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John Calipari makes no excuses, says Auburn “deserved” to win

John Calipari shows his frustration during Sunday’s loss. (Vicky Graff Photo)


There was no way for Kentucky coach John Calipari to sugar coat his team’s 77-71 overtime loss to Auburn Sunday that ended the Cats’ season one game short of the Final Four.

Kentucky beat Auburn twice during the season and had a 10-point lead in the first half before offensive inefficiency in the second half doomed the Cats along with missing eight of their last 13 foul shots and going 5-for-21 from 3-point range.

“They played aggressive. They played tough. They bumped and it was a grinding game,” Calipari said. “Two of their guys (Jared Harper and Bryce Brown) had 50 points.

“They deserved to win. We got outplayed, outcoached and still had a had a chance to win. It never entered my mind we weren’t going to win. Proud of these guys. Proud of my team. We didn’t play particularly well, but give them credit for making us play poorly.”

How poorly? Let me count the ways for you:

—Point guard Ashton Hagans had seven turnovers in 39 minutes. He finished with 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting overall but was 1-for-4 from 3-point range and could never get the offense in sync. He did have five rebounds and three assists.

— Tyler Herro, the late star of Friday’s win over Houston, was 3-for-11 from the field (1-for-5 from 3), and had seven points, six assists and three rebounds. He was not anywhere close to the defensive stopper he had been.

— Keldon Johnson was 5-for-13 from the field but did get 14 points by getting to the foul line six times and also got 10 rebounds. However, he also got two key shots blocked late in the game.

— Immanuel Quickley was 1-for-6 from 3-point range and had only one assist in 19 minutes.

— Jemarl Baker played four minutes and gave up six points in two possessions.

— Kentucky out rebounded the smaller Tigers, who were in foul trouble with their bigs the whole game, only 41-36 and outscored them only 42-34 in the paint.

— Auburn got 14 points off 14 UK turnovers.

Think about this, too. The Tigers won despite making only SEVEN 3-pointers. Auburn had been demolishing teams with the 3 but was just 7-for-23. Overall, Auburn shot 40 percent — 26 of 65 — and won.

“Guys didn’t play well. Give Auburn credit for getting up in us and bumping, grinding and doing stuff to get guys off kilter,” Calipari said. “Got to have better perimeter play and we have all year. Give credit to Auburn. They made us play the way we did.”

Kentucky sophomore PJ Washington did play like a warrior in what was likely his final game at UK before he starts his NBA carer. He had 28 points on 10-for-18 shooting from the field and 6-for-10 at the foul line. He also had 13 rebounds, but even Washington had five turnovers.

Senior Reid Travis had nine points and six rebounds, but Auburn made it hard for UK to get the ball inside — especially when no one but Washington (2-for-4) — could score from outside. Travis got just five shots, and made four.

“Numbers say we should have won but a few too many turnovers at inopportune times and that changed the game,” Calipari said.

Later the coach added “I feel sick for the kids” because of the loss when UK’s defensive play was good enough to get a win.

“I mean, I wanted to see one more weekend, wanted Reid to be able to go back to Minnesota (for the Final Four in his hometown_, which he deserved for what he’s done for this program and us, but this is — when it’s one game, ‘Oh, you beat them twice. Once you beat them by 30.’ Doesn’t matter. One game. This was stuff that happens.”


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  1. Somebody, anybody…
    BEAT DUKE !!!

  2. We never learn from our bad play. This makes 2 years in a row where we blow an easy path to the Final 4. PJ rediscovered his free throw shooting prowess from the Kansas State game. Hagans was out of control. Tyler got shut out. Keldon never got going. Reid didn’t get enough looks. The offense just looked lost most of the game. Calipari got outcoached again. Did any see a pro player on the floor? Reid has to leave, PJ will leave and be a mid second round pick. Keldon will also be a mid to late second round pick, hope he stays. Tyler needs to stay too. Too bad Calipari won’t go pro. As for all of the Rah Rahs who will make excuses for this outcome, the outcome speaks for itself.

  3. Congrats to Auburn and Coach Pearl. They played better and out coached us today. Pearl had a good game plan and not sure what Cal’s was. We had a chance to blow them out in first half and instead of continuing to pound inside while they were accumulating fouls, we decided to start brick laying from outside. This is when game was lost IMO. Our problem all year has been our inability to maintain and build on a lead once we get one. Herro’s 2 quick fouls were momentum changer as well. Hate to see him leave on such a poor performance, but he has carried us more this year than anyone else.

  4. This team was very inconsistent in 3 major areas all season that finally caught up with them:
    Outside shooting
    Point guard play
    Bench play

    The inconsistency of these areas all came together in this game and add in the 4th today, very poor free throw shooting and it was too much overcome.

    Johnson, Hagans, and Herro all need to come back for another year; not sure what they will do, but Hagans and Johnson will be G league stars if they leave now.

    1. OF….May I add that we have been a poor shooting team both inside and out, a poor passing team most of the season but a great turnover team. How can you expect to survive and advance when you continue to only win one half at a time, and we have done exactly that to finish as well.

  5. I’m convinced it’s better to be behind at halftime.

  6. DUKE LOSES !!!
    I’m Happy :-)))

  7. Sorry that this group doesn’t have any titles to show for all the hard work they put in, however I enjoyed this group and wish them all well.

    1. Same here Hope for Best. This was really a good group of young men

  8. hfb, as long as Calipari is here, we will not win another national title.

    1. As long as we have negative fans….

      1. We ran Tubby out of town, yet he had a national title in his 10 years. Calipari was supposed to bring in the best and take us past UCLA in titles, but it was all another good sales job by Cal. The results speak for themselves.

    2. Catmandoo, you never shut up with your constant BS. even in a bitter loss. I guess you must be very happy tonight since you have seen UK lose another close game and can get on here and pop off on VV’s with all you’re basketball knowledge, and explain to us “rah rahs” what all these UK players should or should not do in the future. I guess under your great basketball mind Duke better fire their head man too since Duke blew it again in making it to a final four for two years in a row, even with all world Zion Williamson. Imagine that. I guess under you’re reasoning The chief blue devil will not win another national title either. right? Go find yourself perfect team and coach to pull for will you. You are a UK fan my A$$.

      1. RAH RAH RAH Pup.

    3. I don’t know about that. 305 wins, 7 Elite Eights, four Final Fours, 1 title in 10 years is pretty sweet. Not sure how many schools wouldn’t be happy with that

      1. Larry,
        Auburn would be happy with that. So would Texas Tech and about 300 other schools. This is Kentucky. If we are the gold standard in college basketball like Calipari says, then we should do better than one title in 10 years. I really don’t see us winning another one as long as he is here.

        1. Then go find another school to pull for then Catmandoo, Calipari is going no where. And UK is the “Gold Standard” hoss. You and Mike like Duke so much. and Coach K, they could use a couple experts like you two. Only problem with that is, Duke went home also, even with Zion Williamson, how could that be? Must be coaching right?

            • Mike on April 1, 2019 at 11:01 am

            LP….It is ok to be and stay alert at times. I can’t speak for Catmandoo, but I have made my feelings very clear over the months that I personally disdain Puke and UT. You just misread when I said Coach K owned Cal, and he does especially in recruiting where he gets the “pick of the litter”

        2. I stated a few weeks back that I didn’t feel Cal would be raising #9 during his tenure at UK. That feeling started with Wisconsin loss and nothing has changed that deeling since.

          1. Mike if UK were to fire Calipari today and hire Izzo, or Pearl, or Few, or any other well known coach, the first game they lost you, and a couple others on here, would be on their case about how sorry their coaching or recruiting is. UK had a great year, and Calipari is UK’s coach, live with it. Learn to enjoy a great program with it’s storied history without bitching all the time, it gets old dude. I for one wish UK had a football program with the history the basketball program has. You can’t get much better national recognition than UK has in basketball greatness, They are like Alabama in football. That is why all the pundits climb on the ” bandwagon bashing” of UK when anybody beats them. Most of them are like that because UK “IS” the standard in college basketball, and will continue to be so even in this elite 8 loss to a great team UK beat twice this season.. Everybody likes to see the champion go down. Look at Duke today, sitting right where UK is,” Elimination City.” Zion Williamson didn’t win them a championship now did he?

  9. UK had a marvelous season, they went farther I think then a lot of people thought they would after the 1st game this year remember that? They beat NC, Lou and Kansas…They knocked Tn out of 1st place.
    Were they or were they not going to win, it seems many games left us on the edge of our seat until the team settled down.
    I am a very big fan, my car is blue, I don’t plant red flowers, I don’t have any red clothes, my dog is named Cali, after my coach and my hero…Cal and Ali. Larry can tell you how big of a fan I am.
    It does not matter who you are or where you are, anyone can be beaten on any given night…puke lost tonight…Tonight Auburn wanted it more, the poster from the classless fan set them off. Kentucky could not get into a grove, something was wrong with their mojo, except for MY GUY Keldon and also PJ…wow PJ! Look at the box score where were Tyler’s FT’s and 3’s? It was not just Hagans.
    For all of you who are trying to find ways to beat down the coach or an individual player…It’s just a game…it is not the end of the world…yes I am disappointed but it IS just a game. Do you depend on that game for your livelihood, your health or your wellbeing? Let it go, go take a walk. Could you play better or coach better? Did you lose money on it? Look at the bright side; we are not in a war yet.
    There is more than one exceptional team per year and why….because of Kentucky…back in the 40’s and 50’s schools saw what Kentucky was doing and they decided to build up their programs, they wanted a piece of the pie.
    Get over the loss and move on….please. Respect this team, the coaches, the program and the Tradition. We have 2293 wins, no one is even close.

    1. WEll said Linda

  10. I would rather lose to Auburn than any other team in the Elite 8.
    On top of that, Duke lost.
    Overall, it was a pretty good day, IMO.

    1. I agree Hornet1.
      I guess I hate Duke more than I hate UK losing.
      Made my weekend much better.

  11. This team was enjoyable to watch regardless we loss today. With all the nay Sayers that talks negative about this team and Cal ought to move on and jump to another bandwagon. These guys represent Kentucky well and thank you for giving us enjoy and pride to watch. Like Linda said life goes on and it just a game.

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