After stinging loss at Missouri, runway for Kentucky's upside is running out

What happened here at Mizzou Arena should sting. And what could happen in the near future might sting, too.

"And uh, you know, it’s, uh, you know, we’re ..."

That was coach John Calipari at one point in his postgame press conference Saturday taking a crack at putting words about his Kentucky basketball team's 69-60 loss at Missouri into a useful sentence.

He eventually found the right track.

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"This one should sting them," Calipari said.

Yes, what happened here at Mizzou Arena should sting. And what could happen in the near future might sting, too.

The No. 22 Wildcats (17-6, 6-4) likely won't win when leading scorer Kevin Knox scores just five points and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander needs 16 shots to be the only UK player to reach double figures. Or when they make only two out of 20 shots from beyond the 3-point arc and shoot a season-low 31.2 percent overall. Or when they make just 16 free throws. Or when they finish the final 5:55 of the first half without a single point and finish the game with a season-low 60.

All those things happened here Saturday. Yeah, that stings.

And here's what's coming up next: Kentucky plays seven teams projected to make the NCAA Tournament in its final eight regular-season games.

Yeah, this sting could last awhile.

"The road for us, the next eight games — shoo, we could lose all eight," Calipari said.

"So we’ve got to pick it up, and let’s go, figure it out as a coach. Like I said, I coached the whole game. I wasn’t going to give up on them, and I didn’t."

Safe bet here: It's never a good thing when a Hall of Fame coach feels the need, unprompted, to assure us they did not give up during a game. As if that was in question or this team has been more often compared to the 2013 bunch that expired in the NIT instead of the surprising '14 squad that turned a disappointing regular season into a run to the Final Four.

That's not what's happening. Yet.

Don't worry, folks, Calipari isn't giving up. But here are some troubling things he said after the loss: