Its never easy is it? Tonight, everything pointed towards Kentucky having a much-needed easy win in Rupp Arena over an LSU team missing their best player. And there was a win, it was much-needed….but it wasnt easy. Falling behind again early, the Cats dug themselves into a huge hole, found themselves losing the game and the crowd…..rallied back…..but this time they decided they would go ahead and win, squeezing out a late victory. The Cats were led by a solid combo of Jodie Meeks and Randolph Morris, both of whom gave strong offensive performances, scoring in a variety of ways throughout the contest. Meeks tied his career high and absolutely abused an LSU perimeter defense that was clearly not ready for him.
The game itself saw a number of positives and a number of negatives. On the positive side, the Cats generally, with the exception of the opening minutes, played solid defense, contesting every shot and giving LSU few open looks on which they could hang their hat. On offense, the Cats found themselves with something rarely seen this season…..easy open layups, as LSU had no answer for their various cuts to the basket. On the negative side, the big two perimeter scorers for the Cats, Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford, gave the Cats virtually nothing for most of the game and Crawford especially looked as if he was barely playing in the game at any given point. Plus the team once again refused to have a 40 minute Randolph Morris game by rarely getting him the ball in the second half, causing much frustration on this man’s brow.
Ultimately however this game will be remembered for…..well probably nothing….it was pretty forgettable. There was a great deal of frustration from all fans, including me, over how this game started….UK continues to look flat and completely out of sync at the beginning of every contest and this pattern looks as if it will never stop. However the Cats did once again come back….this time in the first half, thanks in large part to John “I was a teenage alcoholic” Brady’s technical towards the end of the half. That comeback allowed the Cats to build a lead in the second half, rather than simply try to crawl back in the game.
Most importantly to me however was the way the Cats FINALLY CLOSED OUT A GAME. Tied at 58 with four minutes to go, the Cats proceeded to score on five straight layups…..those are exactly the type of good shots the Cats need to get at the end of games and it was great to see them finally happen. After watching this team fall apart the last few times they have been close with five minutes to go, it was refreshing to see something resembling poise at the end…..that is required to make a run in the postseason, and for the first time in a long time it arrived. All in all, not a great game, but a needed win. And after the last two weeks, anything positive was a welcome relief.
And oh yeah…..poor Smooth really got posterized on that block at the end…..Nasty…..