We’re disappointed in the outcome. It was a great environment tonight. I appreciate the energy that Auburn Arena had tonight. I’m sure the kids talked about it. It had a lot with us staying engaged. I thought the kids didn’t panic. We got down in the second half and took it one possession at a time. Kentucky’s bigger at every position. They’re more physical at every position, and the way they could beat us is the way they could beat us, coming off of physical pin-downs, posting us up on the inside. They fouled out both Horace Spencer and Anfernee McLemore. So we were in pretty deep foul trouble. We fouled them too much — sent them to the foul line way too much. This is the fourth straight SEC game where we’ve had a deficit when it came to getting to the foul line. We’ve got to finish more physically ourselves through contact and find ways to get to the foul line more ourselves. So. We’re very disappointed. I thought that obviously Keldon Johnson and Herro had big nights for us. I think they looked right over our guards. They just looked right over the top of our guards and made shots and was able to get to the rim. We weren’t able to put up enough pressure to be able to extend them far enough away from the basket where that was a factor. The second thing was just their ability to go inside and score. Kentucky played well. They’re good. They’re good. Definitely. They’re better than last year’s team. And I think they’re going to have a really good year.
WAS NOT GETTING MANY POINTS OFF TURNOVERS A BIG FACTOR TODAY?
No. They took care of the ball. They only turned it over 13 times, and I thought that was a factor. Ashton Hagan is a terrific point guard. He’s doing what he does for teams. He runs teams. He’s really — You know, Bryce Brown is terrific on-ball defender and we only turned Ashton three times. We typically turn guards over a little bit more than that. So I thought he did a great job kind of keeping them calm and getting the ball to the right guys at the right time.
KENTUCKY IS BETTER THAN LAST YEAR? HOW SO?
I think they’re playing with more of a purpose. They value possessions more. They get good looks every time down. They’ve got a good inside-outside game. I know Ashton Hagans. I know Keldon Johnson. I know those kids pretty well. I know EJ Montgomery. We recruited him hard. They’ve got real character. There’s some character there. There’s some — There’s a real will to win there. They would rather win and score less than maybe just put up their numbers. Those kids are built — they’re built, really, like champions.
PHYSICALITY, THERE WILL BE OTHER PHYSICAL TEAMS, IS IT A FLIP YOU CAN SWITCH?
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No, unless Anfernee is going to put on 35 pounds or Horace is going to put on 35 pounds, or Jared’s going to grow six inches. We’ve got to be able to handle the physicality of the game and be able to use our quickness and our speed more. We only forced 13 turnovers. Kentucky took good care of the basketball, so we weren’t able to take advantage of that.
TIMEFRAME ON AUSTIN?
No timeframe at all.
BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT WITHOUT AUSTIN
Well, I think Kentucky would’ve gone inside anyways. But I wouldn’t think—I would’ve thought—I don’t know that—I mean, look, Reid Travis was 6-for-7 and 5-for-5 from the foul line. It was one of his best games. And he was obviously physically imposing. I thought Chuma Okeka and PJ Washington—I thought we held our own there. Horace is our most physical player and he had a really solid game tonight. We lost our biggest, most physical player, and it’s just… /voice trails
WAS SOMETHING DONE IN THE TIMEOUT TO MAKE BRYCE TURN IT ON?
I think that -- In the first half, Bryce was pounding it, and wasn't shooting it. In the second half, we said, 'Look, you've got to catch a stick. We'll get you open. But you've got to shoot the basketball.' I thought he turned -- he turned some shots down in the first half. He's very unselfish. I'll tell you, Bryce Brown was phenomenal in every timeout. He was the one that was keeping the guys kind of positive, focused, understanding that we take it one possession at a time; we're not going to get it right back. He told our guys, as I did, 'Stay in character.' I don't think our guys got out of character too terribly much. I think we had a few wasted possessions where our guys couldn't kick the ball back out and got better looks than we settled for. We got a good look at the end. Jared made a great play all by himself. What I had called and drawn up, we did not execute. Jared got the ball and drove it downhill and got a great look. It didn't go in.
HERRO SCORED 10 POINTS IN LAST 5 MINUTES
He's really good. Tyler Herro was an elite high school player; could have gone anywhere in the country. He's a big-time athlete. I mean, he's a big kid. So, no, I mean -- I think Keldon and Tyler's ability at guard, at 6-6, 6-7, whatever they are, was a factor.
We got nine guys. Danjel played tonight. We knew Danjel was going to get his opportunity. He did fine, and we know he'll do better next game. So, Danjel now moves into the rotation of nine guys. A year ago, we'd have been eight, and then seven that we got down to at the end of the year. We've got nine good players. We'll be fine. We'll be fine.
LAST SHOT BY HARPER. HOW OFTEN DOES HE MAKE IT?
He got a great look. He took it downhill, the ball rolled around and didn't go in. I'll take that. He made the play on his own. I'll take that look any time.
BETTER SECOND HALF
You know, because they shot it so well, and we were taking it out of the net so often, and we sent them to the foul-line way too much, we couldn't get the game in that frenetic pace. I would say our drop-back defense, and sending them to the foul-line.
WHAT WAS THE FINAL PLAY SUPPOSED TO BE (STOP LYING)
Get a great look. He had a great look. Just take it downhill. He had a great look. He got a great look, you know?
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