UK basketball coach John Calipari not very concerned about Cats' poor shooting

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 27, 2013 

Another poor shooting performance from three-point range raised questions — but apparently not concerns — for Kentucky.

"You know we don't rely on threes," Coach John Calipari said after UK made three of 16 shots from beyond the arc against Eastern Michigan Wednesday night. "I never coached that way. If we make 'em, we beat you by 30. If we don't, we're just trying to win the game."

In the last two games, Kentucky has made six of 30 three-point shots.

Going into the 81-63 victory over Eastern Michigan, UK ranked outside the top 200 nationally in three-point accuracy.

For the first time, James Young did not make a three-pointer. He has made one of 10 in the last two games.

Calipari spun the misfires as a good thing.

"I think part of the reason my guys go to the next level and play well (is) we're teaching them how to play basketball," he said. "Not a shooting contest."

Eastern Michigan became the latest opponent to gear its defensive game plan to trying contain the Cats around the basket. In that effort, the opponent lives with UK shooting threes.

"We came in realizing they weren't a great three-point shooting team," Cleveland State Coach Gary Waters said after Monday's game. "We knew (James) Young could shoot the ball, and we tried to stay with him as much as possible. ...

"You can only go to that well so many times. Eventually, somebody is going to hit a shot."

Eastern Michigan Coach Rob Murphy was more succinct. "Make them shoot from outside," he said.

UK foiled that strategy, in part, by grabbing 19 offensive rebounds.

Randle ties record

Julius Randle tied the UK record with a seventh double-double to start the season. Jim Andrews started the 1971-72 season with seven straight double-doubles.

"Great honor," Randle said of matching Andrews' record. "A storied program like UK, all the players that have come through here, all the history."

An assistant coach told him during the second half that he needed one more rebound, Randle said. He finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Randle dismissed the notion that his double-doubles were a priority for UK.

"Not really a priority," he said. "Just kind of something that's expected."

Foul calls

The Horizon League suspended Cleveland State assistant Jermaine Kimbrough one game for his comments critical of the officials after Monday's game at Kentucky.

Kimbrough will miss Cleveland State's game against Ball State on Saturday. Horizon League rules prohibit coaches from "publicly criticizing officials."

After Cleveland State lost at Kentucky, Kimbrough tweeted that the Vikings had been "cheated."

UK shot 35 free throws and Cleveland State 15 in the game. UK won 68-61. After the game, Kimbrough tweeted, "College basketball is at all-time low. I have never been cheated the way we got cheated in Rupp Arena tonight. Let the kids play."

Cleveland State Athletics Director John Parry reprimanded Kimbrough. The comments were "unacceptable," Parry said in a statement. "As a result, coach Kimbrough has been suspended for the CSU-Ball State game scheduled on Saturday, November 30th."

If Kimbrough wanted to appeal his suspension, he might use UK's victory over Eastern Michigan as evidence. The referees called 31 fouls on the Vikings. UK shot 40 free throws.

When asked how a team that played a 2-3 zone throughout committed so many fouls, Eastern Michigan's coach said, "That's a great question. I don't know if that's a trick question. I asked the officials the same question. 'We are a zone team. How can the fouls be doubled up?'

The referee's response?

"He said we're doing the best job we can," Murphy said. "So what can I say?"

Etc.

Actress Ashley Judd accompanied former UK Coach Joe B. Hall to center court during a timeout. She and the crowd sang Happy Birthday to Hall, who turns 85 on Saturday.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: UKbasketball.bloginky.com.

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