So the Cats win the game and in the process frustrate all with a slow start, but a win 73-67. The arena was packed to the hilt with blue and likely had 80-85 percent Kentucky fans going crazy during the second half runs that won the game. There was however a lot of nervousness and it spilled over not only to the fans, but the players as well, and all were tense in the first half. But like they say, that is why you play two halves, and in the second half the regular Cats took over for the victory. Some notes from the locker room:
— To a man, all the players had the same reaction. They all believed that Kentucky was not ready to play when the game began. Patrick Patterson said, “we came here and thought we were focused and we were not…and that starts with me.” Demarcus Cousins said, “Coach Cal said everyone else would be playing to survive and we didnt do the same thing. It wont happen again.” That is what Kentucky fans have their fingers crossed for, as too many starts like the one against Alabama, can lead to a postseason loss that they do not expect.
— At the SEC Tournament, the locker room is open after the game, which means the strange sight of people, including cameras, walking around while kids are changing clothes and trying to get ready to get out of the room. It is always strange and that is before the awful smells in the room. Count me as not a fan.
— Early in the game, an official gave a warning to Josh Harrellson and he immediately took a seat with a sheepish look. I asked him after the game about it and he said, “that ref is my boy…he wanted us to all sit down and he thought I had a leadership role. So I became a leader. Thats what I do.” He was smiling the whole time…Jorts rules.
— What a great performance by John Wall, as he absolutely dominated large parts of the game. Part of the reason for that ability was the better performance by Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe said after the game that Calipari showed him clips of his play at the beginning of the year so “I could see again what I could do. Sometimes I forget that and it was really helpful to see it again,” Bledsoe said afterwards.
— Big shout out to Perry Stevenson. He gave great effort and production early, when few others did. IT was good to see and shows the value of the Senior leaders when things are going South.
— Patrick Patterson scored 20 points, but only had 4 rebounds, and none in the first half. However afterwards, he took total responsibility. “Thats all on me,” he said. “I have to give total effort and not stand around and watch. I was standing around and watching and there is no excuse for that.”
— The happiest people in the city? The scalpers, who now have another day of fun. While tickets were outrageous early, right before the game, the tickets became more reasonable. The lesson is that if you come and be patient tomorrow, you can get in. Dont get suckered by the HUGE prices being charged early.
We are taping the podcast at Hooters in between sessions. I will be back tonight to do a journal during the night session. If you are in Nashville, come out and visit us. And if not, read the journal tonight, with more tidbits from behind the scenes on a fun day in Nashville.