at least in my book. This was a case of the team having a bad shooting night. The effort was there, but sometimes the execution fails despite the best effort.
We outplayed Florida defensively, something I would have bet you money we couldn't do. They just made one more 3 pointer than we did (or three free throws, etc.). There is no understanding or explaining why Ramel Bradley, an 80%+ free throw shooter went 3-8 at the line. It just happens sometimes. Nobody can say he wasn't prepared, or that he didn't give every ounce of effort necessary to succeed - those things simply couldn't overcome the innate perversity of events which sometimes defeat our best effort and preparation. Some call it "bad luck", but whatever it is, it happens -- in life and in basketball games.
Kentucky put together its best defensive effort of the season, unquestionably. It won't be reflected in the statistics, but neither will the excellent in-game coaching and preparation by Tubby Smith & Co. These things will go largely unreported except by Kentucky's more discriminating fans. National pundits will rightly laud Florida for coming into a rollicking Rupp Arena and getting the win, but they will scarcely comment on the fact that the Wildcats are the only program so far to completely outplay a 100% healthy Florida team defensively and, but for a few unfortunate bounces unrelated to foolish or careless play, would have won the game.
A perusal of the game statistics illustrates what I am talking about. We out-rebounded Florida impressively, 40-33, including an formidable 11-5 advantage on the offensive glass against a much better OR team. We turned the ball over only 10 times, a total we have matched or exceeded only twice this year. We fouled out Noah, the first time that has happened this year. We held the second most efficient offense in the nation to 47% shooting from 2 and 29% from 3 and their lowest point output of the season.
Unfortunately, we were unable to the one thing that you must do to win a basketball game -- put the ball into the basket. We were great at keeping Florida from doing that, and make no mistake -- we stopped them a lot. Lee Humphrey never got an open shot, UF's front court was good but not dominant, and we got lots of good, clean looks from outside -- which we unfortunately failed to make.
Ultimately, this was a loss to a superior team, but not as superior as the statistics would appear to indicate. Florida was fortunate to win this game, and UK was even more unfortunate to lose it. Was it a "good loss?" No such thing, in my mind, but at least we can walk away from the game knowing one thing we didn't know before -- UK is completely capable of beating Florida even when we don't play our best, and that is something I never would have believed going into this game.