This game had “letdown” or “trap game” written all over it. Coming off back to back emotional wins at home over teams that had soundly beaten us earlier…Already basically securing the #2 seed in the SEC and moving into the Top 12 nationally…playing a physical team known to play good defense that was coming off a 20 pt win…losing a key player to Covid protocol…playing on the road in a mostly empty arena with little emotion. And that empty arena is one of the biggest factors to me as kids want to play in front of a big crowd, home or away. Ask Alabama or LSU if they would have rather played in a packed BWA, or the Hogs if they would have preferred to win at a packed out Rupp. If you’re a competitor, you want to go into these environments and perform. It can take your game to another level. This team was able to create their own emotion and sustain it for 40 minutes. Not easy.
So these Hogs, facing all these obstacles, put on a clinic on how to share the basketball, get everyone involved, play with emotion when there is none to feed off of, and take what the defense gives you. As impressive a win as any I’ve seen in a while given the reasons listed and why I would have been thrilled going in to sneak out of Columbia with a 2 point win.
I know we aren’t going to shoot this well every game, but just the way this team has come together and how each player seems to have learned his role, gives me great hope for the postseason.