John Calipari says Cats “were at our best” against Vols

Olivier Sarr, right, and Isaiah Jackson battled on the boards against Tennessee. (SEC Photo)

No, John Calipari was not happy that Kentucky missed 19 of 22 shots the first 16 minutes of the second half at Tennessee. Yet he also loved the way his team was defending and rebounding during Saturday’s 70-55 victory in a game where the Cats shot just 20 percent from the field the second half and had only six field goals in that time against a ranked team.

“I wish we would have made a bunch of shots and been up bigger, but we were really guarding,” Calipari said after Saturday’s win.. And I’ll tell you what else we did, we were really rebounding. I think the last time that they played us, they out-rebounded us and beat us to balls.

“We did some good stuff today. They weren’t at their best. I know they’re better than they played. But let me just tell you, we were at our best.”

At “our best” shooting 20 percent from the field the second half? But Calipari was right. It was a more cohesive Kentucky team, a more alert Kentucky team, a more intense Kentucky team.

“When we have a game where we have 11 turnovers — and a bunch were at the end so we really only had probably eight or nine turnovers. Like I said, I believe in this team, I still do. I don’t care about the record, I don’t even know what the record is,” Calipari said.

Actually guessing he might know it is 8-13 but it really doesn’t matter. His point stays the same — he liked the intangibles he saw from a team that most of the season had folded in tense situations. But not at Tennessee.

“All I want to know is that we’re getting better. That’s it. People can go crazy saying that I need to know the record, but I’m just telling you, I don’t even look at the score. I’m just coaching my team to get better,” Calipari said.

“And you know what, this young group of inexperienced kids need us to be that way. But hold them accountable. You have to hold them accountable or you’re not coaching.”

Senior guard Davion Mintz said as good as UK was offensively the first half when it scored 45 points, the “best part” of the win was UK’s second-half defense and overall effort.

“Just the fact that we started out that hot and just kept it going for the entire game. That was huge for us and our confidence,” Mintz said. “I think that we owed them one and it was big for us to come in and do it.”

One thought on “John Calipari says Cats “were at our best” against Vols

  1. TheProfessor

    This was the best game, the best full 40 minutes of the season, surpassing the previous best game, at Florida, which eclipsed the previous season best against Morehead in the first game.

    For the 4th game in a row, this team’s adjusted offensive efficiency was about 1.2 points per possession, which is consistently 0.15 ppp higher than the season average offensive efficiency for the season prior to these games. These 4 consecutive games establish the improved offensive efficiency is not only real but sustainable.

    The adjusted defensive efficiency during these same 4 games had been deteriorating and been in the range of 1.0 to 1.05 ppp which was consistently 0.10 to 0.15 ppp worse than the season average defensive efficiency. The gains at the offensive end were offset by the slippage at the defensive end. However, against Tennessee, this team’s adjusted defensive efficiency was a season best 0.66 ppp.

    The combination of the sustained offense at 1.2 ppp and today’s season best defensive efficiency of 0.66 ppp provide the basis for the conclusion that the Tennessee game was the strongest single game of the season.

    The two previous best games occurred in games 1 and 10. This one in game 21. This pattern occurs every year for every team, with teams posting a handful of games that are stellar at one extreme and stinkers at the other extreme. It is the nature of a normal distribution. Saturday’s game was one of each for UK (stellar) and Tennessee (stinker).

    As noted, for UK, it was their best overall performance of the year, surpassing their win over Florida in game 10 and Morehead in game 1. UK’s stinkers have been games 2, game 4, and game 11. Isn’t it curious at the least that 2 of UK’s stinkers have occurred in the game after each of the two previous stellar games.

    The rest of the games have fallen within about +/- 1 standard deviation unit.

    The emphasis should not be on these extreme performances that defy the mean but on the overall performance that defines the mean.


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