T.J. Lang (above) makes a three-pointer vs. Kentucky.
Since then the Mobile native has struggled with injury and confidence issues and has not found a consistent stroke from behind the arc. Even with the setbacks, Lang has shot 44 percent from three on the season and went two-for-two from deep on Saturday vs. Kentucky.
“I was just more engaged on both ends of the court,” said Lang after being asked about his good performance vs. the Wildcats. “As far as the (early season) injuries go, yeah, I was hurt for a little while this season, but that was no excuse for the way I was playing at the beginning of the year. I just wasn’t as engaged or as focused as I should have been.”
Lang noted that he believes he and his team have turned a corner on the season and are preparing for bigger and better things going forward.
“Now, I feel like it’s all starting to come together,” Lang said. “As a team I feel like we are all starting to come together. We had two good practices before the Kentucky game. It kind of seemed like everything was starting to click.”
Lang knows that his future successes on the court stem from staying engaged as well as his improved play on defense.
“I’ve just got to stay engaged,” remarked Lang, who is averaging five points and 1.8 rebounds per game. “I’ve got to be more of a leader on the defensive end, just kind of keep everything in order and talk people through coverages. Also, offensively, just make shots, go crash rebounds and just do anything we can to help our team win.”
Lang admitted that the Kentucky win was huge for the morale of the team and the victory has instilled belief that the Tigers can compete with anybody.
“It was big,” Lang said. “Growing up everybody talks about how Kentucky basketball is the best in the country. The way our season was going, we had lost to Missouri and lost to Vanderbilt. This was just a really big win for us. It changed everybody’s whole mental perspective of the year. If we can beat Kentucky, then there is no reason that we should lose to anybody else.”
The Tigers (8-8, 2-3 SEC) will now continue preparing for Tuesday’s game where they will play host to the Alabama Crimson Tide (10-6, 1-3 SEC). Lang, being an in-state guy, said he would have to do a little explaining to his teammates to help them understand the significance of this rivalry outside of it being another SEC contest.
“We have a lot of teammates from a lot of different areas so they didn’t grow up around the big Alabama-Auburn rivalry,” he said. “Especially with the emergence of basketball in the state now, it’s no longer just a football rivalry. It’s a little more than that.”
The sophomore guard predicted that his teammate, point guard Kareem Canty, would be ready for action vs. the Tide. Canty scored 26 points vs. Kentucky, but had to wear a boot on Saturday and Sunday after hurting his ankle vs. the Wildcats.