By LARRY VAUGHT
Which Kentucky team will show up at the Southeastern Conference Tournament?
Will it be the one that lost four straight games and also got pummeled at Florida Saturday? Or will it be the one that averaged 87 points and 16 assists per game during a four-game win streak?
“I think the good team will show up in St. Louis,” freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said Tuesday. “We’ve watched a lot (of film) the last couple of days. We realized we messed up and where we went wrong (at Florida). I think we’re all in the right mindset, we just have to try and fix them (the mistakes).”
They’ve done it once. Kentucky looked terrific — at least offensively — during its four-game win streak.
“I think the streak helped a lot because we know what we did well during that streak to play as well as we did. We just have to go back to it,” Gilgeous-Alexander said.
This will be the first postseason game for Gilgeous-Alexander and many of his teammates. He’s currently being projected as a mid-first round pick in NBA mock drafts, so this could be his only March Madness experience at UK.
“It’s us against the world. We’re just going to try and compete as hard as possible. I think if we compete and do what coach wants us to do, we’ll be fine,” the freshman guard said.
He said the “doe or die” atmosphere should add more urgency for Kentucky — or any team.
“I think that adds a little bit. Just us knowing what we need to do to get back to that mindset and that game plan where we were at when we won four in a row,” Gilgeous-Alexander said.
Kentucky has won the last three SEC Tournaments but goes into play Friday at about 3:30 p.m. EST as the No. 4 seed. It will play either Georgia, Vanderbilt or Missouri.
“I don’t think we’re too worried about our seeding for the SEC Tournament. We’re just trying to be the best team that we can be in the postseason. Nothing really matters until March, to win games in March, to be able to be a really good basketball team and that’s what we’re going to try and do,” Gilgeous-Alexander said.
“I think the league is pretty good. From first until however many teams are in the league, there’s going to be competition in every game. Everyone is going to have to bring it.”
Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 13.2 points per game. He leads the team in steals (49), assists (151), free-throw percentage (.808) and minutes per game (32.9). He was named to the All-SEC second team in a vote by league coaches.
“It’s an honor. We play in a really tough conference with a lot of great players. It feels good to be recognized amongst those players. It’s not something I cherish too much though because I’m focused on team goals right now,” Gilgeous-Alexander said.