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Kentucky reverts and suffers shocking loss to 25-point underdog Evansville due to lack of toughness

Walter McCarty (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

I’ve seen a lot of bad losses by Kentucky basketball teams in Rupp Arena — think back to Eddie Sutton’s final year, Billy Gillispie’s final year — but Tuesday night’s shocking 67-64 loss to Evansville has to be the worst of the John Calipari era.

A week ago, UK beat then No. 1 Michigan State in Madison Square Garden. Tonight No. 1 Kentucky lost to a team that won 11 games all of last year and came into the game as a TWENTY-FIVE POINT underdog.

How did Kentucky lose? Easy. It was just far better execution by Evansville — which had nine 3-point field goals and went 12-for-13 at the foul line — along with far better effort by a team that got more and more confident as sluggish UK failed to impose its will. A 9-0 Evansville run wiped out a 16-15 UK lead and the Cats never led again until briefly going ahead 48-46 the was immediately answered by a 5-0 Evansville run.

Kentucky got out rebounded 38-35. Evansville got 14 points off turnovers, 28 points in the paint and its bench outscored UK 26-24. How does that happen?

Again, it goes back to effort. Evansville played with an intensity and all-out fight. Kentucky was easy to push around, slow to defend and got beat to loose ball after loose ball. That’s why UK became the first No. 1 team to lose at home in November since Cincinnati in 1996.

Immanuel Quickley had a career-high 16 points and career-high nine rebounds. Tyrese Maxey added 15 points.

Obviously, Evansville coach Walter McCarty, a starter on UK’s 1996 national championship team, was elated.

“If we had pulled it out, would not have been fair. They were the tougher team and more ready to play. He had his team more prepared to play than I had my team,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

McCarty’s players said they were not “surprised” they won because they believed they could all week. McCarty admitted he even told former UK teammate Tony Delk that “we were going to surprise people” in this game.

“We have guys who are talented. We have guys who can play,” McCarty said. “It felt like us against the world. Nobody expected us to come here and play the way we did. It feels great. The way we play is tough for teams to play us if they don’t play a lot of guys. I believe in my guys.”

Calipari harped on how Evansville would be not only playing better but also playing tougher. Remember for almost a month Calipari has wondered about his team’s toughness. It seemed like a silly worry after UK beat Michigan State but Evansville dominated UK physically as strange as that sounds.

“We reverted today,” Calipari said. “We couldn’t post the ball. We couldn’t hold position in the post. We couldn’t come off screens. We were late getting to rotations, which we had not done in two games and they made us pay.”

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  1. Best W in Evansville history?…biggest L in UK history? Probably affirmative on both because of a shocking display of coaching ineptitude from Cal and pathetic play by another young team that thought they only had to show up to win handily. The Aces won and were the much better shooting team, better passing team, and better defensive team from start to finish. I was very impressed with their players and coaches poise the whole game. Rumor even had it that Stoops/Gran were in locker room at halftime and may have played a part in game ending decision to shoot the two. Do some of you still think that NR will ever live up to the star rating or that EJ really wants to play basketball? Cal is really paying price for whiffing on quality bigs last couple of years. The loss was shocking enough and Cal’s totally classless handshake at the end shared almost equal value. You just don’t do that to a family member. It looks like Whitney and Brooks will not be dependable shooters and certainly not players you want on FT line at end of game. A very big question remains…why are we not seeing more of JJ? I almost forgot…Cal did say we had a lot of “makers” on this team. The loss is even more embarrassing than the Saturday Kroger Field meltdown.

  2. Mike you are spot on as usual. I guess the Rah Rahs will stop talking about No. 9 for a while now. Calipari will say that they haven’t work on any plays on offense and it shows. What do they do at practice…play checkers? I was hoping that Maxey would show some of his game from Michigan St. but it looks like that will be on at times and off at others. I was hoping to see more of Juzang, but he hit his first 3 point attempt and Cal took him out. Its obvious that Calipari is in love with his guards and they will take most of the shots. That didn’t go so well tonight. Was this a fluke or a sign of things to come? They came ready to play against MSU and breezed past EKU. I guess they thought all they had to do was show up tonight. Luckily we have some more Popcorn States to play before Ohio St. and Louisville come up. I am hoping this will be a lesson learned, but I fear that there will be another “L” hung on us before we get to OSU. I will be at the Utah Valley game on Monday…I hope they get their act together by then.

  3. Tonight, this team had absolutely no leadership on the floor; could have been the early foul trouble, but others must step up when that happens.
    Whitney had better learn to shoot free throws he won’t see the court during the last 5 minutes of a lot of games.
    Still young, still learning.
    This can be a loss that Cal can use to teach the younger players you have to play hard all the time.
    Not worried this early in the season. Experience wins a lot of games like this one and Evansville was ready.

  4. $90,000 tuition…Expensive class;
    Hopefully, a lesson learned.

  5. When you wake up from the bed and see the sun has risen I think that’s what’s important than what transpire last night. As a cat fan I always cheer them on weather we lose or win. Some things are meant to be and life goes on. Some people wants to talk trash about our cats they have no clue how lucky your still alive on this earth.

  6. Cats79, maybe its time for you to go buy a loaf of bread and go to the lake and feed the ducks. There is no way that was meant to be…it goes a lot deeper than that. I am not trash talking our team. I am raising concerns about our coach and his approach to guiding this team. Let me know if you don’t have the two bucks for the bread, I will gladly give it to you.

  7. I’ll leave the bird feeding for you will have more spare time once you will lose your bet. RAH RAH RAH SORE LOSER

    1. Cats79, when UK wins No. 9 later this season, we will have heard the last from this sap sucker called Catmandoo. He is a TROLL. Hornet, you gonna hold this idiot to the bet? Go Spartans, right Catmandoo? LOL We didn’t hear a word out of you after that great UK victory. Where were you, over in the corner all puckered up I guess. The Cats will be OK. One battle lost ain’t the whole war. You can count on that. Go root on Louisville, they are more your style.

      1. @ Larry Pup:
        Here’s another thing you can count on…
        I am most certainly holding the TROLL to his end of the bet
        as I will hold to my end of the bet.
        I am a man of my word.
        Is he?
        We shall see.

  8. Dream on mother goose. We will not see #9 with Nick and EJ on board. Remember Cal likes to recruit stars only. He misses the mark when it comes to toughness and winning attitudes. These two duds are afraid of contact.

  9. Let me be clear on this. Nothing would make me happier than for us to win the SEC, the SEC tournament, and win No. 9! Leaving all of you losers would be a bonus. But none of that is going to happen. All of you crowing Rah Rah’s deserve each other. Most of you will be gone, but Pup was too much of a schoolgirl cissy to take the bet.

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