LOUISVILLE, Ky. – So what went wrong in sixth-ranked Kentucky’s 73-70 loss at 10th-ranked rival Louisville on Wednesday night? Wildcats coach John Calipari seemed to have an idea. He used the word “discipline” eight times in an eight-minute postgame press conference.
Kentucky (10-2) shot just 39.7 percent from the field, missed late free throws and committed more turnovers (13) than it had assists (10), while letting four Cardinals starters score 13-plus points apiece. Louisville also won the battle of the boards and outscored the Cats 11-4 on second-chance points.
So you know what’s coming in these highlight’s of Calipari’s remarks afterward:
- “The biggest thing tonight is we didn’t have discipline,” he said. “We were walking out of timeouts, guys were breaking off doing (their own thing). Same thing defensively. We had talked about how we’re playing certain things, and guys did their own thing and then they had an excuse of why they did it. We had those 20 times.”
- It was a bit of a letdown for UK after winning a 103-100 thriller against eighth-ranked North Carolina on Saturday in Las Vegas. But this was the Cats’ first true road game, and the KFC Yum! Center crowd was loud and rowdy. “On the 21st of December, we’re not good enough to go on an opponent’s court that’s a top-10 team and win. We’re not,” Calipari said. “They’re better than us right now, Dec. 21. And that’s what we wanted to see. The issue for us: If we don’t become more of a disciplined team, then we’re just OK.”
- Freshman forward Bam Adebayo threw down a series of monster dunks and had 11 points (on 5-of-6 shooting), 9 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal – but it felt the Cats left a lot on the table with him. “Bam should’ve been getting the ball,” Calipari said. “We’re taking step-back, crossover, jacked-up (shots). And it’s one thing (if), OK, I made five in a row. Wait a minute, you missed six now? I told Malik, ‘You’re not making them tonight. Just go rebound.’ ”
- Coming off his 47-point game against UNC, freshman guard Malik Monk hit just 6 of 17 shots and only 1 of 9 threes – including a miss on the tying attempt in the final seconds – but also had as many turnovers (3) as rebounds. “No discipline,” Calipari said. “And I told them, that’s not their fault. That’s my fault. We’ll get it right.”
- Of Louisville, which now has wins over Wichita State, Purdue and Kentucky, the Cats’ coach said: “They’ll have a better Christmas than us.” Calipari had won 8 of 9 against Rick Pitino since coming to Kentucky, but he was gracious in defeat: “Congratulations to Louisville and Rick. Great game. Great job. Great environment. It was great.”
- Cardinals guard Quentin Snider surprised many onlookers by becoming the star of this game. The Louisville native went wild: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. “He was really good,” Calipari said. “They were all good. They fought. All of them did what they were supposed to do – made tough shots, came up with tough rebounds.” Disciplined stuff, he means.
- So how does Calipari fix that problem with a young team, which starts four freshmen? “If we’re playing this way, I’ve accepted it,” he said. “That’s why it’s my fault. And I told them in there, ‘When we tell you to do something and you don’t do it, you’re coming out. So if I tell you how we’re playing, if you break down defensively and do your own thing, you’re out.’ It’s the easiest way. Bench is my friend. That’s it. That’s how you get a cohesive unit. They trust each other because they all know, ‘He’s gonna do what he’s supposed to do, because this coach demands it.’ If you accept mediocrity as a coach, you’re gonna get it every time.”