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By LARRY VAUGHT
NASHVILLE — Freshman Archie Goodwin tried to choose his words carefully as he analyzed why Kentucky lost 64-48 to Vanderbilt here Friday.
“They played with more energy and toughness than we did. Then again, this is something every team has been doing to us all year. We didn’t do what we needed to do, but at the same time it was like, ‘Well this has happened so many times over the year.’ Until we fix that, nothing changes,” said Goodwin after the Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinal loss to a team UK beat twice during the season.
Kentucky was coming off an upset of Florida, but didn’t play with the same passion and execution against Vanderbilt.
“When we come off a big win, we have a lot more confidence in ourselves. But I guess sometimes confidence can hurt you,” Goodwin said. “Maybe we don’t come out to play to win like we did against that team (Florida) when we were maybe a little bit concerned about the game. In this situation I think that might have been what it was. We were not focused enough throughout the whole game and we did not defend well.”
Vanderbilt was 8-for-17 from 3-point range and 23-for-46 from the field overall. The Commodores also had just five turnovers.
“We just didn’t get hit shots and they came into the game with high energy and hit shots, so you have to give them credit. They had a good game plan and they just played with a lot of energy and we didn’t. They played with more effort,” Kentucky freshman forward Alex Poythress, who had six points and four rebounds — he took only three shots — said.
“I thought we were prepared for it honestly. We did everything in practice we could. We went three hard days. People put in extra work. We had a great game plan. Just shots didn’t fall and they hit a lot of shots. We are all frustrated. We came here to win but some days things do not fall your way.”
Vanderbilt players insisted the win did not come as easily as it may have looked.
“They’re a great defensive team, got great guys at the rim protecting the rim. It was tough. We just tried to stay with it and make plays with each other is probably why it looked that way,” Vandy’s Rod Odom, who had nine points and six rebounds said
Kentucky felt the opposite and that even when things seemed to go right, shots would not go in. The Cats were 18-for-52 from the field and 4-for-14 from 3-point range. Guards Ryan Harrow (2-for-15) and Julius Mays (2-for-8) were a combined 4-for-23 from the field.
“It was frustrating the whole game just to, you know, we did have a lot of chippers that we missed. We canceled any — some of those shots they made on the other end and it would equal out,” Goodwin, who was 5-for-10 from the field and led UK with 12 points, said. “We gave them a lot of open 3’s and we gave them a lot of easy lanes to the basket, and so when you do — when you’re giving them that and giving them those many high percentage shots and on top of that, nothing is going down for you, it’s a compounded problem and there’s no way that you can win that way.”