Not over …. still
The Cards don’t make free throws. Have stopped pressing and, for that matter, playing much of any kind of defense.
This is going to be a very interesting finish.
Still a game
Now, Sosa bangs home a 3 with 3:17 left that may seal it. Maybe.
UK is having such success with dribble penetration now that you wonder why the Wildcats weren’t doing it the whole game.
U of L up 14, 3:05 left and UK just burned its final timeout.
Instead, they rimmed out and he’s 3 of 14 for the game.
Really, it’s remarkable that UK is this close considering that. U of L’s Edgar Sosa going to the line with 3:59 left and the Cards leading 64-51.
Still a ballgame
It missed free throws.
It took a quick three.
It stopped rebounding.
It fouled UK and put the Wildcats on the line with the clock stopped.
Again, I’m going to say that Padgett doesn’t look right. He just made an uncharacteristic turnover in the open court.
U of L leads by 13 with 4:23 left, but as poorly as they shoot free throws (11 of 18 today), I’ve got a feeling this will be a ballgame. If UK can get anything going.
I wonder if Gillispie hasn’t noticed. They fouled him quickly when he got the ball on the last possession.
U of L up 16, but it is not a smart team. I’m telling you, with 4:52 left, this isn’t over.
Caracter fouls out, 30 seconds after coming back into the game.
Cards up 20, 6 1/2 left.
Williams got a T. And after a free-throw shooting contest, we’re at the under-8 TV timeout with U of L leading 64-43.
This is already the most points U of L has scored against UK in four years.
Stat of the half: UK has only eight field-goal attempts in 12 1/2 minutes. And only two made baskets. Some of that is because U of L is fouling.
U of L is shooting 51.1 percent from the game, but is a blistering 12 of 19 this half with the offense funneling inside.
UK now coming with full-court pressure as play begins . . .
Cards breaking away
But it’s not over. If I were Gillispie, I’d have the ball in Meeks’ hand for a three in this next set out of the timeout. They need to generate some momentum, and if they’re going to win, they’ve got to start making some threes. Now is the time.
U of L has done an excellent job going inside this half to Caracter and Palacios. Caracter and Padgett now both have three fouls, as does Jerry Smith, who has played very well. If there’s a time to make a game of it, it’s now for UK.
U of L just needs to keep from getting careless. It needs to keep working inside to Caracter, stay high-percentage with the offense. When it gets leads, U of L tends to waste a possession or two with wild shots.
Andre McGee replaces Sosa, maybe out of a concern for that. Farley manning the middle now for U of L, which needs to steal a few minutes with him.
One other key for U of L — keep UK off the free-throw line. UK has only two field goals this half. No need to help them out.
More to come.
U of L 41, UK 35
Caracter has missed back-to-back close-in shots under pressure. But they were good shots, even if he was going against a stiff defense.
U of L just needs to keep going down low. Williams just missed a three, and I’m beginning to think that unless it’s a three taken out of a pass from the post, it should count the same as a turnover for the Cardinals.
They’re 3 of 14 from three-point range.
UK, meanwhile, needs to hunt for a few more threes. They’re not forcing anything, but Bradley and Crawford have taken one three between them.
Play back on, Padgett replaces Caracter, Sosa in the game for U of L. Stevenson for Patterson for UK.
U of L bounces back
UK’s three half-court offensive sets couldn’t have been more lethargic.
1. An unforced backcourt violation
2. Patterson is stripped by McGee for a turnover in the post
3. (not half-court, but) Bradley pulling up from the free-throw line on a 1-on-2 break
4. A lazy pass against the zone, which Jerry Smith scooped up and layed in on the break
Smith, by the way, is U of L’s best at getting into the passing lane on the zone.
Meanwhile, U of L has had two half-court sets, and what has it done?
– Inside to Character, hook shot, score.
– Inside to Palacios, fouled, two free throws.
U of L also looks to be giving UK problems with the press.
Maybe it’s just the flow of the game, but UK looks just a tad winded on defense. The Cats were lunging a few times. Could be wrong. Or, maybe Gillispie put them through a practice at halftime.
U of L leads 39-31, 17:31 left, Character just got his second foul. Meeks drove and is back at the line. That’s going to have to be a staple for the Wildcats. Meeks is the offensive key.
Cats up at half
They didn’t like several calls at the end of the half.
Here’s the bottom line on this first half — U of L has gotten a number of breaks, had quite a few things go its way, and STILL trails UK by 1 in the locker room.
Key stat: Derrick Caracter and David Padgett are a combined 1 for 2 from the field.
Two shots for U of L’s two most efficient shooters, two shots in the post against an undermanned inside team from UK.
Give UK and coach Billy Gillispie credit for stiff ball pressure that kept U of L from exploiting the inside.
But for U of L not to be looking inside more, while still managing to throw up 13 three-pointers — even if they’re open — is a recipe for defeat.
UK, conversely, got 10 shots for Patterson — and even though he missed eight of them — they looked for him and also found other ways to get the ball inside. The smaller Wildcats have outscored U of L 16-12 in the paint.
Second half X-factors?
When Meeks got even a little something going offensively, the Wildcats went into the lead. He’s an uncharacteristic 1 for 5 from the field, but you wouldn’t expect that to be the case for the whole game.
U of L’s Terrence Williams is 1 of 6 from the field, and again isn’t really looking to get to the rim (credit UK with doing a good job of drawing charges on those drives). He hasn’t dished out an assist in the game. He needs a better half if U of L is to avoid a major embarrassment.
More to come …
Cats surge into lead
How’d they turn things around?
First, with defense. Their pressure has steadily increased as the game has worn on, and it is starting to force miscues by U of L.
The Cards have five turnovers in the past six minutes, and UK has outscored U of L on turnovers 9-5.
Also, Jodie Meeks has given the team a lift. He nailed a big three to loosen the Cats up, then knocked a couple of balls loose on the defensive end.
Bradley and Crawford, meanwhile, are 7 of 8 for UK. U of L’s backcourt of McGee, Smith, and Sosa are 5-11.
UK has outscored U of L in the paint, 16-12.
U of L 21, UK 14
Mark Coury just picked up his third foul (not saying that’s a huge issue, mind you, maybe it’ll get one of the other bigs into the game for the Cats), but everything about this game appears right now that it will break U of L’s direction.
What could change that — some offensive assertiveness from Ramel Bradley.
What could blow it out — if U of L heats up at all from the outside. They’ve had a couple roll in and out that would have the lead in double-digits.
U of L 16, UK 8
The U of L wide receiver comes on to replace Juan Palacios and promptly hits a post-up basket and strips Ramel Bradley of the ball on the fast break.
Meanwhile, Patrick Patterson, who hasn’t missed more than five shots in a game all season, is just 1 for 8, and three of those have been blocked by U of L.
U of L has played a little match-up zone out front. UK has still made a couple of threes, but is only 1 of 9 from 2-point range.
U of L 14, UK 5
UK is taking baffling shots. Patterson has taken two threes. And U of L is playing tough inside, with three blocked shots already. Patterson is 1 for 5 from the field.
If UK can’t get him going, it could get ugly.
He just missed his sixth shot.
Rick Pitino wandered to the court — through the UK entrance — to almost no notice from the Rupp crowd.
The Ryder Cup thing must have thrown off everybody’s rhythm.
I must say, the Rupp crowd seems to be a bit confused as to why this is going on when they’re supposed to be getting into full voice for the basketball game, but so be it.
This game should be competitive. You’d be hard-pressed to find two more confusing teams this season than UK and U of L.
And the drama continues. U of L sophomore Earl Clark has been suspended for the game (Azinger getting a big ovation now, by the way.)
This is a major loss for U of L. Even if he isn’t always sure of his game at times on the court, he has consistently been good for double-digit rebounds this season, and that’s an area where the Cards could really hurt Kentucky. He’s also a shot-blocking presence inside, and U of L needs all of those it can get against penetration by Kentucky.
So the game starts with a break for the Cats and more dysfunction for the Cards.
U of L has just come out onto the court. UK to enter soon.
UK keys: Perimeter defense, rebounding and avoiding turnovers.
U of L keys: High shooting percentage — which will allow for more full-court pressure; interior defense on Patrick Patterson and at least 30 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
We’re just minutes to tipoff. I’ll be blogging live throughout, so check back early and often.