The Kentucky Wildcats won on the road against an opponent which desperately needed to win to boost its NCAA Tournament hopes. Big Blue remained on course to face Tennessee next Saturday (Feb. 16) for a share of first place in the SEC.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari kept his team at the forefront of the race for a No. 1 seed. All of that should be great news, right?
Calipari — who has been known to pump the brakes in the midst of prosperous times — once again wanted to make sure his players realized they didn’t have it made. Not yet. Not with this much time left before March. Not on a day when an easy win became very difficult at the end against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
“If you want me to tell you everything’s all good, it isn’t,” Calipari said. “I went right down to each guy. Not mean, screaming or cussing. I wasn’t.
“But you’re here because you want me to keep it real. Well, this is real.”
[bctt tweet=”John Calipari- But you’re here because you want me to keep it real. ” username=”CBBToday”]
Calipari was referring to the fact that Kentucky, which had led Mississippi State by 18 points, allowed the Bulldogs to pull within three points and gain a chance to tie inside the final 15 seconds.
However, MSU’s Quinndary Weatherspoon eschewed a game-tying 3-point attempt. He then lost the ball when driving to the basket. Kentucky gathered the ball and hit one free throw in the final 10 seconds to seal a 71-67 victory which keeps the Cats within one game of league-leading Tennessee.
A Kentucky win next week against LSU will ensure that the Tennessee showdown on Feb. 16 will be for first place in the SEC.
There is plenty of good news for Kentucky, but Calipari knows his team has to polish its habits and refine its responses in order to be ready for bigger challenges to come.
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