Thanks to the Tennessee State Tigers for all their effort. They came in knowing they were overmatched, and it showed, but they tried hard and did not give up, even when the margin swelled into the nightmare 50-point range. TSU can console themselves with the fact that the last four teams have fared little better.
I must say, this is something we haven't seen at UK in a very long time. I can't remember the last time we completely dominated four opponents in a row like this, essentially winning the game in the first half. Yes, we are playing inferior opponents, but it is really something to see the 'Cats go for the jugular like this. It is also very encouraging, but it's hard to get too excited. Every member of the Big Blue Nation knows full well that these teams are not the kind of teams we need to defeat to look good for the NCAA tournament.
But the way Kentucky is beating them is impressive. We would be expect, normally, for UK to get out to and early 15 point lead and extend it out to maybe 18 or 20 in the first half. But this UK team is not satisfied with mere dominance -- they are living team embodiment of Conan the Barbarian's remarks when he was asked, "What is best in life?", to which Conan replied, "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."
Let's examine some of the carnage:
- 40 for 71 shooting, with 30 out of 40 made field goals assisted (75%).
- 5 players with 3 or more assists, lead by Michael Porter's 7, the most assists for Michael Porter this year.
- Only DeAndre Liggins had more than two turnovers with 3, but in his defense, at least one of them should have been attributed to other players.
- Patrick Patterson had 33 points and 11 rebounds, 6 of them offensive.
- Kevin Galloway and Michael Porter had 11 assists between them and only 3 turnovers.
- Another amazing night for Meeks. 10/19 (53%) shooting, 8/15 (53%) from 3 for 32 points. Jodie also had 4 assists and 27 points at halftime. He would only score 5 more the rest of the game. He also totaled 6 rebounds after getting only 1 last game.
- A good game by Darius Miller, who had only 5 points but also had 5 assists.
- A surprisingly low number of blocks (4) and steals (5) for UK this time.
- 12/13 at the free throw line. UK is just incredible from the charity stripe, another big departure from recent years.
- Kentucky scored 28 points off 19 turnovers.
I must say, this lineup of Porter and Galloway in the back court works really well. Galloway provides the extra ballhandling, and Porter the heady play. I confess, I still have doubts about Porter when the competion gets tougher, but he has put two beautiful games back to back. Very impressive.
There are no real words in the English language for what Jodie Meeks has done, and I believe that all the superlatives I know have long since been exhausted. Suffice it to say that he is playing at a level right now that few, if any of us, though possible for him. I always knew he would be good, but what we have witnessed in the last couple of games has gone way, way past good.
I am in agreement with the TV announcers who said this was Patterson's best game, and the first game this year where he has really looked 100%. That should make our upcoming opponents worry, as if Meeks wasn't headache enough.
What is really remarkable is the defense this team is playing. We have not seen its like here in a while, and last time we did, it was special. Could we be seeing the start of something equally special? It's impossible to say, really, based on the fact that the teams we have been playing have been overwhelmingly inferior. It's tempting to run through the streets shouting that Kentucky is back from ... wherever we were the last three seasons, but I think the jury is still way out on that.
Be that as it may, we are seeing an exciting brand of basketball, and it is really nice to see that around here again. Will it hold up against tougher foes? I hope so, but we won't know for a while.