The Kentucky Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season Tuesday night, as Kentucky basketball simply got outclassed by Hunter Dickinson and the Kansas Jayhawks in a Champions Classic game at United Center, 89-84.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari was left to rue the late-game stumbles of his squad but still expressed his admiration for how the Wildcats handled themselves on the floor overall.
“The end of the game, missing free throws and missing shots, we broke down,” Calipari said (h/t Brian Rauf of Heat Check CBB). “We have to get better at finishing. What I was proud of is how we fought. That's a huge team, and we had to fight to survive.”
Kentucky basketball actually held a seven-point lead at the end of the first half, but the Jayhawks got it together in the second half, with Dickinson leading Kansas' charge. Dickinson exploded for a monster double-double of 27 points and 21 rebounds while shooting 8-for-12 from the field and 10-for-11 from the floor. The Wildcats, meanwhile, could not capitalize on their huge advantage in the possession battle. They outshot Kansas, 76-59, but shot just 32.9 percent from the floor, while the Jayhawks drained 47.5 percent of their attempts.
While the loss is a tough one for the Wildcats, Calipari knows his team has learned its lesson and will do better going forward.
“To come in this environment with this, you know, everything that goes with this, the bells and whistles, and they perform like they did, I couldn’t ask for much more other than make some free throws and a shot down the stretch and win,” Calipari said, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN).