By LARRY VAUGHT
Alabama coach Avery Johnson had no problem explaining why his team was no match for host Kentucky in Tuesday’s 78-53 loss.
“Tonight was a tough night for us. Kentucky was on top of their game,” Johnson said. “They played well, (Tyler) Ulis and (Jamal) Murray are hard to handle and we had one guy in Retin Obasahan who did his best to be competitive against both of those guys, but it was basically two against one. Give them credit, they were the aggressor, we fouled a little bit too much – careless fouls – but overall we didn’t have the energy and confidence to be as good as we have throughout SEC play.
“We’ve been playing with confidence, whether at home or on the road, and we just didn’t have it tonight. But give them credit, they had that fire in their eyes. They were one step faster than us, they jumped about two steps higher than us, so give them credit. Now we just have to go back to the drawing board and see how we can correct some of those correctable errors.”
On whether he was surprised the team lacked confidence and energy …
“Yeah, a little bit. This team has given me all that they’ve had all year, so we aren’t going to get into a situation where we undervalue how good of a season this team is having, ok? They work hard, I love my guys, they just didn’t have it tonight. I have to go back and look at how we prepared them for this game, because as a coach I’m the one who’s responsible for seeing how we could have better prepared them for this game. At the same time, like I’ve told you guys a million times, it’s not always about what we don’t do when we lose. Sometimes you just have to give the opponent credit, and our opponent was 20 points better than us tonight.”
On the offense outside of Obasahan …
“Yeah, we’re not a team where we’re a one-man band. We’re normally better when we have three or four guys in double figures. Retin is obviously playing at a high level, but we’re much better when we move the ball and get different guys to take shots. But give them credit, they got in the passing lanes, disrupted some of the things we like to do on offense. We didn’t get to go to our automatics and backup situations when we get denied the basketball, and it’s an ongoing process for us to try and go to our second and third option when our first doesn’t work.”
On whether it was Kentucky’s defense or poor offensive efficiency that resulted in the loss …
“You know, this would be a typical answer, but I’m just telling you the truth. It’s a combination of both. Give their defense credit. When (Alex) Poythress came in the game, he ignited their defense. We struggled to score in the interior. Jimmie Taylor has been giving us a lot, but we struggled to get him off the block. I think we only had eight points in the paint at half time. So some of that has a lot to do with them, but we didn’t set good screens, we weren’t physical and this was probably our worst performance in the SEC. But for our team, we have a lot of character, a lot of heart and I know when we get back to practice they’ll bounce back.”