"Did they even look coached in the first half? Somebody yelled, ‘Geez, run a play.' I was ready to say, ‘You tell them. They are not listening to me,'" said Calipari after his team overcame a 28-28 halftime time to win 75-65 in Madison Square Garden.
"I kind of expected what happened in the first half. We have a bunch of young guys out there trying to play, do their own things, breaking off plays. We had four assists (in the first half). My point guard (Marquis Teague) had six turns (turnovers). Said it was the officials. That's why I was going crazy at the end of the game. We have to learn to finish games. I like their will to win and told them. We can block shots. We have a bunch of guys who are pretty long."
Pretty long? Try really long. Just ask Kansas coach Bill Self after he watched the Cats block 13 shots — seven by Anthony Davis and three each by Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
"We just couldn't score over their length. Their length covers up a lot of bad plays. They can make a mistake and make up for it and have numbers going the other way," Self said.
That's not a shot at UK.?It's a fact. Calipari's Cats are going to have that rare ability this year to make up for mistakes with great athletic plays, something the best teams often have.
"We just didn't execute and compete. We tried hard, but we didn't have the focus. We got flustered. I think their length bothered us and sped us up offensively. They are long. I don't know if their has been a team around longer than those Cats," Self said.
Self admitted he told his best players just to "drive it" at the basket the second half, something Calipari said helped inflate the blocked shot total.
"But we should be a good shot blocking team because of Anthony, Terrence and Michael. Darius (Miller) is a good shot blocker, too," Calipari said.
Jones said the players take pride in blocking shots.
"We just try to help each other on defense as much as possible. If a guy is working hard on the ball, the other weak side dude is coming over to help," Jones said.
Calipari also wanted to match Davis, his thin freshman center, one-on-one with Kansas' Thomas Robinson, who finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Davis had 14 points and six rebounds.
"Wasn't bad but we also double teamed some. I'll take look on tape and see. I did want to see him against good post-up player and see what he could do. I also did not want to wear out Terrence (playing defense)," Calipari said.