Great performance tonight by the Cats in beating UMASS 82-68. The Cats built up a big lead in the first half and held on throughout the second, never allowing the Minutemen to get closer than 10. IT was an all-around solid performance for the Cats as Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford and Randolph Morris all scored 14 points to lead the way to the victory. Good play was given by the reserves again, including Jodie Meeks and Woo, who both gave strong effort and added points and rebounds. IT was a great performance by the players, and the crowd who gave Rupp Arena an atmosphere that was the best of the season. We have lots of notes to get to, so here we go…….
(1) You may have heard that Tubby Smith snapped at a reporter after the game…..well if you heard it, it was me. As you likely saw on the telecast, Ramel Bradley was taken out of the game and was handed a towel by his teammate checking in…..Bradley, who had just taken a bad layup attempt, let the towel drop to the floor as he sat on the bench. Tubby immediately grabbed the towel, shoved it back in Bradley’s chest and proceeded to yell at him for the better part of a minute….walking away a few times and then coming back for more, pushing David Hobbs out of the way in the process. So in the post game press conference, I asked this question….”Tubby, I have to ask you about the incident….” At that point, Tubby cut me off and said, “You dont have to ask me about it and I dont have to talk about it.” And that was that. It was a bit of an initiation for me as a reporter and I admit to feeling a bit awkward after it. However I think it was a fair question to ask. Tubby obviously didnt want to answer which is of course his perogative. I do think he handled the incident on the floor well, dressing Bradley down, but allowing him to come back in and make up for it nonetheless.
(2) Another big night for my man Woo the Enforcer. He had four points, making some great catches in the lane. He fought for rebounds and truly looked like an intimidating force. He described his game to me this way:
I feel much more comfortable right now in the season. It is my senior year and I can’t come back, even though I would like to play four more years, but I can’t. So I have to give my best effort, and that is what I am doing..
Tell me he isnt great. He is staying in Lexington for Christmas with a Polish family and said he is ready to “get back to work and play defense.” Aww Woo……
(3) All the players talked about how important this game was in terms of having a positive feeling going into the Christmas break. Joe Crawford mentioned that the game would “take a lot of weight off” and Randolph Morris said that “it feels good to show people how we can play, especially before we get into the big part of SEC play. ” The guys seemed really happy with the performance with Sheray Thomas saying it is great to “translate what we have been doing in practice to the games so people can see it.”
(4) Not everything was uniformly positive. There were still a number of turnovers and far too much lack of ball control by Derrick Jasper. Jasper, who is being counted on to control the ball at the point, looked lost in dealing with the UMASS press and made far too many poor decisions early. Tubby mentioned in the post game press conference that he was pleased with just about everything but the turnover situation and since most of the offending members are at the guard position, this is an area that must be improved upon.
(5) A big shout out has to go out the fans and the great Rupp Arena atmosphere. In my two years of covering UK games in Rupp, this was the second loudest I have heard it (behind last year’s game with Louisville). The crowd was into it from start to finish and was very supportive of the team, giving Woo one of the loudest ovations I have heard in the building. Woo commented on this saying, “Everyone at home and in school thought we were going to lose but we have faith in us and the fans need to as well. The arena tonight was great and it was so loud it was like different fans were in there. I loved it and it made me so happy to see them tonight.” A great, great atmosphere.
All in all, a very positive win and one to build on in the weeks ahead. There will likely be some postings here over the weekend, but not as many as usual as we enjoy the Christmas holiday. We hope you enjoy it as well and have a very happy and safe holiday!