UK’s loss to Tennessee stings as players, Calipari take blame


The Tennessee Volunteers celebrate after the game against Tennessee on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Tennessee defeated Kentucky 61-59. Photo by Hunter Mitchell.

‘Twas a night in the Bluegrass that stung for many, with yet another game decided by the last few minutes– this time with Kentucky on the losing end.

The last minute-and-a-half of Tuesday’s game against SEC rival Tennessee added to the number of reasons UK fans stayed on their feet. However, a go-ahead Tennessee three-pointer, a UK turnover and an emphatic Tennessee dunk resulted in a close 61-59 loss for the Cats.

Read: Cats lose to Tennessee in a heartbreaker

Despite the loss, Kentucky head coach John Calipari was very proud of the way his young team fought until the buzzer and took the blame for not calling a timeout at the end of the game after Tennessee hit the go-ahead three.

His usual philosophy is to ride it out and not take a timeout to interrupt the flow, but tonight, he said he made the wrong the decision.

“I made mistakes at the end and cost them (the players) the game,” Calipari said. “But I should have called a timeout.”

The home loss cut deep for Kentucky’s players despite their hard fight, and for freshman forward Nick Richards, it was even “heartbreaking.”

“It was real quiet in the locker room. It really hurt us, to be honest,” Richards said. “But, you know, it’s just a learning lesson and we just got to move forward and get ready for the next game.”

If there was a common theme post-game among Kentucky coaches and players, it was that losing always hurts. Along with Calipari taking the blame for not calling a timeout, Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who tied in game-high scoring with 15 each, both took responsibility for the last few plays of the game.

“We all take the blame for it too, we had a few possessions we could’ve had a rebound, could’ve got a stop, we didn’t do it as players,” Green said. “So everybody, not just Coach, we take the blame too.”

Calipari said his guys didn’t play great defensively and had some unnecessary turnovers, but they “did some good stuff” and are on the right track.

The Cats look to use tonight’s Tennessee loss as a learning lesson as they hit the road to take on Texas A&M on Saturday at 8:15 p.m.