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Cats win an ugly game, 61-51

Obviously, the big news of today was the second half being delayed after Ramon Harris collapsed in the locker room at halftime.  Coach Gillispie remained in the locker room with Harris while the medical staff was tending to him, missing the start of the second half, and Ramon was taken to the hospital to be evaluated.  We will keep you posted as we get information regarding the status of Ramon.  Obviously, we wish him the best and send our prayers to him and his family.

UPDATE:  Before he left, his vital signs were all ok. He is currently listed in stable condition at the Tuscaloosa hospital. We will keep you posted as we get info

Now, a couple of notes:

 – The Kentucky offense looked downright terrible in the first half of the game, scoring only 19 points in the opening period.  The poor start was partially due to stupid mistakes and poor ball-handling and shot selection, but a lot of credit has to be given to the Alabama defensive plan and execution.  The Tide essentially forced the Cats to play a 4-4 game by face-guarding Jodie Meeks from the second that he crossed midcourt, regardless of what he was doing.  On a few possessions, Meeks simply stood near the midcourt line in the corner and Andrew Steele stayed six inches away.  Additionally, they double-teamed Patrick Patterson the second the ball was entered to him and it really threw Kentucky off.  And, in the process it opened up yet another wound….

 – Because it yet again exposed that there is no offensive threat beyond Meeks and Patterson.  Alabama is not a great team, but they did play great defense today and it was a good test for this improving Kentucky team.  Someone is going to have to step up and show that they can put points on the board when they have the opportunity and that was again something the Cats struggled with for the most part today.  Perry Stevenson is likely the closest thing to another scorer that they have right now and he did finish with 16 points, but those stats are slightly misleading because he was got 10 of them off of free throws and only made 3 of his 9 field goals.  But, he is very comfortable with the jumper and is athletic enough to finish above the rim, so maybe UK might be finding their answer there.  If Perry’s aggressiveness is any indication of what results could come, the Cats might be ok.

 – Cue Bill Murry.  It’s Groundhog Day all over again.  Another SEC game, another team throwing everything at Jodie Meeks, another 27 points.  Like I mentioned earlier, Jodie faced a tough defensive plan and several physical, athletic defenders this afternoon, but wasn’t fazed one bit.  Meeks finished 10-18 from the field with 3 three-pointers, but that is not where his contributions ended.  As Tim Brando kept pointing out, Jodie Meeks is developing into a great defensive player as well and shut down the passing lanes on the defensive end of the floor.  He finished with 3 steals (seriously, that’s it?) and grabbed 9 boards as well.  It was an outstanding, complete game for Mr. Meeks.

 – But, not all was good in the backcourt as the point guard position continues to be an issue.  What makes the problem for the Cats even more frustrating is that Michael Porter and DeAndre Liggins are both struggling for the exact opposite reasons.  Porter refuses to shoot when he’s open.  Liggins forces shots that Eddie House would turn down.  Michael Porter will try to stabilize when he should be attacking.  DeAndre Liggins will jump in the air with nowhere to go when the offense is setting up.  It seems like if each player would watch some film of the other guy, they’d be in much better shape.  They’re much better than where they were at the beginning of the year, but there is still A LOT of work to be done.  And, no, I will not be mentioning Porter’s layup.  My stomach is still upset.

 – Another thing that slightly troubles me is that the Cats seem to be falling in love with the blocked shot.  UK is the best shot-blocking team in the country and Stevenson, Patterson and even AJ Stewart were beating soem shots around today, but it seems like they’ve changed just a bit from relying on the blocked shot as a last ditch effort around the rim and into a “funnel them inside” mentality.  Of course, it could just be that our guards couldn’t keep guys out of the lane today.  But, Patterson and Stevenson did seem to get a little swat-happy today and it allowed Bama to get offensive boards and easy putbacks.  Might be time to rein it in a bit.

 – It didn’t really matter in the end, but it wasn’t a great day for Patrick Patterson with 6 points and 5 boards.  This was partly because of foul trouble and partly because of very good defense from the Tide, but still not #54’s finest day.

 – A pretty solid all-around game for Darius Miller.  He didn’t do anything memorable but, at this point, that’s a positive for the bench players.  Seven boards isn’t a bad contribution either.

 – I don’t want to keep harping on the “mental toughness” and “maturity” aspect of this team but, again, that had a big part to play in today’s road win.  With only 19 points at the half, your star forward in foul trouble, your starting small forward at the hospital and a rowdy crowd all over you, being able to come out with a win is a sign of character.  Much like the West Virginia game, the Cats responded to a poor first half with a strong outing in the second.  That’s a very good sign.

 – Anytime you hold a team to 29% shooting for an entire game, you have to be proud with your defensive effort.

 – Senario Hillman has a 71-inch vertical according to Tim Brando.  Wow.

 – The Bama band chose to open the second half with “Basket Case” by Green Day.  Perhaps the most fitting song for the moment.  What a strange day.

 – The Cats had 23 turnovers….14 of which came in the second half when they came back to win.  That’s pretty crappy.

Overall, a very ugly win, but a win nonetheless.  The Cats are still the only unbeaten team in the SEC and remain in the driver’s seat in the East.  Plus, after watching Villanova live today, I can promise you that even as bad as UK played in this game, they would still murder those Wildcats.  Say a prayer or do what you do for Ramon.  We’ll be back in a few.

Article written by Thomas Beisner