The Cats got back on track tonight thanks to a last second heave from Jodie Meeks, beating the Gators 68-65. I’ll be back in a few with a full recap…..as soon as you people stop refreshing!
I’m just kidding, I love you guys. After all, you pay my Matt’s bills.
Quick Note: Patrick Patterson is getting his ankle x-rayed as we speak. There should be an update tomorrow.
Ok, Matt will be by in a few with his complete wrap-up from inside a rockin’ Rupp Arena (can I get some credit for that?) on a very important win for the Cats.
– The final shot from Jodie Meeks was a prayer answered for a lot of Cats fans. Gillispie has caught a lot of hell from everyone for not doing a great job of drawing up the X’s and O’s, but he did exactly what he needed to do with Patrick Patterson on the bench and only seconds remaining in a tied game: call a timeout and then inbound to Jodie Meeks and let him make it happen. It was nothing exceptionally brilliant, but it was the right move and Jodie made the play. My Gator friends are all claiming luck but, like Darrin Horn said after South Carolina beat the Gators, good teams put themselves in position to make lucky plays and win. The Cats did that tonight.
– It was a bit of an off night for Jodie Meeks who was forcing a whole lot of shots. He finished 3-10 from the three-point line and 7-19 overall, but he hit the one that really mattered. As he’s done all year when his shot wasn’t falling, he attacked the rim, although he didn’t seem to get as many calls tonight. He did go 6-8 from the line, but as long as he’s going to be aggressive, the defense is going to have to account for him, which will make it easier for guys to step up. Which, they did tonight.
– Hi, my name is Kevin Galloway and I’d like to be your starting point guard. What can you say about the play of the transfer from CSI: Junior College? Tonight, he had a near triple-double (kind of) with 6 points, 8 boards and 9 assists and looked to have enough swagger to be on stage with TI, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye and the pregnant chick. This team was lacking confidence, particularly at the point position, during the three-game slide and Galloway gave it to them tonight. Plus, a ferocious dunk in the second half helped send a message that UK wasn’t fading like they have lately. Great game for the young man.
– Perhaps the biggest story, though, was that the Cats finally saw a number of other players step up and put the ball in the basket. The foursome of Galloway, Michael Porter, Perry Stevenson and Josh Harrellson shot 18-23 from the field and chipped in 36 points. We’ve wondered who would step up and finally knock down some shots to ease some pressure off of Meeks and Patterson and tonight, they all answered the bell. Meeks and Patterson were 10-28, but the Cats still beat what might be the best team in the conference. That’s a good thing.
– For the first time since being named KSR Man of the Year, Josh Harrellson played like a man. I really thought I had jinxed him, but Jorts stepped up tonight not only on the offensive end, but also on defense. He only finished with 3 rebounds and 1 block, but he was strong in the paint contesting shots and boxing out. Another guy with a great game.
– Perry Stevenson was the model of efficiency. Perry Stevenson’s value to UK is as a shot-blocker and rebounder, but if they are going to go places, he’s going to have to shoot a high percentage on putbacks and knock down the free throw line jumper. Again, like he’s done in other Cats’ victories, Perry took care of business. With 3 blocks and 8 rebounds, he asserted himself in the lane, making his 6 turnovers seem somewhat acceptable – except to probably Gillispie.
– Michael Porter, meet the jumper. Jumper, meet Michael Porter. The much maligned point guard hit three big-time threes and didn’t look afraid to shoot. He still had 4 TO’s and only one assist, but he looked more confident on offense and at least being willing to pull the trigger is going to be key for the team to continue to develop. Someone mentioned in the comments earlier that he recently found out his wife is pregnant. If that is true, I’d like for all of the ladies of KSR (there are thousands I’m sure) to volunteer themselves to carry a Porter baby. It makes him deadly from downtown.
– I was a HUGE fan of the interior defense tonight. The Cats again looked a little vulnerable when they were spread out, but the entire team played physical in the lane by contesting shots and fighting for rebounds. They won the margin by 14 (39-25) and it was because every player seemed to be committed to it. If a team wants to heave threes and the Cats can grab the boards and shut down the drive, that’s not a bad thing at all.
– At some point, will Billy Gillispie just punch Jeanine Edwards in the face? As Coach made his way to the locker room, he was asked about what he was pleased with and pulled the “I didn’t hear you” card before he was asked again. Then, the follow-up was about Calathes being able to pass all over the UK defense and Gillispie replied with something like “Apparently you can see it better than me”. If he doesn’t fight her soon, I’d say there are wedding bells in the future.
– A few minutes into the second half, Gator guard Walter Hodge was kicked out of the game after stepping on Perry Stevenson. Perry fouled someone (Calathes?) on a three, which was half of a legit foul and half of a Reggie Miller flop. As Perry layed on the floor, Hodge walked over and stepped on his arm only to be lightly nudged by Porter and then ejected from the game. Had Landon Slone been on the court, blood would have been spilled.
– If you want to be picky, the Cats shot 9-16 from the free throw line. That’s not going to get it done most of the time. But, it did tonight and that’s all that matters.
– Only seven minutes of PT for DeAndre Liggins. But, he was in there at crunch time and they say that is all that matters, right?
Ok, that’s it for now. I need to hit the sack. All in all, it was a good, hard-fought victory for the Cats against a team that isn’t lacking in the talent department. And, for all of you that hate that whole “toughness” thing, I’d expect to hear a whole lot about it from Gillispie after his team fought hard throughout and closed out a very good opponent with defense and offensive execution late in the game. Again, stay tuned for the official Jones take here in a few.