INDIANAPOLIS — Outside of Kentucky’s locker room here in Lucas Oil Stadium, the talk was about the Wildcats not going 40-0.
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Inside that morgue, the tears had to do with falling short of the national championship, not an undefeated season.
“We won 38 games, but that wasn’t our goal for the season, and we came up short,” Kentucky freshman Trey Lyles said late Saturday night after Game 2 of the Final Four.
All season, the Wildcats demonstrated how good they were at winning.
After Wisconsin beat the Wildcats 71-64, Kentucky executed the art of losing with class.
The Wildcats just couldn’t execute in the clutch.
“They played great defense down the stretch, and we just couldn’t get a shot off,” Kentucky freshman Devin Booker said.
“They played a great game, and we just didn’t play our best game,” Kentucky freshman Tyler Ulis said.
“I’ll be honest, for me, I wasn’t thinking 40-0, I was just trying to win the game, get on to another game,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “I would hope my team was that way, but they’re 18- and 19-year-olds. Maybe they were. You know what, if they were, OK, I’ll deal with that, too.”
“I don’t think it weighed in on us, the 40-0 hype,” Kentucky junior Willie Cauley-Stein said. “If that was the case, we would have lost a long time ago. It’s just time and circumstances. You know, like we was up in a crucial part of the game. The last five minutes is the game. We didn’t make plays in those last five minutes to hold the lead and push it. If you don’t make plays in the last five minutes, you will lose. Me being here for three years, you will lose in the last five minutes if you don’t make plays. So that’s it.”
Calipari said any finger pointing should be directed at him. Shine a light on the Wildcats, though, for examples of selflessness, he said.
“They’re hurting right now, but when they look back on this time, they’ve all improved, they all learned to be a servant leader,” Calipari said. “Be about someone else more than yourself. In this day and age, they did it. They fell a little short. I would imagine people are going to look on this season and say, ‘You know what, who cares?’ What they did to show all the young kids you don’t have to try to shoot 30 balls, you can do right by your team and still be the No. 1 draft pick, still get drafted, your own awards come your way. So proud of these guys. It hurts. We would have loved to have been 40-0. Let’s see if we can take another stab at it.”
This article was written by John McCann from The Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.