Raise your hand if you thought Kentucky really deserved to beat Vanderbilt tonight — not Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, not Quade Green, not Kevin Knox, but the entire team as a whole.
Thought so. The Cats got really lucky to come away with a win tonight, but thanks to Shai, they fought through a West Virginia hangover and stole the W, avoiding what would have been their worst loss thus far; according to Kenny Payne, that’s just the Kentucky way.
“In the end we kept fighting. I mean my hat goes off to them because they played so hard and you could say they deserved to win, but welcome to Kentucky,” Payne said, smiling.
The litany of errors is long and depressing, especially when you consider it came against the worst team in the league; however, the fact that these young Cats came up with a win is enough for tonight. Payne insisted the coaching staff will not let tonight’s issues slide.
“I’m not happy at all,” Payne said. “I’m sure Coach Calipari is not happy at all. We are thankful we won the game, but the coaching staff’s not happy because we’re trying to trend in a direction. We’re trying to build this team up to play a certain way to be ready for SEC tournament play, to be ready for an NCAA run and to be honest with you, the way we played that first half, tentative. Not aggressive. Not communicating on defense. Defensive lapses, you’re going to get beat if you’re playing tournament basketball like that. So are we content? Not at all. Will we be harder on the players? Believe me, we will.”
For now, let’s just be grateful we avoided a really bad loss.