COLUMBIA, Mo. — No doubt a gritty 84-79 victory at Missouri Saturday pleased Kentucky Coach John Calipari. But completely satisfied must wait for another day.
Calipari saluted UK's fight, emotion and enthusiasm in beating Missouri.
But, he added, "how about our transition defense ... after ... made ... goals?" he said.
Missouri outscored UK 18-4 in fast-break points. Six times the Tigers scored or got to the foul line within nine seconds of a Kentucky score. On four other occasions, Missouri needed no more than 15 seconds to counter.
After noting that Kentucky started five freshmen, Calipari said, "At times we looked like we had five freshmen (on the court)."
For instance, Andrew Harrison, whose steadiness (one turnover in 31 minutes) helped UK, committed his third foul near half-court with 13:38 left. With UK clinging to a 70-63 lead, getting beat by Jordan Clarkson on a drive led Harrison to show frustration by putting both hands to his head.
Calipari suggested UK's inattention to detail helped Clarkson and Jabari Brown combine for 61 points.
"Don't let them drive right," the UK coach said of the defensive plan. "... They kept driving right and driving right and driving right. Next game, I imagine they will drive right."
Neither Willie Cauley-Stein nor Dakari Johnson greatly impacted the game. Early foul trouble limited them to seven and 11 minutes, respectively.
Of the two, Johnson had the only basket: a post-up that put UK ahead 61-49 and momentarily stemmed Missouri's rally.
In the pre-conference portion of the schedule, Cauley-Stein averaged 27.5 minutes to Johnson's 8.9.
In the SEC, Cauley-Stein has played 96 minutes, Johnson 90.
A tempest erupted when Johnson fell out of bounds at LSU on Tuesday and no teammate came to his assistance.
When Dominique Hawkins got knocked to the floor trying to rebound a missed Missouri shot in the first half, Andrew Harrison rushed over to help him up.
Kentucky got a first-hand look at why Jabari Brown leads the SEC in scoring and Clarkson has been talked about as a Player of the Year candidate.
"The coaches told us they were good scorers," James Young said. "But I didn't think they'd get off like that."
Brown, whose first name means brave in Arabic, and Clarkson combined to make 21 of 34 shots (five of 10 from three-point range) and committed four turnovers in a collective 75 minutes of play. Brown's three-for-six shooting from three-point range actually represented a cooling off. In the three most recent games, he'd made 13 of 17 shots from beyond the arc.
"There's great players," Missouri Coach Frank Haith said. "I don't think Jabari gets enough credit for how good a player he is. I think both of these guys are terrific players. They left it out there on the court. They gave it everything they had."
Mizzou blames defense, too
Kentucky arguably enjoyed its best shooting performance of the season. The Cats' 53.6-percent accuracy marked their best since making 55.2 percent of its shots against Belmont on Dec. 21.
UK had shot a higher percentage in only three games; 64.3 against Providence, 55.2 against Belmont and 54.5 percent against Northern Kentucky.
The Missouri game marked only the second time this season Kentucky has shot 50 percent or better while making at least eight three-pointers. UK did the same against UT Arlington: 50.7 percent and eight treys.
"I thought our defense is what let us down," Haith said.
When Brown drove the baseline, rose for a shot and collided with Julius Randle, the no-call prompted Haith to take off his jacket. He received a technical 12 seconds after the referees gave Missouri a bench warning.
"I didn't touch him," said Randle, which caused reporters to laugh.
"Yeah, there was a lot of contact," Brown said. "But everything ain't going to be called. It's part of the game. There were probably times we fouled them and they didn't call it. That's just how the ball rolls."
Hawkins got knocked to the floor on a second-half drive. He couldn't take the free throws, so Missouri picked Cauley-Stein to take the shots. A 46.3-percent free thrower, he missed both.
Calipari said Hawkins was OK. "He was in (the locker room)," the UK coach said. "He was OK."
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com.