UK @ Tennessee – Post Game
Posted by ibleedblue040 on March 2, 2008
Well Kentucky played efficient and smart for 38 minutes today against Tennessee, but everyone knows that each game is 40 minutes and you have to play great for the entire game to beat a team like Tennessee. Kentucky was nearly perfect in running their offense almost the entire game but as soon as they got the lead against the Volunteers they did not run the clock down like they had for the majority of the game but instead players who played brilliantly the whole game like Ramel Bradley and Derrick Jasper jacked up threes not even 10 second into the shot clock. Billy Gillispiedid a great job calling a timeout with 30 seconds left when Kentucky had the ball down by 3 but the play call was atrocious. Off the inbound Derrick Jasper came off a screen and threw up a contested three-pointer with 25 seconds left on the clock. Jasper had hit a 3 on the prior possession but I feel that he still rushed the shot, I am not sure if that was the actual play call by Gillispie but if it was I am very disappointed that is how the game was determined. I am more than impressed with how the players played though, without the most important player on the team in uniform UK still stepped it up and did not make any excuses and played with unbelievable heart and determination. Ramel Bradley played beyond great and his leadership was even better. Almost every time we needed a bucket or when the shot clock was running down Bradley made a key play to keep the Wildcats in it. Many players stepped up in Patrick Patterson‘s absence, something I will get to later in the post.
KEYS TO THE GAME… After The Game
The Wildcats’ success today could have been for-seen if you read my UK @ Tennessee – Game Preview post. Kentucky completed all three of the KEYS TO THE GAME that I assigned them, only the second time they have done that since I started this segment of the blog. The first KEY TO THE GAME that Kentucky completed was to hit their free throws. I know that if you look at the stat sheet it says UK only shot 63% for the game from the line, but if you look at the second half numbers you will see that UK shot 80% from the line. Every one knows that you have to hit your free throws, especially in the second half. Had Kentucky hit their free throws in the first half though I think they would have won. Kentucky missed 5 first half free throws, all of them proved to be costly as Kentucky only lost by 3 points today. Kentucky probably could have done a better job of attacking the basket in the second half to get to the line but UK did a great job of driving the lane and when UT would come over to help they would dish it out for a wide-open three. Jasper had 2 second half threes and Bradley nailed one too. The only reason UK did not make up very much ground in the second half with their free throws is because Tennessee went to the line equally as much (Actually more) in the second half and knocked down more of their attempts. Kentucky was great in the second half with their free throws but the Volunteers actually did better and played Kentucky to a draw in the category in the second half. It also did help that Kentucky was flat out robbed by the officials in the second half. There is no doubt in my mind that the officiating crew let the crowd get into their heads and play a part in calling fouls. A I do not think it was a coincidence that Joe Crawfordpicked up his fourth foul early in the second half, especially since it was such a ticky-tac foul call.
The second KEY TO THE GAME that UK accomplished today against Tennessee was to slow down Chris Lofton. Lofton played pretty well in the second half but still was bottled up pretty well by the UK defense. Lofton finished with 14 points and only 1 three pointer today against the Wildcats but did make some crucial free throws down the stretch. Early in the game UK was double teaming Lofton, but after a little while when Lofton really was not hitting shots they pulled the double team and settled into an effective defense that worked well the whole game. It did help that Lofton picked up his second foul with still 8 minutes left in the first half and had to sit for a while. I said in the Game Preview that containing Lofton would be the biggest test and most important ingredient to beating the Vols for the Kentucky Wildcats. Again I think that Lofton definitely got some home court advantage calls when he was on offense. It seemed as though every time he got touched on the offensive end the crowd would boo and then there would be a foul call moments later. I like Billy Gillispie’s strategy of face guarding Lofton because it worked to perfection in the first meeting in Rupp Arena when Lofton only scored 2 points in the first 19 minutes of the half (He hit 2 garbage time three’s in the last match-up), it also allowed UK to go away from double teaming him which allowed UK to slow down the driving ability of the Tennessee guards.
The third KEY TO THE GAME that UK completed was finding a post option on the offensive end to fill the huge void left by Patrick Patterson, and that was Perry Stevenson. Stevenson had his best game in his career in the last meeting between these two teams when he finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds, but I feel that this time around against the Volunteers was the best game of his career. Stevenson finished with 13 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Stevenson had a bunch of offensive rebounds (6 to be exact) by out hustling the Vols on the glass and getting easy points, something that is usually said about Tennessee themselves. Stevenson was everywhere on the floor and to be honest I think he did better than Patrick Patterson would have. He created more points than Patterson would have by getting numerous offensive boards, something that Patterson is not great at, and had Patterson been able to play the offense would have ran through him and there is no way they would have been as efficient on offense with Patterson on the floor. Not that I am taking anything away from Patterson but Stevenson just stepped up and played great today when they needed him most. Personally I think that coach Gillispie needs to stop jacking around with Coury in the starting lineup and go ahead and put Perry Stevenson in there, he showed today that he is much better than Coury and in my opinion he earned a start with his played today.
Surprise of the Game
Like I have already stated in this post the SOG goes to the play by Perry Stevenson all game long. Even though UK lost he was the best player all day for either team. He led the game in rebounding and really led the team by creating second chance points and played very good defense by blocking a few shots and adjusting a lot more.
March 5 @ South Carolina
7:00 pm EST on RAYCOM Sports