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“Lack of discipline” disappoints, worries Calipari after South Carolina loss

South Carolina players celebrate after beating Kentucky. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON — Kentucky’s four-game winning streak came to an end Wednesday night.

The 10th-ranked Wildcats suffered their first Southeastern Conference loss of the season with an 81-78 setback to South Carolina in Columbia. It was the first league victory of the season for the Gamecocks (9-7, 1-2), who rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half and used a 3-pointer at buzzer to pull off the stunning upset.

“Every road game you play in this league is a hard game and this was a hard game,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “Give them credit. It wasn’t us. They were physical, they made every free throw when they had too … When you play like we did and you give them so many offensive rebounds, that’s when a team throws in a 30-footer that banks in (at the buzzer).”

Kentucky (12-4, 3-1) tied the score at 78-78 on Immanuel Quickley’s jumper with five seconds remaining, but South Carolina guard Jermaine Couisnard banked in a 3-pointer from near half-court as time expired to cap the hosts’ successful comeback.

Quickley led Kentucky with 20 points and made two of the team’s five 3-pointers in the contest. Couisnard also had a career performance with 26 points and drained four of five shots from long range, including the decisive game-winner at the buzzer.

“You’ve got to give South Carolina credit,” Calipari said. “They never stopped. I thought we had them when it was 14 — let’s get this to 20 and they didn’t stop. … they deserve to win the game. It would have been a shame if we would have somehow thrown one in and won the game. I would have been happy but it would have been a shame.”

Despite the thrilling finish, the contest was marred by foul issues as both teams were whistled for 54 fouls. Two Kentucky players — Ashton Hagans and EJ Montgomery — fouled out. The Wildcats made 25 of 35 shots from the foul line, while South Carolina was a paltry 16-for-30.

Calipari was disappointed with his team’s inability to take care of the basketball. Overall, Kentucky committed 15 turnovers, including five by Hagans. The Kentucky coach also wasn’t happy with his team’s play down the stretch.

“(The last shot) is the least of my thoughts right now,” he said. “It’s the lack of discipline, especially offensively. Guys breaking off stuff, doing their own thing … you can’t play that way in a big-time game. We had some guys where the game was a little bit above them.”

Calipari said the biggest downfall was his team’s overall lack of discipline, especially in the second half.

“The discipline issue I’ve been talking about came through today,” Calipari said. “I keep saying it. You have to be a disciplined player. This is about a group of guys coming out together and playing together. You can’t be the guy that does their own thing.”

Calipari also wasn’t surprised by the Gamecocks, performance in the second half. South Carolina outscored the Wildcats 56-45 in the final half.

“What they did to us, they did to Clemson — they made five threes in a row,” Calipari said. “Everybody tells me they can’t shoot threes, but that day they did. I watched it. They’re capable.”

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Gametracker: Kentucky at Arkansas, 4 p.m., Saturday. TV/Radio: ESPN, UK Radio Network

11 comments

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  1. “It wasn’t us” ???? Perhaps there’s a clue as to what’s wrong… I know he’s a good coach and I’m glad he’s ours but there’s no excuse whatsoever for losing that game last night.

  2. This is a team that is working diligently to prepare itself as a 2nd round exit in March.

    OAD and Players First is not working very well.

  3. We go through this every year not a first. Geeze

  4. It is getting that way, every year, since 2015’s flame out.

    This team is not going to be in the hunt in March.

  5. Getting old, year in and year out. We lost that game to Coaching. I still like Cal, but getting tired of caring more about NBA Draft than winning National Titles at Kentucky.

  6. The NBA draft results have been his focus since the day he arrived. I am glad that he caught lightning in the bottle in 2012, but his inability to finish the job in 2015 was the end of that lightning thing.

    “We’re young”

    “I want to win”

    “We’re going to be alright”

    and a host of other worn out expressions have lost their utility.

  7. Let’s put this in little more perspective our history of same coach of winning multiple times is not good. Only Rupp has done it that been said Cal had his chances of winning his second or maybe a third title as a UK Coach but our luck wasn’t on our side. In order to win it all it takes how the officials are calling the game and howthe ball bounces your way. It is what it is let’s move on and cheer the cats to the next game.

  8. Me First mentality is going to ruin this season. We were playing ok the first half, considering it was South Carolina, and then Hagans starts playing for himself in the second half. He did have 7 assists but with 5 turnovers. He took more shots than anyone else and only made 2 and fouled out instead of being the all world defensive player that I thought he was. The wannabes: Brooks, Whitney, and Juzang keep taking questionable shots because the offense isn’t designed to have them shoot ever. Montgomery just doesn’t have the want to. He plays way too soft around the rim. Richards was essentially checked in the second half by all of the Me First play, Hagan’s in particular, because nobody would pass it to him. As a result, he disengaged and became another Montgomery. The whole team reacted to it. They stopped concentrating on their foul shots, they played whackamole defense instead of keeping their man in check, they stopped boxing out and gave up a ton of offensive rebounds while turning the ball over on a bunch of walking calls. This is how freshmen on high school teams play.

    Richards, Quickley, and Maxey were the only ones who came ready to play. Sestina helped some but not much. Its obvious that a bunch of these kids do what they want, when they want regardless of what Coach tells them and it hurts the team. You couldn’t blame Coach at all if he started a lineup of Quickley, Maxey, Richards, Jordan, and Canada at Arkansas and left the rest on the bench for the entire first half regardless of the outcome. Maybe that would be the wakeup call to get Hagans, Sestina, and Brooks to play team ball again. Whitney and Juzang just are not finding their way here. Maybe they will get better next year, if they don’t transfer. Montgomery is a pure shame. He has talent and an NBA body, but he just doesn’t care enough to get better.

    I thought they had got over their Me First tendencies after the OSU loss, but here it is again. Will we have to lose 2 in a row for a second time to get back to KY basketball? I had high hopes for this team, especially after Nick came around, but now I wonder. The SEC is as weak as I have ever seen it this year but I don’t see how we can win it with this up and down play. This is get your shit together time, because February is the hard part of our SEC schedule. I can see another loss on Saturday. Then we will play gangbusters again beating Texas Tech and Auburn at their place only to lose 2 more again at Tennessee and Vandy. After that it won’t matter, the season will be lost.

    We actually had a shot at No. 9 this year, albeit it was a long shot at best. How could we end up here? Will we ever have another coach who can win more than one national title. It could have been and should have been Joe Hall and Rick Pitino. John could have and should have at least 3 if not more. Has Rupp put a curse on us for running him off before he was ready? It sure looks like it.

  9. This team is not competing for a title.

  10. Turnovers, rebounds and a 10% drop in free throw shooting is why we lost. Sometimes it’s the players not the coach. His approach is better than any UK coach since 1974. No UK 1st coach has done better IMO. And this team is not lead by OAD players so not sure why that is even an issue. Sometimes you lose on the road. It could be just that simple.

    1. Right on.

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