Led by an assist by Jared Carter, the Kentucky Wildcats put forward their best performance of the season in beating Longwood 91-57 on Monday night in Rupp. The Cats were dominant from the outset, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back in a performance that was solid on all aspects. The Cats saw the explosion of Patrick Patterson who had a stat line that Chris Mills would be proud of, with 28 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and four blocks, dominating the smaller Longwood lineup. Tonight we saw the Patterson that we love, explosive, full of energy and with solid footwork on both ends. His performance highlighted a good game by a lot of different guys in what is a feel-good game for the Cats and their fanbase. Here are tonight’s game notes:
— The story of this game is without question the impressive play of Patrick Patterson. Some have openly wondered if Patrick is totally healthy and he admitted this week that he isnt completely in sync yet. However tonight he looked like the Patrick of old. He scored a career high 28 points, but more importantly he exploded at all ends of the floor and was a dominating presence in the paint. One never needs to worry about Patrick as a player….he is a rock for this team. But this game today signifies a step forward in his conditioning and return to a nationally dominant level.
— For the first time all season, the Cats showed some promise on offense. Gillispie said after the game that they utilized many more plays out of offensive sets and the flow of the offense was significantly improved. We even saw some of the high-low offense from the big guys that we had hoped to see all season. This team’s ability to put the ball in the basket is still its biggest question mark, but tonight was a solid performance.
— Defensively the team didnt have a great performance, but it was solid. They left too many Longwood players open on the three point line (the downfall of the VMI game), but they did produce a ton of pressure that created a number of turnovers and fast break points. This team is top 15 in the nation defensively in my view (although the statistics will be skewed for sometime because of VMI), but they are open to three point attacks and they have to fix that.
— Another solid, although inconsistent performance from a star in the making in Darius Miller. Going into the fall practice, there was some worry from those within the program that Miller was a step behind the rest of the Freshman. Well not anymore….this kid gets it on the offensive end, is improving rapidly on defense and has a basketball IQ that is off the charts. I was told by one person in the program that Darius is constantly asking coaches what he can do better and is a student of the game. Tonight he was back and forth, with his best defensive performance so far, but not what he has had on the other end most of the year. Tonight he started the first half (although not the second) and I expect to see him continue to develop at a rapid pace.
— We will see this all year I believe. After one game in which he is unstoppable, we will have a game where Jodie Meeks struggles a bit. Now of course all things are relative. He still had 18 points and scored in a number of different ways. But he missed threes that he wont often miss and could have been over 20 again. Meeks is a star, but he does need to be careful to continue to initiate offense for his teammates. He was better on that tonight, but still not where he needs to be.
— Point guard play was a bit better than in the first two games, although each guys had their bad moments. Porter continued his “layups that dont hit rim” streak and Liggins had three turnovers on three consecutive plays. But both guys played well defensively and were able to execute some fast break buckets. It is clear that Gillispie’s strategy is to use these guys, Meeks, Harris and Miller as rotating “point guards” depending on matchups. What must cut down are the turnovers and except for the series by Liggins, it was better tonight.
— Poor Kevin Galloway. He simply gets no chance from the coaching staff. I am not saying he deserves a chance, but there comes a point that one wonders why he was brought here to simply sit the bench.
— A couple of the regular starters had average games. Perry Stevenson and Ramon Harris both found themselves with quiet performances. Harris had the first game in a long time where he didnt start, although he did play most of the rest of the game and started the second half. He had nine continuing his “more points than you would think” streak. Perry had another quiet game and seems to be getting lost a bit.
— Great game for the Jorts, who handled the inside very well, getting a number of low post buckets and a couple of blocks. When Harrellson looks comfortable, he plays very well and tonight was one of his very good performances. There are certain teams that present tough matchups for him, but tonight was a great game and I look forward to seeing him in Vegas.
— Kudos to Gillispie for having the team ready to play tonight. They were focused from the outset and played a great ten minute stretch to start. Against bad teams you gotta kill their will early, and tonight the Cats did that.
— “He Went to” Jared Carter saw a bit of action late. He did have an assist, which changed the complexion of the game, and for that matter my life. The O Charleys people celebrated heartily.
— In an event that is like a Bigfoot sighting, we had a “Whiteout” in the second half from UK for the first time in recent memory. The Whiteout phenomenon is of course when a team fields an entire five of guys of McCain complexion, an extreme rarity for all teams not named the Utah Jazz or the Duke Blue Devils. Tonight the Cats had a Porter-Slone-Krebs-Harrellson-Carter lineup that was the first Whiteout for the Cats that I can remember. If any can think of another, let me know, but I have racked my brain and cant. Bill Simmons has been contacted.
We will have more all day, including the “Who Wants to be a Blogger” Final Four….their assignment was to write a Longwood game review. All four will be on display later today….we narrow it to two after today. That and an SEC slant and Bobby Perry bringing the thunder. Check in later….
Billy Gillispie Post-Game Audio (courtesy of John Clay)