In a game that had to make Kentucky fans more relieved than excited (or is that every game?), the Cats defeated the Vols by outscoring them by 20 points in the second half for an extremely important SEC win. Tennessee followed its normal output of the last four games, getting a lead early but falling apart (tired?) down the stretch. The Cats put forth a great defensive effort, allowing the three-point heavy Vols very little space for open looks at the basket, and few, if any, contested shots. (I might say that it is because UK FINALLY did not primarily play zone against a three point shooting team, but I would never do such a thing).
Equally as important was an efficient, if not spectactular, performance on the offensive end of the floor. Shaking off a poor stretch of games and a non-existent trip to Athens, Ramel Bradley was a star down the stretch, finishing with 19 points and taking over at the end of the game when foul trouble sidelined Randolph Morris. The big man Morris only finished with eight, but his contribution should not be diminished, as he had six key points in a row early in the second half, when the Cats were stagnant on offense and needed his production. Joe Crawford had a middling game, hitting some open threes and Jodie Meeks stepped up, with 16 big points. The Cats made some stupid mistakes (5 second calls, inbounds mishaps), but generally were solid and produced one of their better second halves of the year.
Many will point to this game and simply say, “Chris Lofton didnt play, so that is why UK won….nothing to be happy about.” While Lofton’s presence would have certainly made a difference, the win is still of importance for the Big Blue. They needed to stop the losing streak, especially considering that both of the earlier games were winnable, and thus a bit deflating. Plus they now have a week off and want to enter that stretch positively, rather than with a crusty fanbase. The Cats go to 5-2, the Big Blue Nation can exhale (for now) and a trip to Fayetteville looms.
In the meantime, think of Bono singing to the UK nation as part of “Live Aid for Mark Gottfried and his Alabama Crimson Tide,” singing at the top of his lungs:
Tonight thank God its them….instead of YOU!!!!”