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Top-seeded Kentucky upset by Robert Morris in first round of NIT

Mar 19, 2013, 9:57 PM EDT

John Calipari AP

Kentucky missed out on the NCAA tournament on Selection Sunday and now, one game into the NIT, they’ve been sent home.

The No. 1-seeded Wildcats turned the ball over 14 times and fell to No. 8 Robert Morris, 59-57, at the Sewall Center in Coraopolis, Pa., Tuesday.

With nine seconds to play, Robert Morris was set to in-bound from the left corner on the baseline under its basket. Robert Morris coach Andy Toole drew up a play that caught Kentucky freshman Alex Poythress out of position with the basket left open. Center Willie Cauley-Stein was able to block the first Robert Morris layup attempt, but fouled junior Mike McFadden on the putback.

McFadden sank both free throws and Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer was unable to hit what would have been a game-winning three in the final seconds. Robert Morris made all 14 of its free throws on the night and was +5 in turnover margin.

The loss ends what has been a tumultuous season for Kentucky, one year after winning the national championship. It seemed coach John Calipari was unable to bring all of the new pieces together for this team as he had last season and the two years prior. But to compare this year’s team to the national championship team, as convenient as the argument may because of the common factor of youth, is not fair.

Calipari’s team should be evaluated on a sliding scale of youth. For as “young” as Kentucky was, led by Player of the Year Anthony Davis last year, then-sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb had played significant minutes during their freshman seasons and were veterans comparatively. Darius Miller was the senior anchor to the entire operation and guard play was more consistent.

Losing Nerlens Noel in the middle of the conference season certainly didn’t help this year’s Kentucky team, either. It was one more major adjustment for a team that had had problems doing just that throughout the season.

We are still yet to see how many of these players will stick around for another year in Lexington. If he is to pursue what is in his best interest, Nerlens Noel will enter the NBA draft and is all but a lock for the Top 5. Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin are both projected to be first round picks by DraftExpress.com, meaning they would receive guaranteed contracts if they were selected.

Calipari already has a stellar recruiting class lined up for 2013 and may not be done yet. The nation’s best player, Andrew Wiggins, has the Wildcats on his final list, as does top prospect Julius Randle.

For as painful as this season was for Kentucky, it will be rinse and repeat in the off-season. If a few key players return next year, added to the top-level recruits slated to come to Lexington, this 2012-13 campaign may feel like a distant memory by the midway point of next season.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

  1. thejjtrain - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    Well someone/ones found the edit button on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Morris_Colonials_men's_basketball

  2. baseballer28 - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:27 PM

    At least Carolina made it to the finals in 2010. Eat that bluegrass assholes!!!!!

    • xli2006 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:40 PM

      “Bluegrassholes” would also suffice.

  3. florida727 - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    Being a Florida fan, I should be ecstatic about this… but I’m not. College basketball is better when historically great traditions like Kentucky, UCLA, North Carolina, Duke, Indiana, etc., are all in the mix for a national title.

    This team had a lot of problems all season long, starting with the “uncoachableness” of these freshmen. DraftExpress.com might still project four of them in the first round of the NBA draft, but I don’t see it. Their stock has to have dropped by their attitude and selfishness that was on display all season long. Some in Lexington believe they all will declare however. In large part because some of these so-called “stars” might not even play much based on who they’ll likely see coming on campus next season. Calipari has to be glad this season is over.

    • ransomstoddard1 - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      I can’t disagree with your second sentence more. What makes the tournament so great is that any team that gets hot can make a run. Conceding the tourney to the “blue bloods” (and if you haven’t looked, Duke and IU are both strong candidates this year) basically implies that everyone else shouldn’t bother.

  4. gatordontplay - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    paging imforbigblue come out of hiding b@@@@

  5. jthammerstix - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    Uk lost 4 out their last 5 games. They aren’t good. Show your face bigblue

  6. chumthumper - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    You live by the one-and-done; you die by the one-and-done.

  7. arlingtonsynn - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    Well… looks like UK is the one and done. In the NIT no less. Ouch Lexington.

  8. stopthehate15bowdown - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    Ha ha haaaaaa!!!!! Maybe we should reconsider that “National Championship”
    Rock chalk jayhawk!!

  9. 32stork - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    Nerlens Noel will be just another average center in the NBA, just like 95% of the centers in the NBA: average. Making him a top 5 pick is a joke.

  10. larrybrown43 - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    Haha. Karma? Arkansas deserved to be there anyway.

  11. cranespy - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:07 AM

    BBN: Time to look back on the season just ended by the Colonials of Robert Morris! Blame is already being laid squarely at the feet of these underachieving, self centered one and doners…….NOT SO FAST….it would behoove all Cat fans to look back at how the season started in Lexington. All access on the Flagship Network featuring the anointing of this group by Coach Cal and hordes of UK fans at the first practice which had all the makings of a huge hip hop concert….with player intros that even the Heat would be proud of! The question from the start wasn’t whether or not the Cats were going to repeat as Champs but how many were they going to win in succession…..to borrow from LBJ…..4…5..6..7???!!!!!

    Instead Cal failed to find the right formula…..BBN really should not be shocked…..while Cal has been a Master Recruiter….he really is not all that good a game coach. (Given the group Cal had would they have lost to the Colonials with Billy the Kid or Bill Self or Rick Pitino or Jim Boheim or even Bob Huggins at the helm?

    Fortunate for Cal…..while the natives may be restless….they are not going to axe him. Cal’s biggest problem now is knowing where they are!

  12. timb12 - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:57 AM

    Who the heck is Robert Morris? And how did he beat Kentucky by himself?

  13. fmlizard - Mar 20, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    I’m a Gopher fan…I know the NIT. How did Kentucky end up playing at Robert Morris? The Cats were the higher seed and I’m sure there’s far more revenue at Rupp.

    • florida727 - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:20 AM

      1st and 2nd round games in the real tournament are being played in Rupp, so Kentucky had to play on the road. Had they played into next week, they likely would have gotten a home game. I’m guessing the NIT brass would have loved the revenue from Rupp. Oh well…

  14. ukcatsfan - Mar 20, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    As a die hard this was one of the toughest seasons for me to watch. We had a down year, VERY DOWN! I will still support the Cats and Coach Cal……..hope this keeps a couple of guys around and next year we actually have some depth! Now it’s time to root on the Lady Cats!!!!

  15. Pastor Benjamen S. Long - Mar 20, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    …absolutely love this game. Where on any given night a team’s inconsistent play can take them from “fame to shame”. I love this game (smile).

  16. packerbadger - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Yeah, well…um…well, um….you want fries with that?

  17. Solomon Walker - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    Kentucky deserves to lose. No one in that state knows how to play a decent game of round ball. Few that show good sportsmanship, anyway. I hope and pray that they keep losing.

    No, I am not a bitter person. Was wronged by the State of Kentucky that acted unlawfully.

    So, I don’t care that you lose at basketball – a favorite game of mine.

    • kf257 - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      So UofL and WKU, two good programs are totally out of your consideration because you dont like UK. Right. Just processing that.

      • Solomon Walker - Oct 16, 2013 at 5:05 PM

        Why…I agree.
        In fact, my balls disappear quite frequently each time I have visited the state.

  18. cranespy - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    The news today can’t be good for Cal……his 3 one and doners have decided to stay….Hmmmm……with 5 blue chips already signed for next year and the chance still to get one or both of the top 3 undecideds as of yet……two things are becoming increasingly clear. 1. This could be the greatest recruiting class of all time. And 2. With the 3 unsuccessful holdovers hanging around…..potential for huge playing time and chemistry issues are likely! Let’s see if ole Cal can coach em up and avoid a repeat of this years embarrassment.

  19. gatordontplay - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    imforbigblue????

  20. ww2chas - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    In a few months the Ky players won’t even care. They just played this year to show every scout that they were worth being considered for the NBA draft! Hope these KIDS can speak a foreign language because the only “professional” basketball most of them will be playing will be in another country!
    And you know from watching some of the post game interviews with these players, they sure as heck don’t know how to speak proper English! GET A FREAKIN EDUCATION WHILE YOU ARE AT SCHOOL!

  21. jpopejoy - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    This makes me so happy

  22. kf257 - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    I think the argument as to whether the UK omission from the NCAA tourney was a snub or not has been settled.

  23. rodh32340 - Mar 22, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    Kentucky wasn’t “upset”…they have played up and down all year, great talent-no leaders. robert Morris was the better team!

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