John Calipari says his Kentucky Wildcats' loss to the Wisconsin Badgers in this year's national semifinals -- or at least part of it -- was due to his decision to leave slumping guards Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison on the floor.
Speaking with nearly six months of hindsight, Calipari said Sunday during a basketball coaches clinic in Los Angeles that inserting Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis in place of the Harrison twins could have helped Kentucky overcome Wisconsin and given them a shot to beat eventual champion Duke and complete a 40-0 season.
Instead, Wisconsin won 71-64, with the Harrisons missing seven of their last eight shots combined.
"Now you may say, 'Why didn't you have Tyler and Devin in at the end of the Wisconsin game? You probably would have won,'" Calipari said, according to USA Today Sports. "Because I was being loyal to those other two who led us to a championship game a year ago and they deserve to be on that court. That's why I did it. I knew who was playing well and who was struggling. You think I wasn't sitting there watching?
"But I owed it to those two (the Harrison twins) to do it."
Kentucky's last, best chance came when it trailed by three with 12 seconds left.
But Karl-Anthony Towns, who went on to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NBA draft, received the ball in the post and got fouled. He made only one free throw, and from there, Wisconsin iced it from the line.
Calipari sought to clarify his remarks later Monday via Twitter.
Let me make this clear: The twins dragged us to a Final 4 in 2014 & led us to 38 straight wins & a Final 4 in 2015. I LOVED coaching them.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 28, 2015
It never entered my mind to sub those two in that game or any other game late.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 28, 2015
Those two had come through for two years in critical moments. My loyalty was based on results.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 28, 2015
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.