Monday, November 24, 2014

Kentucky 86 - 28 Montana St. (No. 2,145)

I had completely forgotten that on March 13, 1997 -- in the first round of the last tournament that Rick Pitino would coach for UK -- the Cats beat Montana 92-54.  Until yesterday, that was the only time UK had ever played a team from the state of Montana.  The Cats are now 2-0 all-time against the Treasure State.

If the Boston U. game showed how a mid-major could go toe-to-toe with the Cats -- at least for a half -- this game showed what happens when UK goes up against a team that's not making shots from the outside.  Montana State is not a good team -- Pomeroy has them ranked number 330 in the country -- and they went 2-23 from three-point range.  Since the Bobcats couldn't get to the line (they were 2-2 on free throws for the night), and they couldn't score inside (they made only 10-38 two-pointers, had 12 shots blocked, and committed 21 turnovers), their offense really struggled.  Most of their points came long after the game was out of reach.  Look at the score by quarters:

1st:  UK 16, Montana St. 4
2d:  UK 23, Montana St. 7 (UK led 39-11 at the half)
3d:  UK 24, Montana St. 0 (UK led 63-11 with 10 minutes to go)
4th:  UK 23, Montana St. 17 (UK wins 86-28)

There's not a lot to say about this game, other than that the Cats continued to play hard and that their defense continues to be their most striking factor.  (They also seem to have inspired Louisville, which currently leads Savannah State 41-7 (!) at the half.)  So I'm going to conclude this report with a couple of facts:

First, this was the fewest number of points scored by a UK opponent in the shot clock era, and the lowest score for any opponent since the infamous night of December 20, 1983, when Cincinnati spent the whole game in a slow-down mode, and lost to the Cats by the score of 24-11.

Second, this was the fifth-largest margin of victory for UK since I started following the team in the 1974-75 season.  Here are the four games with bigger margins during that period:

1.  On March 12, 1993, UK opened the SEC Tournament at Rupp Arena with a 101-40 victory over Tennessee.  This was the famous game in which Todd Svoboda had 4 points and Allen Houston (one of UT's all-time greats) had only 3.  I remember this game well, and one of my favorite memories is the enormous roar that went up from the UK fans when the Wildcats broke the 100-point barrier.  UK went to the Final Four, where they lost to the Fab Four.

2.  On March 5, 2003, UK closed out its home schedule with a 106-44 shellacking of Vanderbilt.  This was the high point of the year for that squad, which won 26 games in a row before falling to Dwyane Wade and Marquette in the Elite Eight.  Personally, I don't think Kevin Stallings has ever forgiven UK for this loss.

3.  On December 16, 1995, UK hammered Morehead State 96-32.  This was the last of four games between Pitino and Morehead's colorful coach Dick Fick, all of which were won by the Cats with some style.  The Cats got 62 rebounds in this game, which will give you a sense of its pace.  The 1995-96 Cats went on to win the National Championship, and are still regarded as one of the greatest college teams ever.

4.  On November 26, 1994, the Cats opened the 1994-95 season with a 124-50 win over UT-Martin.  UT-Martin committed 42 turnovers in this game, many of which led to quick UK baskets.  (The Cats took 82 shots in the game, which is not something we're likely to see anytime soon.)  Two games later, the Cats were beaten 82-81 by UCLA.  The Cats rolled all the way to the Elite Eight, where they fell apart against North Carolina, going 7-36 from three-point range in a game that I will never forget.  (But then, as discussed above, the Cats won it all the next year.)

1 comment:

  1. Last night, Louisville beat Savannah State 87-26. So the beat goes on.