Like many of us, Avery Johnson believed his team had a very good chance to upset the Cats this afternoon. Unfortunately, his team didn’t.
“I thought this was going to be a very winnable game,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have a great first half, dug ourselves a hole, didn’t have great body language, played on our heels. We were a little fearful for some reason in the first half. We gave them too much respect.”
Later on, Johnson said his players weren’t exactly scared of Kentucky, but they just couldn’t process the game plan. That’s a shame, because Johnson said Kentucky was far from its best today.
“I thought when I was looking at Kentucky, and I’ve got a lot of respect for them, just like all the teams in our league, I was thinking in my mind, I was like, wow, this is the night to beat them. This is a great afternoon to beat them. They weren’t clicking on all cylinders, it’s not like in the first half they were playing lights out basketball and they were shooting a low percentage. I thought we held them to 65-60 points, we could very well win this game. But our first half was just pathetic.”
Even though Kentucky showed more hustle in this game than the last five combined, Johnson maintains that the Kentucky’s better than the team that beat his by nine.
“I just think in terms of matchup, that’s a really talented team, now. After this year, we all know it, there’s no real secret, a couple of those guys are going to hear their name called. I know we’re not supposed to say that because we’re in college, but they have a system of one-and-done and two-and-done players. So, a lot of those guys are going to get their name called. When I saw the way they were performing in the first half, I was thinking, wow, this really could be our day. I didn’t see them as sharp as they have been other games throughout the year and based on a nine-point lead at halftime, I was thinking, hey, go and make a couple of adjustments, let’s come out and execute, but we came out, threw the ball all over the gym, didn’t make our free throws, and then finally, somewhere under 10 minutes, we got a couple of stops but we never could have anything sustainable. I just thought, watching them, they didn’t play their best basketball, and if they did, probably would have won by more than nine points.”
With a big recruiting class on the way in, it’s only a matter of time before Avery and his team get a statement win. Thankfully, it wasn’t today.