Calipari says Cats can’t listen to ‘clutter’ after back-to-back home setbacks

Published 10:23 am Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Kentucky coach John Calipari isn’t down on the Wildcats.

“I’ve just got to keep being positive and let’s go — next game, move on,” the Kentucky coach said. “We got everything out in front of us. The league is really good. We’ll see where it goes.”

Following back-to-back home losses to Florida and sixth-ranked Tennessee last week, No. 17 Kentucky, which has lost three of its past four games, will attempt to return to its winning ways Tuesday night at Vanderbilt. The Cats tumbled seven spots in the latest AP poll.

Two days following a 103-92 setback to the Volunteers, Kentucky assistant coach Bruiser Flint said the Wildcats have been in a good mindset.

“Our morale has been good — we’re not losing to bums,” Flint said Monday. “We need to focus in on what we need to do moving forward. This league is really good, so we need to focus in on what we need to (do). This league is tough, there are no nights off in the SEC.”

Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham, who scored a career-high 35 points in the loss to the Vols, agreed with Flint.

“It’s a mindset, it’s how everybody comes to play,” Dillingham said. “It’s how everybody looks at it. If everybody comes together, we’ll win games, but if everybody’s not connected all the way, then we’re not going to do the little stuff. We’re still young.”

Despite three setbacks squeezed in between a win at Arkansas during the past two weeks, Calipari said the Wildcats (15-6, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) were “ possessions away from (winning) all of (those) other games.”

“That’s why you got to stay the course — you can’t listen to the negative stuff,” he said. “You can’t listen to all of the clutter. We are still a good team and now we have to get healthy and we have to get back on track. But, there is a lot of people that would like to have my team.”

The Commodores (6-15, 1-7 SEC) lost their first seven league encounters before experiencing a breakthrough with a 68-61 win over Missouri Saturday at Memorial Gym.

Even though Vanderbilt has struggled against conference foes, Flint said the Wildcats aren’t taking the Commodores lightly.

“Like Cal always says, we’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” Flint said of the Commodores. “So, we expect them to play at their best. Last year, they really beat us off the dribble when we played them. We expect them to do a lot of that again this year.”

Dillingham honored

After averaging 27.5 points, four assists and 2.5 rebounds per game in two games last week, Dillingham was named SEC Freshman of the Week.

Dillingham’s outing against Volunteers, marked the fourth highest scoring output by a freshman in the Calipari era.

“Robert did well (against Tennessee) and Robert kept us in the game,” Calipari said. “In the first half, we were down four because Robert made basket after basket.”

Dillingham has scored in double figures 17 times this season, including four games with 20 or more points.