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LSU loss probably helped Kentucky beat Vols

Keldon Johnson battles for a loose ball. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

What kind of message did building a 24-point lead over No. 1 Tennessee and eventually winning by 17 points send to college basketball about Kentucky?

“We are just doing what we do in practice every day. We listen to our coaches and that’s what we do, we are just doing what we do in practice,” Johnson, who had 13 points in five minutes in the first half, said.  “Got a big win, you know.”

Johnson said PJ Washington, who got UK’s first seven points and finished with 23, has to be the team’s first option every game.

“I mean you can always go to him and I was definitely fine with it,” Johnson said. “I started off hot and he got it going, and I was just like take it and run with it, and do what you have to do man. We believe in everything he can do, and we trust him out there to do what he has to do.”

Kentucky had squandered some big leads in games this season, including Tuesday when it ended up losing at home to LSU. Calipari said the LSU loss is why went Tennessee went on a 13-0 run to cut into UK’s lead that his team didn’t wilt.

“We lost to LSU. So I hit them right after the game with LSU and just said, ‘Hey, that was a tough loss, but you know what, we needed it. Because our team is changing, we’re not the defensive team that we have been. We have individuals changing how they were playing when they were successful. We need to get it back. We need to go back to what we were,'” Calipari said.

“And you know what, sometimes you got to get knocked in the head to know that. So the loss to LSU probably helped us win this game.
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3 comments

  1. Disappointing losses along the path of a full season are experienced by all, or nearly all teams. However, I do not subscribe to the idea that losses are ever good things. Some losses are worse than others, just like some wins are more significant than others, but losing is not a good thing.

    I would much prefer that the official made the goal tending call on that last basket Tuesday night, and that the Cats won that game in OT, but I do not believe that because it didn’t happen that way, somehow UK managed to beat a far superior Tennessee team last night. Tennessee is not a far superior team to this UK team, and has not been. Last night did not suddenly change that. What did happen is the carriage that comes with such elevated subjective ranking that Tennessee has held turned into the pumpkin last night, and they were exposed on the national stage.

    The LSU game was one of 3 stinkers turned in by this team since game 6, and last night was not even one of those 3 gems at the other end of the spectrum. It was a very nice win.

    With 6 regular season games, hopefully 3 SEC T games remaining, and hopefully 6 NCAA T games remaining, I suspect that this team has one more gem and one more stinker yet to be unveiled. So did the 2012 team, and it occurred in the SEC T that year. Given the comments by Coach Calipari about his views of the SEC T, I would expect the last stinker is likely during that event.

  2. The LSU loss sucked, but it did get this team to focus and play harder against UT. That was the hardest played game of the year for KY. Everyone was focused and ready to play, well , I guess Nick tried. Here’s a tidbit, we are 4th in both national polls and 2nd in the SEC. The SEC office gave UT and LSU a cakewalk through the first 2/3 of the conference schedule and gave us the hardest schedule by far. The league is trying to ensure more Big Dance teams with higher seeds at our expense possibly. 5 of our 6 remaining games are as tough as they come. Has this team gelled and become a contender or was that just the result of a must win game at home? Only God knows, but we will all know soon enough. Whoever gets the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament will be in the driver’s seat as the other 2 teams will have to play 2 double bye teams instead of one.

  3. This team is a legitimate championship contender.

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