LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - John Calipari expected growing pains.
Welcomed them even. Told anyone who would listen it would take time
for No. 4 Kentucky to embrace and understand his "dribble drive"
Turns out, scoring points might be the least of Kentucky's
Though the Wildcats were never really in danger during a 102-92
win over Sam Houston State in the Cancun Challenge on Thursday,
Calipari was hardly in the mood to celebrate after his team let
another opponent stick around thanks to a lackluster defensive
performance that at times lacked energy, effort and intensity.
"They have no urgency defensively, none," Calipari fumed after
his team improved to 3-0.
Watching Sam Houston State put together a record-setting
performance from behind the arc, it was hard to argue.
The Bearkats made 18 of 38 3-pointers, including 11 by senior
guard Corey Allmond, to keep things interesting deep into the
second half no matter how hard Calipari tried to get the Wildcats
to ramp up the defensive pressure.
He called time-outs. He pulled players out. He yelled so loudly
his voice echoed off the Rupp Arena rafters.
None of it slowed Allmond, whose 11 3s were a Rupp Arena record.
"I knew I was going to get a lot of open looks because of the
fast pace they play," said Allmond, who finished with a
career-high 37 points.
Sometimes, Allmond didn't even have to be open. During one
sequence in the first half he knocked down an off-balance
double-pump 3-pointer with Kentucky guard John Wall draped all over
him, then followed it up with another one from the corner in which
he somehow got the ball over the outstretched hands of 6-foot-9
Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson.
"Sometimes we didn't bring it a lot on the defensive end and
other times we just messed up on a lack of communication,"
Kentucky forward Darius Miller said. "We didn't play how we wanted
There were bright spots for the Wildcats. Freshman center
DeMarcus Cousins led Kentucky with 27 points and 18 rebounds and
Patterson added 20 points and nine boards. The Wildcats shot 60
percent from the floor and dominated the lane, outscoring the
Bearkats 48-18 in the paint. Wall finished with 21 points and six
assists and Eric Bledsoe scored 19 points for Kentucky.
Still, it wasn't exactly the kind of crisp performance Calipari
was looking for after Kentucky narrowly escaped an upset bid by
Miami (Ohio) on Monday, when Wall hit a last-second jumper to lift
the Wildcats to victory.
There were no such heroics necessary this time, but the joy felt
during Wall's dynamic debut was replaced with a sense of unease as
Kentucky allowed another team to light it up from behind the
Calipari called Miami's performance - the RedHawks made 15 of 26
3-pointers - somewhat of a fluke and said he was "ecstatic" after
the Wildcats rallied from an 18-point deficit to win.
He wasn't quite so cheery when Kentucky failed to put away the
Bearkats. Neither was his team after enduring a tirade from their
coach that Cousins called a "10" on a scale of 1-10.
"We're not doing like we're supposed to," said Wall. "We've
still got a lot of work to do. Until everybody takes pride in it,
we're going to be struggling."
Cousins played with the kind of effort he admits he's lacked at
"In high school I would come out running and walking up and
down the court and when I felt like playing, I did," Cousins said.
"Coach Calipari changed my mentality and I started to play a lot
better. I just turned it up a notch."
His teammates appeared to follow suit when the Wildcats opened
the second half with a 7-0 run to push the lead 60-42. Yet they
simply couldn't get free.
Every time the Wildcats appeared to be ready to break it open,
they would commit a turnover and the Bearkats would answer with
another deep jumper.
Sam Houston State pulled to 81-73 with 6:58 remaining before one
last burst by the Wildcats pushed the lead to 94-77. The Bearkats
never got within 10 the rest of the way. Still, it felt closer than
"If we don't do better defensively folks (we are in trouble,"
Calipari said. "Do you think we can score 100 against everybody?
Because we're going to have to. They are going to score 100 against