Quade Green personified the inconsistency of youth Saturday.
Coming off a talk-of-the-town performance against Virginia Tech, Green and his tinted protective glasses were missing in action against UCLA. He made only one of seven shots (zero for four from three-point range) and equaled a season low of two points.
Calipari made sure the media knew that Green’s defense was subpar, too.
“Quade just seemed out of sync,” Calipari said. “And I don’t know why. Both on offense and defense. It wasn’t his night, and we needed him to make some baskets. We really did.
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“But that’s OK. … They don’t play great every night out.”
Calipari said he could not explain why Green took a dip, except that freshmen typically experience ebbs and flows.
“I don’t have an answer for Quade,” Calipari said. “I feel bad for him.”
After a pause, Calipari added, “They’re freshmen. One game they play well. Next game they may not.”
Players, even freshmen, should give a consistent effort and zeal, Calipari said.
“It’s like their responsibility to come with fight and energy and fire to play,” he said. “Not, ‘I want to play well.’ Nah, come to play and fight and battle.”
Green played only 20 minutes. Except for the Monmouth game in which he was poked in the eye, it was a season low for him.
“When you’re not making shots and you’re getting beat on defense, you can’t be in the game,” Calipari said. “It doesn’t work. So it’s not just that he wasn’t making shots. He was struggling to guard.”
When it comes to dealing with distractions, UCLA is the undisputed national champion.
The Bruins have had to deal with travel — in their case to China, Kansas City and New Orleans. Of course, the trip to China resulted in three players arrested for shoplifting with one (LiAngelo Ball) quitting the team.
Coach Steve Alford pointed out that UCLA players have had to deal with a game canceled because of wildfires in southern California and classwork at a school he said was “at the top of the food chain” academically.
“Really super proud of our guys,” Alford said after UCLA beat Kentucky. “They’re obviously been through a lot. … Nobody in the country’s traveled more than we have. Nobody’s had the distractions we have had.
“And yet these guys have just really stayed close together and they have just continued to grow.”
UK visits museum
While in New Orleans, Calipari took the UK players to The National WWII Museum. He said he tried to explain to the players the importance of the Normandy invasion, D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.
The players were aware of the Tuskegee Airmen, he said.
“You just want them to acknowledge we had a chance of losing that war,” Calipari said.
Is it good that UK players won’t play again until after Christmas? Or does Calipari wish he could put the Cats through rigorous practices beginning Sunday?
“Nah, I’m not looking forward to seeing them tomorrow,” Calipari said. “So that’s fine. They’re probably not looking forward to seeing me, either.”
SEC teams went into Saturday with a record of 13-20 against the other so-called Power 5 conferences.
Tennessee improved that record by winning at Wake Forest. Then UK lost to UCLA. Those games made the SEC 14-21 against the other Power 5 conferences going into Saturday night’s Missouri-Illinois game.
Kentucky won its most recent national championship in New Orleans. UK beat Louisville and Kansas in the Superdome in the 2012 Final Four.
UCLA Coach Steve Alford also has a national championship connection with New Orleans. He scored a team-high 23 points to help Indiana beat Syracuse in the 1987 national championship game.
“I had no idea that this arena was right next to the dome, the Superdome,” Alford said. “So when we came here on Friday for practice, I took a nice shot of the Superdome and then sent it out to a lot of my ’87 teammates.”
Thomas Welsh’s 13 points left him 11 shy of 1,000 in his career. Aaron Holiday’s 20 points left him 17 shy of 1,000. … Welsh grabbed 11 rebounds. That moved him paste Curtis Rowe and Charles O’Bannon on UCLA’s career list. Welsh increased his total to 805.
Next season’s CBS Sports Classic will be played Dec. 22 at the United Center in Chicago. Kentucky will play North Carolina, while UCLA plays Ohio State.
Ticket information for the 2018 CBS Sports Classic will be available at a later date, organizers said.