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Kentucky posts defensive performance for the ages

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UK posted 11 blocks in a dominant 72-40 win over Kansas on Tuesday in the Champions Classic. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK posted 11 blocks in a dominant 72-40 win over Kansas on Tuesday in the Champions Classic. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
INDIANAPOLIS -- Rock Chalk, Jay blocked.

In a defensive performance for the ages -- at the very least, the best of the John Calipari era -- top-ranked Kentucky bludgeoned No. 5 Kansas on Tuesday in one of the most shocking outcomes of two top-five opponents in recent memory.

The Cats, who very much looked like the No. 1 team in the country in Indianapolis on Tuesday -- which is saying something considering the way Duke played in the first game -- denied everything Kansas tried to do offensively.

UK blocked as many shots (11) as Kansas made field goals, held the Jayhawks to 19.6 percent shooting and sent KU home to Lawrence with its worst loss of the mighty Bill Self era.

Tuesday's outcome was so hard to believe, so dominating and so demoralizing for Self that he sat at the podium in his postgame press conference, opened a bottle of water and wished it was something other than H20.

"I was hoping that was vodka," Self said. " ... Somebody's going to have to be special a certain night for them to get knocked off."

Special is the only way to sum up Kentucky's defensive effort Tuesday night.

For all the platoon talk coming into the UK-Kansas matchup, the difference in the Champions Classic nightcap wasn't platoons, depth or talent -- though they all played a factor of superiority against the Jayhawks.

It was length.

It was defense.

It was a relentless effort to allow nothing near the hoop.

"We were good today," John Calipari said in the understatement of the early season. "What we did was we defended, and it makes your offense a lot easier when you guard the way we did."

Quite frankly, UK's offense vs. Kansas was just OK. Coach Cal tweeted after the game that it was "average."

The numbers - 43.1 percent from the field - don't lie.

But average will be more than enough if Kentucky can continue to put together a half like it did in the second 20 minutes against Kansas when it gave up just 10 points and three field goals.

Or a half like it did in the first 20 minutes when it blocked eight shots.

Or a half like Sunday's against Buffalo</a> when it surrendered just 14 points and four field goals.

Or a half like the first one of the season</a> when it allowed only 16 points to Grand Canyon.

It's become pretty obvious through the first three games of the season that when the Cats decide they want to lock in defensively, they're nearly unbeatable.

"It's just energy," said Willie Cauley-Stein, who was credited with one of UK's 11 blocks. "You can tell the games we don't play like that - the games we're not playing up on the ball, hard and bothering the ball."

When the Cats play like they do Tuesday, it reminds Calipari a lot of his defensively nasty UMass teams.

"We had games where we shot under 40 percent and won, which means you're guarding," he said.

Kentucky's defense was so good in Indy that the Cats would have only lost by two points if they had been shutout in the second half.

Not only did UK deliver Kansas the worst loss of the Self era, it also held the Jayhawks to their lowest field-goal percentage (.196) under Self, their fewest field goals made (11) and their fewest points scored (40).

Over the final 12:30 of the game, Kentucky didn't allow Kansas a single field goal. In the first 5:21 of the second half, the Cats kept the Jayhawks off the scoreboard altogether.

(This is the part where we remind you that this was against the No. 5 team in the country and college basketball's second-winningest program of all time).

"We didn't have a whole lot of breakdowns," Calipari said. "What we did is we really covered for each other. We had the helper helping the helper."

Even when Kansas got the ball into the lane and appeared to have a clean look, UK would contest it with a foul. Hey, when you've got 10 guys at your disposal, you can afford a few fouls. Get knocked around enough - and never see the ball actually go through the hoop - and the rim starts to play mind tricks with you.

"It's nice when you have guys like Willie and Marcus Lee who can go guard guards," Coach Cal added. "So now if there's a switch or something or someone's open, they just go out and guard the guy."

Kentucky can attack defensively because - wait for it - the platoons. Playing in four-minute bursts has allowed the Cats to go at maximum effort on the defensive end.

As a result, UK has blocked 28 shots on the season, forced 49 turnovers and held its three opponents to a dismal 28.0-percent clip from the field.

"What I can't tell you is the kind of kids we have," Calipari said. "Couldn't do what we're doing. There's no way if we didn't have solid, selfless kids to do what we're doing and giving them half a game. We're playing them half a game and they're accepting it. Unless they allow us to do this, we can't do it. And that showed today what we're about."

The players buying into the system and sacrificing minutes has given Coach Cal the freedom to throw out relentless height.
Kentucky's starting front line measures in at 7-foot, 6-11, 6-8, but unlike other teams when the subs come in, UK gets no shorter. When the reinforcements come in, as Calipari likes to call his second platoon, the three bigs go 7-0, 6-10, 6-9.

"You get long athletes that like to guard and they can cover up for mistakes as well as anybody that I've ever seen," Self said.
Really, save for Tyler Ulis, all of UK's top 10 players are 6-6 are taller. With all that length, Coach Cal had planned on playing some zone against Kansas.

"And then the way we defended, I said, 'Nope, we're not playing any zone today,' " Calipari said.

Good call, Cal. There's no telling how many more blocks UK may have had.

UK blocked 11 shots and held Kansas to 19.6-percent shooting in a 72-40 win over Kansas on Tuesday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK blocked 11 shots and held Kansas to 19.6-percent shooting in a 72-40 win over Kansas on Tuesday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
INDIANAPOLIS -- Rarely, especially in recent years, has a Kentucky team been such a known commodity so early in the season.

With a group of returners from last year's national runner-up and the Big Blue Bahamas tour, UK fans and those who follow college basketball closely have had ample time to get to know the Wildcats, and remarkable hype has followed.

On Tuesday, anyone who didn't already know found out: These Cats, with those platoons, are a force to be reckoned with.

"We kind of bum-rushed them a little bit and every time they looked there were more tanks coming over the hill," Calipari said. "It wasn't substitutes; it was reinforcements. Here they come."

In the first top-10 matchup of the season, UK overwhelmed No. 5 Kansas in a 72-40 win that was just as one-sided as the final score suggested. In front of a national audience and a crowd of 19,306 in Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Cats dominated with the same combination of length, athleticism, experience and depth that sent them to the top of preseason polls.

After Kansas' Bill Self had coached against the Cats for 40 minutes, he stepped to the podium for his postgame press conference. Before he fielded the first question, he took a drink of water and found himself disappointed it wasn't another clear liquid in the bottle.

"I was hoping that was vodka," Self joked.

In a remarkably balanced effort, all 16 Wildcats - scholarship players and walk-ons alike - saw the floor. Dakari Johnson, showing off his leaner physique, was a go-to post presence, scoring a game-high 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Andrew Harrison joined him in double figures, scoring 10 points to go with four assists. With him running the show, UK committed just six turnovers against 15 assists as 12 players scored..

"Andrew Harrison was unbelievable today, his control of the game and how much energy he played with," Calipari said.

As good as Andrew Harrison was, it was UK's defense that was primarily responsible for handing Kansas its largest margin of defeat in Self's tenure on a night the Cats shot only 43.1 percent themselves. In really the only back-and-forth battle of the night, the race between UK's blocked-shot total and Kansas' made field goals ended in an 11-11 tie, meaning the Jayhawks shot just 19.6 percent from the field and managed 0.635 points per possession.

"I thought they were great," Self said. "You get long athletes that like to guard and they can cover up for mistakes as well as anybody that I've ever seen. They were really, really impressive."

By the end of the game, the Jayhawks were turning away from the paint rather than attempt to shoot over the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns and Marcus Lee, who had four blocks apiece. Willie Cauley-Stein, already sixth on UK's all-time blocks list, had just one, but affected many more in allowing not a single Jayhawk to score double figures.

"What we did is we really covered for each other," Calipari said. "We had the helper helping the helper. I mean, it was like, you know - and it's nice when you have guys like Willie and Marcus Lee who can go guard guards. So now if there's a switch or something or someone's open, they just go out and guard the guy."

Kansas' lone effective offensive stretch was over the final 6:54 of the first half, during which UK saw a 16-point lead cut to 38-28 at halftime. For the rest of the game's 33-plus minutes, the Jayhawks scored just 24 points, including a scoreless stretch of more than five minutes to open the second half.

It was UK's second platoon of Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Lee and Johnson that yielded most of the run to close the first half, but Coach Cal stuck with the plan and played the same group out of the break.

"I wanted to see," Calipari said. "And I wasn't changing the rotation. I mean, I went right with the rotation. The guys who finished the half who played poorly I started the second half because that's how we do it. We got 10 starters on this team."

That sounds great in theory, but even Coach Cal has admitted it's no guarantee the platoon system lasts through the season. All along, he's said it will be the players and their belief - or lack thereof - in the system that decide whether it does.

"What I can't tell you is the kind of kids we have," Calipari said. "Couldn't do what we're doing. There's no way if we didn't have solid, selfless kids to do what we're doing and giving them half a game. We're playing them half a game and they're accepting it. Unless they allow us to do this, we can't do it."

UK, in dominating a team expected to contend for a Final Four berth, took a big step toward instilling belief that the platoon system can work, and it happened two days after Buffalo led the Cats by five at half.

"I really love it," Towns said. "It gives everyone, like he said, a fair chance. But at the same time, ... it allows us to go hard all the time."

With no player on the floor for more than 21 minutes and all 10 original platoon members playing at last 17, the Cats could run to the point of exhaustion with no concern about conserving energy. As nice as depth is, it's the talent that comprises it that differentiates Kentucky.

"We've had teams where we've had good guys, but there's a chance you may have 10 guys that play in the league all in their platoon deal," Self said. "We've had some teams where you have four or five guys that may have a shot. So it's a little bit different being able to do that."

In spite of all that, Tuesday was still just one game in mid-November. Perhaps sensing what the performance would do to the hysteria already surrounding his team, Coach Cal tried to let a little air out of UK's rapidly inflating balloon.

"No, we're not that good," Calipari said. "Next question."

But maybe they could be down the line.

Coach Cal was sure to point out that UK's offense needs work, especially when opponents go to sagging zone defenses and force the Cats to hit from the outside. He also said the Cats need to run more motion offense and also involve Aaron Harrison more after the guard scored only eight points against Kansas.

"We got so much to figure out about this team it's not funny," Calipari said.

There's a flipside to that, and opposing coaches likely won't find it all that funny either.

"The only good news is when we come into town the other guy's gotta figure out two teams," Calipari said. "Like, alright, how are we preparing for this?"

Coach Cal will take his side every time.

Video: Champions Classic shootaround

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By Nick Jones, UK Athletics

The NBA Developmental League tipped off on Friday, giving a few more familiar faces a stage to showcase their abilities on the court.

There are currently four former Wildcats suiting up full time for D-League teams with the hopes of signing NBA contracts before the end of the season. Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague, who played significant roles in bringing Kentucky its eighth NCAA title, got off to very different starts over the weekend.

Lamb has established his role as the first scoring option for the Texas Legends, who started the season with a 2-0 record. The smooth shooting guard is averaging 22 points while shooting 63.6 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in his first two games.

Teague, on the other hand, is still finding his way into a consistent rotation for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder's D-League affiliate. The former first-round draft pick is logging 19.2 minutes through two contests and is averaging eight points and four assists in the two games.

Another member of the 2012 national championship team at Kentucky, Eloy Vargas, has landed a spot in the D-League after competing in Spain's professional league last season

Vargas was drafted by the Los Angeles D-Fenders with the 17th overall pick in the annual D-League draft but was deactivated last Thursday leading up to the start of the season.

Ramon Harris, who graduated from Kentucky in 2010, is off to a very solid start for the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants. Although his team has dropped to 0-2 after the opening weekend, Harris has done an excellent job for the Mad Ants. The small forward is averaging 11 points and a team high 11.5 rebounds in his first two games.

James Young has spent the early portion of his professional career battling a host of minor injuries and dealing with an undisclosed illness in his family. In order to gain some real-time game action and work his way back into playing shape the Celtics have assigned Young to their D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

Young did not disappoint in his first game, scoring 21 points and grabbing five rebounds in all the minutes he could handle. The plan for Young is to get his legs back under him and to make an impact on the Celtics roster during the remainder of his rookie season.

NBA spotlights in week three (All stats through Sunday, Nov. 16)


Anthony Davis kept up his streak of domination in week three in the NBA. The All-Star forward is leading the way in MVP talks through the first 10 games of the season. Aside from a blowout victory over the Timberwolves on Friday in which he spent much of the second half on the bench, Davis led the Pelicans in nearly every statistical category.

The former Cat averaged 28 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three steals and four blocked shots while seeing over 38 minutes of action per game.

DeMarcus Cousins posted three double-doubles in as many games this past week as he continues to make a strong case for All-Star honors in the Western Conference. Cousins, who is has entered the conversation for the top center in the league, is largely responsible for the turnaround in Sacramento. The Kings above .500 after the first 10 games this season for the first time in 10 years.

It comes as no surprise that point guard Rajon Rondo is leading the league in assists through the first three weeks of the season, averaging 11.6 dimes per game. Rondo posted a single-game mark of 16 assists on Friday, which stands as the current season high for the entire league.

Rondo averaged 13 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds in week three, coming dangerously close to a triple-double in two of the three games for Boston.

Week four TV Schedule


Tuesday: New Orleans (Anthony Davis, Darius Miller) @ Sacramento (DeMarcus Cousins) 10:00 p.m. on NBA TV

Wednesday: L.A. Lakers @ Houston (Terrence Jones) 9:30 p.m. on ESPN

Thursday: Chicago (Nazr Mohammed) @ Sacramento (DeMarcus Cousins) 10:30 p.m. on TNT

Friday: Cleveland @ Washington (John Wall) 8:00 p.m. on ESPN
Chicago (Nazr Mohammed) @ Portland 10:30 p.m. on ESPN

Saturday: Dallas @ Houston (Terrence Jones) 8:00 p.m. on NBA TV

Sunday: Charlotte (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) 6:00 p.m. on NBA TV

Updated stats (through Sunday, Nov. 16)

Player (Team)

Games   Played

Games Started

MPG

PPG

RPG

APG

BPG

SPG

Eric Bledsoe (Suns)

10

10

31.2

13.3

5.0

5.4

0.6

1.0

DeMarcus Cousins (Kings)

10

10

30.1

22.4

11.1

1.6

1.4

1.2

Anthony Davis (Pelicans)

8

8

36.1

24.5

11.8

2.1

4.1

2.2

Archie Goodwin (Suns)

4

0

5.8

1.5

0.8

0.8

0.0

0.0

Chuck Hayes (Raptors)

4

0

9.3

0.5

1.8

0.8

0.0

0.2

Terrence Jones (Rockets)

4

4

14.0

7.5

1.5

1.8

1.0

29.3

Enes Kanter (Jazz)

11

11

24.1

12.6

5.8

0.4

0.3

0.3

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Hornets)

6

6

23.3

9.8

5.5

1.3

0.8

0.2

Brandon Knight (Bucks)

10

10

32.5

18.3

6.0

6.4

0.1

1.3

Darius Miller (Pelicans)

2

0

10.5

1.0

0.0

1.0

0.0

0.0

Nerlens Noel (76ers)

7

5

27.7

7.0

5.9

1.9

1.6

1.6

Patrick Patterson (Raptors)

10

3

25.3

8.0

5.3

1.4

0.4

0.9

Tayshaun Prince (Grizzlies)

 

6

4

20.3

5.8

2.2

0.7

0.0

0.5

Rajon Rondo (Celtics)

7

7

33.3

10.1

8.1

12.0

0.3

1.9

John Wall (Wizards)

9

9

35.6

19.4

3.9

9.1

0.4

2.3

James Young (Celtics)

2

0

4.5

4.5

0.5

0.0

0.5

0.0


Video: Get hyped for Kentucky-Kansas

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Kansas matchup offers kind of challenge UK needs

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Trey Lyles will return to his hometown for UK's Champions Classic matchup with No. 5 Kansas on Tuesday in Indianapolis. (Elliott Hess, UK Athletics) Trey Lyles will return to his hometown for UK's Champions Classic matchup with No. 5 Kansas on Tuesday in Indianapolis. (Elliott Hess, UK Athletics)
Kentucky is for a step up in competition on Tuesday.

It's no slight to Grand Canyon or a Buffalo team that outplayed UK for 20 minutes, but Kansas is at a different level.

Entering the test against the Jayhawks, John Calipari sees two ways it can go.

"If we play like we did in the first half last game we will get smashed," Calipari said. "If we play like we did in the second half we have a chance because you have to fight on every possession."

UK got a lesson in exactly that in the aforementioned matchup with Buffalo.

The Cats (2-0) went into the break down 38-33, needing halftime to refocus after a first half in which Coach Cal said they were "disconnected." UK would overcome the slow start with a dominant second half, holding Buffalo to 14 points in four field goals in a 71-52 win.

Ahead of Tuesday's matchup with No. 5 Kansas (1-0) at approximately 9:30 p.m. in Indianapolis, the Cats know what's in store for them if they pull that Jekyll and Hyde act again.

"It is not like they didn't come to play; it was just that the other team came like a pack of hungry dogs," Calipari said. "Well, then you can't just say this is good enough. We are learning that. When we play with great energy and match the other team or go beyond the other team, we are long and athletic. But if they are blowing us out of the water with their energy it is going to look like it did."

Though Kansas doesn't match UK's depth, eight Jayhawks played 16 minutes or more in a season-opening 69-59 win over UC Santa Barbara, three of them freshmen and three sophomores. Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor, both juniors, provide the experience for Kansas, while freshman Devonte' Graham came off the bench and led the Jayhawks with 14 points in 26 minutes.

"They are running their stuff," Calipari said. "They are doing a terrific job of doing what they do. I mean, they play a style and they play it well. They are playing hard and pressing and denying. They are pushing up on defense and trapping randomly at times. They are trapping pick and rolls. They are being very, very aggressive."

This marks the fourth edition of the State Farm Champions Classic and the second UK-KU matchup in the event, which Kentucky won 75-65 en route to the 2011-12 national title. Each of the last three years, Coach Cal talked of the Champions Classic game being too early for his young team. This year, he's singing a new tune.

"We are in a little different position than we have been in the past, where we have a brand-new team and trying to get your team together," Calipari said. "This team needs to be challenged to see where we are. This is going to be one of those kinds of games."

The stage, as well as the opponent, will dictate that.

The game will follow a matchup between No. 2 Duke and No. 19 Michigan State in a doubleheader played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the home of the Indiana Pacers. It should come as surprise that both will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

"It's going to be crazy," Dakari Johnson said on Sunday. "I'm thinking it's going to be a big crowd. But we can't focus on the atmosphere. We have to go out there - it's two teams playing on the court - and we just have to compete."

Doing that will be even more of a challenge for freshmen Trey Lyles, who will be returning to his hometown to play in just the third matchup between ranked teams in college basketball this season and the first between top-five squads. Lyles will also be playing in the same building where he led Arsenal Tech to the first state title in the high school's history.

"It's been on my mind," Lyles said. "It's going to be fun. I get to play in front of family and friends. It's going to be a good time."

Managing emotions will be a challenge for Lyles, who's coming off a game in which he sparked a big second half with five points within a minute after halftime against Buffalo. He'll want to duplicate that effort on Tuesday without overdoing it.

"I just gotta go out there and do whatever is best for the team, playing defense and all that kind of stuff, whatever Coach asks of me," Lyles said. "It's just another game and we gotta approach it that way and approach it with a lot of energy."

UK lacked that energy in last year's Champions Classic, which led to a 10-point deficit within four minutes against Michigan State. The Cats return seven players who saw the floor in that game, but there's still no guarantee that translates.

"We could start out 10-0 the same way and it wasn't 10-0 we were up, it was 10-0 I had to call two timeouts to get it settled down," Calipari said. "I would hope these veterans understand what they are walking into, but teams are going to play like their life depends on it and we have to do the same."

As 2013-14 proved, these things don't happen overnight.

"Last year was, what, March 1 when we answered questions," Calipari said. "It took that long! There were five freshmen. 'Oh, but they're really good. You just roll out the balls. They should just win.' This stuff's hard, man. This stuff is hard. Now, I love it. I wouldn't want it any other way. I wouldn't it any other way for our kids."

Trey Lyles had 12 points, four rebounds and three assists in UK's 71-52 win over Buffalo on Sunday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Trey Lyles had 12 points, four rebounds and three assists in UK's 71-52 win over Buffalo on Sunday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
After a lackluster first half, Kentucky trailed Buffalo by five points. The buzz on social media was that the platoon system that's defined the start of the season had met its end.

Even one of his assistants said it.

"Stop," Calipari told him, not revealing the coach's identity. "We're playing the way we play and we're figuring it out."

It was a good thing he stuck to his guns.

Coach Cal opened the second half with his second platoon as he has in two exhibitions and the season opener and the group responded. Riding a shot of energy from Trey Lyles, the Wildcats dominated the second half and moved to 2-0 with a 71-52 win over visiting Buffalo (1-1), allowing just 14 points on 4-of-19 shooting after the break.

Lyles got it started with a 3-pointer from the left wing. Moments later, he intercepted a pass near midcourt and raced to the rim for a thunderous dunk. In a matter of 42 seconds, he had erased that halftime deficit and breathed energy into the Rupp Arena crowd of 22,175.

"I just wanted to go out there and playing with energy in the second half and just try pick the team up, pick the spirits up," Lyles said. "That's what the second platoon was trying to do at the start of the second half."

For the game, Lyles would tie for the team high with 12 points, adding four rebounds, three assists and steal. The 6-foot-10 freshman came to Kentucky with a reputation as a rebounder and adept post scorer, but he's shown off a diverse game after returning from a foot injury that forced him to miss the summer and UK's Big Blue Bahamas tour.

"He's just learning to play fast, yet be in control," Calipari said. "He is a skilled 6-10, three/four. He can post you; he can make a jump shot. He's a pretty good passer."

Lyles was a power forward by trade before arriving in Lexington, but Kentucky's incredible post depth has moved him into more of a perimeter role. Working with and going up against a veteran teammate every day in practice, Lyles is finding his way.

"It's been an adjustment in practice and stuff like that, but I'm becoming more comfortable with it, me and Alex (Poythress) both," Lyles said. "Coach is really helping us and me and him are helping each other with playing it."

It's players like Dakari Johnson who have bumped Lyles to the three.

Johnson, along with Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns, is one of the Cats standing 6-11 or 7-foot, and he joins Lyles on the second platoon. On Sunday, he also joined Lyles in providing a boost when his team badly needed it.

In spite of the new platoon system, Johnson played 26 minutes. He played more than that just once as a freshman. All the while, Johnson worked tirelessly, something he acknowledges he would not have been capable of before transforming his body this offseason.

"It just feels like while I'm out there I'm not getting tired as fast and I just try to get the crowd hyped and get my teammates hyped up, and that's what we did in the second half," Johnson said.

Johnson had nine points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, three assists and a steal, finishing a made free throw shy of what would have been his second double-double in as many games. He shot 3 of 6 from the charity stripe, leaving just one area for the sophomore to address.

"He fights," Calipari said. "He tries. He runs hard. He's giving everything that's in his body, and that's all you can ask as a coach."

The same can be said for another Wildcat who's pretty much Johnson's polar opposite when it comes to body type. Standing 15 inches shorter than Johnson, Tyler Ulis deftly ran the point, scoring 12 points, dishing six of UK's 17 assists and committing no turnovers.

Devin Booker, meanwhile, scored eight of his 10 points after halftime, meaning UK's top four scorers on Sunday came from the second platoon. That serves as proof that the platoon system is flexible enough to adjust on a game-by-game basis even though Calipari isn't going away from it.

If someone else is not playing well, they're going to be taken out," Calipari said. "If a unit is not playing well, I'll take them out. Every one of these kids had a chance. Now, if I had stuck with those first guys you never would've seen Trey, Devin, and Tyler do what they did. They all three played well today."

That wasn't the case for every Wildcat. Towns, for example, fouled out and scored just three points in 10 minutes of action, while Andrew and Aaron Harrison combined for 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting and one assist.

Those three figure to be among the players Coach Cal said he will summon for sit-downs before the Cats head to Indianapolis for an early-season marquee matchup with No. 5 Kansas. The conversations will be candid, with Calipari asking them to assess how they played and what they learned from it.

But unlike in prior seasons, the talks won't have as much urgency about them, not with the way Coach Cal's group is built.

"It's a great team for all these guys to just play hard," Calipari said. "Even if you don't play well, we're all right. Someone else will step in and be better the next game. Learn from it."

Recent Comments

  • Berdj Rassam: Booker will be a key part of whether or not this team will be successful this season. read more
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