The Kentucky Wildcats lost to the two-loss Auburn Tigers on Saturday night. In a showdown of a couple of SEC powerhouses, the Tigers came out victorious in what was a hard-to-swallow game for Kentucky.
Taking a trip down south, the Wildcats had high expectations coming off four straight victories. Heading into the game, sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley knew the Cats were in for a challenge against the No. 17-ranked Tigers.
“Honestly, Auburn is a really good team. They play really hard,” Quickley said.
That’s exactly what lost the Wildcats the game: Playing hard.
It was obvious from even those watching on television that the Wildcats were being outworked. On the stat sheet, it showed as well were out-rebounded 42-28. They were -11 on the offensive boards on well.
“Rebounding is just toughness, and they out-toughed us today, so we’ll clean it up. We’ll watch film. We’ll do more toughness drills when we get back to practice. But really rebounding just comes one-on-one, boxing out and getting the ball.
With 23 points, Quickley was the most impactful Wildcat, yet the team, in part led by the guard, wasn’t able to get the job done late. What’s even more painful is how the final five minutes played out.
Up 60-59 with 4:10 to go, the Wildcats were outscored 16-6 in the final minutes. On a team that has more experience than most Wildcat rosters, it’s disappointing to see these final few minutes not work in their favor.
Kentucky must be better. Quickley knows it. Coach Cal knows it, and the entire team should feel the national pressure as SEC play will start to ramp up in the next few weeks.