It was going to be a nice and fitting tribute to the season. Kentucky would travel to Omaha to play against Creighton; a program so happy to have a wounded Kentucky in their house for an easy NIT feast. Offensive rebounding and hampering Jodie Meeks would be the order of the day, along with getting Booker Woodfox (18 points) his shots. Those of us in the Big Blue Nation, eager to get this whole Billy Business over with, was openly pining for the end of the season.
Did somebody tell the team that they were dead? Whoops. Kentucky keeps keepin’ alive with a gritty 65-63 win in stormy Omaha.
Earlier this month, the team was accused of not playing like Kentucky. Yet, in the last 4 games, the team has showed spurts of playing with that Kentucky pride we know so well. Leading the way was Ramon Harris, who had 9 points (2-4 FG, 5-7 FT), 4 rebounds (2 off.), 8 assists, 3 turnovers and 2 steals. Ramon was all heart tonight, and at times put the team on his shoulders to make plays. He by no means perfect but played good enough that Creighton was actually double-teaming him at times near the end of the game. Kentucky was represented well tonight by Ramon, and hopefully he’s regain some of the love lost by those fans who deem him unworthy of the jersey.
Perry Stevenson had 13 points (6-12 FG, 1-2 FT), 10 rebounds (5 off.), 2 assists, 3 turnovers and 2 blocks in 38 minutes of play. At times Perry looked like old Perry — traveling? check. — and occasionally would forget that he was 6′ 9″ when trying to lob the ball over his defender. And he did commit the Saul Smith Memorial “Flying Into and Fouling a 3-point Shooter” foul (credit to Matt for that joke). But Perry did a lot of cleanup work for his points and was a matchup problem all night for Creighton. In the first half, with Patterson on the bench, Perry was a workhorse in controlling the lane.
Update: Perry explained in the post-game interview why he dropped Stevenson’s pass under the goal in the second half: “too much butter during the pre-game meal.” Well played, big man.
Fouls contained Patrick Patterson, as he picked up his second foul with 15:07 left in the first half. He ended up with 12 points (5-7 FG, 2-2 FT), which finally pushed him past the 1,000 points barrier for his career (10th fastest). Creighton and Billy contained Jodie Meeks, who sat Jodie for 7 minutes in the second half. When Jodie returned he scored 11 of his 16 points, including the game-winning 3-point play.
A few more insights and then I gotta run. I promised I’d be at the Robinsons’. They’ve lost nine today:
* As of 10:45 PM, he ain’t fired yet. When he is, you know two things will happen: Matt will post something about it and this site will be completely sunk with HTTP GET requests for about 15 hours.
* I was pretty impressed with the Creighton fanbase. They were loud and active the whole game. They booed the refs with tenacity compariable to Rupp Arena. Overall, a solid effort for a program who really embraced this matchup with us. Much respect to the Jays’ fans.
That being said, don’t think I noticed the student holding the “1.9” sign. That was a nice taunt, son. Except despite what the LA Times tells you, there were 2.1 seconds left. (Kentucky Fans: Do not watch click on that last link. It’ll spoil your mood.)
* DeAndre Liggins played 11 minutes and brought more to the table than he took away. He had 3 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound and 0 turnovers. Kevin Galloway played 6 minutes and had 0 points, 2 assists and a block. Michael Porter played 30 minutes and had 7 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 2 turnovers and 1 steal.
* Jodie and Patrick combined had 16 of Kentucky’s 48 FG attempts. That’s the lowest total for the duo since the loss in the SEC Tournament.
* Creighton shot 37.3% FG, 42.1% 3FG and a dismal 57.9% FT for the game. Justin Carter missing those two FT at the end of the game was a gift.
* That was win 1988. Is the NIT a gift for Kentucky getting to 2,000 wins before North Carolina? After all, if this Kentucky squad somehow squeaked into the NCAA tournament, would they have won a game? Considering we are hanging tough with the likes of Creighton and UNLV, I’m gonna have to say no.
I feel happy! I feel happy! We’re stayin’ alive!