ATLANTA — Kentucky’s season ended in stunning fashion Thursday night. Ninth-seeded Kansas State beat 5 seed Kentucky 61-58. Kansas State advanced to the Elite Eight. Kentucky is headed home. Here’s everything UK coach John Calipari said after the loss.
JOHN CALIPARI: Congratulations to Kansas State. They played well. They played the kind of game, a physical game, and did what they had to do. Shot 35 percent and won a basketball game. My hats off to them. I’m proud of my team. Had our chance to win, didn’t play particularly well for us, but still had a chance to win.
I should have called that timeout late with 19 seconds to go, but we had worked on something, and I thought we could catch them off guard. Veteran team, should have called a timeout. Can’t put that on these guys. That’s right on my shoulders. Proud of our kids, though. Proud of their effort.
Q. Yesterday you were talking a lot about your team drinking the poison. Do you think they drank it at all?
CALIPARI: No, I think the game was physical. You know, there was the freedom of motion to cut and do it. It was a physical game. And it kind of got us a little out of rhythm, and it wears you down. I mean, I thought Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander] got worn down. We were doing some things late. We had some turnovers that — we have a lead now, and we turn it over a little bit. And there was a foul called on a free throw, and we have a one-point lead at that time, and playing like we did, which was amazing. We had our chances.
But I come back to the big play for us was down 2. We were going to run a play to go weak side corner for a three, and we end up not having it, throwing it to Quade [Green], I was trying to get a timeout at that point. But that’s on me, that’s not on these kids. That was a choice I made.
The last play was a curl. We were trying to pop Wenyen [Gabriel], and it kind of got messed up. But look, you can’t — these kids fought. They were down 13-1. I mean, I called them in and just said, hey, guys, there’s a whole game left. By the halftime, I said we won the rest of that half by seven. Just keep playing. There were plays in the game that we just didn’t make. But you’ve got to give Kansas State credit. They played in a way that they had to play to win the game, and they did.
Q. I was talking to a couple Kansas State players who were upset. They said your players left the court before they could shake their hands. I wonder what you saw with that, what happened there?
CALIPARI: Well, I went down to shake their hands, too, and they were turned and celebrating so that I walked off. I had no disrespect for anything, just that they were celebrating and I was happy for them. I walked off, too. But I went down, I shook all the coaches’ hands, I went down to shake their hands — which I understood. They’re in an Elite 8 game now, a chance to go to the Final Four. My team is not like that, neither is our program. There’s no disrespect in any way. They beat us. They deserved to win the game.
Q. Obviously there were a lot of fouls on both sides. Do you really feel like a game that moves at a snail’s pace like that really drains the energy from the crowd?
CALIPARI: I don’t know. You know, you just have to — again, it’s a hard game to play. But if it’s allowed to be that way where there’s a lot of physical contact and stuff, then you’ve just got to play. However it’s being officiated, you’ve got to play.
Q. You’ve called this your most rewarding season. Now that it’s over, do you feel like you got the most out of this team?
CALIPARI: Yeah, again, both individually and collectively, this was a rewarding year for me. I wish it could have ended in another week, but you know, for me to see how individual players got better, for me to see how this team came together, for me to see Jarred [Vanderbilt] in, Jarred out, all the stuff that went on with injuries, and they hung in there and played a bunch of freshmen. I thought they really performed.
Q. Do you expect to get the bulk of this team back, more players than usual, and do you think all the things that it’s gone through this season will pay off next year?
CALIPARI: I don’t know yet until I sit down with all the guys, sit down and talk and see where they are with things and where their families are. I have no idea. We haven’t discussed it.
Q. Just to follow up, Tai Wynyard hasn’t been making any trips in the postseason. Do you expect him to be back next season?
CALIPARI: I don’t know that yet until we get back on campus and we get with all the players.