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Was This “That” Game?


Photo via USA Today

You watched it, I watched it, it was miserable and heart-wrenching and encouraging all at the same time.  Question is, was this “THAT” game?

In case you don’t know what I mean by “THAT” game, Jon Hood, resident “Old Guy” on the team, spoke this season about how each year at UK, Calipari’s teams have had a game where everything just “clicked.”  Where the players realized that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and teamwork and hustle is really the way to excel, and become a special team.  Hood said that this team hadn’t had that sort of game yet, that the clicking hadn’t happened, and that this was still a group of many parts, rather than a single whole.

But did you see the reaction the team had after Julius sank that put-back and everyone defended the Tigers on the ensuing game-ending possession?



Jubilant.  Ecstatic.  The team swarmed Julius, and he loved every minute of it.  They didn’t care that it was closer than it should have been.  They didn’t care that Johnny O’Bryant tore them apart for the second consecutive matchup.  They won, and that was all that mattered.  Victory itself, not individual accomplishment, became intoxicating.  And that’s what teams need to win in spite of poor performances.

Cal called it in his post-game presser: “we’re growing in so many ways.”  The ball that got tipped, tipped, tipped, and went to LSU, “could’ve taken the wind out of our sails.”  Instead, the team rallied in over time and escaped, escaped with a one-point win that was hard-fought, in question, and earned.  In every sense of the word, the Cats earned this win.  The three wasn’t going down (1-9), and LSU hit some “Devan Downey” shots in the second half that the Cats really couldn’t have guarded any better.

In spite of all of that, James Young and Andrew Harrison hit absolutely clutch free throws, and Julius Randle had the biggest rebound of his career, despite only scoring eight points.

It was terrible to watch, frustrating in a lot of ways, and I wouldn’t want to do it again.  But if you take me two months into the future and show me a Kentucky team that had success in the tournament, I know exactly what game I’d point to as the moment it clicked.

You might have wanted to see a blowout (I know I did), but this may be more beneficial in the long run.  They might as well have animated a light bulb over Randle’s head on the TV broadcast.  Bottom line: close games are no longer our kryptonite; we can win the heart-stoppers.  Better believe we’ll need to before this season is over.

Article written by Corey Nichols

59 responses to “Was This “That” Game?”

  1. Rixter

    I’m personally sick of writers asking after every game if this is the gsme where the team came together. When you struggle to beat a weak 7 – 7 LSU team at home, how can you possibly ask if this was the game?

    1. Brian in Franklin

      How bout you lose your fan give up your fan card and leave this program to those of us who care about these young men and just saw them give us as close to 40 hard -played minutes as I’ve seen all year. We yelled and the boys gave it on the court. What else can you ask for? That was a helluva game!

    2. True Story

      Back off him Brian. It’s a legitimate point. Is this “THAT GAME”? Really, against unranked LSU AT home… this is the game to hang a hat on?

    3. Luther

      It’ll be the game when Young and Stein shoot their free throws competently. They continue to under-perform – going a combined 6 for 12 from the line. How about each of you guys getting off your butts and putting in some serious time and effort practicing???

  2. Truth

    This game was pathetic. LSU is awful. A good team would have run them out of the building. Should not need a favorable whistle at the end of regulation to get the win.

    1. You Are Pathetic

      Both teams played their hearts out. Your post is beyond weak. Get lost.

    2. Luther

      Have to agree. The Cats should have blown LSU away…

  3. Rixter

    Cats ‘FOUND A WAY TO WIN’.

    Found a way to squeak out a game we should have won by 20

    1. What?

      Why do you even post? You are an Idiot. Your posts are consistently awful. Go away.

    2. Really?

      Your posts show again and again, that you no nothing about basketball. But please don’t let that stop you from utilizing your freedom of speech.

    3. Luther

      Have to agree. We should have blown LSU away…

    4. Tony

      Amen Rix….this team SUCKS

  4. Jc

    Florida sucks too the only Brest auburn by 3 at home and barely got by ole miss…wait a minute….
    I’m sick of fans on here treating wins like losses and losses like death. Made one freaking three today and still beat a bubble team. Ohand Johnny Obrien was a freaking all American that we recruited. Have your opinion but support your damn team. Syracuse lost to a team that had won…..wait for it, six games this year. At home. And just lost to duke! Fire boeheim!!! His zone doesn’t work!!!! His kids don’t care!!! Get a life.

    1. Rixter

      “Florida sucks too the only Brest auburn by 3”

      Nothing more I can add to that.

    2. Jc

      I don’t spend my life online so occasionally make an error typing. Great argument.

  5. Jc

    You people are probably excited when we lose or play close so you can post smart ass comments online. Makes you feel so big and strong doesn’t it?

    1. Thank You!

      So True!

  6. Al

    Even elite teams struggle with poor teams. Example: A terrible Auburn team that Ky has beat twice this year, very well should have beat a talented Florida team, which depending on polls may be the new #1 team. Of course Auburn flubbed up, and gave the game away. Yet, all negativity because UK squeaked out a close game against LSU. This game was huge for the Tigers because they needed a marquee win to earn a birth in the tourney. Don’t get caught up in how much a team wins by. Wins are all that matters.

    1. Rixter

      Are you saying it doesnt matter that we struggled to beat a team that won’t make the tournament, as long as we won? What if we beat Boy Scout Pack # 16 by 4…would you say it doesnt matter, cuz a win is a win?

      Found a way to squeak out a game we should have won by 20

    2. Al

      It matters in a way. But I’m saying teams struggle from time to time. LSU had a lot more to lose than UK did today, and the Cats still pulled it out. Sure, I was hoping for a blow out like the rest of you. I’m just happy for these guys to get a win they desperately needed. Why is it that after games, people always find something to hate on? Enjoy these kids while we have them.

    3. BigBlue37

      Rixter- Well they don’t give out trophies for almost winning a national title so yeah…winning is all that matters. Are you even a sports fan? Because 8 year olds know winning is better than playing well and losing.

    4. Dee W.

      “Are you saying it doesnt matter that we struggled to beat a team that won’t make the tournament,”

      Apparently you don’t watch too much basketball – including UK basketball – as that happens a lot no matter how talented the team has been every year. There’s a match-up issue with some teams and that just happens, or they just play harder than normal and exceed their own talent level they are “supposed” to have on paper.

  7. Hornswaggle

    Being happy with this win is like being happy you are the tallest midget.

    1. Terrible Post!

      Very funny. Not! Your attempt at humor falls short. Get lost.

    2. OK NOW


  8. Blake

    Thank god for this win. And we should stop with the is this “that” game. The plays are competing and cals doing what he can but what it comes down to is that we are not a great defensive team on the perimeter, and that isn’t gonna change this year. We’ve only shown one flash of being a dominant team which was a gainst Ole Miss. What we need this year is a good seed and some nice march matchups and I like our chances against anyone ranked above us. So hopefully we get a little lucky and go CATS!

  9. dan

    When Randle told Willie that he wanted to check O Bryant down the stretch it said this is a watershed moment for him snd this team. BTW, O Bryant didn’t score again. If you judge this game merely on points it’s like judging a girls attractiveness just by her measurements. Yes their important but they certainly don’t give the whole picture. Enjoy that analogy.

  10. beavis

    Open question. Does anyone else find Jimmy Dykes as objectionable as I do ? Man has a real talent for stating the obvious.

    1. dan

      Over and over.

  11. Blake

    One team that I dont want to see this year though is kansas, Quick Guards, Dominant Big guy in Embiid, Tarik is pretty nice too, Pretty good wing defender in wiggins and an excellent transition player to boot. I would not like our chances

    1. KU is Weak

      KU does not play well in post season. This year will be no exception.

    2. hal

      KU has 3 elite 8s, a title & ncaa runner-up in 10 yrs under self. every other year is elite8 or better is considered not playing well to you????

    3. College Basketball

      Yeah KU has only played in 3 title games over the past 10 years, they’re terrible come post season.

  12. James K

    I agree with Rixter. Not sure why we have to ask this question after that game. By all means we escaped that game with a win. That last basket by Randle doesn’t happen and it’s a totally different story. Still going to root my ass off for this team and I love watching them, but I am still very far from confident. Only thought that I am CONFIDENT about is ‘we COULD do this or we COULD do that.’

    Let them prove it before we speculate about what signifiers are happening in real time.

    1. Brian in Franklin

      Ok so how about listening to your mom’s advice and if you don’t have anything nice to say shut up.

    2. Tony

      OMG. How could anyone say they ENJOY watching this team?

  13. mashburnfan1

    They had 5 assist on 28 field goals and forced numerous horrible shots with 3 players on them, that is not a TEAM. James Young is the most selfish player in the country, at any level. He had a 2 on 1 break that should have been a slam, but he won’t pass it, gets fouled and we know he misses a ton of free throws so that hurts us. This is a group of individuals and is why they will not win more than 1 game in tourney. On defense the inbounds play from under the basket was open several times for LSU, don’t know why they did not make the play more often, we don’t talk or help on that ever. I really hoped it would get better as season went on but it has not, too man ME’s on this team and not enough WE’s. Look at the end of regulation and all of overtime, all wanted to be the hero instead of making passes for wide open shots. Maybe they will watch John Wall on the last play for the Wizards this evening and learn something. This group has the talent to be a great team, just need the trust in each other.

    1. Brian in Franklin

      How bout a nice tall glass of shut up juice Debbie Downer!??!

  14. Duckhooks

    One observation from a very long-time Cat fan on why many UK fans are arrogant,conceited and have egos on steroids…..we think our teams are better than they are and get over the top defensive when our team is criticized in any way….let’s don’t fall prey to losers that play us like a six-string. We need to realize that this team is not championship caliber but enjoy whatever comes and pray the one and done is DONE before it ruins college basketball and the fun it was.

    1. True Story

      Valid point Duck, but remember that we were ALL put into a frenzy by the pom-pom sites and even Coach Cal on this 40-0 thing. We aren’t arrogant. We were TOLD at the beginning of the season that we’d be undefeated.

    2. sunnycat

      If anyone believed a team that had never played one second of ball together would have to be a complete idiot. Cal was asked about going 40-0 he never said this team was going 40-0.


    everyone is so hot or cold with these cats. perhaps we should accept the fact that this team, however talented, doesnt have the cohesion to win a title. maybe they come together a little more in march, but they arent winning it. am i overly negative about this team? not at all, i’ll be in atlanta for the sec tourney…but i feel i understand basketball enough to know that this is a TALENTED group, and a good TEAM.

    1. rahrah

      Glad you’re still backing the team but why can’t we just let the season play itself out and see what happens. I’m no fortuneteller and plan on just enjoying the ride no matter what that means. Go Cats!

  16. Mark Liptak

    With this team it’s hard to say if this was “that” game.

    As we’ve seen throughout this season, physically they can play with anybody in the country.

    The issue with these players is their mental and emotional situation during a game.

    That no one can answer…they have the talent to make the Final Four. They have the emotional / mental well being of a club that can get beat in the 2nd round.

    Time will tell.

  17. UK fan

    This is “that game” that shows we have made 0 improvement.

  18. Reality

    There is no “that” game for this team. Escaping in OT at home to a team that won’t make the tourney isn’t anything to be proud of when you look at the big picture. But I am thrilled for the players and seeing their smiles and celebration after the game was fantastic. I’d love to see them cut down the nets after beating Florida in the SEC tourney. That’s the extent of my hope for this season. Because number 9 definitely ain’t happening.

    1. Brian in Franklin

      Well if it ain’t happening, then go away and let the rest of us who believe in this team root our asses off while you sit in the corner and be quiet.

  19. hal

    every game has to have some sort of significance right??? how else you get thru 20+ posts a day????

  20. Bunny

    I feel very safe and confident in saying that this was NOT that game…

  21. Drew Franklin

    Three Google y’all
    Willie Cauley-Stein played a great game. He is definitely back to his first round NIT loss to Robert Morris form. If only Alex can do the same, ain’t no tellin how far these Cats can go.

  22. BurnerTurner5

    Who didn’t feel like UK was in trouble when they only had a three point lead at the half? I thought for sure after the way the game started in Baton Rouge that things would be different. Disappointing that that wasn’t the case. We did get to see something very unusual however. LSU reached 71 points first and still lost. I hope our revenge on Arkansas goes a lot easier than this nerve racking game did.

  23. rockatao

    why is everyone so singing the praises of Johnny O? He’s a good player, even great at times, but I’ll give the opposing star his 20 points on 8-for-25 shooting ANY TIME.

  24. Coach Jamin

    1.) 1996 is not walking through that door. UK fans were spoiled by that team, for good reason, but college basketball has changed since then. There’s never going to be a team that dominant in college basketball ever again.
    2.) By “THAT” game, I think what Corey was trying to get across is not what he’s being bashed for. I think what he was trying to ask was, “Was this the game where even though throughout the game individual performances were still more important, after the final buzzer and reflecting, do the players now realize that a.) they can win close games b.) hustle and communication are THE most important factors, and c.) when the shots aren’t falling, if they work as a team and listen to the coach, they can still come out on top.
    3.) Because elite teams in the NCAA tourney never have a hard time with underdogs… (please see definition of sarcasm)

  25. LOL

    Isnt every time we win “that game” on here? Wait ’til March! hahahaha

  26. bda6115

    I thought it was an awesome win…and a hard fought game. Some of you are horrible fans…lol. I mean really….awful.

  27. Kyboy415

    Some of these posts are a joke! There isn’t another program in the country that if they started 5 freshman could go 21 and 6 to this point. We have the 5th hardest schedule in the country and are the youngest team in the country. We should have won the Baylor game yes but losing to michigan st, and North Carolina has happened to a lot of experienced teams this year also. These kids lead the nation in offensive rebounds! Let that sink in for a minute. That’s hard to do anyways much less a group of kids doing it. Lsu is a team that needed a statement win yesterday and I think we came out and took this game lightly. I don’t care who we draw in the tournament if we offensive rebound the way we do and make free throws we can beat anyone in the country period! If we play a team that doesn’t shoot we’ll from the outside cal needs to play zone. 3 7 footers and 2 6’7 players on the wing it will be impossible to score. We are going to be fine people relax. We forget this is the first year of college ball for most of our team and we are on the verge of possibly getting a 3 seed.

  28. BurnerTurner5

    Lots of missed shots=lots of chances for offensive rebounds.

  29. Tony

    It was the game for me… The game that PROVED this team SUCKS

  30. Louis

    Yes, Kentucky’s game was a flawed performance, but they won the game. I am most concerned with the 5 assists. I don’t understand why that happens except selfishness. Kentucky is 21-6. I am not given up on these Cats. Unlike many UK fans I don’t expect a NCAA championship title every year. That is icing on the cake. I am not saying that is not beyond this group if Cats. Just think go the 2011 ‘cats getting to the final four. Go Cats!