Kentucky Basketball: Cats outcoached- out played – out hustled -out of NCAA

Kentucky Wildcats forward Keion Brooks Jr. (Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats forward Keion Brooks Jr. (Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Kentucky basketball
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) /

Why didn’t Calipari get this team past the opening round and to NOLA

As the No. 2 seed in the East Region this Kentucky team had a pretty straightforward and smooth road to the final four where most expects and brackets had them up against Gonzaga. Well, it very well may be the other team from Kentucky, the Murray State Racers taking UK’s road instead.

Kentucky is now guaranteed to go at least 4 seasons between NCAA Tournament wins, tying the longest drought in school history  1962-1966; 1988-1992, and 2018-2022.

Players come and players go but John Calipari is still the man running the show and supposed to be getting UK to the title game and bringing home another NCAA Championship.

That hasn’t happened.

"“I’m disappointed for our fans. They were shell-shocked like we were. We’ve got the greatest fans — we hate letting them down. I do as a coach, and I know these players do. This was really disappointing. Devastating.”"

He said he wished he had some answers with three minutes to go to help them get through (their first tournament game).

Your job is to have answers.

He is too stubborn to take timeouts and ends games with them in his pocket. Against St. Peter’s Kentucky had the ball with 21.6 to play following a Peacock bucket to tie it in regulation. Everyone knew Cal wouldn’t call a timeout.

Instead, Wheeler crazily drove down the lane and lost control and the game went to overtime. If this team didn’t know what to do why not call a timeout and draw something up. Give them a chance.

While Cal was screaming, blood boiling and frustration showing across the way Holloway was cool as a cucumber making faces, smiling, and encouraging his team. The Peacock bench was energized while the UK bench sat somberly for nearly the entire game. Holloway clearly outcoached Calipari.

He had said they would need Bryce Hopkins and Damion Collins and Lance Ware to get them to the title game. Instead, none of them ever checked into the game despite how poorly the others were playing on the court.

Jacob Toppin was on fire slamming home dunks and bringing his usual energy in the first half but sat on the bench for most of the second.  Why? In 16 minutes he was 3 for 3 shooting and 3 for 4 at the foul line with a rebound, assist and blocked shot.

Calipari’s answer to this lack of playing free and loose to win. His tweak never seemed to materialize.

"“You know, I think, again, my whole thing third quarter, because I knew they had never played in this stuff, was to get them free and loose, and we never got to that. Never. And you know, even in time-outs, I was trying to do that, and — but we made, up eight, you know, we just didn’t do the things we normally have done. But I come back to, when you’re up eight with three minutes to go, you figure out how to win the game. That’s your job as a coach."

For Kentucky fans when next year’s postseason rolls around remember it will be nearly 1,500 days since the UK has actually won an NCAA tournament game.