'Attitude is good' after loss as men's hoops aims ahead
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 01:02
A&M men’s basketball head coach Billy Kennedy addressed the media on Monday discussing Saturday’s tight overtime loss to Kentucky as well as his team’s preparation for No. 17 Missouri’s visit on Thursday.
At home Saturday against Kentucky, Kennedy’s team (13-8, 3-5) missed 13 of its first 14 field goals but stormed back to send the game into overtime on an Elston Turner jump shot that rattled home with one second remaining. The Aggie run, however, lost momentum in the extra period and the defending national champions left Reed with a 72-68 win.
Kennedy said for all the good he saw out of his team in that game, they “weren’t just playing the game to play it close.”
“I’m really disappointed that we didn’t take the opportunity to win,” Kennedy said. “There were good looks that you’ve got to make to beat a quality team.”
A large contingent of the more than 10,000 fans in Reed on Saturday wore Kentucky blue rather than A&M maroon and white. Concerning the unusually Wildkat friendly crowd, Kennedy said it was no surprise.
“I thought it was an interesting home game,” Kennedy said. “Kentucky does that to everybody in the league. I was really surprised their fans came this far, but that’s what makes them Kentucky.”
Kentucky head coach John Callipari said that the physicality A&M displayed in the loss is something he hopes his team can learn from.
“A&M did not quit,” Callipari said. “They fought and battled and made plays and steals. They roughed us up. It was body-to-body. It’s what we need. We need teams to make runs at us and we need teams to physically come at us so we can learn how we have to play.”
The struggles of A&M on the offensive end of the floor have been well documented; particularly during a recent four-game losing streak that was snapped with a 55-49 overtime win on the road against Mississippi State on Wednesday. The ineffectiveness of senior forward Ray Turner has been a frequent subject of discussion for Kennedy, but Ray turned in 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks against Kentucky.
Ray said it came down to energy and effort.
“I think I came out with more energy throughout the game,” Ray said after the game. “I have to keep bringing the same energy, keep working hard every day and trusting more in the coaches’ system.”
Kennedy said he hopes Ray can build on the performance going forward.
“We are hoping he can take from that and take off now because he is very capable of being a double-double guy on a regular basis, and we need him to be,” Kennedy said.
With a matchup looming against high-flying Missouri, Kennedy spoke with urgency about offensive production from Ray as well as the rest of the team.
“Against teams that can score like Kentucky or Missouri this week, you’ve got to make shots,” Kennedy said. “You’ve got to put the ball in the hole when you’ve got the opportunity to.”
Kennedy said Missouri’s depth makes their offense a difficult one to pinpoint.
“They have six guys scoring double figures,” Kennedy said. “They put five really good scorers on the floor.”
Despite his team’s struggles, Kennedy said he believes A&M can finish strong in conference play if the proper adjustments are made.
“Our attitude is good,” Kennedy said. “When you play hard and you fight in a game like we did against Kentucky, you’re disappointed that you lost, but you know you gave a great effort and you know you can keep going.”