The Annotated John Calipari: Arkansas-Little Rock game

(H-L photo/Mark Cornelison)

John Calipari’s post-game comments from last night, with our own comments in italics.

On the difference between the first half and the second half …

“Well, they played well. They made shots. They beat us to every ball and I think they had 10 offensive rebounds at the half. They played really tough and aggressive and it’s the same issue (we have had all season). We turned the ball over 13 times and I couldn’t believe we were only down three.”

For the game, Kentucky had 19 turnovers, compared to 14 assists. That’s the third consecutive game that the Cats have committed more turnovers than assists. Through 15 games, Kentucky has had seven games where assists outnumbered turnovers, seven in which turnovers outnumbered assists and one where the numbers were even. After 15 games last season, that team had 11 games in which assists outnumbered turnovers. Calipari’s first UK team was similar to the current one. Through its first 15 games, the 2009-10 team had seven games in which assists outnumbered turnovers.

On the turnover ratio and why Arkansas-Little Rock had so few turnovers at halftime …

“Because we were giving them space and when we did get up we weren’t quite ready to play so they crossed us over and went by us and we didn’t want to go play the guy. But it is a great lesson. It doesn’t matter who we play, they are going to come out and I will say that Steve (Shields) would say that is the best they have played all year. That is every game we play, a team says that. Lamar walked off the court and said, ‘We were really happy how we played.’ I mean, it’s every game and until you really get knocked I don’t know if they will understand. I have young guys that say, ‘OK, I will act like I am tired.’ That is why they got beat. That is what we are right now.”

First half, UALR had just three turnovers, compared to Kentucky’s 13. The Trojans had nine offensive rebounds, compared to 16 defensive boards for Kentucky. And Steve Shields’ team made four of 10 threes. UK was two-of-eight from three in the first half. That all changed in the second half. UALR shot 26.1 the second half. Kentucky shot 60.7.

On wanting the team to pick up the pace in the game …

“Don’t act like you are tired. If you are acting like you are tired come out. ‘I have to run like this,’ well then come out, you are tired. Don’t act tired and want to stay in the game. But we are breaking habits and playing pretty well in the second half and doing some good stuff. But if we get into our league, which is a hard league to play in, we lost six road games last year in this league. Six. We go into this league and play this weekend like we just played then we won’t win. Every team is going to be physical and get into our bodies. I would imagine every team would make 3s like this team did. Just all of a sudden jack up 3s and they go in. No. 44 (Michael Javes) was bank missing free throws but making 3s. I don’t know if that is the first 3 he has made of his career but I thought it probably was. We have done a bunch of that too.”

Read my game column: Cats must play like there’s no tommorrow.

On the play of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist …

“I don’t know if it is a pulled muscle or what in his chest area. It was last game that it happened but we are going to get him checked up and he didn’t feel right at halftime. I told them to give him some medicine to see if they could loosen it up. We will check on him tomorrow, but I think he will be fine.”

MKG scored just nine points, which stopped his streak of double-figure scoring games at seven. He also had a career-high six turnovers. He did match his career-high of three blocked shots. And he grabbed 10 rebounds, the third time this season he has reached double-figures on the boards. But he did not play with the same intensity and production as he showed in his 24-point, 19-rebound effort against Louisville last Saturday.

On Marquis Teague’s game tonight …

“I don’t know. We will have to watch the tape. Obviously, without him on the court we played better, there is no argument there. But he also has to play better for us to win, I know that.”

As Brett Dawson of Cats Illustrated pointed out in the post-game, much of Kentucky’s 23-1 run in the second half came with Teague on the bench. The freshman did have five assists compared to just two turnovers. But he his 27 minutes is his second-lowest total of the year. He played 23 against Penn State on Nov. 19. He’s also made just one of his eight three-point attempts over his last four games.

On the team starting league play this weekend …

“It is another level. I mean, every game is a dogfight, I don’t care who we are playing, and every road game is a sellout. There are no empty seats when we go on the road. It is the biggest game of the century. We are going into a town where the whole town shuts down because here comes Kentucky. If we think we are going to act tired or going to be like, ‘I don’t know why these guys are playing so hard,’ we are going to get beat and take some L’s.”

The Cats entertain South Carolina on Saturday, then travel to Auburn (Jan. 11) and Tennessee (Jan. 14) next week. They return home to play Arkansas (Jan. 17) and Alabama (Jan. 21). The Alabama game should be the first real test. The Tide has played a tough non-conference schedule. Then again, as Cal pointed out last night, last year’s team was 2-6 on the road in the SEC. And that team made the Final Four.

On the team rebounding better the last few games …

”I think that Anthony (Davis) is way tougher than he was earlier and he comes up with balls and Terrence (Jones) is going to crack it out and I thought that he did better today. He is going after some tough rebounds and they are pulling balls in. There have been a lot of missed shots on these teams we have been playing so there were a lot of opportunities for rebounds. Like I said, they had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half. I don’t know what they had in the second half, but they had 10. I will watch the tape on the drive home just to get rid of it because I don’t want to see it. I want to just get it done as quickly as I can. The first 40 minutes will be that tape and then I will throw it out the window. Look, I am coaching all freshmen that is what happened and it is just hard. It wears on you and it wears you out. They are trying and they are listening and they like each other but they are not taking that next leap.”

I’m working on a chart on this, but Davis has eight double-doubles in 15 games this season. He’s on track to challenge DeMarcus Cousins, who had 20 double-doubles his freshman year in 2009-10. Patrick Patterson had 15 double-doubles as a sophomore in 2008-09, Billy Gillispie’s last year. BTW, UK outrebounded Louisville by 26 and Arkansas-Little Rock by 27.

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