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Did pregame words from Cats provide inspiration for Utah?

Kentucky players did some pregame dancing but did they also do some pregame talking as Utah players said they did? (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

LAS VEGAS — How did Kentucky manage to let Utah lead almost the whole game and beat the Wildcats 69-66 here Wednesday night?

Utah guard Timmy Allen, who played all 40 minutes and scored a game-high 25 points, said the Utes got extra inspiration from some pregame chatter from UK players that both UK coach John Calipari and his players denied knowing anything about after the game.

“They were not expecting anything from us,” Allen said. “We heard them talking pregame. That energized us. We just used that as motivation. We came out hard and we were able to carry that to the end.”

Utah had a 17-point lead (54-37) with 12:11 to play before UK charged back to tie the game 66-66 only to fail to do enough to secure the win. The Cats got two late 3-point tries — Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley — that could have forced overtime but both missed.

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak didn’t want Allen to elaborate on what he heard being said. However, he did say his team showed more toughness than it had all season. He had tried to inspire them to display the same toughness the Utah football team did to beat Oregon in the Pac-12 title game and said the motivation was more internal than anything UK said.

Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans said Utah players “can say whatever” about the pregame talk.

“Nobody can say much. They came out hitting everything. We tried to fight back at the end,” Hagans, who had 16 points, eight assists, four steals and three rebounds, said.

Calipari also downplayed any possibility that something said in pregame inspired the Utes.

“Tell me who would have talked,” Calipari said. “We usually don’t do it, but maybe one guy did. Normally it would be a guy who doesn’t play much that does that.”

Kentucky also wouldn’t say much about a late replay review that turned a block call on Utah and two free throws for Tyrese Maxey with 22.7 seconds to play into a charge on Maxey and Utah ball with a 68-66 lead with 22.7 seconds to go.

The Utah coach said the original block call was made based on the Utah defender being inside the arc when contact was made. The review — allowed in the game’s final two minutes — apparently showed the defender was not in the arc and resulted in the call being changed.

Maxey got a little out of control on the drive but if the original call had stood he would have been at the foul line with a chance to tie the game.

“The charge was the play of the game,” Krystkowiak said.

Calipari had little reaction when the call was reversed during the game and had very little to say after the game.

“He (the official) said he was going to do it, so what was I going to say,” Calipari said. “He did (review it) and changed it and we still had 3’s to tie the game.”

It was no surprise both shots missed even though both were plays Calipari drew up and the players executed perfectly. Kentucky was only 2-for-17 from 3-point range and Maxey was 0-for-3 before his last miss and Quickley 0-for-3 also.

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  1. That was embarrassing…wow!

  2. We’re not the only one that’s getting beat by low their teams If you don’t come out and play you will get beat reggae who you are playing.

  3. Don’t know who Cal was watching in HS, but right now, there is not a decent shooter on this team.
    Play like they think they are better than they are.
    Probably practice the same way.
    Are any of these kids putting in extra time to practice shots? If they are, they look like they are wasting their time.

  4. Guess the Cats were anxious to show the nation that we really aren’t ready for Prime Time and probably aren’t even worthy of a ranked team with the way we played for most of the game. If we keep playing like this, we will have 4 losses by end of the month and probably unranked as well. We had no outside game, no inside game, and no defense for most of the night. They looked like the better and ranked team and yet they were reportedly the younger and better coached team. We apparently learned very little from the Evansville loss. So much for Fight and Finish. Hey Cal……how do you like your Makers now?

    1. The Cats will be fine. Bad shooting night took a toll on them this time is all. It is just one game. Defense down the stretch put UK in a position to win this one when it counted, after being down by double digits. That is the way I look at it. Utah out played them, it happens, but I never saw quit in this team.

      1. I agree, LP.
        But what gets me is how can these kids light it up during practice and couldn’t hit the ocean while standing in a boat when it comes game time.
        It has to be mental; therefore, it should be fixable but I don’t see any consistency from any of the players. To me, that is the most troubling issue.

        1. I don’t think UK took this game as seriously as they should have, and maybe were looking ahead to OSU, JMO. This is a typical Calipari team at this point in the season, nothing new. I think poor Kentucky shooting, start to finish, did turn this outing into a mental issue, especially when Utah got double digit leads in both halves. UK still got it even, and had the chance to win it based on their defense late. Credit Utah for the defense that led to a Maxey charge, and a lost opportunity for UK to finish it out. It was a good learning experience. UK did not look like the 6th ranked team last night. Poor shooting will kill, it is that simple. This UK team is still a dangerous outfit, loaded with talent, and they will prove that in the days ahead.

        2. Remember very few folks actually get to see practice to know if they light it up or not. Not saying they don’t, but just no way to judge except by what we see in games where UK has been awful

      2. Just one game?….guess it could be if you live in La La Land like you do. This is not currently a good team as constituted and coached. We have no overall BB IQ, no shot Makers, can’t score or protect at the rim. It’s not just one game…..been that way most of the season.

        1. “Mr. Cardinal” the” TROLL” speaks again. Did you get Satterfield’s autograph yet?

  5. Pregame talk? What is this about? Why hasn’t the potential for that issue to rear an ugly head been eliminated by the coaching staff on Day 1.

    This team is off to another Yawning start. Right now, it is not playing well enough to be a top 30 team. The 21-10 projection dropped to 20-11 last night.

    1. 10/4…Pup stays in denial.

    2. Calipari and players denied it but Utah player … and even the coach … sure seemed pretty certain it happened

      1. I believe our players, and Coach, but if it happened, so what? That kind of talk happens all the time in gyms and stadiums all over the country. Much to do about nothing.

        1. So what??….if you can’t back it up you get beat in most every aspect of game and take an L.

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