There’s a lot to be optimistic about if you’re a UK fan, but also plenty of reason for concern.
As the half went on, UK just kept getting tougher around the basket. That’s the only way to explain what the Wildcats are able to do defensively — toughness. By any estimate, they should be giving up tons of points around the basket, but they don’t.
They haven’t let Marquette get away from them, even when the Golden Eagles went on a 12-0 run, and I don’t think they’re going to. This one looks like it’s going to be close right to the end.
UK’s five turnovers hurt, but that’s not a terrible number. And the scoring pace of the game definitely is to the Wildcats’ liking.
So what’s the concern: Marquette is outrebounding UK 21-15 and UK has taken nine fewer shots than the Golden Eagles.
Foul trouble could also be a concern. Mark Coury gave UK some of his most important minutes of the season in the first half and, with Stevenson having picked up two fouls, may have to give the Wildcats some more. Michael Porter also saw significant playing time with Ramon Harris on the bench with three fouls, but Porter is going to have to make a better offensive contribution. Actually, any offensive contribution.
Marquette goes a bit deeper, and that could come into play in the second half, though with the pace of this game, I don’t think it’ll be a huge factor.
And then there’s Dominic James. He spent a good portion of the half on the bench with three fouls. UK has done a good job keeping him in check. If it continues to do that, it’s going to have a chance to win this game in the final two minutes. Plus, UK’s Crawford has done most of his damage with James on the bench.
If the game is within four points with two minutes to play, I like UK’s chances. I like the way the Wildcats have played in close games much better than what Marquette has done in close games this season.
Crawford leads the Cats with 12 points — and don’t forget the game Derrick Jasper is playing. He hasn’t scored a point — and he needs to — but still has a team-best five rebounds and three blocked shots. Ramel Bradley has nine points. The Cats are shoogint 40.9 percent from the field.
Marquette has 9 points from Lazar Hayward and Gerel McNeal, but is shooting just 35.5 percent.
More to come. It should be a tight second half coming up.