Despite being outmanned and outgunned, the Mountaineers from Appalachian State came in and gave it their all today against the Kentucky Wildcats in Freedom Hall. A hearty "Thank you" to the Mountaineers for a never-say-die effort, and some of the best sportsmanship I have seen in a while, despite a technical for barking at the referee (that guy needed a bark from somebody).
Moving right along, I don't know that we can take away a heck of a lot from this game, but there are surely a few things:
- Jodie Meeks, at his best, is incredible. Perhaps the most dangerous catch-and-shoot player we have had in recent memory.
- Michael Porter had a super game. After all the heat he has taken around here, we have got to give the guy his props for this game -- 5 assists and only one turnover against some defensive pressure. Very impressive.
- The combination of Porter and Galloway just seems to work. Galloway is getting better and better on the floor. Hopefully he will someday develop an offensive game as well. He is a great athlete.
- A.J. Stewart played his best basketball so far at UK by a wide, wide margin. He was confident, in the right place, and got 15 very good minutes.
- Patterson shot the ball very poorly for him today. I also wish he could have done more on the glass -- seven rebounds for him is just not enough.
- Josh Harrellson was the invisible man today. When he did play, he struggled.
- Darius Miller didn't shoot well, but he did have 4 assists, no turnovers two steals and a block. Coaches love players who produce more than points.
- Stevenson had a weird game, taking three (3) 3-point shots. That's unexpected, but he did make one. Five rebounds is a disappointment. He should be able to manage seven or eight against a team like Appy State.
- Great to see Ramon Harris back, even if it was only for 9 minutes. He managed 2 assists, a block and a steal to go along with 4 points. Very efficient.
- Liggins continues to struggle with turnovers, but his defense just keeps getting better and better. Three steals and a block rescue him from an otherwise disappointing performance. He is getting better, but right now, his games look like the movie "Groundhog day," the same thing over and over.
This Kentucky team is getting better and better, especially defensively. Two games in a row, the 'Cats have come out with fantastic intensity and humbled teams in the first half, although to be fair, the competition level hasn't been very high. That's why we can be encouraged, but let's not get into any chest-thumping here. Against better opponents, Kentucky has been less than impressive.
But overall, 'Cat fans have to be encouraged by the steady improvement in the team. UK continues to score their points off an impressive number of assists, a total of 15 today on 31 shots taken, and at one point, it was 23 assists off 21 taken shots. Garbage time made that number worse than it should be. We also managed only 15 turnovers today and a very impressive 11 steals, four of which belonged to the man of the hour, Jodie Meeks.
If the 'Cats continue to improve, they just may be a threat to knock off a top team. Perhaps even the same top team Minnesota defeated today.