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Calipari 'fine' after close loss

By Mark Mathis, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky. on

Published in Senior Living Features

LEXINGTON -- John Calipari makes a lot of money as the head basketball coach for the University of Kentucky.

He gets paid to support his teams, which are eternally young and generally have to be developed over the course of an entire college season.

Calipari has won a bunch of games with this model. UK has reached Elite 8s, won a national championship in 2012, gotten to the NCAA championship game in 2014 with a bunch that didn't look like it could find its way out of SEC Tournament barely a month before.

So, I don't guess we should've been surprised Saturday night when Calipari did not go close to the panic button after UK couldn't pull a win out of the ugliness that was in Rupp Arena against Florida.

The Gators escaped, 66-64, in part with the help of one certain no-call on the last UK try to get a shot at overtime.

"When they play here crazy things happen, they usually find a way to win," said Chris Chiozza, Florida's exceptional senior guard.

UK didn't win this time, and the crazy thing was this was the second straight loss for the Wildcats, in what could become a trend as they go down the stretch.

They didn't handle things well over the last 10 minutes of a 76-68 loss at South Carolina on Tuesday either.

Yet, there was a difference in this loss and South Carolina, the way Calipari looked at it.

"I was worried after South Carolina now," Calipari said. "I'm not worried after this. We'll be fine. I was worried after Vanderbilt to be honest with you, and we won that game."

In Calipari's view, UK played good enough defensively to win, keeping Florida at low shooting percentages from the floor (33 percent) and 3-point range (22 percent), and the Wildcats shared the ball.

Calipari was good with those particulars.

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"We defended well enough to win this game," Calipari said. "That's what's kind of disappointing. At the end of the day, we had our chances, and I love the face that we fought."

Calipari also liked that he has a full roster now. Jarred Vanderbilt has played two games, and Quade Green was back for Florida after missing three games with a back strain.

The view of the UK coach was bright about his young guys, and he knew Florida would be tough because it is experienced and has an older team's grit.

Florida guard Jalen Hudson pointed out what have been, and could continue to be, weaknesses for the Wildcats as they grind toward February.

"I feel like they made some critical mistakes in the end," Hudson said. "I feel like we were so much more poised than they were. I just really feel like our experience helped. Maybe that was just in my mind because we were the older team."

Calipari is fine with the younger No. 18 Wildcats, who are 14-5, 4-3 in the SEC, and with more losses to come I would say.

"You know, that's a veteran team," Calipari said of Florida, "and we had our chances. I'm saying this: I'm good. I know there's some people out there that will be panicked and all this. Be panicked. I'm glad I'm not sitting with you, because I'm fine."

Feel free this Sunday, BBN, to agree or disagree.

(c)2018 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.)

Visit the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.) at www.messenger-inquirer.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(c) Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.

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