Like most of you, the adrenaline is still surging like mad through my body. Typing is a barely-controlled attempt to press the keys through the keyboard and into the pressboard of my computer desk.
Congratulations to Florida on a great game, particularly Nick Calathes. He was Meeks-esque in a dominant performance. Other than the very strange ejection of Walter Hodge for stepping on Perry Stevenson, the game was pretty cleanly played. To be fair to the officials and the Gators, I just can't tell if there was any intent to make the contact there. But they officials carefully reviewed the tape and were right on top of it, so it is what it is. The Gators played well in a tough environment against a desperate team. Great effort by Florida in an uneven but highly competitive effort by both teams.
And now, to Kentucky.
First off, I am very glad to win this game, make no mistake. But if Patrick Patterson is out for any significant length of time, it was not at all worth the price. He looks to be OK, just a sprain, but I always fear the deadly "high ankle" sprain on steps like that, and if he has one of those, UK is in a bad place.
Right now, however, we need to celebrate a lot and pray Patterson's injury is minor. This was not the execution I had hoped for from Kentucky after a week of remediation, but with the exception of a couple of stretches of brain-dead low-effort play, it was a gritty performance that never could have ended the way it did without some incredible effort on the part of some very unlikely players.
Here are my observations:
- Who would have thought we could win against Florida on a night in which both Patterson and Meeks were as cold as Kentucky was last week. Meeks heated up at the end, but was 3-10 from three. Patterson wasn't himself the whole game, going 3-9 and a lot of his shots were U-G-L-Y. But he was respectable on the boards with eight rebounds.
- Kevin Galloway was absolutely terrific. He fulfilled much of the promise that he showed at the College of Southern Idaho, and his athletic dunk on a fast break in the second half nearly brought the house down. The only blemish was that inexplicably foolish foul at the end of the game that could have allowed Calathes to put it into overtime. Alas for Florida, Calathes took that moment to miss his first free throw of the night.
- Michael Porter made a lot of mistakes, but he also made some huge shots. Overall, the good far outweighed the bad.
- DeAndre Liggins got curiously few minutes, but played pretty well when he was in there, particularly defensively.
- Great game by Josh Harrellson. He gave us all kinds of help, both offensively and defensively, until Florida caught on to our switches and began taking advantage of them.
- Speaking of switching, what the hell was that all about? We haven't switched on screens all year long. I can only figure it was to better play the pick and roll, or perhaps it was just something to throw a monkey-wrench into the Gators' game plan. Sometimes it worked, but a lot of time it didn't, particularly when we wound up with Harrellson guarding Calathes.
- Perry Stevenson came up huge in the first half, then kind of vanished in the second. Ten points, eight boards and six turnovers. He was working on a triple-double, albeit a really weird one.
- Free throw shooting nearly cost us the game. I have not had to say that all year. Remarkable.
- Once again, turnovers were a huge problem. If we could have taken better care of the ball, this game would have been a blowout.
- Ramon Harris is just having a really rough stretch right now. He only had two turnovers, but he was indirectly responsible for at least 3 others and just got schooled by Calathes.
- Kudos to the 'Cats for much improved defensive rotation inside. Never once did we get caught flat-footed because Stevenson and Patterson went for the block. As a result, we outrebounded the Gators by 13, which made up for many of our turnovers.
- Jodie Meeks really turned it on when he had to. He played all forty minutes of this game. But he sure shot the ball poorly from the perimeter.
- Defensively, we held Florida to 4-14 from three, and without a 3 point field goal in the entire second half.
- It's amazing to look at the box score and see three Kentucky players in double-digits with a fourth one point away, and none of them are Patterson.
- 19 turnovers is better than 20, I guess. One above our average.
- Meeks was obviously fouled on his game-winning three. No call.
- We FINALLY won a close one!
I'm still in a state of shock. When Florida went up six with about three minutes to go, I was already thinking about what I was going to have to write, and seriously thinking about abdicating that responsibility. But it is with great pleasure and not a little pride that I get to finally, after what seems an interminable interregnum, write about a victory.