By LARRY VAUGHT
Did losing to LSU provide any kind of extra motivation for Kentucky going into Saturday night’s game against No. 1 Tennessee in Rupp Arena?
“I think we were going to come in motivated regardless. But, losing that game just has us with more fire to win the next one,” said Kentucky freshman EJ Montgomery.
He said UK definitely learned one thing against LSU.
“We just have to keep fighting throughout the whole game and never let up,” Montgomery said. “I just think we got lackadaisical on defense. We let guys get to the rim easy, but we’ve been working on that every day.”
Freshman Keldon Johnson agreed.
“When we went over film, we definitely had a lot of plays that wasn’t so good that led to their run. It was just a lot of mental lapses,” Johnson said.
Montgomery said getting over the “tough loss” was what UK had been working on in practice the past few days.
“Tough practice the next day, going at it, competing in practice, just getting ready for the next game,” Montgomery said.
“We put that behind us. We learned from it,. We put it behind us and we got our eyes set on this game tomorrow,” Johnson said Friday. “You gotta get over it (the loss) pretty quick. We got another big game coming up. That’s every game in the SEC. Lose, win or draw, you gotta get over it pretty quick and prepare for the next game coming up.”
Montgomery said Calipari had a simple message after Tuesday’s loss.
“Just that we put that on ourselves, we shouldn’t have gotten in that position. But we have to move on and focus on the next game,” Montgomery said.
That next game is Tennessee, a team that is unbeaten in SEC play. Kentucky now has two SEC losses.
“This game is a very important game. We’re trying to go out there and win every time we step on the floor,” Montgomery said.
“We had a great practice yesterday,” Johnson said. “We all came in focused, a lot of energy, ready to play and you can just tell on everybody’s faces that everybody was still locked in and they’re ready for the game tomorrow.”