I should probably just take some time off before posting, but I guess I don't have that luxury. The people need my voice to add to the cacophony of moans as the Cats pussed out tonight in a game they really needed to win, but lost, 89-85.
Let's do our part to focus on the negative, because that's what Big Blue Nation does. Why change now? I mean, all those "we showed we belonged" quotes post-Florida game were as hollow as the Kentucky gameplan for this one. I guess the assistant coaches didn't realize that Tennessee shoots three-pointers pretty well?
I'd love to give our guys major points for heart after coming back from 16 down, but why does it have to get there every game?
Despite the close ending, in many ways this game was lost midway through the first half. That's when -- after stifling the crowd and the shooters for the first 10-12 minutes -- the Tennessee crowd got riled up as a few Vols threes started landing and, instead of sacking up and answering, these Cats all but folded. If it weren't for Ramel Bradley taking charge and Joe Crawford picking up the slack thereafter, this game would have been an embarassment.
It took, what, 25 minutes for Tubby to break a sweat? Maybe 30 for him to lose his cool, despite a pretty good hosing from the refs. But the refs did not lose this game for UK, no matter how one-sided the non-calls seemed to UK fans. Rather, it was the Cats' absolutely unimagineable lack of urgency. Comebacks are great, especially wins I know, but it's funny how you can lose those games when you force yourself to battle from behind. A three-point loss with a shot to win is a loss, and one these guys cannot afford unless they really want a brutal bracket come Selection Sunday.
Do these guys really care so little about winning? It can't be. Maybe it's just an attitude we fans can't wrap our brains around, that there's always "one more game" or that it's just "one game in a long season."
Tennessee had 25 assists and 8 turnovers. Read that again. You think that doesn't show a lack of heart, hustle, floor burns and wanting it more?
Whether it was repeatedly allowing back-door cuts -- as if UK's players had never seen this team play before -- or simply being out-toughed in the paint, the Cats just didn't show up until it was almost too late. And then it was.
But how could that happen? It's mid-February. It's the stretch run. It's the Tennessee game. And you come out and get behind so far that even your best effort in the second half leaves you short. Again.
Time for a shakeup, you think, Tubby Smith? Maybe you should look to see if Bobby Perry might be better served -- clearly the team would be -- with a demotion. The guy is a momentum-builder ... for your opponent.
Two rebounds, four turnovers and 40% shooting in 18 useless minutes. Sheray Thomas? Eight boards. Perry Stevenson? Four rebounds, no turnovers in five minutes. Enough with Perry. It's in his head now, Tubby. Make the move. Do something.
At least the guy who we normally rake over the coals for a lazy/indifferent attitude, Randolph Morris, showed up to play. Fourteen points and 12 big boards.
But it all came too late, again. Look, I'm not giving up on this season. I just can't. It's not in my blood.
But however forgiving I am of a tough loss on the road in the conference, I'm not at all forgiving of leaving something in the tank after the final buzzer. And the lapses, where turnovers, mental miscues and generally passive defense turn slim leads into double-digit deficits, are quickly turning even the most die-hard loyalists into head-shaking mumblers.
It's sure done that for me.