By Alex Poythress (follow on Twitter)
What's up, Big Blue Nation? How y'all doing?
As you all know, we are coming off the win over LSU, which was a hard-fought game. I kind of think we needed that game just to show we can win close games down the stretch. It shows what we're made of. It shows that we're capable of winning close games and that we can come together when we need to. We played great defense in the final closing minutes of the second half and we played great in overtime. They hit big shots, we hit big shots, but we came up with defensive plays to put us in a position to win.
Julius' rebound to end the game was great. It was really exciting to see the whole team come together like that. We were so hyped for him that we all just ran the court and just jumped on him. I know you all saw what happened already, but Andrew and Aaron led the charge. Dakari and I were jumping up and down on the court until we saw what was going on and then we just sprinted towards them and jumped on them too. The picture of the celebration was hanging up in the practice gym when we got to practice today so that was pretty cool to see.
As much as we needed to win a close game, I think we needed the boost of a celebration like that more than anything because everybody needs that one moment in the season where you come together. I'm glad we got to show the fans and everybody to see how much of a family we are and how much we care about each other.
It gets old hearing how we are a bunch of individuals and not a team because, personally, we think we're a great team. We think we're coming together and playing well. We think we're really close as brothers because we hang out all the time. We're just always hanging with each other in the lodge, in practice, walking to class with each other, seeing movies together, playing pool, playing video games, anything. We're just always with each other.
For me, this season's been a lot different just because of where we are a team right now. I can remember feeling like every game was the last game of the season for us at this point last year. We haven't been in that situation so far - which is nice - but sooner or later we're going to have to start playing like that because once you get into the tournament time every game's one and done. You're going to have to play your hardest each and every game, but I feel like this season's prepared us for that. I feel like we're ready to take on the challenge. I feel like we're just trying to better ourselves and just trying to reach our peak.
Individually, I just feel way more comfortable than I did a year ago. I feel like the game is coming to me easier because I'm making better plays and better decisions out there. I just feel like I'm a better all-around player. I feel like I'm more comfortable because I'm getting in the gym more and I'm in better shape. I feel like all those factors have helped me a lot.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited for the NCAA Tournament since we missed out on it last year. For me and Willie, this will be our first experience so we'll be just like all of our freshmen. I remember watching it when I was in school when I was a kid and dreaming about playing in it. It's funny, in school, the teachers, instead of teaching, they would put March Madness on the TV so it was kind of like March was the easy month. That won't be the case this time around.
I'm also looking forward to the SEC Tournament just because of what happened last year and because it will prepare us for the NCAA Tournament. That could be a great learning experience for the tournament style of play.
It's going to be tough trying to balance our postseason with all the schoolwork I've got. School has been a lot harder this semester now that I'm actually into my major now, which deals with accounting, business and marketing. I've always been good with numbers - they just come natural to me - but the classes are pretty hard. They're challenging, but I'll be alright.
I don't get to play as many video games as some of the other guys because of my class load, but when I do play, I'm not the worst. I just don't play it a lot to know all the controls and all the glitches and stuff in the game like some of the other guys do like Dom. He's probably the best and would win if we had a team tournament. Me and Archie used to play all the time but Archie would cheat because Archie would always choose Kobe and Kobe would go for like 80.
As you all probably know, I've got a twin sister that goes to school here too. She's been really supportive throughout the whole season. We see each other all the time. I'll go eat lunch with her a lot at the student center and go to her house and play cards. We do all type of things. We're just really close. She likes to give me advice about what I'm doing on the court sometimes but it's cool because she knows what she's talking about. She actually played in high school so she's no dummy when it comes to basketball. She's always motivating me in a positive way so it's always helpful.
Coming down the stretch, I like how we play a couple of teams that have beaten us because we feel like we owe them a game. We're not out for revenge or anything like that, but at the same we want to even out the series, so that kind of gives us a little more motivation, a little more fire in our belly to just going for those games and to just come out strong.
Alright, BBN, I'm about to head to the cold tub. I'll see y'all later.