By LARRY VAUGHT
Evansville’s “super small” lineup Tuesday forced Kentucky to make adjustments it obviously was not ready to make.
“They just started driving the ball which forced us to go small. I don’t think we ever played Keion Brooks at the five in practice,” Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley said after UK’s loss. “That was a good coaching adjustment on their part.”
Yes it was. But the Aces got some help from Kentucky.
“We had a couple of guys that didn’t box out. We got so antsy to get rebounds that we all kind of went into the lane including myself, but we just have to make that adjustment, box out and get back to the other fundamentals,” Quickley admitted.
Senior grad transfer Nate Sestina had no trouble accepting blame for the loss.
“I said it the other day where a team like this could come out and play harder (than us) and they did,” Sestina said. “I got outplayed today, gave up a bunch of points at the end of the game, couldn’t really guard anybody, so I got to take a lot of blame to that and late in the game just not being able to guard guys that are smaller than me.”
Sestina also said Calipari was right about Evansville being the tougher team.
“Just got to be mentally tough late in the game, especially when I’m tired, and I wasn’t,” Sestina said.
So think about it:
— Evansville had a strategy that Kentucky was not ready for.
— Kentucky didn’t go after rebounds.
— The Aces played harder than UK.
— Kentucky was not physically and mentally tough.
All are fixable problems, so maybe as devastating as the loss appeared, could it help UK in the long run?
“I think just like Duke last year, when we got smacked in the face it kind of woke all of us up and we were able to regroup and we’re playing for March and hopefully April,” Quickley said.