Add Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes to the record of skippers that are not taking the visible downfall of Kentucky basketball with no few grains of salt.
After Barnes’ Volunteers scuffled their technique to a 77-68 victory over Vanderbilt at house on Tuesday night time, the eighth-year coach down in Rocky High did not cross judgement upon seeing that the once-heralded Wildcats had fell 71-68 to South Carolina in a staggering upset inside Rupp Area, pushing UK’s report in convention play right down to 1-3:
“I didn’t see the (South Carolina) recreation,” Barnes mentioned. “I don’t know what occurred there and I do know (Kentucky’s) handled some accidents too. Somebody did inform me that Cason Wallace did get harm tonight.”
Kentucky and coach John Calipari nonetheless might not be positive what occurred on Tuesday in Rupp Area, both. Gamecock guard Meechie Johnson dropped 26 massive factors thanks to 6 3-pointers, whereas star freshman GG Jackson added 16 factors on 6-10 taking pictures to assist SC stave off a late comeback try by the determined Cats, who sprinted to the end line due to a 10-0 run, however finally fell brief.
That late stretch was one thing that first-year South Carolina coach Lamont Paris was ready for, as he is nicely conscious of what Calipari and Kentucky are — supposedly — able to.
“We knew they have been going to make a run; they’re a very good staff. They don’t do the issues they’ve completed by chance, that’s for positive,” he mentioned after touchdown his first marquee win.
Kentucky’s newest defeat was the sixth of the season in addition to the brand new low-point of the 12 months in Lexington, one thing that was already thought to have been reached on a number of events because the common season started on Nov. 7.
Nearly each loss this season has then seen the opposing coach on the successful aspect give some type of reward to Calipari and Kentucky, beginning with fellow Corridor of Famer Tom Izzo, after Michigan State escaped the Champions Basic with a win over the Cats in double-overtime on Nov. 15:
“I actually do love Kentucky’s staff,” he mentioned. “They’ll be actually good as they get these guys enjoying collectively.”
An early season displaying of respect to the blue-blood, after all. There was no actual trigger for concern popping out of Lexington simply but, because it was the third recreation of the season, and whereas UK choked away an opportunity for a strong victory to kickstart a résumé — one thing that also hasn’t occurred in the midst of January — there have been nonetheless loads of passes to be handed out.
Then got here the throttling in Spokane on Nov. 20, as Gonzaga spanked Kentucky 88-72 in a recreation that felt nowhere close to as shut because the rating indicated. Longtime coach Mark Few did not have a lot to say about UK, however the mutual respect was clearly there — as affirmed by the six-year collection that can witness the varsity play one another very often for the remainder of the last decade.
The win for the Bulldogs got here proper after a troublesome loss to Texas — a program that has since garnered some consideration up within the Bluegrass.
“We would have liked some optimistic issues to occur, to do it in opposition to that caliber of an opponent, I believe actually helps gasoline our confidence much more,” Few mentioned of beating the Wildcats.
Okay, so there’s been a few dangerous showings. It is a lengthy season, proper?
Enter the CBS Sports activities Basic in Madison Sq. Backyard, the place Kentucky would put up one of many clunkier performances of the Calipari period in a 63-53 loss to Mick Cronin’s UCLA Bruins on Dec. 17.
As Calipari gave postgame claims that weren’t backed up by statistics within the slightest, Cronin talked about grilling out throughout Christmas again house in Westwood, then giving the Cats some props on what he noticed from them within the lead-up.
“Watching Kentucky on movie, they’re simply so good defensively. They’re so massive, so sturdy. They’re all the time so well-prepared,” he mentioned.
Getting into SEC play, hopes continued to get crushed because the Missouri Tigers laid the wooden in an 89-75 win on Dec. 28. First-year coach Dennis Gates did not be part of the flower-giving posse postgame.
Kentucky would then win two video games in a row, defeating superbly-subpar Louisville and now Quadrant 3 opponent LSU, the latter coming by simply three factors. There was a tiny little bit of momentum heading into Tuscaloosa for a big-time tilt in opposition to the then-No. 7 Alabama Crimson Tide on Jan. 7.
How in regards to the worst loss to the Tide in program historical past and the third-fewest factors in a recreation within the Calipari period, shedding 78-52? The Coleman Coliseum crowd chanted “NIT!” through the drubbing, one thing coach Nate Oats would go on to refute:
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“Kentucky’s not gonna go to the NIT. They’re gonna be an NCAA Match staff. It’s faculty college students being faculty college students. They’ve bought loads of expertise over there. Cal’s completed a very good job assembling some expertise. They’ve bought actually good gamers. They only didn’t shoot the ball nicely tonight.”
Oats possible did not foresee a loss to South Carolina in UK’s future, however neither did anyone else not sporting garnet and black. All indicators now level in the direction of the Alabama pupil part being relatively correct, simply ask Joe Lunardi and his newest projections.
However after all, no coach goes to move to the rostrum and dunk on Kentucky after defeating them. Largely as a result of their gamers simply bought completed doing that for 40 minutes, however there may be nonetheless a respect degree that almost all all seem to have for Calipari and what he is constructed. Barnes echoed that on Tuesday night time:
“The actual fact is, I’ve a lot respect for John. I’ve recognized him for a lifetime on this enterprise, he’ll have this staff prepared. I believe our guys actually know that,” he mentioned. “They’re going to maintain getting higher.”
This comes from the coach of the staff that simply defeated South Carolina 85-42 on the street. That is a 43-point victory. Those self same Gamecocks would come to Lexington three days later and handle 42 factors within the first half alone.
The difficulty with all of those statements, is none of them appear to be true. Coachspeak at its most interesting, after all.
It seems that Kentucky might not be so good defensively. Did Cronin really suppose it might be?
It seems that Kentucky could not make the NCAA Match. Did Oats really suppose it might make the 68-team subject?
In a column revealed by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, an nameless coach instructed Goodman what he actually considered Calipari and Kentucky:
“I believe he’s misplaced the gamers,” one head coach mentioned after dealing with Kentucky this season. “Their offense is so shitty. He doesn’t run something for his or her guards. He has no thought easy methods to use Cason Wallace.”
-Jeff Goodman – “Calipari and Kentucky: It is Time for the Marriage to Finish
There are very clear points which can be plaguing the Wildcats. As issues proceed to spiral uncontrolled, opposing coaches proceed to present the advantage of the doubt, however ought to they?
Tennessee will possible defeat Kentucky this Saturday inside Thompson-Boling Area, and Barnes will possible hit the rostrum postgame and utter one thing alongside the traces of “Kentucky will likely be effective” or “Calipari will determine it out.”
However by now, Barnes has taken a peak on the South Carolina movie. He is seen what Alabama was capable of do on its house court docket. What motive does he must imagine that the ship goes to miraculously flip in the precise route? Clearly a win on the street over a top-five staff can be a pleasant place to start out, however who of their proper thoughts is selecting this model of Kentucky to win in Knoxville?
Let’s lower the coachspeak and name a spade a spade: Kentucky basketball is abominable.
They are saying all roads result in Lexington, however the roads that result in victory and satisfaction should be beneath development. It is unclear once they’ll be completed, however it would not appear to be it will be earlier than March.
Extra on Cason Wallace’s damage HERE.
Extra on Oscar Tshiebwe’s postgame phrases HERE.
Every little thing John Calipari mentioned after the loss HERE.
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