Alabama Crimson Tide 48, Kentucky Wildcats 55: Post Game Pepto Bismol

Andy Lyons

How do you spell relief? V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.

I don't give a hot, steaming bucket of crap how ugly it was, this was a great win to me. God knows, this team has struggled the last three games like no team I've ever seen. All I can say is that Kentucky won this basketball game, and how they won it makes absolutely no difference to me.

Congratulations, and consolations, to the Alabama Crimson Tide. They have had a dismal season for all sorts of reasons, a good bit of it out of their control. Coming into Rupp Arena 0-for the season on the SEC road and trying to get the win on senior night is a tough task under the best of circumstances. This was anything but that. All the best to the Tide, they deserved better than this season. Not that I'd give this win up for anything, though.

For Kentucky, man, what a struggle. They simply could not make the ball go in EXCEPT, for the most part, from the free throw line. Shooting a good percentage from the line when you can't throw it in the ocean from the floor can save you, and honestly, it saved Kentucky tonight.

Look, no Wildcat fans are going to consider this game memorable, or a thing of beauty. I will remember it because two of our outstanding seniors from Kentucky contributed the winning margin less one. I'll remember it because it was a win Kentucky needed so badly, however it was done, to recover themselves and have some semblance of reason to hope, however faint that hope might be. I'll remember it because the Wildcats could have succumbed, but refused to do so.

Final statistics

Observations

  • Kentucky as a team is in a major shooting slump. They had a ton of open looks tonight, and missed 75% of them. 20% were bad shots, but 80% were clean looks. You have to make more than that.

  • Kentucky really put forth a good effort on defense tonight. I loved all the high hands, and although they were fewer and fewer as the game went on, they never vanished completely.

  • Kentucky is snakebitten with the officials. I am confident these refs tried to do the best they could, but good grief, they ... were really, really bad. No postseason for any of them, I trust.

  • Don't buy the Jimmy Dykes baloney sausage that the officials in the NCAA Tournament will go back to calling it close. That's not going to happen.

  • Calipari's demeanor — that was different. And better. Just sayin'.

  • I must say that this is the happiest I have ever been after a game this unsightly. The ball movement wasn't awful, not a lot of turnovers, but you have to make shots.

  • This isn't exactly the kind of game you watch and say, "Wow, Kentucky's about to go on a deep run!" At the same time, I feel weirdly giddy about the victory. I think maybe I've been doing this too long.

  • For some of the time out there, I thought this team acted like they were having fun. Not a lot of fun, but even a little is different — and better.

There really isn't a lot to say about how Kentucky played, but frankly, this was just something they needed to get behind them. It doesn't have anything to with intensity, or leadership, or any of those "soft skills." This had to be a game Kentucky won regardless of what went wrong, and they did that.

I can't even express how important it is for Kentucky to keep shooting threes. The reason they are losing is because they don't shoot them at the right time, and they let it bother them when they miss. You can't do that. James Young, to his credit, was horrible from the arc tonight, but he made a huge one because he trusted himself. If they will all simply remember that, everything will be better.

Take that shot. Pull the trigger. Do it within the offense. If you miss, fine, but sooner or later, they will fall. Even if it isn't this season, you have to trust yourself enough to take it and forget the shot you missed. Work on it in practice, but when you're a perimeter player and you get an open shot in the offense, let it fly and don't worry about the result.

If this team is going to win, they have to shoot threes. Everyone has decided to make Kentucky win from out there, and if they are going to win, they have to make that shot and make it often. That's all there is to it. The 3-point shot knocked 2010 out of the NCAA Tournament. It finally defeated 2011 in the Final Four. If UK can't make it at a fair percentage, all the rebounding in the world won't help.

Big win. I'm happy. I'm not pleased with the shooting, but this was good. I'll worry about Florida later.  Postmortem tomorrow.

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