Kentucky Gets Big Win, Take On Notre Dame Tomorrow

The big story the past week has been about Billy Gillispie and whether he will return next year, but last night the Kentucky basketball team gave the fans something much better to talk about, a comeback win on the road against a very talented Creighton team. Kentucky never led the game by more than one point until Jodie Meeks drove to the basket with 10 seconds and converted on an old fashioned three point play. The Blue Jays missed a game winning three at the buzzer.

Jodie Meeks did not have one of his best games this year, but he hit big shots down the stretch for the Cats and poured in 13 of his 16 points in the second half.

Patrick Patterson got into foul trouble early in the first half and barely saw the floor in the first half. He played an excellent defensive second half as the Blue Jays were able to get nothing going offensively in the paint. Also a big congrats to the big man as he joined elite company as 1,000 point club, way to go Patrick

Perry Stevenson had a very good game as he posted 13 points and 10 rebounds for the double double. He missed some shots, but continued to fight and fight and help will this team to a victory.

A very big win for the Cats in what was a difficult environment as the Creighton fans were loud and rowdy throughout the entire game.

The win extends the Cats season as they are rewarded with a trip to South Bend, Indiana to take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame for the chance to advance to New York City.

Hopefully with this win maybe the rumors will die down about, but I doubt it. I just wish that the fans could focus in on this team and how hard they gutting it out. I listened to some call in shows today and no one wanted to talk about the great win last night, but instead talked almost exclusively on Billy and while it is an important topic I just wish the fans could put their attention to the kids for the rest of the season

Once this season ends let the speculation begin and feel free to talk about it continuously, but until then I say lets focus on Notre Dame and the chance to possibly meet the Florida Gators in New York. There are still potentially three more chances to watch this team play and grow towards next year and I say lets at beating Notre Dame and anyone else we might play instead of having straw polls on who we want to be the next coach.

I will have a new post up tomorrow at some point so look for that, hope everyone has a great night, and go Cats and lets beat the Irish

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Great Win For The Cats

It was not pretty and the Cats never led by more than two points all game, but the Cats held onto win, thanks to a three point play by Jodie Meeks to propel the Cats to victory.

Kentucky now will travel to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, a win will advance the Cats to the semi-finals in New York City.

To me this was hands down the best win we have had all year, this Creighton team could have easily been in the NCAAT and their crowd was rocking. Patterson barely played in the first half and Meeks was not his normal self and we still managed to pick up the victory. I am very proud of this team. This was a great win for Gillispie and his team

I will have a full update tomorrow on the win.

Memorial Magic Helps Cats To NIT Victory

A raucous sellout crowd of over 8,000 people help lead the Cats to a 70-60 victory over UNLV last night in the opening round of the NIT. Jodie Meeks led the way in scoring with 19 and Patrick Patterson pitched in 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Kentucky got scoring help from everyone who played last night and it looked as if they were playing very relaxed and just overall having a good time.

Perry Stevenson had an excellent game including one of the best dunks of the year when he took off from just inside the free throw line and dunked over a UNLV player and set off the crowd unlike anything we have grown accustomed to in Rupp Arena, the crowd from all accounts was deafening after this play.

Jodie Meeks got back into his rhythm after being held to single digits against LSU for the first time all season. Jodie was 3-9 from behind the arc and looked very comfortable shooting the ball. He looked much more like the Jodie we have seen all season than the Jodie of the past couple of games.

Darius Miller continues to show me that he will without a doubt be a star, he had nine points in 23 minutes, he plays with confidence and overall just looks like he has a great feel for the offense, he makes the smart play time and time again and rarely makes unforced errors.

Ramon Harris again looked like a much improved player he had 6 points, but more importantly he had 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and only one turnover in 25 minutes of play. Ramon had a couple of big dunks in the first half that really got the crowd going.

Patrick Patterson was once again his usual self as he went for another double double last night. Every night he shows me that he plays just as hard or harder than anyone in the nation last night, countless times he was on the floor diving after balls and doing anything he could to help his team to the victory.

A big shout out goes to the crowd last night, everyone was disappointed with being in the NIT and after the horrid first five minutes in which we feel behind 9-2 and were seemingly turning the ball over time up the floor this crowd could have easily checked out and said he we go again, but they didn’t. Everything I have read points to all indications that Memorial was rocking like Rupp has not in a long time, and it was definitely exciting to see this fan base going nuts like they did… for an NIT game.

Look for another post later tonight or tomorrow and don’t forget to drop by and chat with me here during the first rounds of the tournament tomorrow.

Have a great day

Great Second Half Propels Cats

In the first half Ole Miss shot the lights out en route to a 2 point lead, but the second half was a different story as the Rebels only scored 20 points in the second half as the defense looked great. Patrick Patterson was a monster down low as he cleaned the glass all afternoon, Meeks had a game high 25 points and looked very solid in the second half. Darius Miller and Perry Stevenson had great games and will be very crucial if this team is to win 3 more games. The second half was one of the better halves I have seen this team play this year. Now you look at LSU looming large in the second round at the same time tomorrow. I will have a new post up later tonight looking at tomorrows game against the Bayou Bengals.

Go Big Blue!

A Look Ahead At Ole Miss

The SEC tournament tips off tomorrow and the first game on the slate is Kentucky and Ole Miss, the Rebels handed UK their first SEC loss of the season in their only matchup this season back in January. Jodie Meeks came into the game as the hottest player in the country just two weeks after his 54 point outburst, but the Rebels became the first team really all season that game planned around Meeks and not Patterson. This defense was key as they held Meeks to just 4-15 shooting and limited him to just 21 points half of which came from the charity stripe. Ole Miss is sure to show much of the same in tomorrow’s matchup against the Cats. To win the Cats have to find a way to get some open looks for Meeks and when he gets open he needs to hit the shot. This is a team that knows they have to win out to make the field of 65 so I look for a hungry team to ready to play as they do not want play in the NIT.

One other thing I encourage is relax and just enjoy the game tomorrow, give your kid a half day from school bring him home and just enjoy the game. Have fun watching two of the best players in the nation play for out school, this season in no way has gone the way any of us wanted and we all know that, but I just have this feeling that these next 4 days could be very special for this basketball program. 4 straight wins and the last 2 weeks could be erased from all our memories as we would be dancing for the 18th straight year. And in order to do that it all starts with giving a little payback to the Rebels.

Loss Leaves Cats On The Outside Looking In

Needing a win to keep their tourney hopes alive Kentucky came out and failed to take advantage of a poor Georgia team on Senior Night. You could tell from the opening tip that Kentucky did not come ready to play yet again and Georgia came out firing on all cylinders and downed Kentucky at home 90-85. Georgia who in the previous meeting only scored 45 points in the entire game scored 2 more than that in the first half alone. In a game that everyone in the entire state knew was a must win once again this team came out and flat laid an egg. You just have to wonder how time and time again this team can come so unprepared especially against a team that Kentucky is so much better than. With last night’s loss the only way I can see this team making the field of 65 is if they can win 4 games in 4 days to get the automatic bid from the SEC and considering UK has struggled to put 2 good games together it seems unrealistic to believe that this team could somehow come together and win four straight in four straight days. Joe Lunardi said today and said that he believes that if UK can somehow win at Florida this weekend and can beat a bubble team in the SEC tournament than he believes that UK would still get an at large bid to the tourney. With the way this season has gone I fully do not expect that any of these scenarios will play out and I believe we will miss the tourney, but all it could take is Jodie catching fire and single handily leading us to the SEC tourney championship.

Now onto what every Kentucky fan is talking about today: Billy Gillispie and his future with this program. The worst thing that could happen to Kentucky basketball right now would be to fire Billy at the end of this season and I will tell you why. Any chance Kentucky has of getting Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson to return next year would be gone as their is no chance those two would stay and learn a new system and play for a new coach, even if Billy stays one or both might go pro, but if he is not the head coach next year than no way either of them suit up for Kentucky next year.

This would kill recruiting next year and perhaps a couple years down the road, Billy has already locked down an excellent class for 2009 with studs in Daniel Orton, Jon Hood, and GJ Vilarino and if Billy is gone they will have the option of opening up their recruitment and looking elsewhere and perhaps they all still stay on at Kentucky, but chances are one of them very well would end up signing a letter of intent elsewhere.

No matter who you are a coach needs at least 3 years to implement his system get his players into his system and get the program running the way he wants it to run. I am very grateful for all Tubby Smith did for this program and have great respect for the man, but Tubby stayed 2 years too long and it completely shows out on the floor right now as the type of players we have on this roster are not your typical studs that normally suit up for the blue and white. Billy has a roster full of players that Tubby recruited that for the most part do not suit his style of play and are just not what Billy needs right now. Should Billy be losing like he is? No he should not be and we all know that, but he needs more time, he needs to get his players that fit his system.

If we are sitting in this same situation next year no matter if Jodie and Patrick leave or stay than I definitely think it might be time to asses the situation and consider the option that Billy might not be the man for the job, but as of right now I think firing Billy would be the wrong move and I would not support it. Give him one more year and see if things can be turned around. No one is happy with where this program is at currently, but I believe we would see things get much worse before they get better if Billy is not here next year.

Cats Get A Win & A Third Scorer

Darius Miller went for a career high 17 points on a perfect 6-6 shooting from the floor, his effort plus the return of Patrick Patterson led Kentucky to a 77-58 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers.

In the previous meeting Jodie Meeks went for a school record 54 points in a 18 point rout of Tennessee, but this time was held to just 14 points. While Tennessee did a great job from keeping Jodie from scoring he still played very well as they continually put pressure on Jodie often times leaving someone else wide open for the shot. Even when he is not scoring 40+ points he proves how valuable of a player he really is. He demands so much attention that if Porter, Miller, Harris, and Stevenson can continue hitting open shots than this team can be go from average to very good.

This game was won the minute Patrick Patterson walked onto the floor. He had a team high 19 points and along with Jodie Meeks commanded so much attention from the UT defense that it often left wide open shots for everyone else. He played not only well on the offensive end of the floor, but the defensive end as well by altering shots and not allowing points in the paint. For Kentucky to be able to win and make a run in the tournament Patterson must stay healthy and out of foul trouble as without him Kentucky will struggle to win games.

The main story however has to be the emergence of Darius Miller. He had a career high 17 points and was perfect from the field while also dishing out 6 assists and playing solid defense. This is the player everyone had been waiting all year to see and on Saturday he delivered. Earlier in the year he looked very timid and would often pass up open shots, but that was not the case on Saturday, he played with confidence and looked like the new third scorer that the Cats have been so desperately looking for and needing.

Michael Porter had a very solid game hitting 3 three balls. Perry Stevenson early on hit some open shots which forced UT to pay attention to him all game instead of backing off and using his man to shadow Patterson. When UK can get the likes of Harris, Stevenson, Liggins, Porter, and Galloway to hit open shots they become a much different and much better team that is very hard to defend. Hitting the open shots forces the defense to key in on these players and therefore allows Jodie and Patterson to get better looks throughout the game.

It was a great game by the Cats with only one negative that I saw in the game. Kentucky allowed way to many offensive rebounds and second chance points. If Kentucky had boxed out and cut their offensive rebounds in half it would have been a 30 point win. While it did not harm the Cats on Saturday 5-6 extra offensive boards and 10-12 extra second chance points in the tournament could be the difference between advancing to the next round and going home early.

UK heads to South Carolina on Wednesday and I will have a full update on the game coming Thursday with a couple posts coming before that.