The first half between Kentucky and Seton Hall may have set the game of basketball back a century, but both sides apparently hopped in the DeLorean to bring things right back up to speed after the break.
Seton Hall’s Myles Powell hit a jumper with 10:14 remaining in the game, and then followed it up with five of six makes from beyond the arc by the end of regulation. On Kentucky’s side of things, Keldon Johnson drilled a half court heave at the buzzer to send the game to overtime, and then hit another three in the corner to take back the lead with just 44 seconds remaining in overtime. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be enough, as Seton Hall’s Myles Cale drilled an open three on the wing to win with just over nine ticks remaining.
The game didn’t end in Kentucky’s favor, and there’s plenty to be frustrated about as a fan. Even throwing all of the offensive struggles in the first half and defensive mix-ups in the second out the window, the Wildcats had a chance to win it at the end and couldn’t convert.
But for that brief stretch of time where both teams hit clutch shot after clutch shot, the Kentucky players couldn’t help but be wowed by the competitiveness.
“(The best way to describe it is) crazy,” sophomore forward PJ Washington said after the game. “Some shots you don’t expect to go in, and they go in. And you’re just like “wow.” Once our shot went in, we were just ready to go into overtime and come back and win this game.”
As for his shot specifically, Keldon Johnson said he knew he could drill it if he got some open space. He just wishes the highlight led to a victory, not a crushing loss.
“I knew if I got the shot off, I had a pretty good chance of making it,” he said. “That’s just my confidence in myself. When it went in, I was just thinking we needed to go get it in overtime, move on to the next play. We can’t be stuck on the half court shot, we need to focus on overtime and get the win. … It was a big shot, it was pretty big. I mean, it just hurt because we lost.”
When it came down to Powell’s big performance from the perimeter, Washington is proud of the way they guarded him in the first, but he just found a way to hit big shot after big shot after the intermission.
“We played great defense on him in the first half, but in the second he got going a little bit,” Washington said. “He just started making tough, contested shots over us. He played his butt off, they’re a good team. We’ll watch the film and learn from it.”
The Kentucky sophomore forward said the team wanted to make sure Powell didn’t have an opportunity to hit the game-winner in overtime. With a double-team, it allowed Cale to find some space and add a game-winner to his career highlight reel.
“We didn’t want No. 13 to shoot the ball, so we sent two people out on him,” he said. “I kind of hedged over just in case they threw it to the guy next to them. They threw the skip, we closed out, jumped at it, but unfortunately he made the shot. Sometimes they make those, sometimes they don’t. We just need to learn from it and keep pushing on.”
Is the team worried about their performance? Washington said not in the slightest.
“Not at all, we fought this game,” he said. “We got better, obviously from the first game. We played a lot better on the defensive end. As long as we play like we did in the first half (and keep the offensive success from the second half), things are going to be great for us.”
But how, exactly?
“We’ve just got to finish, we’ve just got to make shots,” Washington said. “That’s the biggest thing. We feel like we can play great on the defensive end, but we’ve got to make open shots. We’ve just got to have confidence on both ends of the floor.”