Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vanderbilt 58 - 60 Kentucky (No. 2,100)

Kentucky and Vandy just completed what may have been the worst game in the history of college basketball.  Here is a brief summary of what happened.

Vanderbilt, which has its worst team in many years, made the insane decision to try to play UK man-to-man at the beginning of the game.  UK's usually creaking offense is running better with Ryan Harrow in charge, and the Cats got a whole series of dunks and layups against the hapless Commodores.  With about 13 minutes to go in the game, UK was cruising.  They had a 47-31 lead -- and it would have been much larger the Cats hadn't been allowing Vandy to have two or three shots on almost every possession.  (For the game, Vandy took 70 shots, while the Cats took only 53.)

But in the second half, Vandy went into a zone, and UK completely collapsed.  The Cats' three-point shooting, which is shaky at best, almost completely deserted them (UK went 3-17 behind the arc for the game).  UK's front line could do nothing on offense, because no one could get them the ball.  Meanwhile, Vandy finally started hitting some shots.  In fact, the Dores went on a 18-0 run (!) to take a 49-47 lead with a few minutes left.

From that point to the end of the game, both teams just made one mistake after another.  Vandy should have won easily, but one possession after another ended with a crazy jump shot or wild pass.  The Dores ended with 13 turnovers to only 9 assists, and they went 8-30 (!) from three-point range.  Vandy was also done in by woeful free throw shooting, as they went only 4-8 from the line.  (See?  Other teams don't always shoot the lights out when UK comes to town.)  Meanwhile, the Cats went only 9-15 from the line, and Alex Poythress fouled out with only 7 points and 4 turnovers.

Finally, with UK up 58-55 and less than a minute to go, here is what happened:

1.  UK called time out to set up a play.

2.  UK couldn't get off a shot before the shot clock ran out, but the officials gave UK two points for a Nerlens Noel basket in the lane -- even the ball was clearly in Noel's hands when the shot clock expired.  (See?  Sometimes UK does get lucky calls.)

3.  With UK up 60-55, Vandy came down a drilled a 3-pointer to make the score 60-58 with 7 seconds to go.  (This was the only well-organized possession by either team in the last four minutes of the game.)

4.  UK called timeout to set up an in-bounds play, but when Goodwin tried to work the ball to Julian Mays, a Vandy player knocked the ball out of bounds.  The officials then awarded the ball to Vandy.  (UK also gets a fair number of bad calls.)

5.  Vandy tried to take a three-pointer to win the game, but their last possession was a huge mess that concluded with a 30-foot heave that never had a chance.

So UK comes away with the ugliest of wins.  The Cats are clearly going to struggle, and struggle badly, in games where they are cold from three-point range.  And they are likely to struggle in most of their SEC road games.  But they did hang on for the win, and thereby staved off what would have been a disastrous opening to their SEC schedule.  And wins on the road are always good.  And it's good that these young guys finally won a close game without needing Polson to carry them.

It will be interesting to see what Calipari does with Wiltjer going forward.  Wiltjer has to play against zone defenses, because without him the Cats seemingly have no chance to score.  But Wiltjer is a terrible liability on defense, and (unlike last year) he doesn't have Anthony Davis to erase his mistakes.  Of course, as they say, that's why Calipari gets the big bucks.  It will be interesting to see what he comes up with.

UK plays at home on Saturday against Texas A & M.  All UK fans better hope that the Cats hit their threes.


  1. In the wake of UK's 12-point loss at home to Texas A&M today, I want to announce that I have fallen totally in love with this team and am very optimistic about the remainder of the season. Go, UK!

  2. The Cats are now 1-0 since Eric made this announcement.

  3. The Cats are now 2-0 since Eric made this announcement.

  4. Two things: I totally love with this team, and I despise SEC basketball. What a total jive conference.

    1. What are you talking about? The only reason UK even had a chance was that Alabama was so terrible. If we had been playing a good team tonight, we would have lost by 25 points.

    2. Yeah, I intended to delete my comment when I woke up this morning. I was mad. UK blew that game last night.

      That said, it is a ripoff basketball conference. Always has been.