LEXINGTON, Ky. —
Overall, the statistics were pretty good for the Wildcats, who bounced back from those two losses by outrebounding the Bulldogs 41-25 and holding them to 40 percent shooting.
At the very least Calipari wanted more aggression from his players after they struggled to challenge Baylor on shots or for rebounds in Saturday's 64-55 loss. The coach even called out his squad about their commitment on Monday, suggesting that his team could benefit from some extra time in the gym.
For one half, the Wildcats gave their coach what they wanted.
Defensively, they dove for loose balls and challenged the Bulldogs on almost every shot and pass. The first-half result was 4-of-20 shooting (20 percent), a 23-13 rebounding advantage and 14 turnovers leading to 24 points.
Kentucky was just as impressive with the ball, shooting 17 of 32 from the field in the first half while committing just seven turnovers. The Wildcats' control of the boards included a 6-1 edge in offensive rebounds that seemed to please their coach the most.
Kentucky's play also contradicted the comments of Samford coach Bennie Seltzer, who told his team that this Kentucky squad wasn't talented as past Wildcat teams. And he didn't back away from his remarks.
"I said a lot about this team, but it was all for motivation," Seltzer said. "I said they are human just like you. There is no need to go out there and be afraid. There are 24,000 people in the stands and not one of them can play defense, so relax. They're still not as good as some of their teams."
Kentucky shot even better in the second half (58 percent) but only outscored Samford 43-42 as defensive lapses allowed the Bulldogs to find their way offensively. They shot 52 percent in the second half.
"I think we got a little complacent," Cauley-Stein said. "We have to keep pushing when we have a big lead."