Kentucky Wildcats learn lessons in tough win over LSU Tigers

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Now that the Kentucky Wildcats have made it through the games at Florida and LSU without a loss, the 40-0 talk is going to become overwhelming.  And you would think that at this point, John Calipari would do whatever it takes to preserve the unbeaten streak.  It appears that Calipari is not that scared of a loss however.  Now when he has a chance to teach his team a valuable lesson.

Kentucky led by as many as 13 in the second half and had a 8 point lead with 10:30 remaining, Karl-Anthony Towns was flagged for a technical for hanging on the rim and that proved to be a game changer.  LSU punched Kentucky in the mouth like they had not been this year and the Tigers went on a 16-0 run.  And that avoidable technical spurred it.  

"“You don’t do stuff like that in a 10-point game,” Coach Cal said. “You finish people off.” With his staff begging for a timeout to kill or at least stall the LSU run, Coach Cal refused. For the same reason Calipari coaches his players so hard despite winning by substantial margins, he wanted his team to learn a lesson now, and not have it cost them again later in March. “I want them to know I’m not worried about losing,” Coach Cal said. “It’s not going to change me, us, this – nothing. I’m not worried about it. This is about us getting better. “I told them, ‘I’m not calling a timeout. Nope. We got a lesson to learn here.’ ” The lesson and message seem to have been received loud and clear. With 6:52 left in the game and the shot clock winding down toward zero, Towns pulled up and hit a jumper just inside the 3-point arc at the top of the key to end a scoring drought that spanned over four and a half minutes. UK eventually cut its deficit to three points at 69-66 with 3:52 remaining in the game, and proceeded to hold the Tigers scoreless for the remainder of the game en route to moving to 24-0, its second best start in program history."


Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After that technical, John Calipari tore into Karl-Anthony Towns unlike perhaps any Kentucky Wildcats player since Boogie Cousins. And showing his maturation process, Towns did not sulk and came back out and ensured that the Wildcats would remain undefeated.

"2. Karl-Anthony Towns is a special talent. Forget about the technical for a moment. Overall, Towns scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Over his last four games, the freshman has scored 58 points and grabbed 35 rebounds. Even after Calipari went absolutely crazy over the technical foul — he benched Towns just so he could scream at the freshman; then made wild gyration motions every time LSU scored while Towns sat on the bench, as if rubbing it in — Towns didn’t sulk. When Calipari put Towns back in the game, the center made a key steal that led to two Andrew Harrison free throws, pulling the Cats within 69-68. Towns then hit the hook shot that put UK up 70-69 with 1:30 left.. He then rebounded Andrew Harrison’s missed drive with about 20 seconds remaining. The big kid didn’t fold, and Kentucky didn’t fold either."

Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Towns was not the only Kentucky Wildcat to learn a lesson last night. In his post game conference, Calipari talked about Andrew Harrison, who he got on early and ended up having a good game after.

"On how Andrew Harrison responded to being told early in the game to not walk it up the floor: I just told him, ‘You’re not playing that way. I refuse to let you look that way. You will attack, or you’re coming out.’ Then you watched him, and he was as good as any guard in the country. The way he played today, the way he attacked. It’s really hard because you’ve got to go, you’ve got to be on top, you’ve got to be alert and you’ve got to be in shape. I’d rather him do that for a couple minutes, then kind of drop. He was great."