By LARRY VAUGHT
Give John Calipari credit for giving an honest evaluation of why his team fell apart the final 10 minutes at Auburn Saturday and lost 75-66 to the Tigers.
“Here’s what I said after. We all had a bad day, me included. There is not one guy in our room that I would say played well,” Calipari said at his postgame press conference.
So why did Auburn win?
— The Tigers dominated the offensive glass and pulled off 17 offensive boards that led to 17 second chance points. Kentucky had six offensive rebounds that led to five points.
“There were six or seven (Auburn) offensive rebounds where we didn’t leave our feet. We didn’t jump. What is going on?” Calipari said.
— The Tigers were 3-for-20 from 3-point range and then in the last six minutes hit all three 3-pointers they took. Kentucky missed its final six 3-point tries.
— Auburn got to the foul line 44 times and made 33. Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans played only 21 minutes because of foul troubles before fouling out. Immanuel Quickly fouled out. Nick Richards, EJ Montgomery and Keion Brooks finished the game with four fouls.
“Give Auburn credit. They were more physical. Created more fouls,” Calipari said.
His team did get to the foul line 24 times — a nice number — and made 20 but that was still a big drop from the Auburn numbers at the foul line.
— Richards, who had been Mr. Consistency in SEC play, had seven points on 3-for-8 shooting, seven rebounds and three blocks but was never a major factor inside.
— Montgomery took one shot — he did make it — and had four rebounds in 21 minutes. Nate Sestina went 0-for-3 from 3-point range, didn’t score and had only one rebound in 17 minutes. Freshman Brooks went 2-for-2 from the field but had but had only two rebounds in 21 minutes. That’s six points and seven rebounds combined in 55 minutes for that trio.
— Calipari emphasized Friday that both Richards and Hagans had to stay out of trouble. Richards did until the final minutes but Hagans had his worst game as he finished with five points, three assists, five turnovers and no rebounds in 21 minutes.
“He struggled,” Calipari said when asked about Hagans’ play and the coach would not elaborate.
Still, Kentucky had a 61-60 lead with 4:11 to play thanks to Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey, who combined for 45 points and went 19-for-22 at the foul line, but could not get stops the rest of the way.
“The crazy thing is we had our chance,” Calipari said.
Yes, Kentucky did despite getting hammered on the boards and fouling too much but this team’s tendency not to put a game away when it has a chance bit the Cats again just like it did at South Carolina a few weeks ago and likely will do again if UK doesn’t get tougher mentally and physically.