LOUISVILLE — Although he's guiding the Dominican Republic National Team, John Calipari seemingly tried to coach a Kentucky team to another victory Tuesday night.
Calipari did not play his three leading scorers in the second half. But because a team of former UK players shot poorly from three-point range (1-for-19) and the foul line (31-for-52), the Dominicans managed to win anyway, 91-86, over the team called The Pros.
Edgar Sosa, Francisco Garcia and Al Horford — who combined for 71 points in the Dominicans' 106-88 victory in Monday's exhibition — were on schedule for another productive evening. The three had 33 points in the first half.
Then they sat and watched along with a crowd of about 15,000 in the Yum Center.
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"I needed to see the other guys," Calipari said. "I have to figure out who can play. We still have to cut three guys."
Before the game, there was some question whether anyone would have a clear view of the action.
The lights failed to return fully on after being dimmed for the announcement of the starting lineup for the former UK players.
As the Yum Center lights slowly began to brighten, Calipari took a microphone and saluted the fans for attending. The upper deck in one end zone was empty. This contrasted with the capacity crowd that watched the Dominicans beat a group of former UK players in Rupp Arena the previous night.
The game was supposed to start at 7:30 p.m. It tipped off at 7:51 with the only light coming from advertising signs, a scoreboard over center court and the concourse.
The lights returned with less than three minutes left in the first quarter. By then, the outlook for the former UK players was not bright.
Horford likened it to practices at dusk in the Dominican Republic. "It was light enough," he said. "We made it work."
Horford, Garcia and Sosa picked up where they left off in Monday's exhibition. The trio scored 19 of the Dominicans' 23 first-quarter points. Garcia, the focus of DeAndre Liggins' defensive intensity, capped the quarter by scoring on a fast-break layup at the buzzer. As he walked slowly toward the Dominican bench, Garcia shot a long, menacing stare at the Pros' bench. Then he winked. The Dominicans led 23-16.
The Pros fared worse in the second quarter. The Dominican lead — and the crowd's frustration — reached a zenith (or boiling point) when Sosa hit a three-pointer to make it 42-26. As he retreated downcourt to a chorus of boos, Sosa waved his outstretched arms upward as if to signal that he wanted louder disapproval. The crowd accommodated.
The former UK players rallied. Rajon Rondo scored on a memorable fast break by faking right and then sweeping left past Garcia.
But the Dominicans' first-half lead never shrunk to fewer than nine points.
As if to give the former Kentucky players a chance, Calipari did not play Sosa, Garcia and Horford in the third quarter. The Dominican lead steadily dwindled. With the Dominicans scoring only two baskets in the final six minutes of the quarter, the former UK players closed within four, 68-64, going into the fourth quarter.
The former UK players got within one. But no closer.
Wall, who made only five of 21 shots, led the former UK players with 26 points. DeMarcus Cousins, who made only eight of 17 free throws, added 20.