Can The Cats Emerge From Humiliating Loss?

| February 21, 2013
UK Coach John Calipari walked off the court after seeing his team lose to Tennessee 88-58.

UK Coach John Calipari walked off the court after seeing his team lose to Tennessee 88-58.

It doesn’t do any good for a coach in any sport to complain about his players who have little or no fight in them and who clearly don’t want to challenge opponents.

Evidence: Kentucky’s Wildcats when they went to Knoxville and came back only after experiencing the most humiliating defeat that any UK team has ever suffered.

Yes, the Cats were without their only top player, injured Nerlens Noel, when they allowed Tennessee to enjoy an 88-58 rout.

But some other things were missing besides fight from the boys in Blue.

Let us count the ways:

This Wildcat guard contingent is the weakest  ever to take the hardwood. No one can penetrate consistently, mostly because they aren’t strong enough or quick enough.

The biggest of the Wildcats would have contributed as much sitting on the bench as he did in uniform and in the game.

How much did the Vols enjoy their Tennessee waltz over the Wildcats?

Maybe more than any Kentucky foe since Johnny Oldham’s Jim McDaniels-led Western Hilltoppers embarrassed Adolph Rupp and his Cats 107-83 in the 1971 NCAA Mideast Regional at Georgia.

I was the only media member that Rupp and his aide, Harry Lancaster, allowed in the Cats’ dressing room immediately after the Georgia debacle, and I can assure you that it was  morgue-like.

The UK bench watched the team lose to UT by 30 points. UK shot 35.8% while UT shot 58%. UK was out rebounded 21 to 39.

The UK bench watched the team lose to UT by 30 points. UK shot 35.8% while UT shot 58%. UK was out rebounded 21 to 39.

Back to the present:

It is almost a sure thing that the Cats will not be invited to the Big Show. What if they get invited to the NIT? The first round will played in Lexington. Pressure will be on UK to play in Rupp Arena. That’s the only way a crowd will be assured.

Fans should boycott the NIT. It has never been an elite tournament since the NCAA went to a 64-team tournament.

And the future?

How will Calipari handle his roster next season when he will have more players than he can give scholarships? That is the big question.

The one Wildcat who commands respect of all UK fans is sharp-shooting forward  Kyle Wiltjer. The slender sophomore doesn’t have the body to knock heads with bigger opponents, but he isn’t scared to battle in crowds for rebounds. And he is a scoring threat from long range.

Photos by VICTORIA GRAFF | Contributing Photographer

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Category: Earl Cox on Sports

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Earl Cox, Sports Columnist
502.897.8910

Earl doesn¹t just write about sports legends, he counts many of them as his
friends. A member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, he has been writing
about sports for 60 years. Incidentally, that¹s about how long it’s been
since he¹s cleaned his desk but he knows where everything is.

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