Never let it be said that the Tigers of Ouachita Baptist came into Rupp Arena with stars in their eyes and fear in their heart. The Division II Tigers came in with a very similar style to Kentucky's -- hard-nosed defense and deadly three-point shooting. Coach Charlie Schaef's charges came into the Wildcat's lair and gave a good effort in a very physical game. Ultimately, the Wildcats prevailed, 94-72.
I must say that the officials made a mess of this contest, calling touch fouls and all sorts of ticky-tack junk that completely disrupted the flow of the game. It got so bad that coach Gillispie finally lost his cool and managed to draw a technical foul in an exhibition game. That, folks, is something you don't see every day, but I can honestly say that these officials well and truly deserved whatever abuse both coaches gave them.
As for the Wildcats, they displayed none of the professional, workmanlike attitude evident in their fist exhibition game on Monday. It was replaced by erratic, almost frenetic offense and the kind of defense they played early last season. Despite the fact that Perry Stevenson almost recorded a triple-double and had 20 rebounds, this game was anything but a thing of beauty.
Patrick Patterson still looks a step slow and an inch low on his vertical to me. He just isn't as explosive as he was last year, and that is clearly due to the long period of time he had rehabbing that ankle. Josh Harrellson was ineffective today, and rarely saw the floor due to some early defensive breakdowns which, as we all know, is the key to spending lots of time as a spectator with a great seat on a Billy Gillispie-coached team. DeAndre Liggins was somewhat erratic at first, but he got it going with some nice defense and some decent offense later on. Jodie Meeks was pretty much the same as usual, and actually played some pretty solid defense in this game.
I thought Mark Krebs and Landon Slone did some good work out there, and Jared Carter, too, until he foolishly fouled a three-point shooter, which drew an immediate hook from the coach. But ultimately, what will rankle most Wildcat fans about this game is the ridiculous number of turnovers by Kentucky. It got better in the second half, but the first half was a comedy of errors and reminded me very much of our outing against Gardener-Webb, albeit only for a short time. It got better in the end, but not nearly good enough to make this a celebration of a better-than-expected team.
All in all, this was a pedestrian effort at its best and an ugly mess at its worst. It is the kind of game you expect from a young team playing against a much older one, even taking into account the difference in skill and athleticism. There will be many opportunities for improvement to be found reviewing this tape, and I am confident coach Gillispie will avail himself of every single one of them.