By Larry Vaught
Before Kentucky played Georgia Tech, sophomore Jacob Toppin said he may have played better in the loss to Kansas when UK blew a big early lead than younger teammates because he was a “little more comfortable” than they were.
I then asked Toppin why he thought his younger teammates were “uncomfortable” against Kansas and blew the early lead.
“I wouldn’t say they are uncomfortable. They are just learning. It just takes time,” Toppin, a Rhode Island transfer, said. “As we play more games and get more experience they will become more comfortable on the court.”
Obviously, that didn’t happen Sunday in Kentucky’s loss to Georgia Tech. Now UK gets a chance to end its three-game losing skid that has dropped it out of the AP Top 25 when it hosts Notre Dame Saturday.
“You look at all of this stuff and it’s either a setback or you’re ready to say, ‘It’s setting us up for something that we need to do.’ Because every one of these games we’re learning. We’re learning. Now, we have to start winning some games,” Calipari said after the Georgia Tech loss.
“I hope we can. But my job is to make sure that we’re getting better, to put us in that position to win and help them at the end win games. But we haven’t been in a game where I can help them, the last couple of games. Well, the Kansas game we were right there but the Richmond game we weren’t and that was kind of the same kind of finish.”
Senior point guard Davion Mintz, the only UK player in the top six of minutes played with more assists than turnovers, admitted UK lost its poise at Georgia Tech.
“I had the feeling we kind of panicked during the game,” Mintz said. “We just gave it up to the other team. Coach has been preaching to us since we got to campus that this is not an easy process. This is going to be hard.”
And so far it certainly has been.