LEXINGTON — Eastern Kentucky men’s basketball coach Jeff Neubauer knows his team didn’t shoot well in an 82-49 loss to top-ranked Kentucky Sunday night.
Although the Colonels (4-3) shot just 26 percent from the field and tallied a season-low in the scoring department, Neubauer knows the Wildcats (9-0) had a lot to do with his team’s poor shooting performance and aren’t a team that doesn’t give up too many points, especially in the paint. Kentucky’s much-taller front line collected 11 blocks against Eastern.
“I didn’t think our transition defense was very good, but the feeling that our guys (had) in the locker room after shooting 26 percent, being held to 49 points is a feeling that’s not good,” he said. “That’s not something that we’re accustomed to, or ranked teams in the country are accustomed to. However, that is what Kentucky has done to every opponent that they have played so far. We knew coming into this game, as a coaching staff, that they were holding opponents to 28 percent from the field, and that’s absolutely amazing.”
Neubauer also told his Colonels they were “just guarded by the best defensive team in the modern era of college basketball.”
“I’m not exaggerating a little bit when I say that,” he said. “I like the way our guys stuck with it. A couple of our new guys really did compete well.”
Neubauer added he was disappointed in his team’s inability to beat the Wildcats off the dribble.
“I really thought we would attack them better, so I knew how good they were defensively, but I thought we could take advantage of their taller players off of the dribble more,” he said. “We weren’t able to beat them cleanly enough off the dribble, so we did go by some guys but not enough to create enough help. We need to be a better shooting team, but a lot of what happened tonight was because of Kentucky’s defense.”
Despite the sluggish outing on offense, the Colonels forced 17 turnovers, including 10 by Kentucky’s backcourt. Andrew Harrison committed five miscues.
“I thought our guys did compete very hard for both halves,” he said. “I really pleased with forcing 17 turnovers. Our full court pressure did make a difference. It did affect them at certain times.”
The Colonels got a solid outing from Denzel Richardson off the bench. Richardson drained 8 of 11 shots from the field, including three shots from long range and finished with a team-high 19 points. Corey Walden followed with 12, followed by Ja’Mill Powell with 10.
Richardson didn’t think much of Kentucky’s defense, but Neubaurer made it a point to credit Kentucky’s defensive prowess.
“We do need to do more media training with our young men,” the Eastern coach said. “Denzel’s a young man that has only been in our program for a few months, and I certainly would like to give the Kentucky defenders credit because even their taller players, guys that in most programs would be defending five men, they’re out there in the program guarding three men and doing a pretty good job.
“I was impressed.”