Home winning streak ends as UK falls to Baylor



By David Schuh | @KernelSchuh

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For 54 consecutive games, fans returned home happy that their Cats came out victorious. But Saturday, UK head coach John Calipari walked off the court for the first time after losing at Rupp Arena.

The Cats lost to the unranked Baylor Bears, 64-55, their second consecutive loss.

“We haven’t been in this kind of environment where winning is everything,” freshman forward Willie Cauley-Stein said. “If you don’t win – I don’t even know.”

It is the second time in the Calipari-era that UK has lost consecutive games.

“I don’t know what you can say,” Calipari said. “The greatest thing is we had a chance to win the game. We’re not there yet.”

The Bears took a five-point lead into half after an opening 20 minutes that was an offensive struggle from both teams. UK shot 28 percent from the field and 3-12 from behind the arc.

The two teams combined for 22 first half turnovers, but it was Baylor’s interior length that led to the Cats’ trouble from the field.

UK made several runs in the second half, at one point cutting the score to 49-46. The capacity crowd of 24, 192 made themselves heard, trying to get the young Cats over the hump.

But the shooting woes continued and Baylor kept the lead around eight for much of the half.

The Cats shot 29 percent from the field, the lowest of the season and 11 points shy of the previous low, which came Thursday at Notre Dame. It was also the worst shooting performance since Calipari has been the UK coach.

“You don’t realize it until you look on paper afterwards,” Cauley-Stein said. “We just weren’t shooting well and felt like nothing was going our way. Our focus isn’t there.”

Freshman Nerlens Noel had a career-high 16 rebounds, but struggled in the paint, going 3-14 from the field.

“We still have a long way to go to build our own identity,” Noel said. “We are still working and it’s still early, but we really got to start progressing.”

Calipari tried sophomore guard Ryan Harrow at the point for the first time since the opening game of the season. Harrow struggled to get anything going early, but entered the game in second half with 12 minutes left and stayed there down the stretch.

Harrow finished with only two points and two assists, but consistently got into the lane as UK tried to narrow the Baylor lead.

“He has a long way to go,” Calipari said. “We had this two years ago with Brandon (Knight). It took us time to get him to figure out how to play.”

The Cats did have 21 offensive rebounds, but many of those chances were wasted with missed shots down low.

“No question Kentucky missed shots that they will make later in the year,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said.

Despite it all though, Calipari never wavered in his optimism going forward.

“I’ll say it again: The fans are crazy, and I like my team.”