After making the tournament championship three out of the past four years, the Kentucky Wildcats were once again unable to bring home home the trophy, falling to the fourth seeded and 19th ranked Texas A&M Aggies 75-67. UK held a two point half time lead after a fast paced opening 20 minutes, but the Aggies used relentless post offense through tournament MVP Kelsey Bone to wear down the Cats and eventually pull away late. After yesterday’s semi-final win, Mitchell said Kentucky lives and dies by the play of point guard Jennifer O’Neill, and tonight the Wildcats died. O’Neill looked completly out of sync the entire second half, and despite 17 points, was just 30% from the field.
Too depressed to write right now but here goes nothin’…
Senior star A’dia Mathies led the way for Kentucky with 19 points, but was never able to get into that rhythm that Wildcat fans know she can get into. The Cats settled for many questionable, long jump shots in times when the Cats were desperate for points. Kentucky was able to force 18 turnovers, but they didn’t do a good job converting those into points as normal. The “40 minutes of dread” mantra was thrown out the window, and it looked like A&M, who rested Bone for the majority of the first half, was the deeper team at the end. Coach Mitchell doesn’t think fatigue was a factor, but that the Aggies simply were “tougher”.
As much as O’Neill’s play was lacking at the point guard position, the post offense was just as questionable. Samarie Walker and DeNesha Stallworth combined to go 5-17, and were both completely outworked by Kelsey Bone. The Cats missed a lot of “gimme” baskets, and their confidence near the midway point in the second half was as low as it has been all season. They stopped competing, and in a championship environment, that’s just unacceptable. Just goes to show you how hard it is to win this tournament. Don’t let anyone fool ya…top to bottom the SEC is the best league in America. Check it.
The Cats will await their NCAA Tournament fate when the Selection Show airs next Monday night. Kentucky is an odds on favorite to get another two seed in the big dance. Kentucky will need to regroup and use this championship loss for a motivated run in late March. Bria Goss said it best: “the pain is there, but we have a lot more basketball to play”.
Quote of the night? Head man of Texas A&M, always a quote machine dished out this one: “When you get a hoss like Bone, you learn how to ride her”—that is all.
Looking for good UK Hoops news: it has officially been announced that Coach Matthew Mitchell and his wife Jenna will be expecting baby number two in October! Looks like Saylor Rose is going to have to fight for some attention now. Not sure how that will work out…but congratulations to the Mitchell family as BBN gets one more member in a few months.