By LARRY VAUGHT
It had been 72 hours since Kentucky lost by 34 points to Duke but UK freshman EJ Montgomery still had no real explanation for the game after the Cats beat Southern Illinois Friday.
“With the Duke game, I’m not sure what happened,” Montgomery, who had 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks Friday, said.
The freshman said it was important for the team to play harder against Southern Illinois than it had in the season opening game.
“It was definitely something that we wanted to show because we do that every day in practice,” Montgomery said. “Just wanted to come out with energy and fight, it was a close game and I wanted to push the lead (in the second half).”
What sparked UK when it was down 44-37 midway of the second half?
“We just tried to compete on the defensive end. We tried to get stops and get easy buckets in transition because that’s what were best at as a team,” Montgomery said.
Kentucky had 13 turnovers the first 13 minutes of the game. Freshman point guard Immanuel Quickley, who had 15 points, called it a “little sloppy” by the Cats.
“Some of it was just being aggressive and sometimes when you’re being aggressive you’re trying to make plays and you’re going to make mistakes. I think we sharpened up in the second half though and we finished with about 19 (turnovers), so I think we did a good job in the second half,” Quickley said.
He had the turnover total right — showing coach John Calipari obviously had pointed that out to the team and made it clear they would go through all 19 turnovers in film study.
Quickley said the team’s “energy and effort” intensified the second half and showed what the team can do.
“This team is really good. With that I think we just have to keep getting better each and every day individually and as a team,” Quickley said. “Coach Calipari is doing a great job with us and we’re just going to keep getting better.”