Well, that game was just way too exciting for me, but the Kentucky Wildcats prevailed over an extraordinarily proficient Florida Atlantic University. As I said in my pre-game remarks, this team's record was not at all indicative of their ability. Little did I know how right I was. Great game by the FAU Owls, they gave the 'Cats all, and I do mean all they wanted.
For Kentucky, it was a radical departure from its last four five games, which were never really in doubt. This one was in serious doubt until very late in the second half, and the biggest reason for that was FAU's ability to get into an offensive rhythm early in the game, something that UK has managed to deny the opponent in the last five games.
In this writer's opinion, Billy Gillispie's tinkering with a starting lineup that was working incredibly well was the major reason this game was a struggle. I will say that if Galloway was being disciplined for something, it's just one of those things. Unfortunately, Gillispie is not forthcoming about that. But since Stevenson was also on the bench at the tip, this looks to me like a Gillispie garden-variety "earn it in practice" deal. At some point, this is going to cost us an important game, and I don't think the Big Blue Nation will be very happy. But he is the man in charge, and I guess I'll have to put up with it whether I like it or not -- and for the record, I don't.
Regardless, here are a few other observations:
- Kentucky took good care of the basketball, managing only 7 turnovers -- a season low by a mile.
- Kentucky did a very poor job of shooting from the perimeter, but a really good job of getting the ball inside to our bigs, who dominated the smaller FAU players in the paint.
- Perry Stevenson was outstanding in the second half except for a bad decision near the end where he left a 3-point shooter to help on a dribble drive. Time and score, Perry. Learn from it.
- Jodie Meeks was cold from the outside, but was great at finding other ways to get points. His defense was particularly awful, though, and he gambles way too much. He needs to get that under control.
- Patrick Patterson was just fantastic. He made a few defensive mistakes, but overall, the positve far outweighs the negative. He looked like the Patterson of last year.
- Graham for FAU was just unstoppable today, making circus shots. He also nailed open midrange jumpers and did a great job of getting to the rim.
- The FAU guards played a nearly flawless game and were as hot as magma. Kentucky was only able to manage 3 steals and the Owls only turned it over 10 times.
- Carlos Monroe makes a big difference in this FAU team. He gives them an inside presence and a defensive presence, and allows them to play inside out. He also sets really hard screens.
- No Josh Harrellson in the second half after a pretty good first half. But Stevenson and Patterson were awesome together in the second half. After Stevenson made a couple of dunks, he was a different player.
- Good game by Porter, pretty good game by Liggins. Porter has got to learn to hit open shots. He was better last year. What happened?
- Amazing game by Landon Slone. I felt comfortable with him in the game, surprisingly. The FAU guards really did not out-athlete him.
- Great job on the glass, both defensive and offensive, by UK. That stat really pleases me.
Overall, I was amazed at how we could not defend this team. I don't know whether to be concerned, or chalk it up to a white-hot team who executed almost flawlessly. I saw a number of defensive errors, but I saw almost as many great offensive plays, particularly staggered screens that really seemed to disadvantage the 'Cats and freed up players for open looks, which they knocked down with frightening regularity.
Overall, I would say our more talented big guys won this game. I think the FAU guards were better than ours, and that ought to be a concern. I will be looking for better on Monday.