Kentucky: 26, Rest Of The SEC: 25
The phrase is being thrown around all willy nilly like, but it would be hard to argue that today’s game was anything but an Instant Classic. The Cats looked sluggish early, and didn’t have the same pop they had yesterday. But as Cal has said time and time again they simply refuse to lose, and that is exactly what they did today. Here are some notes from the game.
-As you know, today was Patrick Patterson’s birthday. While he remained too far away from the ball towards the end of the game (something that hopefully will be fixed over the next couple weeks,) Pat finished with 15 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks, 2 assists, and 1 steal. He also received a birthday song from an arena full of Big Blue Faithful in the second half. It was a special day for Pat, and for all he has meant to Kentucky, it was great that he finally got to carry an SEC trophy to the locker room.
-As big as Pat was, though, the story with Kentucky has started and ended with the Freshmen this year. In the final two Kentucky scoring plays of regulation, each of the Fresh-Three contributed in huge ways. Wall created a turnover and laid the ball in, while Bledsoe hit the first end of a one and one, and Boogie beat the clock to send it to overtime. Not to mention Wall’s huge off balance three at the end. The Freshmen Three finished with 45 points, 19 boards, and 11 assists.
-Daniel Orton showed flashes of who he will be over the next two or three years. When Boogie got in early foul trouble, D.Orton came in and remembered to bring his offensive game for the first time this year. He flushed a dunk and hit a sick turn around fall away jumper, before becoming his usual freshman self. Orton at times is brilliant, and at times has huge brain farts. In other words, Daniel is a freshman that plays like a freshman. But for this team, he is exactly what he needs to be.
-Kentucky lost the battle of the boards, 38-34. Varnado had a huge game, for sure, but there is almost no reason that the front line of Patterson, Cousins, and Orton should get out rebounded. However, in every close game they play, that is the statistic that sticks out. As long as the Cats win that statistic, I like their chances. If they don’t, it becomes a bit more dicey. Fortunately, they are capable of winning it against any team in the nation.
-Three pointers continue to be an Achilles heel, as Kentucky shot an abysmal 25% from beyond the arc. But the cats made them when they needed them, and they have shown they are capable of getting hot. Hopefully the threat of that will keep defense honest, but if not, Bledsoe seems to have found his stroke again so at least there’s that. Oh yeah, free throws have got to get better, too.
-Both teams were visibly tired by the end of the game, and you could tell by the way Kentucky’s shots fell off the front of the rim and the defense MSU was playing in OT. Fortunately UK won’t have to play three games in three days again, but the intensity won’t be letting down, so let’s take this as a lesson.
-Funniest moment of the game is still up for grabs, and early favorites include John Calipari claiming he ‘only brought two suits,’ because he expected the team to lose early, John Wall tackling Rick Stansbury, John Wall tackling Demarcus Cousins (thinking they had won,) and Jimmy Dykes saying shooting at Cousins is like ‘trying to get a shot off over shrek.’ I’m sure shooting against cartoon characters may be tough for the color commentator, but I think even I could do that.
Matt should be by at some point with post game quotables. After that, it’s everyone’s favorite show of the year (this year,) Selection Sunday! See you there.