Alongside the missed layups, the defensive struggles and the lack of rebounding, energy was a serious problem during the first half of tonight’s game. And fans weren’t the only ones who noticed. Nick Richards was also painfully aware of their energy issues during the first twenty minutes of the regular season.
“We were sluggish in the first half,” Richards said following the Cats’ 73-63 victory. “We were just, like, chilling. Everybody didn’t have a little groove to them.”
Although the Cats never fully put the Wolverines away, they were eventually able to find a little bit of this “groove.” Their second half performance brought the energy, excitement, speed and, yes, dunks, Kentucky basketball is all about.
“In the second half, we said ‘we’re Kentucky. They’re Utah Valley. We can’t let them beat us or let this game get out of control,'” Richards said. “Everybody came together and just had a bit more energy, more spirit, to hopefully try and get the dub.”
So what took the team so long? Like John Calipari has been saying for months, it’s simply their age and level of inexperience.
“I don’t know what it was, but I think it was just the first time playing in Rupp, for me,” Richards said. “I had a little bit of butterflies in my stomach, but as the game went on, they went away.”
It was far from Richards’ best game. Against Centre, the big man finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Tonight, he ended with ten points and three rebounds. But at the end of the day, it was about the team coming out with a victory.
“In the second half, we proved that we were the better team.”