UK Basketball: Cats try to rebound against Baylor
The Associated Press Kentucky¿s Nerlens Noel reacts following the Wildcats¿ 64-50 loss to Notre Dame Thursday in South Bend. The Wildcats will take on Baylor in a 12:30 contest Saturday at Rupp¿Arena. (The Associated Press / November 30, 2012)
“We’re a November basketball team,” the Kentucky coach said Friday. “That’s all I can tell you. I watched the tape. We stopped playing, didn’t compete, didn’t come up with 50-50 balls, didn’t play for one another. We kind of separated a little bit, but that’s the first road game and, you know… I knew we’d struggle, but I thought we’d compete. That’s the surprising thing. We just didn’t battle them. It was obvious they wanted the game more than we wanted the game.”
The Wildcats (4-2) failed in their first road test of the season against the Irish, an outing that Calipari considered a letdown, especially from a competitive standpoint. He admitted that it is “as much me figuring it out as it is them,” but added that his team needs to develop a winning instinct and desire to improve.
“The one thing that they have to bring is a competitive spirit and a will to win,” he said. “I just think that you don’t know how they’re going to respond and one of the things that happened in that game is they didn’t come out to attack and compete. Because I didn’t know what to expect, I mean I didn’t have any idea. What they did was kind of step back and let everything be dictated by Notre Dame, which is why the game turned out the way it did.”
Kentucky doesn’t have much time to dwell on the setback to Notre Dame and will take on Baylor today in a 12:30 tipoff at Rupp Arena. The contest is the first of five consecutive home games for the Wildcats to close out the calendar year before a much-anticipated game against instate rival Louisville on Dec. 29 at the KFC Yum! Center.
The Bears (4-2) also are coming off a loss, a 63-59 setback to the College of Charleston. Kentucky defeated Baylor 82-70 in the East Regional finals in the last meeting between the two teams last March at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Although the Bears are struggling, Calipari doesn’t expect things to get easier for his squad.
“This will be a hard game for us,” Calipari said. “(Pierre) Jackson, their big people, they’re going to get after it. Will we be tentative because we got beat? This is a tough one. It’s what we need.”
Calipari doesn’t know if his squad was fazed by the big stage in South Bend, but added that his team should have been prepared.
“You came here,” he said. “I mean, you’re going to get shell-shocked? Well then you’re going to get shell-shocked every road game you play then. I almost wanted them to stay out on the court and see them storm to the court to say, ‘Do you understand every road game this is what will happen because you’re Kentucky?’ You shouldn’t have come here if you didn’t know that.”