Saturday, January 25, 2014

Kentucky 68 - 51 Texas A & M (No. 2,125)

This was a nice, solid win, where UK was pretty much in control from beginning to end.  Here's the score by quarters:

1st:  Kentucky 18, Texas A & M 13
2d:  Kentucky 16, Texas A & M 14 (UK led 34-27 at the half)
3d:  Kentucky 16, Texas A & M 11 (UK led 50-39 with 10 minutes left)
4th:  Kentucky 18, Texas A & M 13 (UK won 68-51)

Pomeroy had predicted a 73-59 UK victory, so the Cats actually did a little better than expected.  The Cats also did quite well on defense, holding the Aggies to only 0.77 points per possession.  (Anything less than 1 is good for the defense.)  There are reasons to believe that UK's defense is coming around.  After five SEC games, the Cats are third in the conference in defensive efficiency. On the other hand, UK has been very fortunate in respect -- their SEC opponents have made only 26 percent of their three-point shots.  That won't continue -- the Cats are due for one of those games where the other team goes 10-20 from behind the arc -- and UK will have to hope that it has enough margin of error to overcome that type of shooting.

The most memorable thing about this game was that ESPN used it to boost their hits on social media.  ESPN has to cover a lot of games at Rupp Arena, most of which UK wins.  But ESPN has found that it can use these games to provoke the UK fans with all sorts of bizarre tactics.  A few years ago, when UK was hosting Mississippi State, ESPN showed much of the entire first half from a camera mounted high in the ceiling and aimed straight down.  It was intensely annoying, and led to much outrage from Kentucky fans.  For the A & M game, ESPN did something even weirder.  They moved Jimmy Dykes (their color commentator) under the A & M goal.  Then they put a camera behind Dykes so that we could see what Dykes was seeing.  In reality, what we mostly saw was the back of Dykes's head and the backs of a bunch of A & M jerseys -- you couldn't really see what was happening with the ball.  Then ESPN went to a split screen -- with the Jimmy camera in one screen and normal coverage in the other.  It was all very tiresome, but it triggered the usual explosion of rage from UK fans on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere -- so I suppose ESPN thought it was worth it.

The other thing I remember about this game is that for 10-year-old me, my two favorite players on this team would be Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson.  I liked Poythress a lot last year, and was very happy he returned.  He's in better shape this year, and he's also not playing as many minutes -- so he brings a real spark to the team when he's on the floor.  His performance on Tuesday was excellent -- 16 points (with 8-9 free throws!) and five rebounds in only 25 minutes.  As for Dakari Johnson, he is a seven-foot freshman from Brooklyn who spent much of the year playing 5-10 minutes a year, mostly in the first half, spelling Willie Cauley-Stein.  But he had 16 minutes against Tennessee, and 24 solid minutes against A & M -- seven rebounds, six points, three blocks and a steal.  Ten-year-old me was always looking for the next big star, and I would now be convinced that Poythress and Johnson were about to lead us to the promised land.

And maybe they will.  But first we'll have to see how they do against Georgia.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo! Love this report. Forty-five-year-old me responded to the Jimmy cam, P oythress and Johnson in precisely the same ways.