ARLINGTON (AP) – Kentucky coach John Calipari was asked about the chances of his young Wildcats getting to play in the Dallas Cowboys’ massive stadium again in four months.
“For us? What you just watched?,” Calipari asked. “We’re just trying to win our next game and get tougher.”
All the freshmen are good, but the third-ranked Wildcats are still a long way from getting back there for the Final Four in April after a 67-62 loss to No. 20 Baylor on Friday night.
The Wildcats (7-2) had a 50-41 lead when Julius Randle, one of three Kentucky freshmen playing in their home state, had a slam dunk with 13 minutes left.
Baylor (8-1) responded with a 15-5 run when Kenny Chery, the junior college transfer who is their primary newcomer, came up big. The point guard’s jumper started the run and his two free throws with 6 minutes left made it 56-55 — and the Bears never trailed again.
James Young’s 3-pointer with just over 3 minutes left got Kentucky within 61-60, and then he tied up the 7-foot-1 Isaiah Austin for a rebound under the Baylor basket. But he missed two free throws with 2:22 left.
Royce O’Neale had a putback basket with 1:20 left, which was Baylor’s third shot on that possession.
“They outhustled us. They outworked us. They deserved to win,” Calipari said. “Three rebounds, four rebounds down the stretch in the last 4 minutes we win the game. They got every single one of them. It’s who we are right now. Everything is based on how I’m scoring and what I’m doing and it’s not based on that part of the game, that toughness.”
Randle, who is from the Dallas area, had 16 points for Kentucky while Aaron Harrison had 15 and Young 14 with four 3-pointers.
Austin and Cory Jefferson had 13 points each for the Bears, who beat Kentucky for the second straight year. Rico Gathers had 13 rebounds.
“We just didn’t make the necessary plays,” said Randle, looking down while speaking softly. “Just focus on the little things down the stretch. We’ll be all right.”
Blue-clad Kentucky fans easily outnumbered those of the local team, and they will certainly multiple in numbers if they get to come back to the NFL stadium when it will be much fuller and louder.
‘ ‘That was a great crowd for us. I don’t know how these people made it here,” Calipari said. “They must have been on dog sleds or something.”
With Baylor’s football team playing at home about 100 miles away Saturday with a chance to clinch the Big 12 title, and icy conditions that made driving treacherous from the Waco campus, the crowd was under 10,000.
Plus, the game already scheduled to start after 9 p.m. local time started more than an hour late. The Top 10-ranked women’s teams from the two schools played four overtimes in the opener of the doubleheader. No. 5 Kentucky beat No. 9 Baylor 133-130 in the highest-scoring Division I women’s game ever.
It was the third straight season the Baylor and Kentucky men played. Last December, the Bears won 64-55 at Rupp Arena to end a 54-game home winning streak by Kentucky, which beat Baylor 82-70 in an NCAA tournament regional final in March 2012.
Kentucky trailed by nine points early, but recovered to tie the game at 27, 29, 31, 33 and 35 before Andrew Harrison’s 3-pointer with 19 seconds left in the first half put the Wildcats up 38-35. They opened the second half with an 8-2 run.
Baylor had a 16-7 lead after Jefferson had a rebound that led to his assist on Chery’s jumper only 4:22 into the game.
The Wildcats responded with a 15-7 run, and were down by only one after Aaron Harrison’s third 3-pointer in less than 5 minutes.
Young’s 3-pointer with 7 minutes left tied the game at 27. That was the first time Kentucky hadn’t trailed since Young scored its first five points of the game for a 5-4 lead.
The other Kentucky freshmen playing in their home state were 6-foot-6 twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison from Richmond, about 4½ hours south, near Houston.
“We’re a group of guys, we’re definitely going to get better,” Aaron Henderson said. “Just like Coach said, we really didn’t execute like we’re supposed to.”
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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