Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mississippi St. 59 - 69 Kentucky (No. 2,129)

I spent most of the second half of this game dealing with a dead battery (which has since been replaced), so I don't have a lot to say about it.  Starkville is always a tough venue for the Cats, and I was very glad to see them get out with a win of any type, especially after a game where Andrew Harrison somehow picked up 5 fouls in only 15 minutes of play, while James Young had 4 fouls in only 20 minutes.  This was the sort of game where MSU shot 28 free throws to 18 for UK, even though the Wildcats were generally quicker and stronger than their opponents.  Look at this breakdown of how points were scored:

24 two-pointers:  48 pionts
3 three-pointers:  9 points
12 free throws:  12 points

Mississippi St:
17 two-pointers:  34 points
1 three-pointer:  3 points
22 free throws:  22 points

So not counting free throws, UK outscored MSU by 20 points -- even though Kentucky had to play without two of its starting guards for most of the game.

But that's just life on the road, right?

Anyway, I really wanted to post about Jon Hood, who played 13 minutes in this game due to the absence of Andrew Harrison and Young for much of the first half.  We don't get to see Hood very often, and I wonder sometimes what it must be like to spend so much time on the bench.  My guess is that it depends on the player.  Some folks get frustrated and transfer.  Some pout and and complain.  But I think some of them have a real blast.  In all seriousness, how COOL would it be to wear an official Kentucky uniform, and to tell people for the rest of your life that you played for the Wildcats.  How neat would it be to see what actually happens behind closed doors, to learn how people like Calipari see the game, and to learn the difference between a great college player like Julius Randle and a transcendent force like Anthony Davis?  That would be an experience you could take with you for the rest of your life.

Plus, think how good you'd be from all those years of practice and coaching.

Anyway, after the game Calipari said that Hood and Jarrod Polson brought a lot of energy to the game, which indicates to me that Hood has a great attitude about his role.  He certainly looked happy out there.  Here were his stats for his 13 minutes of play:

0-1 on two-point shots
1-3 on three-point shots
2 rebounds
0 assists
0 turnovers

Hood got an offensive rating of 100, which is the score for an average player.  Once again, how COOL would it be to play 13 minutes for Kentucky, on the road, in an SEC game, and go down in the record books as an average player?  How great would it be to remember the corner three that Hood made in the first half?  I think it would be amazing, and I really hope Jon Hood is having a blast.


  1. I agree with all of this. I want to say something else about Hood's half, though.

    When he comes onto the floor, Mississippi State is leading by four, and UK gets the ball. The Starkville crowd is very raucous, and, for whatever reason, there's just not a lot of movement happening amid the Wildcat offense. Tick, tick, tick continues the shot clock, and the ball is still being tossed around the perimeter, and the crowd is getting louder and louder. Finally, Hood sprints from the top of the key, down toward the baseline about midway between the goal and the sideline. One of the guys throw to Hood, and he fires a high-arching turnaround shot that bounces high off the rim. A UK rebounder comes in from the weak side, and he's fouled. He subsequently hits the free throws, and so now, instead of Mississippi State with the ball and a chance to go up six and the crowd going mad after muddling UK into a shot-clock violation, it's Mississippi State with the ball and a two-point lead with a settled-down crowd.

    Now we know how this game actually did turn out, but it's pretty easy to imagine it going another way had things kept going a different direction at this particular moment in this one game. And while we don't know how this season is going to actually play out, it's pretty to easy to imagine another way it might start to clunk along had this very young team that is really starting to get on a roll had absorbed a mystifying loss against a sub-par Mississippi State team on the road in February.

    Of course, I'm biased because Hood's from Madisonville, but, to my mind, that was a very, very, very great, heady and timely missed field goal.

    And then--I was watching him on every Kentucky and Mississippi State possession because, again, he's from Madisonville--Hood did something helpful on each trip back and forth. For example, a Mississippi State guard had the ball in the middle of the floor, outside the free-throw circle. The ball was being tossed among the guard and two of his teammates on one side of the floor, and then the guard looked to one of his teammates on the opposite side to throw it over there. But Hood flashed in front of that teammate and waved his arms madly, discouraging the guard from making the pass and "reversing" the ball. Mississippi State ended up missing or making a turnover, and this was all within a sequence where UK goes from four down to six up with Hood on the floor in the first half.

    I thought he was absolutely the most valuable player of the game.

  2. I'm glad you put in those points about Hood. I thought he was very helpful throughout that stretch.