Wow…..admit it….you got excited. That wasnt a great shot at the end of the game, but man I thought it was in. Lots of things went wrong for Kentucky….there was some terrible shooting, an awful start that put them deep in a hole and downright pitiful free throw shooting (even Smooth came up short). But still, the Cats never died and for the last 30 minutes, actually played some very impressive defense. But it wasnt enough as the Gators took out the CAts 64-61.
In a lot of ways this was a quintissential Tubby Smith game. The Cats brought the D, well at least for the last 30 minutes….after allowing 27 points in the first 10, the Cats only allowed 37 points in the last 30 minutes of the game. They held Noah to just 6 points, fouling him out. They basically kept Horford in check, although they allowed Richard to get early points. But they lost the game by not checking Corey Brewer. The Cats simply have no answer for Brewer, as Crawford and Thomas simply had no ability to stop his penetration or outside shooting.
Rupp Arena was AMAZING tonight. The atmosphere outside the arena was like a festival with people in as good a mood and approaching the game with more excitement than I have ever seen in my couple of years going to the games. The ten minutes before the game was as loud as I have ever heard any arena in America and the energy was unbelievable. Yet the start was poor, and for a while it looked like UK was overmatched. But after the first ten minutes, the Cats won by 13 in the last 30 and looked like a team that was able to be on the same court. But they couldnt hit a shot….any shot….in the key moments and that ultimately spelled the Cats’ doom.
There is something to remember about this game. Kentucky shot 3-22 from three point land….an abysmal percentage. I will just remind the many critics of the team who said in earlier games “well if they had just hit wide open shots, they would have won.” Well I hope those same folks make similar comments about the Cats tonight. Me, I think good defenses effect shots, even those that often look open…..Florida is a good to very good defensive team, and they were a factor in our shooting. Either way, a good performance for the most part (especially in the effort category), but a tough loss…..made tougher by the fact that at some point the team will look back and say we could have won that game.