When we look back on the UK season this year and try to figure out what the turning points were in the year, unfortunately this may be one of the big ones. Losing to Gardner-Webb could have been an aberration, falling to UNC and IU is understandable, but the loss to UAB will be the one that stings. Coming off a 12 point loss to South Florida at home, UAB was the kind of game the Cats simply must win to make this season salvageable. But the loss at home (or something close to home) requires the Cats to make magic in the SEC, a fortune that seems less and less likely each game.
On the whole, the Cats didnt play badly. Patrick Patterson and Ramel Bradley put forth great efforts once again, and Joe Crawford had a solid second half. The Cats got the best game of the season from Michael Porter and got some decent minutes from Mark Coury. Nevertheless the Cats lost, even after having a 14 points second half lead on two different occasions. Most will point to the surreal play of Robert Vaden, who scored 28 in the second half as the difference and he was of course, crucial. But I once again was disappointed by some decisions coaching-wise that I just cant fathom. Gillispie left Michael Porter on Vaden the entire second half….Porter gave maximum effort and performed admirably, but simply could not keep up. I cant understand why another number wasnt called. Some argue that Porter has great lateral quickness and is a good defender, but even if you believe this, as he is getting torched for 28, why not even consider Bradley or Harris on Vaden. Watching the lack of adjustment was almost mind-boggling on every level. Similarly, as Jimmy Dykes (who is great by the way) kept pointing out, the Cats looked baffled by the 1-3-1 defense and had no answer when UAB used it to make its second-half run. One has to wonder how no adjustments could be made time after time.
Ultimately there are some things to be positive about. The Cats put forth great effort tonight and were as intense as in any game of the season. Even players who have struggled all year had better games and you cant say that anyone played badly. However I watched the game and found myself thinking, “that Mike Davis is coaching well,” and that is never EVER good. So no matter how positively one wants to feel, you also have to come to this realization. The Cats played their best game of the year and lost…..to UAB. That is not good.