Positives from Kentucky’s Loss to Michigan State Jump Off the Page [VIDEO]
John Calipari is way too smart a coach to be surprised at what he saw in the first half of top-ranked Kentucky’s 78-74 loss to #2 Michigan State Tuesday night in Chicago’s United Center. In fact, he told his staff prior to the game that he wouldn’t be shocked to see the Spartans lead by 15 and he EXPECTED a 12-point deficit.
Well, both predictions came true. State led by as many as 15 in the first half and went to the locker room ahead by 12. But then, John Calipari said whatever he said, and the ‘Cats came out of the tunnel inside The House That Jordan Built and outscored Sparty 34-22.
And, just like that, we had a tie game.
And, just like that, it occurred to me that these young Wildcats were actually learning on the job…while they were missing 16 free throws; while they were committing 17 turnovers; while they were getting outrun in transition by a program that’s never exactly worried too much about speed.
And, let’s not forget, WHILE they were out-rebounding Michigan State by 12.
That’s right. On Tuesday night, each of the country’s two highest-ranked teams bested the other at its own game. The Spartans beat the ‘Cats on the dribble drive, getting easy transition baskets. And Kentucky got more rebounds than Michigan State. Trust me when I tell you that that is unheard of. Sparty has always prided itself as the team that will go into a game and just out-rebound you. I mean, mark it down. It nearly always happens. But this freshmen-heavy Wildcat team–thanks in no small part to Julius Randle, who finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds–made sure it wasn’t going to happen Tuesday. And it didn’t.
After the game, Dick Vitale tweeted his congratulations to Michigan State but also warned that “no team will want any part of these KENTUCKY WILDCATS in March.”
He might be right.