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John Calipari’s team may just not be as good as people thought this season.
No. 20 Kentucky — which started the season ranked No. 8 in the country — lost its third straight contest on Sunday afternoon, and looked rough doing it.
The Wildcats fell to winless Georgia Tech 79-62 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, something that is sure to cause them to tumble out of the rankings on Monday.
The game was tight most of the first half, until the Yellow Jackets whipped out a quick 13-0 run to secure a seven-point halftime lead. From there, they never looked back while cruising to the 17-point win — their first of the year and first against Kentucky since 2000.
Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner — who worked under Calipari as an assistant at Memphis — became the first former assistant to beat Calipari in 18 tries.
Moses Wright led the Yellow Jackets with 21 points and eight rebounds in the win. Bubba Parham finished with 17 points while shooting 7 of 10 from the field, and Kyle Sturdivant added 15 off the bench. Georgia Tech out-rebounded the Wildcats 32-25 and forced 21 turnovers.
Terrence Clarke led Kentucky with 22 points, and Brandon Boston Jr. finished with 11 points. They were the only two Wildcats to score in double figures.
“We had 21 turnovers and they got 30 points off them. I mean, you probably don’t even need to speak on anything else,” Calipari said. “Then all they did was spread the court and held the ball and hope to break us down, which they did a couple times ... Defense isn’t our issue. Turning the ball over [is].”
Kentucky’s worst start in 20 years
With Sunday’s loss, Calipari and the Wildcats have now officially gotten out to the worst start the program has seen in 20 years.
After an easy win against Morehead State to open their season, the Wildcats suffered a brutal upset loss to Richmond at home last month. The Spiders beat Kentucky 76-64 at Rupp Arena, which marked their first win against a top-10 team in program history.
Kentucky then dropped a close matchup with No. 7 Kansas at the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday.
The last time Kentucky has started 1-3 was during the 2000-01 season, when Tubby Smith was at the helm. That Wildcats team rallied to finish 20-10 and won the SEC title before making a Sweet 16 run in the NCAA tournament.
“You look at all this stuff, it’s either a setback or you’re ready to say it’s setting us up for something we need to do,” Calipari said. “Because every one of these games we’re learning. Now, we need to start winning some games ... but we haven’t been in the game where I can help them the last couple of games.”
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