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Cats better embrace pivotal minutes at end of game

Tyrese Maxey (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky has lost four games by a total of 15 points, including a 3-point loss at South Carolina for its only blemish in Southeastern Conference play going into Tuesday  night’s home game against Georgia.

But the Cats had to come from behind in the final eight minutes to win 73-66 at Arkansas Saturday. They had to rally in the second half to win 78-69 at Georgia. They had to hold off Alabama in Rupp Arena 76-67. The only double-digit win came by 12 points against Missouri in Rupp Arena to open SEC play.

So does that mean a lot more close games are ahead for UK and is it encouraging the way UK closed the game at Arkansas Saturday under adverse circumstances?

“A lot of solace. I’m really proud of the guys,” Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne said after Saturday’s win at Arkansas. “Again, we teach — the last 10 minutes of a game, the last eight minutes of a game is winning time for us.

“So regardless of what has happened before that, it’s going to come down to those last pivotal minutes of the game. You better embrace it. We talk about it in practice. We look at it on film. We talk about it when we watch NBA games and playoff atmospheres.

“It’s going to come down to critical points in games. How are you going to handle it? It’s not going to be easy. Guys are going make tough shots at critical times.

“You better make sure that we’re executing defensively and executing offensively.”

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