Calipari: Kentucky players played one final pickup game before saying goodbye, crying together

Calipari: Kentucky players played one final pickup game before saying goodbye, crying together

Jack Pilgrimover 1 year

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Aritcle written by:Jack PilgrimJack Pilgrim
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Down 18 points in the second half at Florida in the team's regular season finale, a group of short-handed Kentucky Wildcats found a way to come together and put forth a ridiculous comeback effort with their backs against the wall. Instead of giving up, the Wildcats chipped away at Florida's lead and took home a 71-70 victory. Heading into postseason play, it was a momentum-shifting win that sparked optimism of an SEC Tournament title and a potential national championship run. Instead, both the SEC and NCAA opted to cancel their respective end-of-year tournaments due to the coronavirus outbreak, leaving questions of 'what if?' for this group of Wildcats. To no one's surprise, Kentucky head coach John Calipari said Monday evening that the tournament cancellations were a massive punch in the gut for his players. Upon returning to Lexington following the devastating news, Calipari said the Wildcats took the floor at the Joe Craft Center for one final game of pickup before saying their goodbyes and heading home. After the game, the players came together, embraced each other, and cried. "They all played pickup together," Calipari said on Monday night during his final call-in radio show of the year. "When they were done, they all sat down together and they cried. They know that was it, right there. That was the end." One of the key reasons for the emotional moment? There was "buzz" throughout the team that a serious run during March Madness was coming. Instead, that opportunity was ripped out of their hands. "We had a mini crisis at the end of the year, kid wants to step away," he said. "And all of a sudden, Johnny [Juzang], Keion [Brooks Jr.], and Nate [Sestina] step up at Florida. We won a game we had no business winning, which tells you we had a full team going into the tournament. I can’t tell you the buzz when we got back." And it wasn't just the players thinking Kentucky had a legitimate shot to win it all, either. Coach Cal felt the exact same way. "We would have won the national championship,” Calipari continued. “But, you know, fate intervenes sometimes. And it’s something you have to deal with."

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