecting him to lose out on Stewart later today so the pattern continues.

      1. How many final fours has Pearl’s team’s made over the years Mike? How many national championships has he won? How many No. 1 recruiting classes? I don’t buy much of anything the national pundits say Mike, are you kidding? You mean guys like Vitale? They were all picking Auburn to win this one. Pearl a better X and O coach? I doubt it. I know he can lie pretty good. That is on his resume. As for Stewart, you can’t sign all of them. Not even the devil himself at Duke does that. I am not a big Calipari fan either, simply because I don’t like his one and done system. That said, if he ever does leave, and UK will never fire him, UK better find them a coach that can recruit like he does. No, you can have Pearl. I’ll take Cal.

  6. .Pup…..I do enjoy sparring with you. As I said, Pearl has not had the platform to compete with Cal at his stops along the way. If it hadn’t been for his big indiscretion at UT and Cal was to vacate, Pearl would be one of my first phone calls. I am suffering a little from Cal fatigue and have last couple of years. I do think that Cal’s biggest contribution to BBN is behind him. As for Stewart…you are correct…you can’t sign them all, but the truth is Cal is missing on more stud bigs that hitting. If we had gotten Zion or RJ a very good chance we would be undefeated. I am also sick of the “one and dones” and Cal’s same psycho babble slogans year after year.

    1. My friend, Pearl has had the platforms he has been given, same as Calipari. Same as any Div. 1 basketball coach. Two stops at schools in a power five conference, and fired from one. That is more action than most coaches get in a lifetime. Pearl couldn’t cut it at UK IMO. Not many coaches can. Why? The pressure, and he can’t recruit. He reminds me of Billy Clyde. Besides, if he ever had a couple bad seasons as the coach at UK, guys like you would be all over his case. Let him lose a couple years in a row to UNC or Duke and see what happens. Finish a couple years without winning the SEC and reaching the elite 8 or final 4. I would give Pearl about two years with you as UK’s coach, and you would be crying for his head. A coach has to do more on the sidelines than scream and holler, one being to reload with talent year in year out. Say what you will, Calipari does just that year in year out. If UK ever does lose Calipari my choice would be Rick Barnes if they could lure him away from UT. That guy can flat out coach. Peace old timer.

  7. I have been following UK Basketball since 1951, but I found myself not as happy as I should have been when UK beat Auburn. I was curious why and was almost depressed about it. As I read comments here on VV I think I am disgusted about the antics of these Napoleon-like coaches in Pearl and Calipari. Short guards getting in the faces of their players that are all over 6 foot tall and screaming until their faces are red and their mouths are slobbering. My favorite Calipari story was when he bragged that as a player he threw passes to his teammates deliberately just behind them to force them to throw the ball back to him.
    He needs to refine his antics. He makes enough money to justify acting more classy.

    1. Thanks Claude for your thoughts as always. As a former UK athlete, your perspective is always unique

  8. Never been a fan of bp. Pretty sure he told about cheating then got caught cheating and don’t get me started on the whole Chuck Persons stuff. We were punished for less and he is still coaching. In my opinion he should not even be allowed to coach. He hates UK and Cal and losing to us. Back handed compliments from a guy who had to make them because he lost. He does not deserve any ones respect IMO

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