Cal: UK must get tougher or brace for more losses

Kentucky Coach John Calipari put a sink-or-swim label on his team’s 67-62 loss to Baylor Friday night. Either the Cats get tougher or they get out of the conversation about doing special things this season.

To explain how his team can gain toughness, Calipari said, “Go in games and be in more dogfights and that’s why we’re playing this kind of schedule in December. Either we’ll start fighting or we’ll keep losing, there’s no option.”

Baylor outrebounded UK 41-25. That marked the first time this season the Cats had been outrebounded. UK came into the game ranked second nationally in rebound margin (plus 15.5).

Of course, Baylor was no slouch as a rebounding team. The Bears ranked ninth in rebound margin (plus 11.9).

How did Baylor get the best of UK on the boards, even getting more offensive rebounds (18) than UK had defensive rebounds (15)?

“It’s a you and this guy and he throws you out of the way and goes and gets the ball,” Calipari said. “That’s what it was.

“They outhustled us; they outworked us. They deserved to win.”

It was UK’s worst beating on the boards since a 39-21 beatdown at Tennessee last season when the Cats were reeling from the sudden loss to Nerlens Noel to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

In addition to the quantity of Baylor’s rebounds, the timeliness of board work down the stretch lodged in Calipari’s mind.

“Three rebounds, four rebounds down the stretch in the last four minutes, and we win the game,” he said. “They got every single one of them. That’s who we are right now. Everything is based on how I’m scoring or what I’m doing and it’s not based on that part of the game, that toughness.”