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Keith Taylor: Kentucky not disciplined enough to beat rival Louisville in hostile environment


LOUISVILLE — Kentucky had a hard time making shots. That didn’t matter. Freshman sensation Malik Monk wasn’t on target. In the grand scheme of things, that didn’t matter, either.

Kentucky coach John Calipari can live with his team when they shoot 40 percent from the field and even 65 percent from the charity stripe. If you ask Calipari, the poor shooting wasn’t the issue in sixth-ranked Kentucky’s 73-70 loss to No. 10 Louisville Wednesday night.

“I’ve been here where we’ve lost or played that way and still won,” Calipari said. “If we had discipline, we could have won the game. We had none.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari makes an unhappy gesture during his team's loss to Louisville Wednesday night (Bill Thiry Photo)

Kentucky coach John Calipari makes an unhappy gesture during his team’s loss to Louisville Wednesday night (Bill Thiry Photo)

Although the signs showed otherwise prior to tipoff, Kentucky wasn’t poised enough to beat a ranked opponent in its first true road game of the season. Sure the Wildcats defeated a pesky North Carolina squad last weekend in Las Vegas but that was a different. Kentucky wasn’t disfunctional, Monk was in a zone and the Wildcats made shots.

Although the hostile atmosphere, coupled with fatigue from last weekend’s visit out West could have rattled the Wildcats, the players offered no excuses.

“We expected everything — the atosphere, the way they were going to come out hitting,” Kentucky forward Bam Adebayo said. “We just came up short.”

BOXSCORE: Louisville 73, Kentucky 70

Monk finished with 16 points but struggled in his encore outing following a freshman school-record 47-point outburst in the narrow victory over the Tar Heels. Monk made just one 3-pointer on nine attempts and finished 6-for-17 overall from the field.

The freshman guard’s poor shooting didn’t bother Calipari, but it was Monk’s inability to play under control in the first half that irked the Kentucky coach. Monk committed two early fouls and sat out the final eight minutes of the first half.

Read More at Keith's Blog

Read More at Keith’s Blog: Out of the Blue

“The issue was he started the game and he fouled because of a lack of discipline,” Calipari said. “There was no reason to make that (second) foul, but he doesn’t have the discipline yet, so he fouls.”

It would have been easy for Calipari to blame the second setback of the season on poor shooting, not to mention 13 turnovers, including two shot-clock violations, but he kept coming back to his team’s poor demeanor.

“The biggest thing tonight is we didn’t have discipline,” Calipari said. “We were walking out of timeouts, guys were breaking off doing — the same thing defensively. We had talked about how we’re playing certain things and guys did their own thing and then they had an excuse of why they did it.”

The errors began early and carried over down the stretch, giving the Cardinals an advantage on several hustle plays. Kentucky freshman guard De’Aaron Fox said Kentucky didn’t pay attention to details, which proved to be costly throughout the nip and tuck encounter that featured nine lead changes and 10 ties.

“We had some mental errors toward the beginning of the game and then we missed a big rebound at the end of the game where they made a layup,” Fox said. “We had some small things that turned out to be big problems at the end.”

Some of those “small” issues involved rebounding, especially on the offensive end of the floor. The Cardinals held a 40-36 edge on the glass, while the Wildcats had just four second-chance baskets, a number that magnified itself in the second half.

“We just didn’t come out with as much intensity and discipline as we usually do,” Adebayo said. “We just had an off game. We just weren’t disciplined enough.”

In his team’s third game of the season against a ranked opponent that dropped the Wildcats to 1-2 against Top 25 teams this year, Calipari knows his team needs to become more disciplined to overcome the youth factor.

“If we don’t become more of a disciplined team, then we’re just OK,” Calipari said. “If you’re not doing what you are supposed to for our team, that’s discipline. If you accept mediocrity as a coach you’re gonna get it every time.”

Now that Calipari knows what his team looks like in undisciplined mode, the Kentucky coach said the road to improvement begins at the top.

“That’s not their fault,” he said. “That’s my fault. We’ll get it right.”

Gametracker: Kentucky at Ole Miss, Dec. 29, 8 p.m. TV/Radio: ESPN2, 98.1 WBUL.

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter


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