By LARRY VAUGHT
This statement by Kentucky freshman center Nick Richards might offer the perfect perspective into UK’s season that has already produced seven losses after Tuesday’s 61-59 loss to Tennessee.
“It’s tougher for us because we actually played our hardest and it’s at home. You can’t really lose games at home. It’s heartbreaking,” Richards said.
Does that mean Richards doesn’t believe UK played its “hardest” in the previous six games? Were the other losses not that tough on the Cats?
“Coach talked about what we did wrong in the end,” Richards said about the postgame locker room. ” Guys were still trying to figure out what we were doing wrong.
“It was really quiet in there; this game really hurt us to be honest. It was just a learning lesson we just have to move forward on and get ready for the next game.”
Learning lesson? Wonder how many learning lessons it will take for UK to figure out what it takes to be more consistent?
“It’s just another game…just another learning process. Coach always tells us ‘it’s either you win or you learn’ so were just going to take this game as a learning opportunity, forget about it and get ready for Texas A&M this weekend,” Richards said.
“We fought. Guys were making shots. We played good defense throughout the entire game but we couldn’t find enough energy to get enough stops in the end. They made the shots and we didn’t make the shots, that was the result so we took the L. They made stops and we didn’t. That’s how it basically happened.”
So what happens now as UK prepares to play at Texas A&M Saturday night?
“Regroup as a team, get ready for practice. Of course, we have an off day tomorrow but were not taking this as a loss were taking this as a learning process,” Richards said Tuesday night.
Coach John Calipari was philosophical after the loss. He blamed himself for not taking a late timeout before UK turned the ball over twice.
“We had some guys not play great defensively, but they played well enough, we fought, we did some good stuff, we still had some turnovers that were unnecessary, but we’re on the right track now. If this is who we are, I’m feeling good.,” Calipari said.
“If you notice, we went to a little more grind it out basketball because of who we are. And that was a good defensive team and a good offensive team and we did — like I said, other than them making just about every free throw down the stretch, we did what we were supposed to. ”