As much as it hurts to piece together my post game thoughts on the game I will hold my head up high and do just that. The Cats have had a remarkable season and one loss is not going to change anything they were able to do. These guys fought hard all year long to get where we are today and we hadn’t lost since @ Arkansas on February 23rd, an amazing run to end the season. Don’t forget that.
As with any loss there are the obvious negatives like the Cats inability to put the ball in the basket, shooting just 33.9% from the field and only finishing with 55 total. As they often have all season long the freshmen carried the team tonight, combining for 41 of the 55. The veterans got us here, but were unable to produce like they had in the previous nine games. Harrellson, Liggins, and Miller were tentative all game long, hesitant to play with a purpose, and ultimately combined for only 14 points.
Kentucky lived and died by the three tonight, going 9-27 for 33.3% (ironic). They also shot the ball terribly from the free throw line (4-12 for 33.3%), if I had to put a finger on the difference in the game that would be it. Overall the shooting was horrific, possibly due to the largest final four crowd ever of 75,421 and the depth perception of playing in Reliant stadium, but that is no excuse, UConn had the same situation. 21-62 for 33.9% is eerily similar to last year’s elite exit vs. West Virgina.
As for the biggest play of the game, it had to be the front end of the one and one for Terrence Jones right out of the timeout. From that point on it was panic mode for the Cats. Jones went 0-5 from the line.
I also have to question the diagrammed 3-pt shot by Liggins when the Cats were down 2 with 16 seconds remaining. I understand the philosophy, but playing for overtime is the safe call. In the post game DeAndre admitted the play was not designed for the deep shot but he felt open and took it.
Brandon Knight shook off a slow start and led the Cats in scoring with 17 points, Lamb 13 and Terrence Jones with 11.
Many of you will say “Next year is ours”, and I agree, but we have to be appreciative what this team was able to accomplish in the face of adversity. They came together at the right time, were playing their best basketball heading into the tournament and one bad night ended it. Remember when we couldn’t win a road game? They fought through it and ended up being the overall favorite to win the whole thing!
Let’s be patient for next year, enjoy what has been done and celebrate UK’s 14th Final Four. At least they were able to get that monkey off our back, now on to the next step, #8.