Kentucky beat outmanned Samford 88-56 Tuesday night. To which UK Coach John Calipari told his players: Wipe that smile off your face, soldiers.
A middling second half that saw UK only outscore Samford by one point brought out the drill sergeant in Calipari. He declared the opening of "Camp Cal," which he described as three weeks of running at 7 a.m. in addition to normal practices in the afternoon (and possibly evenings, as well).
"We're going to be the most in-shape team inside the next three weeks," said Calipari, who linked Kentucky's failure to obliterate Samford to a lack of conditioning. Minus a sadistic laugh, he cited the involvement of UK strength coach Ray "Rock" Oliver, first introduced to the Big Blue Nation as former Coach Rick Pitino's Marquis de Sade of the barbell realm.
"Twenty to 30 minutes of straight running," Calipari said. "Heart rates will be high. Not heart rates at 120. Your heart rate is going to be at 175 (or) 180."
Willie Cauley-Stein, who built the bulk of UK's first double-double of the season in the second half, sounded puzzled by Calipari's huffing and puffing.
"No way we can't be in shape," said Cauley-Stein, who scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds (11 of the points and 10 of the rebounds after halftime).
The players worked with Oliver in the off-season, something past UK teams had not done, Cauley-Stein said.
Of Camp Cal, Cauley-Stein said, "I don't think it's needed. But it's going to make us better."
The Cats never trailed and led by more than 20 points over the final 26:22. It was a welcomed respite after last week's newsmaking: back-to-back losses that included the ending of UK's 55-game home winning streak and the biggest fall out of The Associated Press top 25 poll.
From No. 8 to naught, Kentucky seemed prime to take out any frustration on Samford.
But UK only outscored Samford 43-42 in the second half. The Bulldogs committed only three of their 17 turnovers after halftime.
"I just don't understand that," Calipari said, "especially what we've been going through (last week)."
All Kentucky ills Calipari attributed to a lack of conditioning. Ryan Harrow "got cool" because of not being in top shape. Archie Goodwin's decision-making faltered for the same reason. Ditto for Jarrod Polson being "shaky."
In discussing the second half, Calipari said conditioning was the only explanation that seemed plausible. But he did touch on one other possibility
"You're not in shape or you don't care," he said before adding, "I don't want to even go that way. I don't even want to even hint that way.
"So we're not in shape then."
Samford Coach Bennie Seltzer stood in the back of the post-game news conference area and listen to Calipari's comments.
"They didn't look tired to me," he said. " ... In terms of my team, he's absolutely right. I can't wait for this break (in classes). We need to get in shape as well. I heard him talk of Camp Cal. Well, Coach Seltzer is going to have a training camp of his own."
UK, which improved to 5-3, got 18 points from Archie Goodwin. Five other Cats reached double figures.
Samford (2-8) didn't make a basket in the first 10 minutes and not many thereafter.
Kentucky led 45-14 at halftime. That score — which nearly matched Louisville's 42-13 lead on the Bulldogs on Nov. 15 — reflected the one-sided nature of the game.
UK led by double digits at the 11:47 mark, by 20 with 7:21 left and by 30 at 5:20.
Seltzer twice called timeouts trying to stem the onslaught.
Samford, which made four of 20 first-half shots, reached double-digits with its only three-pointer. That came with 4:14 left, reducing UK's lead to 37-10.
From Samford's perspective, ugly statistics abounded in the first half. For instance, the Bulldogs had 14 turnovers. UK converted those into a 24-6 advantage in points off turnovers and a 13-0 edge in fast-break points.
Kentucky began the second half slowly. The Cats missed their first four shots and committed two turnovers in the first three minutes.
In that span, Samford nearly matched its first-half scoring. The Bulldogs scored the first nine points of the second half to close within 45-23.
To explain the failure to pummel an outclassed opponent, Cauley-Stein cited the mental rather than physical side of the game: the Cats lack a killer instinct.
"Right now," he said, "we don't have that dog in us."