Me too, Coach. Me too.
I’ll be honest with you, folks. I’m not really sure what just happened. All I know is Kentucky escaped Vanderbilt with a 60-58 win in what is undoubtedly the worst all-around game of basketball I’ve ever seen. The announcing, the home team, the away team, the officiating, all of it — terrible. Absolutely terrible. Cats fans should just be happy their team is 1-0 to start SEC play.
It’s tired. I’m late. I’m too lazy to backspace and fix that.
Let’s talk about it. Quickly.
First and foremost, Vanderbilt is not good at basketball. Don’t let the final score fool you. This is a team that scored a grand total of 33 points in a 17-point home loss to a 4-12 Marist team earlier this season. Kentucky should’ve won tonight by double-digits and then hopped on the plane back to Lexington without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Just look at Calipari in that photo. He shouldn’t be blowing out blood vessels against Vanderbilt, but it was that kind of a disappointment.
Most of the talk after the game (and for the next few days, I’m sure) is about Nerlens Noel’s shot to beat the shot clock in the final 20 seconds of the game. We can pretend all we want that he got it off, but he didn’t. Blame it on the clock operator, the ref, or whoever, but it shouldn’t have counted. Kentucky received a gift on the play for the first time in the 60 year history of Memorial Gym, and we’re not complaining. Besides, Vandy got it right back on the other end on a call that was equally bad, if not worse, when a Vandy player deflected the ball out of bounds (Mays didn’t touch it) with 6 seconds left to play. Both calls were wrong and the reactions from each team were justified. It is what it is.
It was looking like we were on our way to a Kentucky blowout when the Cats led by 15 late in the first half. That optimism quickly changed out of the break thanks to a 9-minute stretch without a field goal from Kentucky. Vanderbilt scored 18 unanswered points during the drought and took the lead for the first time in the game with 6 minutes to play. Kentucky regained the lead on a nice 3-pointer from Ryan Harrow minutes later and managed to hang on for the win.
Speaking of Ryan Harrow, did you see Calipari give him a ‘Get Your Ass Up’ tap on the rear when he was down?
Harrow played well, again, and has been the Cats’ only real playmaker over the past month. He scored a team-high 16 points with four rebounds and four assists in the win.
We write it after every game… Nerlens was Nerlens. Tonight he had 13 points with seven rebounds and three blocks, although I’m almost certain he deflected more shots than that. Still, a solid performance from Kentucky’s star player, especially late in the game.
Vanderbilt scored 14 of its 24 points in the first half on Kyle Wiltjer, according to Calipari. ”They went at Kyle every possession I had him in the game. Every single possession,” he said after the game. Calipari told Kyle, ”You don’t think anybody was watching the tape, right? Don’t think every team now is going to go right at you? Good luck.”
Wiltjer missed both of his 3-point attempts.
At what point do we give up on Alex Poythress’ progression and accept him for what he is right now? Tonight’s game, a return home to play in front of friends and family, is the one he’s had circled all year and we hoped to see him explode. It wasn’t necessarily a bad game from the freshman, but we keep waiting to see him go off and destroy everyone in his path and he’s just not doing it. We’re eventually going to have to realize this is just who he is.
Oh, look. The SID at Creighton is talking smack on Twitter.
Congrats to Kentucky on its second win over a team in the top-215 of the RPI this season!
— Rob Anderson (@_robanderson) January 11, 2013
That is a pretty embarrassing stat, though.
Another embarrassing stat: Vanderbilt out-rebounded Kentucky, 42-37. Vanderbilt was the worst rebounding team in the SEC entering the game.
Want one more? Kentucky shot 22% from beyond the arc, connecting on only 3 of 17 attempts. Julius Mays: 1-for-5. Archie Goodwin: 0-for-4.
It was an ugly, ugly outing, but at the end of the day, Kentucky got the win and that’s what it is all about. Yes, they regressed, but there isn’t much time to dwell on it with Texas A&M on the schedule in 39 hours. Cal has one day to get them ready for the Aggies and put the night in Nashville behind them.
That’ll do it for now. We’ll have more from the game on Friday along with a special edition of the KSR radio show when Mitch Barnhart and Eli Capilouto join Matt and I in studio to discuss renovations. See you then.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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