NCAA Basketball

College Basketball Analysis: Kentucky Gets Big Win vs. Tennessee

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Post game write ups, like tearful Bruce Pearl apologies, are always better late than never.

We’ve had a lot of games deemed by the fanbase as ‘must win’ this season but this is the first time that the young Cats were playing with something tangibly important on the line. In this case, the second seed out of the East in the SEC tournament and a coveted first round bye were up for grabs for both teams at the start of this game.

Going into Knoxville against a Tennessee team that had struggled at home and was without their interior enforcer, Brian Williams, seemed to make the game the Cats’ to lose, even with our atrocious road performances this season.

It was a story of two halves. The first was something that we’ve grown all too familiar with. Poor offensive execution, dumb fouls and that deer-in-the-headlights look had most UK fans checking the start time of the women’s game. However, the second half looked like a thing of beauty typically reserved for the fans in Rupp. There was a tangible effort, a resilient desire to win the game and a total 180, offensively, from the first half debacle.

Kentucky played like a team that wanted to win the game. That’s something we haven’t seen all season on the road and, like a tearful Bruce Pearl apology and a post game write up, it’s better late than never.

Just some quick hitters:

- Eloy came in and gave a solid effort. He is terrible, but sometimes he can mask that fact by giving a good effort. Great job, Eloy! The Pinkie salutes you briefly overcoming your suckiness.

- Other than a real nasty dunk block at the rim, Josh was terrible for the first 35 minutes. He got into foul trouble, threw two ugly passes out of bounds and never got in good position for the boards that he’s pulled down the past few games. Despite all of that, he was very active the last five minutes on the offensive and defensive glass and was a big key down the stretch for us. The Pinkie salutes your arrival as better late than never.

- Terrence was also terrible for the first 35 minutes and for most of the last five minutes, too. He forced too many shots, played lazy and uninspired defense and was content to roam the perimeter instead of banging down low. Jones was a National Player of the Year candidate early in the season because he slashed, fought in the paint and rebounded strong. Somewhere along the line, a new guy who likes to float outside, take terrible threes and avoid contact joined our team in his stead. Terrence got his numbers on a few strong boards and a passable free throw conversion rate, but I’d like to see the old Terrence back. He had one play where he took it to Harris on the block, shot and missed but got his rebound and then got fouled. I’ll take an inside miss with a chance for an offensive rebound over that three point crap any day. However it’s not all bad, Terrence, the Pinkie salutes your clutch free throws in crunch time to seal the game.

- Darius played another good game. His early points were through inbounds plays and spot up threes so I was afraid that we’d get into crunch time and he wouldn’t display the same aggression that he’s had of late but I was wrong. D had some pretty drives and converted at the free throw line to continue his streak of productive games. The Pinkie salutes Darius for his play even though he picked up his fourth foul on a ridiculous effort after a rebound had been obviously secured by Tennessee a la Preston Knowles.

- Doron and DeAndre spent most of the game in foul trouble but they played good defense on Hopson and provided enough scoring to be consistent factors on the offensive end. When they make an impact at both ends and Terrence, Darius and Brandon get their points, we’re tough to stop. The Pinkie salutes DeAndre’s constant verbal assault upon Scotty Hopson. That guy is a punk.

- And finally, when Brandon takes over a game, it’s a thing of beauty. His third three of the second half from the corner after the inbounds was disgusting. Knight knew how important this game was and finally stepped up and played like ‘the man’. He started the original run to take the lead in the second half and closed the game with smart decisions on offense and good free throw shooting. The Pinkie salutes Brandon for just being awesome.

A strong road effort was just what this team needed to boost their confidence. Now we’ve secured the bye and will play the winner of Ole Miss and South Carolina. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t win the whole tournament, especially if the guys plays like they did in the second half today.

Is it Friday yet?

Go Cats