If you live long enough, you get to see a guy on a team you root for do something like this.
It was a courageous effort by Tennessee. The Volunteers simply dominated Kentucky on the offensive glass. They tried everything they knew to stop Meeks, apparently, but it not only didn't work, their failure continually wore on their collective psyche. Finally Wayne Chism, who dominated Patrick Patterson tonight, could do nothing but look to the heavens for surcease. None was forthcoming.
Even after the Volunteers valiantly fought back to within seven points, it never seemed like there was any way, any body, any combination of bodies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or even Bradley Fighting Vehicles that could keep Meeks from scoring. Tennessee fans will doubtless lament this as a poor defensive performance, but I truly wonder if the Volunteers could have held Meeks down tonight if they had been allowed to play six-on-five.
For Kentucky, this is the signature win of the season, even though Tennessee is in a definite downward slide at the moment. It looks like the struggles of a tough pre-conference season have worn the Volunteers down a bit, and Kentucky looked like the far fresher team tonight everywhere except under the backboard.
We'll be talking more about Meeks' historic performance later, I'm sure, but it's near bedtime right now and I would like to give my impressions of this game:
- Perhaps DeAndre Liggins and Josh Harrellson came into contact with an unseen singularity and were crushed into infinity. This will now be known as the Gillispie Effect, the substitution pattern that makes sense only to him.
- Kentucky's half-court defense was shoddy at best for the last 15 minutes. We fouled Tennessee mercilessly (not necessarily a bad tactic against the poor-shooting Vols) but it did have the effect of extending the game and fouling out Perry Stevenson. How Patterson and Harris avoided the same fate will remain a mystery on par with the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.
- Michael Porter played great. Just great. Against a very athletic team. Pardon me while I take a big gulp of the Kool-aid.
- Ramon Harris played well, but I still say he should have sat the last five minutes of the
secondfirst half. Gillispie Effect, I suppose.
- Patrick Patterson worked hard all night, but never got the ball. But then again, when Teen Wolf is in the building ...
- Darius Miller had a very good game, and hit a three. He was a warrior on the glass, and I thought he thoroughly outplayed Scotty Hopson.
- Kevin Galloway had good moments, and bad moments. Nothing to write home about, but not horrible.
- Still too many turnovers, but as Jimmy Dykes so carefully illustrated, most of them were not the "live" turnovers that I lamented here.
- The UK players were exhausted by the end of the game due to lack of substitution, but they still looked fresher than their counterparts.
- We still can't say we've won a game against a "ranked" team this year.
- Jodie Meeks in the Player of the Year conversation? I sure think he should be.
Well, that's about it for me tonight. Great victory for Kentucky, and a 2-0 conference start. Who knows, win a few more and somebody in the AP or Coach's Poll might flip us a vote or two.