In John Calipari’s first three seasons at UK he consistently recruited the top high school players, had multiple first round picks, and made a deep tournament run every year. Now he’s got some time on his hands as the listless Wildcats were bounced from the NIT in the first round by tiny Robert Morris 59-57 in Moon Township PA Tuesday night. Archie Goodwin continued his strong late-season play leading all scorers with 18 points. Jarrod Polson, who played 3x the minutes of starting point guard Ryan Harrow, was the only other UK player in double figures with 10. Robert Morris was led by forward Lucky Jones with 15 points before he was ejected with 3:41 left after a hard foul on Goodwin. Russell Johnson added 14 for the Colonials, who were regular season champions of the Northeastern Conference before losing in the conference tournament semi-finals. LIU-Brooklyn, who won the NEC tournament and the auto bid to the NCAA tournament, lost to Kentucky by 29 on November 23rd in Rupp Arena.
Robert Morris, which averaged roughly 1000 fans for their home games, sold out their 3076 seat arena within hours of the announcement UK would be visiting. After the win, the fans gave the NIT their first court storming in recent memory.
But as great of a night and spotlight as it was for the Colonials, the story was UK’s underachieving season. Now, as has become custom for Big Blue Nation following the end of the basketball season, all eyes turn toward recruiting and determining who will be back from this year’s team. Afterwards Archie Goodwin confirmed that he didn’t think anybody should leave for the pros, and Alex Poythress agreed. Willie Cauley-Stein, who played well in extended minutes after Nerlens Noel’s injury, echoed that sentiment but stopped short of a definitive answer, saying he would talk to his family and wait for draft projections.
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