Cats turn back Hoosiers, but Calipari left shaking his head

Mistakes of inexperience trouble coach against Hoosiers

jtipton@herald-leader.comDecember 12, 2010 

As Kentucky readied itself for the start of the second half Saturday, Coach John Calipari looked at Terrence Jones and didn't like what he saw.

"He's in the huddle like this," Calipari said as he exaggerated heavy-lidded eyes. "I said, 'You OK? You ready?'

"He said, 'Yeah.' "

Nine seconds into the second half, Jones picked up his third foul and went to the bench.

"That's what happens with inexperienced guys," Calipari said. "That's what we are fighting the whole game."

Kentucky beat Indiana 81-62 in a college basketball game in Rupp Arena Saturday. But Calipari, a coach looking for steadily improving performance as the season unfolds, did not enjoy the experience.

He noted Jones taking an ill-advised three-point shot in a game with a deceptive final score. UK led by only six points inside the final four minutes.

He noted Darius Miller jogging after a loose ball, which Indiana retrieved and dunked.

He lamented when players would "break off" plays like a quarterback deciding not to hand the ball off.

Though affirming that any victory should be embraced, the UK coach looked longingly at the practice, practice, practice to come during semester break.

"I was just shaking my head," Calipari said. "... Here's what we are: we're a young, inexperienced team. Even our veterans are young."

Kentucky didn't shoot well and faced the kind of foul trouble that it feared might come. Brandon Knight picked up his third foul with 17:47 left. Ultimately, Miller fouled out and the three star freshmen — Jones, Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb — flirted with the same.

But Kentucky persevered with multiple scorers and a stingy defense that held Indiana to one basket in the final 9:39.

"That's a good sign," Calipari said of UK winning despite shooting only 36 percent. "That means we can play poorly offensively and still win."

DeAndre Liggins led UK with a career-high 19 points. Knight added 18 with Josh Harrellson contributing his second double-double of the season: 14 points and 12 rebounds.

UK improved to 7-2.

Indiana, which fell to 7-2, got 19 points from Christian Watford.

Indiana made half its first-half shots against a Kentucky defense that suffocated Notre Dame three days earlier. The Cats had to play the half's final 6:45 without Jones, who picked up his second foul and went to the bench.

That suggested a sizable halftime deficit. Instead, Kentucky led 32-31.

UK's "bigs" nearly provided Calipari the 10 points and 10 rebounds he's asked for in the opening 20 minutes. Credit went to Harrellson, who had eight points and seven rebounds before halftime.

Harrellson also provided a much-needed jolt to the fans with back-to-back dunks that established seven-point leads. UK did not lead by more in the half.

Nifty passes set up the dunks, the first by Knight and the second by Lamb.

Indiana, which had its own foul trouble (point guard Jordan Hulls went to the bench with his third foul at the 6:02 mark), got the better of it early. Perhaps with UK suffering a letdown from the emotional victory over Notre Dame on Wednesday, the Hoosiers led 13-9 early.

Back-to-back assists by Knight helped Kentucky regain the lead. On the first, he found Harrellson for a layup. On the second, Knight knifed between two defenders, then passed to Miller on the perimeter for a three-pointer.

As the second half headed down the homestretch, neither team got more than a four-point cushion.

It took a three-pointer by Liggins to put the Cats ahead for good at 59-57 at the next-to-last TV timeout. That marked the 10th lead change of the half.

Kentucky took control in the final eight minutes. Liggins' three began a 15-3 run that put the Cats ahead 71-60 with 2:57 left. Eventually the run grew to 23-3.

Harrellson's putback of a Knight miss gave UK its largest lead to that point at 68-60. A Knight three-pointer with 2:57 left gave UK its first double-digit lead at 71-60.

After an Indiana timeout and missed shot, Lamb drove for a three-point play. That marked Kentucky's fifth "and-one" of the game.

Meanwhile, Indiana did not get a basket after Watford's three-pointer with 9:39 left until Jeremiah Rivers drove to an uncontested layup with 34.1 seconds left.

"We had that one stretch," Calipari said of the fast finish. "That's basically all it was."

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service