The last time Ole Miss defeated Kentucky in the sport of basketball, the year was 2001. Kentucky was unbeaten in SEC play. Kentucky shot just 38.5% from the field, as Rahim’s 11 points and 6 rebounds helped beat the Wildcats 65-55. Does that sound sadly familiar?
As much as I would like to pontificate on tonight’s game, the lights in my home are flashing, and I fear I will be succumming to the No Internet/No Electricity hell that has captured our fair Matthew Jones.
(1) How bad was UK’s defense Tuesday night? Ole Miss shot 43.8% FG for the game and they average 43.3% for the year. Kentucky average opponents’ FG percentage was 36.4% before Tuesday night. Ole Miss made 10 of 26 3-pointers (38.6%) and they average 34.4% for the year. Kentucky has been allowing opponents’ 3-pointer percentage to 32.2% Ole Miss average 72.5 points per game and scored 82 against the Wildcats. Ole Miss averages roughly 21 free throws a game and Tuesday night they shot 29. Kentucky allowing Ole Miss 15 offensive rebounds when they average 12.6 again. Kentucky’s defense almost never stopped Ole Miss from running their plays. There was a few stretches in the second half that Kentucky was able to lock down, but then the Wildcats would get broken down on a drive, overplay on the drive, and then allow a pass to an open jumper.
(2) As much as the defense sucked, the offense should have been better. You’d think they had a good offensive game since the Wildcats scored 80 points. But that comes on 38.6% FG shooting for the game, when Kentucky has been averaging 50.2%. Kentucky averages roughly 54 FG attempts a game and got 65 FG attempts tonight — the problem is that the Wildcats made only 25 of those attempts. It was a combination of shots that wouldn’t fall, rushed offensive possessions and bad shot selection.
As I mentioned in the Quick, Fake Summary, Jodie Meeks was pretty much contained most of the game. He had 15 points with just 1:30 left in the game, then got two garbage 3-pointers at the end to jump up to 21 points. Ole Miss kept switching defenders on Meeks, and every defender seemed just as quick as Jodie. Patrick Patterson was back in Beast Mode, scoring 24 points on 8-12 FG and 8-9 FT. With Jodie contained, multiple Wildcats needed to step up. Darius Miller had 12 points and DeAndre Liggins had 8 points, but both made some questionable shot choices in the second half. Perry Stevenson got 7 points and 7 rebounds but looked just as shook up in the offense as the freshmen.
(3) Patrick Patterson said that the Wildcats “probably underestimated” the Rebels. For reals? Ya think? Should I try to sound more sarcastic and snarky?
(4) In sadder real-world news from the literary world, noted author John Updike died today at the age of 76. Here’s a somber poem he wrote titled Ex-Basketball Player which will help keep your gloomy mood around. Personally, I’m ashamed I haven’t picked up on any of his Rabbit series of books.
If Kentucky plays Kentucky defense and manages their offense a little smarter — as they’ve done in the past — this is a win for the Wildcats. No disservice meant to Andy Kennedy and his players and coaching staff for finding a way to stifle Meeks and being more physical than the Wildcats all game long. But Kentucky has faced teams with quick guards and the drive-and-dish perimeter offense, and have come away victorious. Every future opponent will be able to cue up this ESPN-broadcast game and see what they need to do to muck up Kentucky’s vaunted defense. The onus now lays on Billy Gillispie and the team to prevent a similar game plan from succeeding when applied by Florida or South Carolina.
Its also important to note that this is our first loss in SEC play and our 5th loss overall. While this was a “winnable” game — which will make this a “bad loss” according to the RPI — there is still plenty of games left in the SEC schedule. The loss definitely stings our pride, but it was not necessarily the killing blow of the season.
The lights continue to flicker. I wish those of you in the Bluegrass safety and warmness as icy wrath continues to pour from the heavens. Good night and good luck.