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Kentucky (10) 73 @ North Carolina 75: Postmortem

I am furious about this game, and any of you who participated in the open game thread will know why.  But that is by the by, and we are leaving that in the game thread.

Congratulations to the North Carolina Tar Heels on their outstanding victory.  The Heels dominated Kentucky in the paint, and they did a marvelous job of shooting free throws when the game was on the line.  Props to North Carolina fans for creating a Final Four atmosphere in the Dean Dome, which is exactly what this game calls for.  Great game by Tyler Zeller and John Henson, they really dominated the game inside the paint.

For Kentucky, this is a tough, brutal loss.  Speaking as a Kentucky fan, my disappointment on losing this game could be measured on the Richter scale.  I know we played well enough to win, and a gritty effort by Doron Lamb and DeAndre Liggins now goes by the boards.  I know that this is sometimes how basketball goes, but right now, I am absolutely inconsolable.  This is a game Kentucky should have won, and frankly deserved to win.  Alas, we did not.

Game observations:

  • We knew we had a hole in the middle, and a thin bench.  Both came to the fore today.
  • Josh Harrellson did yeoman's work when he wasn't saddled with foul trouble.  Harrellson has got to improve his foot movement and understand that without him, UK is in a tough spot in the paint.  I know he didn't intend to pick up all those fouls, but if he can't figure out how not to, big games are going to come with great difficulty.
  • Doron Lamb did everything right.  There is nothing to criticize, and much to praise.  Game ball.
  • DeAndre Liggins was a defensive monster and contributed some excellent offense.  Normally, he played well enough to earn the game ball, but today, Lamb was just a little better.
  • Brandon Knight had a very good game overall, but he made some mistakes that cost UK, including missing the front end of a huge one and one.  Point guards just can't do that.
  • Terrence Jones just wasn't utilized correctly today, or he didn't follow the instructions of the staff.  He also missed four free throws in a row.  It's hard to be too critical of him, though, he did some good things out there.
  • Darius Miller came and went, but mostly he did okay.  I continue to be disappointed in his level of contribution, but he did not completely disappear as he so often does.
  • We have got to develop a little more depth.  Where was Jon Hood, and why?  I think Calipari forgot about him.
  • Eloy Vargas was exposed today.  He has miles to go before he is a quality player at this level.
  • Props to Carolina for their toughness in the face of yet another horrible game by Harrison Barnes.  Props to Barnes for playing tough despite continuing shooting woes.

I have several more comments that I would really like to make, but I am not going to do so.  Just like coaches, blogs like this one often have to swallow their disappointment and leave some comments to others.  Despite the fact that I think UK deserved to win this game, Carolina also played well enough to win, and ultimately, they did.

The overall effect of this loss is hard to measure right now.  I am convinced these young Kentucky players are very much disenchanted with the game at this precise moment.  But they must put it behind them and move on, just as we fans must.  The Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Louisville loom, and yours truly will be attending that game in person.

And I will be hoping, and expecting, a better outcome.