Kentucky progresses, still loses to Louisville
by Kyle Tucker, USA TODAY Sports
LOUISVILLE — The University of Kentucky missed five of six free throws in the final five minutes and coughed up a clinching turnover with 20 seconds left to lose Saturday’s rivalry game 80-77 at fourth-ranked Louisville, but Wildcats coach John Calipari didn’t leave in an especially foul mood.
“We did get better. Everybody sees it,” Calipari said, particularly happy with the “sense of urgency” he saw from the team Saturday.
In the end, he hung this loss on himself. Kentucky (8-4), playing in the hostile KFC Yum! Center and relying heavily on four freshmen and two sophomores, improbably cut a 17-point second-half deficit to four twice.
The last time was after rookie Archie Goodwin completed a rare four-point play with 33 seconds remaining and Russ Smith missed the second of two free throws for Louisville. The Cats corralled the rebound, at which point Calipari said he should have called a timeout.
He didn’t, Goodwin got flustered and threw an ill-advised pass. Chane Behanan picked it off and put down the decisive dunk.
“I’m proud of how they fought,” Calipari said. “I’m not real happy with my performance. … I told my team all week, ‘You get us close. I’ll help us get over the edge. You just make this close.’ And they did. … They got us right where we wanted to be and I dropped the ball.”
There’s plenty still to fix. Freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein missed all four free throws he attempted in the final 4:22, and the Cats were 11 of 23 from the line.
“That’s BS,” Cauley-Stein said of his coach shouldering the blame. “He didn’t have to call those timeouts if we make the 12 free throws.”
“I don’t blame that on Coach Cal,” said Goodwin, whose last turnover was his fifth of the day against only two assists. He did have a game-high 22 points and give Kentucky a chance at the end, however. “I blame that on me for not knowing if we had timeouts or not.”
The Cats only turned it over 15 times against Louisville’s pressure defense, but many were costly. The Cards got 19 points … [For more on Kentucky shows progress but still a loss to Louisville, click here.]