After Kentucky lost to LSU on a last-second tip-in Tuesday night, Reid Travis suggested there was a positive to be gained from a painful defeat.
“I’d rather learn from a win,” he said. “I feel like we’ve been really focused lately, as far as in practice and picking things up.”
A problem for UK has been attention to detail, he said. “I think this really hones us back in and gets us back on the right path.”
The timing of the defeat suggested another plus, Travis said.
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“And you’d rather it happen now than at the end of the season when you don’t have another game coming up,” he said. “So I think it’ll be a good learning experience.”
Kentucky led by nine points four times early in the second half. UK Coach John Calipari said he saw a need for greater confidence and assertiveness.
“We need some guys to be more confident,” he said. “And you could say, well, you’ve got to leave them in. Yeah. But you’ve got to win.
“So you’ve got to figure out, ‘How do I go in here and how am I being aggressive?’ … There’s a thing of missing shots, and then there’s missing badly.”
After UK called timeout with 8:08 left, Travis shot an air ball from three-point range at the top of the key. That left Kentucky behind 58-56.
The mood in the UK locker room after the game was solemn, Travis said.
“It’s tough …,” he said. “The game felt like we gave a lot of things away. … We felt we’re better than we played in the second half.
“I think the feeling is we’ve got to put this behind us and learn from it and grow.”
With No. 1 Tennessee coming to Rupp Arena on Saturday, there’s no time to dwell on the defeat, Travis said.
“We’ve got a big one coming up,” he said. ”We can’t sit here and sulk on it.”
Making a statement
LSU felt it made a statement.
“Most definitely,” Tremont Waters said. “Guys are posting on Instagram, saying stuff like a 13-percent chance to win.”
Ken Pomeroy gave LSU a 22-percent chance of beating Kentucky.
“Overall, I don’t think it’s about numbers,” Waters said. “It’s about who you got on your team.
“Every game is a message for us.”
Foul trouble limited Ashton Hagans to 21 minutes, his lowest playing time since 20 minutes against Monmouth on Nov. 28.
Hagans picked up his first foul 18 seconds into the game, was replaced by Immanuel Quickley at the 18:16 mark and picked up his second foul with 10:59 left in the first half.
“Ashton Hagans definitely makes them go,” LSU guard Skylar Mays said. “We knew that coming in. We kind of wanted him to have to guard Tremont, who obviously is a hard guard.”
Hagans had one assist (his fewest since the Tennessee State game on Nov. 23).
“He’s definitely a huge part of their team even though he doesn’t score too much,” Mays said. “He makes a lot of plays for them. He plays defense and he has presence.”
Nick of time
Nick Richards played three minutes, his lowest total since logging one minute against UNC Greensboro on Dec. 1.
Calipari again said UK needs contributions from Richards to reach its potential. He said he still believes Richards can blossom.
“I do,” Calipari said. “There were some rebounds late that we had to get, and we just weren’t able to get them. A guy like Nick with his size, you would hope that’s what he could do.”
Richards did not have a rebound.
Earlier in the day, Jonny David was one of 14 people inducted into UK’s Frank G. Ham Society of Character.
David, who is scheduled to graduate in the spring with a degree in kinesiology, is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He’s been on the Dean’s List four times.
As a member of UK’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, David helped the school build a relationship with Special Olympics.
Another honoree was in Rupp Arena. Dick Vitale, who was on ESPN’s announcing team, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced.
Vitale will become the 30th sports personality or executive to be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports. He is only the second analyst so honored, following John Madden.