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John Calipari still tweaking, trying to find an answer to his Wildcats’ recent struggles


By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

John Calipari isn’t giving up on his squad despite their recent struggles that have left Kentucky limping going into the heart of the Southeastern Conference schedule.

Although the Wildcats dropped two games last week — a blowout loss to Alabama, followed by a single-digit setback at Auburn — the Kentucky coach said he will never “stop tweaking and changing.”

In order to have success in the future, starting with Wednesday’s game at Georgia, Calipari said the Wildcats (4-8, 2-3) have to become an unselfish team to the point that it “clicks in their minds,” especially on the offensive end of the court.

Keion Brooks goes up for a shot in Kentucky’s loss to Auburn Saturday at Auburn Arena. (UK Athletics Photo)

“They have to feel all of this and how we have to play for each other,” he said. “We aren’t good enough to go run by people.”

Calipari believes the Wildcats have to “create space” on offense and produce more assists, which has been lacking in the past two games. Kentucky has produced just seven assists in each of the past two contests.

“We should be averaging at least 18 assists on our baskets, maybe more,” Calipari said after the loss to the Tigers. “Everyone was trying to score instead of creating shots for each other. We are one of those teams that are trying to figure it out. “

Jacob Toppin added an ideal offense is sticking to the basic fundamentals of basketball in order to produce more asissts.

“We have to drive and find the open man,” he said. “Once we buy into team basketball and finding the open man, that’s when we will start winning games.”

The sophomore forward said the Wildcats have bought into what Calipari wants but added that inconsistent play at times has been a stumbling block.

“I think everyone is dialed in, but we have to become more consistent,” he said. “Sometimes when we are playing, some players will go off and play ‘me’ basketball, and that’s what we don’t need. We will figure it out and stay consistent.”

Typically this deep into the season, Calipari’s teams usually have a clear direction moving forward. This year, however, the Wildcats haven’t yet discovered a go-to player and can’t “just ride one or two guys.”

“It may be game to game (as to) who’s getting more looks and shots,” the Kentucky coach said.

While Calipari and the Wildcats are still seeking consistency, Toppin said they have shown what kind of team they can be, especially during a recent three-game winning streak.

“We know what kind of team we are and we have shown it in a couple of games,” he said. “We have to be more consistent and play team basketball. We have to become more consistent and we will start winning.”

GAMETRACKER: Kentucky at Georgia, 7 p.m. (EST), Wednesday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21


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