Losses are never fun, and there’s always the cliche that this year’s basketball team has adopted, “you win, or you learn.” Most people hear that and kind of dismiss it, but this Kentucky team looks like they’ve learned from their loss to LSU. Even though we all hate losing, let’s be honest, Kentucky needed that loss.
After an incredible 10-game win streak, beating five ranked teams in that time, the Cats looked to be running out of gas. They looked complacent, and the defense wasn’t up to par. They fooled around and let teams come back from big leads multiple times, and it finally came back to bite them on Tuesday night. Granted, LSU won on a questionable call, but the optimistic view thinks it actually might have been a good thing.
Coach Cal agrees, Kentucky needed that loss.
“I hit them right after the game with LSU, it was a tough loss, but we needed it,” Said Cal. “Our team is changing we’re not the defensive team that we’ve been, we have individuals changing how they were playing when they were successful. We need to get it back; we need to go back to what we were, and sometimes you gotta get knocked in the head to know that. The loss to LSU, probably helped us win this game.”
Getting back focused and to the team, they were in the early part of the winning streak was a big point of emphasis.
“We knew what happened on Tuesday was unacceptable,” Said Keldon Johnson. “We came out this game locked in. Even though we had a couple of mental lapses, we stayed locked in the whole time.”
This team has done a complete 180 since the first game against Duke. That game took a big hit on their confidence, and as a team that is predicated on their confidence, seeing them respond more focused while keeping that confidence nearly four months removed from the Duke game is a good sign.
“I think it kind of brought us back to Earth, after our 10-game win streak,” said Tyler Herro. “We were high on each other, but getting back to focused and sticking to the game plan and executing…I think we’re confident always, but the loss to LSU put us back.”
Let’s not forget the 2014-15 season. Was it fun to watch them to pursue an undefeated season? Absolutely and of course we wanted to see them go 40-0, but there was a chunk of the fanbase that felt like that team needed to lose just one game to handle adversity to be ready for March. Just like the South Carolina loss in 2014, the overtime Arkansas loss in 2011, and the Vanderbilt loss in the 2012 SEC championship, the LSU loss feels like the loss that can propel this team into a deep March run.
Am I saying Kentucky will win every game here on out? Not one bit, they could easily lose in Knoxville, and a loss in the SEC tournament is plausible as well. But, I think we look back on the LSU loss and say that was the turning point that elevated this Kentucky team to another level.
Without the loss to LSU, Kentucky may have lost to Tennesee. I don’t know about you, but if I had to pick only one game to win between those two, I’m taking Tennesee every time.