Kentucky coach John Calipari gave Tennessee proper credit for its 82-80 win over the No. 4-ranked Wildcats Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Vols’ fans can revel over hearing their most-hated basketball rival telling everyone in the world that Tennessee “was better than us tonight” and deserved to win.
“It would have been a shame if we had done something crazy and won the game,” Calipari said. “They had a great start and they deserved to win.”
But perhaps more pivotal than the Vols’ good start and effort was Calipari’s other post-game message — that his Wildcats (17-3, 7-1 SEC) didn’t deserve to win, because they played selfishly.
“Tom Brady made a statement and I told it to them last night,” Calipari said. “Doing what’s right for the team sometimes may not be right for you, but that’s how you win. You do what’s right for the team, not necessarily what’s right for you as an individual player.
“I am not getting through to some guys.”
Specifically, Calipari got to the point Tuesday night of pulling players who did not get the ball Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, a 6-foot-10, 260-pound freshman that Tennessee (11-9, 4-4) could not stop.
Adebayo had 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor along with 7-of-8 makes from the free-throw line — but everyone in the building knew it could have and should have been more.
Except for Kentucky’s guards, apparently.
“We would not throw Bam the ball until at halftime,” Calipari said, “I said, ‘That’s it, you either throw him the ball or you’re coming out.’ “
Calipari said the loss to the Vols is something Kentucky can benefit from.
“This was a great learning experience and I would rather do it in a close win than a loss like this,” Calipari said. “But sometimes it takes you to get knocked in the head to say, ‘Please, can we come together.’ “