It is rare that you can beat a team as handily as the Cats beat the Hoosiers and walk away with a “blah” feeling, but Kentucky’s victory over Indiana led to such an emotion. In a game that one never believed the Cats would lose, they still fell victim to some of the same problems as earlier in the year. The great defensive intensity in the first ten minutes was followed by lackluster effort and play through the last 30 and fans were treated to one of the ugliest UK-IU games ever. Still yet, Kentucky got an important win at home and did so on national television, never a bad result. Here are some notes…..
— For ten minutes, Kentucky looked like one of the elite defensive teams in the nation. And I dont think that look is an anomaly. When Kentucky is clicking on defense, they have the abilty to completely lock-down poor teams and make even the best offenses struggle. Tonight we saw GREAT defensive play from Perry Stevenson and Patrick Patterson and good pressure from guards like Kevin Galloway and (yes) Michael Porter. While the overall intensity let off during the rest of the contest, it bears remembering just how good UK can be on the defensive end when the effort and the energy is there. When that happens, they can play with anyone on that end of the floor.
— On offense, it was a good, but not great performance. Kentucky in the first half showed much more ball movement than we have seen in most of the games. The possessions were not wasted through needless dribbling and nearly every player touched the ball on every possession. In the late stages of the first half and the second half however, Kentucky reverted back to the train-wreck style offense we have seen most of the season. Too much one-on-one, very few attempts to get the ball inside and when such attempts occur, terrible entry passes into the post. Again, it was positive to see what can happen, but the consistency wasnt there.
— This IU team is hideous. They do play with a lot of energy, and when they substituted late to get some of their better athletes on the floor, they played much better. But most players on the team play decidedly below the rim and in the first half, their performance was…..well not good. I know everyone is on board the “Tom Crean will make this happen” train and I generally agree. But they have a LOOOOOONG way to go.
— From the player perspective, it was a great night for the UK big men Perry Stevenson and Josh Harrellson. Harrellson had 15 points and Stevenson had 6 blocks as the two young men benefited from the IU focus on containing Patterson and the Huntington big man’s foul trouble. Both of these guys give you a classic defense/offense debate as to playing time and it is already getting loud all over the message boards. Because Patrick Patterson should never leave the floor, both of these guys cant play at the same time. Thus when both are excelling, one has to spend too much time on the bench. Because Stevenson is the better defender, and that is more important to Gillispie, Perry will likely win out on minutes.
— Good game by Michael Porter and it was much needed. Yes he had a couple of turnovers, yes he had an air balled three pointer. But he also had a number of great passes and for better or worse, the offense looked better when he was the point man. I do think that part of this is because teams that dont rely so much on athleticism may be better fits for Porter…..maybe play him more against a Tubby rather than a Rick team. But either way, tonight was a good night for the Modesto native.
— On the other hand, it was painful to watch DeAndre Liggins. Despite Greg Anthony’s stated belief that he is the “most talented player on the team” (to which Patrick Patterson must have looked at Greg and said, “Really”?), Liggins had a tough game. 6 turnovers, multiple poor decisions and a look of disinterest on defense at times. Add to that a number of poor possessions on offense and it wasnt Liggins’ signature night. Part of being a Freshman most likely, but it does at least mute the Liggins fan club for a game or two.
— Give a shout to Kevin Galloway for a nice game as well. He started both halves, gave good athleticism and defensive pressure and made a couple of nice passes as well. This is the Galloway that I wanted to see at the beginning. The next four games are big for Kevin and I hope he finds his groove.
— I love you Verne….you are my favorite announcer and have been nicer to me than almost anyone. But Darius Williams and Landon Stone? I know this game was lame, but read the pre-game notes next time.
— Got seven text messages during the game expressing love for the announcing of Greg Anthony. Great debut and a good mix of positive commentary with pointed criticism from what I hear.
— Nice foul at the end so the Cats could cover the spread.
— Tom Pritchard of Indiana is a poor man’s Mark Coury.
— The Billy Clyde crouching position is amazing to watch. He can do it for long periods on end….he must have been a catcher in a previous life.
— Please no one talk about Jeff Sheppard’s half-time three point contest performance. Lets just never speak of it again. Not Jeff’s finest hour.
More notes in our late night post. Cats win and Hoosiers are terrible. Not a bad Saturday night…..