"Florida is huge and the one thing that Florida did that Kentucky did not was that they played the whole game," Chattanooga's Casey Long said. "They never let up. Kentucky is a great talent. If they play the whole game, they will be good. Right now they are not doing that. That is the one big difference I see.
"Kentucky might have thought there was no need to fight any more against us. They just relaxed in the second half and good teams can't do that.
"Kentucky is a tough team, but we wanted to earn some respect from them. We felt during the game that they did not respect us. The only way to prove that was on the court and not talking about it. We made a team effort to get back in this game and we cut a big lead all the way to nine. We felt we could do that because they let up."
Guard Kevin Bridgewater, who is from Columbia in Adair County, said the Mocs got a break playing UK in Freedom Hall and not Rupp Arena.
"The UK atmosphere and the Florida atmosphere were sort of similar. I am pretty sure if the game had been at Rupp Arena, there would have been a lot more people there because the crowd really didn't bother us here," Bridgewater said.
So that's why this game was closer?
"I think it was just a fairly called game here. At Florida, they got their advantages being the national champion. Some of our guys were a little intimidated I would say going into national champions to play, and it showed," Bridgewater said. "Kentucky can play with them. Florida is a whole lot longer and more athletic, but it would be a good game. Florida is more up tempo. Their big men can bring the ball down the court because they are a lot more athletic."
However, Bridgewater left impressed with UK center Randolph Morris, who had 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots in 31 minutes.
"Morris is a whole lot better than I thought he was. You watch him on TV and he looks kind of lazy. Tonight he showed his game. He's a pro. He can play with any of those guys from Florida," Bridgewater said.
Chattanooga's top scorer Keddric Mayes says playing at Florida put the Mocs "more at ease" against Kentucky. He refused to say which team he thought was better.
"Florida beat us pretty bad, but that prepared us for this game," Mayes said. "Kentucky is a tough team. They know how to play. They were making so many outside shots (13-for-26 from 3-point range). They have not been shooting like that. (Ramel) Bradley was really good. We didn't expect that out of him."
Long said the combination of Bradley, who had a career-high 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting after moving to two guard, and Morris was more than the Mocs could counter. However, Bradley's play obviously surprised the Mocs a lot
"I was shocked that Ramel Bradley shot the ball like he did and Randolph Morris played like he did. We double in the post, and Randolph still hit some big shots. He was pretty tough and did his job better than we expected. But Bradley was the big surprise. We didn't think there was any way he could hurt us like that. If he shoots that way, they are a pretty tough team for anybody, including Florida, to beat," Long said.