There's no such thing as a moral victory. At the end of this game, we are still 3-7 in the SEC with our hopes for postseason play all but in the toilet. It's another disappointing loss in which we failed to make a number of relatively easy plays down the stretch that might have given us a chance to win. That being said, I'm not sure we have a player who could start for the #2 Wildcats, and we played them on their home floor without making an ass out of ourselves. So, I would say we at least exceeded expectations tonight.
We started Brock over Torrance at PG. I really didn't understand that move, but we got off to a good start, that nobody got to see thanks to ESPN's piss poor scheduling. Allow me to go off on a tangent for a moment. I can understand missing the first minute or so of the game with the VCU/George Mason game going down to the wire. However, when they are showing a game that's not even in HD, between two teams who combined don't even have a fanbase the size of our's, much less Kentucky's, ESPN needs to use a little common sense and go to Regional coverage at the very least.
Anyway, things started off well, with Hillman actually making a couple of early baskets and we built an early 7 point lead. It was unrealistic to expect the lights out shooting to continue, and Kentucky established their dominance on the glass. They used their quickness and athleticism to attack the basket and get us in foul trouble. Once again, Kentucky shot 31 free throws to our 10, but at least we made the most of the chances we got, shooting 90% from the charity stripe.
A couple of good things to take from this game...Kentucky stretched the lead to 14 early in the second half, but we actually showed some poise and managed to get back into the game. We had the ball only down 6 around the 4 minute mark but couldn't get any closer. We stayed in the zone as much as we could and made the young, impatient Kentucky team make some bad decisions on offense. Still, when we had a chance to turn a close game into a nail biter, we took bad shots or failed to finish great opportunities. Hillman forced some bad shots down the stretch and Brock continues to drive in and forget that he's under 6 feet and get rejected. We still haven't learned to make the plays that need to be made in the clutch. Contrast that will UK's wall, who made difficult, improbable shots everytime we got back within striking distance. That's why they are a final four contender, and we will be lucky to make the NIT.
Games like this are a good measuring stick. While we all knew going in we aren't on UK's level, you would have to think we are on the right track if we can be semi competitive on their home court at this point. If Coach Grant can recruit, we should at least be contenders in the West in a couple of years.
Up next, the suprising leaders of the SEC West, Arkansas Razorbacks come to Tuscaloosa Saturday for a 3pm tipoff. We need to get revenge for an earlier loss in Fayetteville, a game that we had a very good chance to win until Senario Hillman got ejected. We need to get back on track and finish strong if we want a shot at postseason play.