By LARRY VAUGHT
Without Reid Travis at Tennessee, Kentucky was no match for the Vols on Saturday.
Sophomore Nick Richards and freshman EJ Montgomery were not able to provide the inside muscle that Travis had a few weeks earlier when UK beat Tennessee in Rupp Arena. However, Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee said Monday they were not the reason UK lost at Tennessee.
“As a group, nobody performed well in our collective group, and that’s the end result, a 20-point loss to a top-10 team in their home-court environment,” Barbee said. “So it wasn’t just Nick and EJ. There was not one person on our team that played in that game that performed up to their level of expectations for themselves or for the coaching staff.”
Kentucky will try to bounce back tonight at Ole Miss and keep its hopes alive of earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“Well, we shouldn’t be (rattled) and we shouldn’t have been affected at Tennessee. I mean, that’s every atmosphere we face on the road. It’s sold out, typically, it’s a hostile environment, and everybody wants to beat Kentucky,” Barbee said. “So, it was very out of character for us to get rattled in that environment, and I expect our guys to bounce back in this next road trip.”
Barbee said the Tennessee loss was partially due to Tennessee’s good play and partially due to UK mistakes.
“They’re a very good team so there’s nothing to take away from Tennessee. They did what they were supposed to do on their home court, we did what we were supposed to do on our home court versus them, but definitely when we look back and watch the film, we had some guys back up defensively,” Barbee said. “Some guys individually, and thus collectively as a team. We’ll take that as a learning opportunity and try to make those changes in this upcoming game.”