By LARRY VAUGHT
Coach John Calipari had a lot of his former Kentucky players in Las Vegas Wednesday night when the Wildcats lost 69-66 to Utah in a game that Utah dominated the first 28 minutes to build a 17-point lead.
Calipari said Friday at his pre-Ohio State media time that his former players tell him some of his current players have to “understand to be a dog” for this team to succeed in games like it faces today against No. 5 Ohio State in Las Vegas.
“If you’re going to play at Kentucky, the other team is going to come out of their minds and play great basketball because it’s Kentucky. If you’re not a dog, why are you here? I mean that’s the guys that were at the game (Wednesday). You better be a dog. These guys are learning it,” Calipari said.
“I needed to look at some of those guys that were saying it and said, ‘You weren’t a dog when you first got here either. You figured it out after a while. You were getting your head handed to you and it wasn’t going to work your way. But you said, I’ve gotta go battle and fight and be that guy.'”
Calipari remains confident it can still happen for this team despite the shocking losses already to Evansville and Utah.
“It takes time. I hate losing. I’d rather learn from a close win, but many times your team needs to take it on the chin. There are other times that you can leave a game and feel good win or lose, how you played. The last 10 minutes I felt really good that we competed and played to win,” Calipari said.
“We needed to make a couple more plays. We didn’t. Maybe we’re not ready for that yet. Now we’re playing against, in my opinion, the best team in the country. Alright, so how do we play this? What do we do? They shoot it, they post it, they rebound it, they run good stuff, a lot of multiple pick-and-rolls.
“They bring bigs out. They’re bigs can shoot too. I mean, we’ve got a challenge, but you know what? It’s the next one for us. It’s like, let’s go get this and see where we are right now. It’s a great test for us.”