It was a great win today in Lexington for the Cats as they ruined John Pelphrey’s homecoming with a 63-58 win that was all the things we have grown accustomed to this year in SEC play…ugly, sloppy and most of all GUTSY. A great win and a great performance. With the win, the Cats can still go 3-1 and finish 12-4 in conference….a record that I think gets them in without question, regardless of what the ESPN talking heads spout. That is now more than attainable and the Cats are set up to have a great ending to their season. I spent this game in the Kentucky Sports Radio Compound with the rest of the KSR crew, but there are still notes to be had….
(1) When college basketball is played among flawed but talented teams, the line between success and failure is very thin. Today’s game is a perfect example. With two minutes to go the game is tied, Kentucky has the ball and any outcome is possible. Kentucky comes down and Ramel Bradley takes a typical Ramel Bradley shot and it goes in. Arkansas returns down the court, Crawford plays great defense and a bad shot is taken that is then rebounded by the Cats, and Patterson is immediately fouled. Two plays, each of which could have gone the other way…yet both went Kentucky’s way and they won. At the end of games this year, that difference…the oh so tight one between success and failure…has been the true difference that Crawford and Bradley have made and people should remember them for that difference.
(2) Another great game by Joe Crawford. Joe C hit a number of big drives to the basket and drained two three pointers, each of which were on a huge occasion in the game. Yes he always looks disheartened and yes, he sometimes seems a step slow….but when he has a great game, it is so fun to watch. His embrace of Gillsipie at the end of the game was a moment that will remain when this season ends.
(3) Sometimes I feel like a broken record because you can say this every game, but Ramel is as clutch as they come. Yes he shot poorly….yes he made bad decisions….yes he initiated contact like an Italian soccer player….but he also hit the key shot in the game when it mattered most and essentially ensured a victory in the process. He is tough to deal with at times when you are watching him make circles at the top of the key with an endless dribble and a seeming indifference to the shot clock….but then he hits a shot like he did today and nothing else matters.
(4) Shout out to the big guys again. Patterson was brilliant as usual…..next subject. Perry Stevenson had eight big points in the first half and got some big buckets when nothing else was falling for the Cats. Stevenson has a knack for scoring when no one else can and those shots in the first half kept the game close when the regulars were struggling mightly.
(5) Another quick shout to Mr. Loose Ball Razor Ramon. At the end of the game, he came up with two HUGE offensive rebounds that kept the ball on Kentucky’s end and allowed them to kill clock and get a good shot. Not Razor’s best game, but an important set of plays nonetheless.
(6) It was also a great day for Billy Gillispie. Not only did he pull out a HUGE win against a likely NCAA Tournament team, but he also showed some great emotion in the process. When Kentucky called their last timeout up three with six seconds to go, the players came to the huddle and saw Gillispie smiling saying, “this is OUR house.” The players all began screaming and yelling with the Coach. Add to that the fact that he showed up at the DANCEBlue fundraiser tonight and gave a $10,000 check spontaneously and one has to give the coach a huge round of applause on a great day.
(7) The decision to switch to the Duke game seriously could not have been a worse one for CBS. I understand that in some parts of the country, you change that game to catch the tipoff. But switch it off in Kentucky? Mistake or not, it is inexcusable. It is also the HEIGHT of arrogance for CBS to think that ANYONE in the country that is not a Duke or St Johns fan would rather see the tip of that game than the last minute of a close UK-Arkansas game. I know Duke does well in the ratings, but putting Duke and St Johns on national television is simply stupid…and leaving a close game in the process makes CBS deserve the thousands of calls I am sure they received from a 859, 606, 502 or 270 area code today.
(8) We really got the “A” team of CBS announcers today. Tim Brando and Mike Gminski…? What were Tim Hardaway and George Seifert not available? And if I heard Tim Brando make one more 80s reference, I was going to have to come to the arena floor and wipe the orange off his face. Come on Tim…..time to update your pop culture references for the post “AMEN” and “227” era.
(9) Tennessee-Memphis was great in all its forms. Exactly what college basketball should be. Dick Vitale in an Elvis costume….a rivalry with a heated crowd…..Priscilla Presley looking like a vampire…..Tennessee players with ridiculous headbands….Bruce Pearl groping Erin Andrews…..the SEC showing it is better than anyone ever gives it credit for…..and oh yeah, a good basketball game as well. Loved watching every minute of it.
(10) And oh yeah, Vandy will take the #1 Vols down hard on Tuesday in Nashville. Book it.
More throughout tomorrow. We blogged all day busting brackets and it was a ton of fun. Check it out below and enjoy your Sunday morning and afternoon…..