The KSR gang took a field trip to Bloomington, Indiana through corn, windmills, and Wal-Marts yesterday for Kentucky’s big game against Indiana.
This is what I brought back with me.
1.) Assembly Hall was rockin’.
I have been to big games at big time venues like the Dean Dome, Phog Allen Fieldhouse, Michigan State’s Breslin Center, and our own Rupp Arena, and I’ve never seen a crowd like the one in Assembly Hall yesterday. It was the first time I’ve been to a place where the crowd noise actually hurt my ears. That stretch in the first half when Indiana got out to a big lead was deafening. I hate to admit that but I have to give credit where credit is due. Hoosier Nation brought the noise and they deserve credit for Indiana’s win. Assembly Hall was the sixth, seventh, and eighth man for the Hoosiers.
2.) Indiana students love their signs.
Even though many of them were making fun of Kentucky, I couldn’t help but laugh at all of the signs in Assembly Hall. And they were EVERYWHERE. “Just Tweeze It”, “Calipari Touched Me”, “UK Where It Pays To Play”, “Calipari Watches Glee”, and Frida as Anthony Davis are just a few of the ones I remember around me.
Oh, and the two Jerry Sandusky fatheads. That was different.
Other fatheads I saw: Jay-Z, Harry Potter, Zac Efron, Ellen Degeneres, Lee Corso, and Beavis and Butthead.
Rupp Arena needs more signs — and not the Papa John’s, Whitaker Bank, Kentucky Farm Bureau kind.
3.) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a basketball player.
He hustles. He rebounds. He scores. He defends. He hustles. He drives. He scores. He hustles. He never, ever, ever takes a play off. Ever.
Without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Indiana wins this game by 20. The kid scored 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting, grabbed 9 rebounds, and kept his team in it when things were getting ugly.
I wish Terrence Jones had half the intensity and passion that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist plays with on every single play.
Which brings me to my next point…
4.) Terrence Jones.
He let us down out there. “He absolutely gave us zero today,” Calipari said in the postgame presser. Jones scored 4 points with 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 6 turnovers. That can’t happen for this team to succeed.
My problem with Terrence Jones isn’t the bad game, though. Bad games happen to every player. Sometimes shots aren’t falling and balls aren’t bouncing your way. It happens. My problem with Jones is the complete lack of effort on both ends. I watched him away from the ball on a lot of Kentucky’s possessions and it looked like he wasn’t even trying when Doron Lamb was fighting to get open and needed screens. If it’s not your day offensively, at least man up and put a body on someone so your teammate can get open and make a play. Terrence Jones just looked like he wanted it to be over with.
5.) I hated first half Marquis Teague. I loved second half Marquis Teague.
It was obvious that the crowd was getting to Teague early in the game when he missed three easy shots right around the rim. His play in the first half was PATHETIC and I was begging for Jarrod Polson to come in. I even said Coach Cal should make him sit on the bus during the second half. I’m glad he didn’t because the second half was a different story.
The Indiana native was taking it to the rim and scoring with ease in the second half. No one was getting in his way. He scored all 15 of his points in the final 15 minutes of the game, and his last six came when Kentucky desperately needed a basket, including the layup that put UK up by one with under a minute to go.
It says a lot about Teague’s tenacity that he could put his worst half of basketball behind him and be a totally different, unstoppable player after halftime. That adjustment could be key in his development and maturity this season.
6.) Eloy Vargas means more to this team than most people realize.
Eloy Vargas only played ten minutes but it was a valuable ten minutes. With Anthony Davis on the bench with foul trouble, Eloy came in and played great defense, boxed out on rebounds, and hustled for loose balls — just like Kentucky needs him to do.
With about two minutes to go in the first half, Indiana knocked down a three-pointer to take an 8-point lead — its largest of the game at that time — and the crowd was louder than any I’ve ever heard. Kentucky came down and missed a three-pointer but Eloy fought for an offensive rebound and put it back up to slow down the Hoosiers’ momentum. On Indiana’s next possession, Eloy got a big steal that led to two more points for Kentucky. The Cats went on to end the half on a 7-0 run, sparked by our boy Eloy.
7.) I hated that the buzzer-beater was over Darius.
He should’ve fouled, he didn’t. We can talk about that another time.
Verdell Jones made a good play to drive it in on Darius and then kicked it out to Watford, but Darius recovered and challenged the game-winning shot. Unfortunately, Watford got it over his extended arm and the ball hit nothing but net.
Miller fell to the floor on the play and Indiana’s team celebrated on top of him after the shot went in. That hurt to watch. Especially seeing it happen to Kentucky’s senior leader, a class act, who played great in the second half to lead Kentucky’s comeback.
Just use it as fuel.
8.) Be careful what you wish for.
Towards the very end of the game, I turned to Kent Spencer and said something that will haunt me for a long time. “I want Kentucky to win but it would be pretty cool to see the roof blow off this place if Indiana hits a buzzer-beater.”
I didn’t really mean it.
And it wasn’t cool. At all.
9.) The real loser in all of this? Chattanooga.
The 3-7 Mocs are Kentucky’s next opponent on Saturday. Those poor kids are in for a lonnngggg night in Rupp Arena.
10.) The loss isn’t a very big deal.
Yeah, Kentucky will lose the No. 1 ranking and any hope of a perfect season. It’s not the end of the world. If Kentucky is going to lose a game, I would much rather it be on the road against a non-conference opponent in early December than in a tournament game or a game against Florida, Tennessee, or Vanderbilt in the second half of the season.
Plus, Indiana is a legit basketball team and it was the toughest road game the Cats will face all season.
It’s not like Kentucky lost to some scrub team like Loyola-Marymount, Lamar, or Louisville.