‘We reverted a little bit today.’ What John Calipari said after UK basketball lost at LSU.

Kentucky basketball let one get away on Wednesday night inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Within the opening minute of the second half, UK had opened up a 15-point lead over LSU and looked poised to collect a fourth straight road win in SEC play. But it all fell apart from that moment.

LSU scored 48 second-half points in the 19 minutes of game play that followed, and Tigers’ sophomore Tyrell Ward made a layup at the buzzer to shock the No. 17-ranked Wildcats, 75-74, and begin a court storm in Baton Rouge.

The defeat drops Kentucky to 18-8 overall and 8-5 in SEC play this season, while prolonging several concerns about this UK squad as the NCAA Tournament draws nearer.

Fifth-year guard Antonio Reeves supplied 25 points (becoming a 1,000-point scorer at UK in the process) and freshman Rob Dillingham added 23 points, 21 of which were scored in the second half.

No other Wildcat tallied double-figure scoring.

While Kentucky was shorthanded for the the 25th time in 26 games this season — Tre Mitchell missed his second straight game following a shoulder injury — there can’t be excuses for UK being unable to close the deal against an LSU team that entered the game ranked No. 77 in KenPom.

LSU scored 48 points in the second half after averaging just 0.818 points per possession in the first half.

Postgame, Kentucky head coach John Calipari met with media members for a brief press conference inside the PMAC. Calipari only took two questions from reporters before leaving.

Here’s everything the UK coach said:

Kentucky head coach John Calipari calls to a referee after a foul was called on his team during Wednesday’s loss at LSU. UK dropped to 8-5 in SEC play during the 2023-24 season with the defeat.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari calls to a referee after a foul was called on his team during Wednesday’s loss at LSU. UK dropped to 8-5 in SEC play during the 2023-24 season with the defeat.

Opening statement:

Fifty-fifty balls cost us the game. It’s all we talk about. Fifty-fifty balls. Not only the last play, the play before that. Up 13, we have it, they jerk it from us, kick it out, make a three, make another three. Now it’s anybody’s ballgame. Matter of fact, we may have been up 15.

You can’t win. Don’t tell me about your offense. If you’re not going to come up with 50/50 balls, you can’t win but I’m going to say this: All that being said, I was proud of these guys, in this environment, doing what they did. Making that last shot, Adou (Thiero) blocks it, I got to watch the tape and see who did not grab that ball. The winning ball. Who didn’t grab it? And why?

Why not dive on the floor (to get the ball) and just tie it up and we win the game?

But, fought to get back, made baskets, (Rob) Dillingham made some unbelievable plays. We went to him late and he did what he does.

Question about what went wrong for UK after establishing a 15-point lead:

I don’t know, but I’ve watched all (LSU’s) games. They were down 24 on Tennessee and they came back and made it a five-point game. They were down 16 against South Carolina and made it a game. So why don’t you say what are you guys doing when you’re down 15? What happens to your team? Because they just change. I think Florida had them down 16 or 17, so I told my team that at halftime, ‘They’re going to make a run.’ Every game I’ve watched they’ve made a run. Now you have got to make a run back.

But, we had been getting 50/50 balls. We reverted a little bit today. But you have got to give them credit. It was a great game for them and a great win. They toughed us for those balls which were the difference in the game.

Question about UK’s defense slipping in the second half after a strong first half:

We held them to 39% (shooting in the first half) and we were doing everything. And then, then again there’s scheme slippage.

That’s what happens with young teams. We do have the youngest team in the country. That stuff happens. And it seems to happen at the wrong time.

But, I thought we did everything we needed to: Cross-switched late, they take a tough shot, we get the ball, one-point game. You may say, well why did you shoot it so quick? Because, you know we have a lot of people coaching, and that’s fine.

Because if you miss you want to offensive rebound. A tie game, you wait. A one-point game, you don’t. And then you hope your defense will come up with a loose ball, and the stuff that we did, I thought we did good, except we didn’t grab the ball. But, give them credit.

Guys, we’ve got a late flight and we’ve got an early game on Saturday. So, I’m out of here. I’m trying to get my team on the bus, too. Thanks.

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