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Calipari's Ejection Sums Up UK Loss to South Carolina & the 2013-14 Season

This article appears courtesy of KY Forward and is written by James Pennington. KY Forward's coverage of UK Athletics is sponsored by Republic Bank.

Kentucky continued its stubborn non-committal to this season, flailing and floundering in a 72-67 road loss to South Carolina on Saturday. John Calipari was ejected with 10 minutes to play, and the Wildcats were at their best in the quarter of a game that followed. That the Wildcats almost salvaged a win Saturday without this team’s architect on the sideline was remarkable, but the loss to the second-worst team in the Southeastern Conference won’t be remembered for the scrambling near-comeback tagged to the end.

The Wildcats were lost, beaten down despite 21 offensive rebounds and getting to the free-throw line 42 times. James Young and Aaron Harrison sat in the post-game press conference and continued to say the things they’ve said after Kentucky’s seven other losses. They’ll learn from this, because they simply weren’t executing and weren’t listening to Calipari, and that’s all it was, and those are things that can be fixed.

Saturday was March 1, and Kentucky is still playing basketball in March under the ruse that it is a young team that just needs to learn from its mistakes, and by golly, they’re going to learn. There’s a lapse somewhere between Kentucky’s mind, hands and feet. Nothing seems fully wrong with any of the three, because the last five minutes in Columbia on Saturday showed that the Wildcats have moments of strength in them when everything lines up fine. But somewhere, something is misfiring that’s causing the poor decision-making, forgotten assignments and lazy execution that damned Kentucky on Saturday to its worst loss since Billy Gillispie was its coach.

The last time Kentucky lost to South Carolina was Jan. 26, 2010. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Patrick Patterson were the propellants of that team, which was playing its first game since moving up to No. 1 in the country in that week’s Associated Press top 25. Then-South Carolina coach Darrin Horn had a plan to slow Kentucky down: Any time a South Carolina shot went up, he had a guard run straight back so that Wall couldn’t sprint down the court and get easy points without contest. South Carolina won that game, the fans stormed the court just like they did Thursday, but it all wasn’t a big deal, really. Things happened, because things happen, and everyone moved on.

Saturday’s loss was different. South Carolina didn’t take huge risks because that was the only way it would win. It didn’t really do much of anything outside its normal game. Instead, the Wildcats wilted when things weren’t going their way. Calipari gave up, because the players had already given up. At that point, it wasn’t too late to salvage a game, but that may not be the case with regard to the season at large. did not travel to Columbia, S.C., to cover Saturday’s game.

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