LEXINGTON, Ky. – LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — John Calipari says the day after his top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats were knocked from their unbeaten perch, he got a call from the last coach who lost after climbing to No. 1 in the polls.
Texas coach Rick Barnes, whose Longhorns were No. 1 until back-to-back losses last week allowed Kentucky to overtake them, told Calipari that being at the top meant being "under attack."
The first-year Kentucky coach had warned his players about that, but Tuesday night they experienced it firsthand during South Carolina's 68-62 victory. The Gamecocks had lost their previous games against top-ranked teams.
"We saw it," Calipari said Wednesday night, calling into his radio show during a recruiting trip. "It was like more than we could believe. We weren't ready for that. You're under attack, and you've got to step it up."
With the Wildcats' loss, no unbeatens remain in men's Division I college basketball. Texas had the only other perfect record a week ago, before defeats against Kansas State and Connecticut changed that.
Calipari called the Wildcats' loss a "collective effort" in which they got "out-hustled and out-coached on all fronts." He reserved the toughest criticism for himself.
"The reason this job and this coaching profession isn't for everybody is because of times like this when you take it on the chin," he said.
Barnes is just the latest celebrity to call the Kentucky coach. Also Wednesday, he spoke with comedian Bill Cosby, who relayed: "I want you to tell your team they have to play like they've been there."
On Tuesday, hours before tip-off, President Barack Obama rang Calipari and the players, mostly to praise them for raising more than $1 million for earthquake relief in Haiti but also warning them about the perils of being No. 1.
Thus, the loss came with plenty warning, Calipari said, who urged his team to use it as a teachable moment.
"I kept telling everybody, 'We're going to get bit,'" he said. "'You're going to let somebody hang around that you're better than, and we're going to get bit.' That was that game."