John Calipari says frustrated fans should go after him, leave Kentucky players alone

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham02/11/24

AndrewEdGraham

After yet another disappointing loss — and this one with an unfortunate historical distinction — Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari is letting fans know where they should place the blame: With him.

The Wildcats are now 16-7 on the season, and though an NCAA Tournament berth is in no immediate danger, Kentucky can’t afford to let this skid linger. But even just losing three out of the last four is enough for Calipari to know fans will be ready to lash out. He just hopes it’s not against the players.

“You know you’re going to have some of the negative Nellies out there attacking and that’s fine. I told them the other day I hope they just attack me and leave you alone,” Calipari said after an 89-85 loss to Gonzaga, according to KSR’s Tyler Thompson.

Kentucky lost three-straight games at Rupp Arena for the first time ever

It’s been nearly 50 years since Kentucky has lost three straight home games in men’s basketball, a feat the Wildcats just managed to replicated with an 89-85 loss to Gonzaga on Saturday afternoon. And it’s a skid with an infamous distinction.

The last time Kentucky lost three straight home games was 1966, 10 years before Rupp Arena was built. That makes this the first time in Wildcats history that the men’s team has lost three in a row at Rupp.

And all told, the collective losses haven’t been pretty.

A 94-91 loss to Florida was followed by an uncompetitive loss to Tennessee, 103-92. Then, on the road, the Wildcats pummeled last-place Vanderbilt in a 109-77 game that seemed to set things back on course, somewhat.

But four days later, after erasing a 10-point halftime deficit to lead in the second half, Kentucky was again falling short at home and at a frequency few had ever seen. And none had ever seen in Rupp Arena.

Gonzaga forward Graham Ike led all scorers with 23 points, but fouled out in the final minutes. The Bulldogs were aided by a balanced scoring effort, though. Alongside Ike, four more Gonzaga players scored in double figures: Anton Watson and Nolan Hickman each scored 17, respectively, as Ben Gregg scored 14 and Braden Huff added 12 off the bench.

Kentucky had a deeper scoring effort from the bench, with 21 points coming from there opposed to the 12 that Huff provided Gonzaga. And a trio of starters did make it to double figures: Reed Sheppard with 21, Antonio Reeves with 17 and Adou Thiero with 15.