For about eight minutes, Kentucky basketball returned to Rupp Arena Saturday. Surely you saw it just like I did.
A frustrated Tubby Smith went to a four-guard lineup with his team trailing 14-10 and the Cats responded with a wonderful 22-9 run that included my favorite play from the game. UK forced a turnover, Ramel Bradley picked it up and passed to Joe Crawford. Crawford immediately got the ball ahead to Rajon Rondo and he wasted no time going inside to Randolph Morris for a dunk. It was a quick, efficient play that resulted in an easy basket.
"It felt good. Randolph was scoring. I was driving. We were running and pressing. We had the game won if we just kept playing that way," Crawford said.
So why didn't Kentucky keep playing with that passion? Was it because Smith got frustrated when the Cats gave up two 3-pointers to end the first half and went back to a bigger lineup for most of the second half? Was it because Morris got three fouls and then not only had trouble playing defense, but no one would throw him the ball? Was it because Smith refused to play a zone defense even when Jermareo Davidson was almost scoring at will inside?
"We just were not as aggressive the second half," Crawford said. "It was like we were playing not to lose. We quit attacking. We didn't want to make mistakes and we went away from playing basketball like we know how to do."
To me, the "we didn't want to make mistakes" was a huge statement. It shows this team either lacks confidence or is afraid to win. Since all these players are accustomed to winning, it must be confidence. Either Smith has put the fear of God into his players, or they are being overwhelmed by the pressure of Kentucky basketball or individual agendas.
Could it be the players don't trust each other? "I hope not," Crawford said. "But at the end of the game, we didn't get the ball into the post. I guess we did kind of panic because we thought we could get it done on our own.
"People are putting too much weight on their own shoulders. We should be more confident. We had good chemistry going that first half, and then it just went away. We had spurts when we played well. But we just can't seem to keep it going."
Inconsistency once again reigns supreme
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