Losing is always tough. Whether UK falls short against a nationally ranked opponent, or a middle-of-the-road Vandy squad, it's never easy to swallow a Kentucky loss. For some of us: The fact that Kentucky's magnificent big man Patrick Patterson was serving time as an assistant coach, instead of taking A.J. Ogilvy to task, doesn't ease the frustration of losing: The fact that Bizer's Vision World should have given the officiating crew a free initial consultation visit prior to the start of the game, doesn't ease the frustration of losing. No. Losses of this caliber are special.
You know the type of loss I'm talkin' about: After the game is over, you're sitting on your couch, thinking (or maybe yelling), "We should have won that game." Tuesday night's 77-64 setback was one of those losses, because there was so much more that UK could have done to win the game: If UK would have gotten only average performances out of Perry Stevenson, and Josh Harrellson, Kentucky wins the game: If Billy Gillispie's offense would have produced as many well-set screens for Jodie Meeks, as turnovers committed, they would have won the game. The list goes on. So ...
I've scrutinized the seriously sad stats from UK's loss to Vandy, which revealed a plethora of unpleasantness. I'll begin with the whistles ...
- Let's get the obvious out of the way -- Vandy shot 40 free throws (they made 32) to UK's 23 attempts, but four of UK's free throws occurred in the meaningless final 1:15 of the game (two of Vandy's free throw attempts occurred in the same time-frame). So, for the first 38:45 of the game, Vandy shot 66.7% (38-57) of the free throws taken in the game. On the year, Vandy shoots 55.3% of all free throws taken.
- On the season, Vanderbilt averages 22 free throws taken per game.
- From 14:54 to 13:52 of the first half, Kentucky was whistled for FOUR fouls -- From the 14:52 to 14:21 mark of the second half, UK was again called for FOUR fouls: 1:03 of clock-time = Eight UK fouls.
- Vandy entered the bonus (seventh UK team foul) in the first half with 12:07 remaining. Kentucky entered the bonus in the first half with 3:52 remaining courtesy of A. J. Ogilvy's technical foul, which also counts as a common foul.
- Vanderbilt made 45.5% of their three-point attempts. On the year they make an average of 33.0%. In SEC play, the Commodores were making only 30.5%.
- Lance Goulbourne needs to wake-up -- The kid who came in averaging 13.1 minutes, 3.6 points per game (in SEC play), and was shooting 41.0% overall from the field, and 23.1% (3-13) from the three-point line, suddenly fell unconscious at the sight of UK's bright blue unis: In 22 minutes versus the 'Cats he made 4-7 shots (3-5 three-pointers), and 6-8 free throws, for a career high 17 points.
- For the game, Kentucky took nine more shots from the field than did Vandy (52-43).
- Both teams made 20 shots.
- UK recorded eight assists on their made baskets (40.0%), and Vanderbilt dished out only seven assists. UK's assist-to-made shot percentage is 61.5% on the season.
- Coming out of halftime tied at 30, Kentucky proceeded to muck-up the first 5:08 of the second half by shooting 1-7 from the field, and committing two turnovers. Conversely, Vandy made 5-7 shots (two were three-pointers) and extended the lead to 44-38.
- Vanderbilt shot 59.1% in the second half (13-22). UK could only manage making nine of 26 shots in the second stanza (34.6%).
- Of the Commodores 13 second half made shots, seven were either layups of tip-ins.
- In the first 14 minutes of the second half Vanderbilt took 13 shots, only three of which were in the paint. In the final six minutes of the game Vandy took five of nine shots from within the paint, making four. Vandy coach Kevin Stallings deserves kudos for spreading the floor, and driving to the hole; daring UK to defend.
- Of Vanderbilt's nine second half misses, the 'Dores grabbed seven offensive rebounds (77.8%). Kentucky missed 17 second half shots, and only gathered in six offensive rebounds (35.3%).
- Kentucky made 11 baskets (two three-pointers) in the first half to Vandy's seven (one three-pointer), yet the two teams were tied. Oh, Vandy took 18 free throws to UK's eight.
- Vandy had an 10-2 first half advantage in second chance points (18-8 for the game).
- Of Vandy's 30 first half points, 18 came courtesy of either a UK turnover, or a second chance opportunity. For the half, 50.0% of Vandy's points came from the free throw line.
- For the game, UK nabbed 15 DEFENSIVE rebounds, while Vandy grabbed 13 OFFENSIVE rebounds. That's almost unbelievable.
- Perry Stevenson, Josh Harrellson, and Darius Miller combined to play 54 minutes. In those 54 minutes the three combined for three rebounds (0 offensive boards).
- Vanderbilt's Steve Tchiengang, Festus Ezeli, Darshawn McClellan, and Lance Goulbourne combined to play 58 minutes. In those minutes played they gathered in 10 rebounds (three offensive).
- A. J. Ogilvy and Jeffery Taylor played a combined 60 minutes, and grabbed 16 rebounds (seven offensive).
- Stevenson, Harrellson and Miller need to look in the mirror and commit themselves to rebounding the freakin' basketball.
- Stevenson was particularly offensive -- 23 minutes, three points, two rebounds, and two turnovers. He made 1-3 shots, and was 1-4 from the free throw line.
- Stevenson and Harrellson, in 30 minutes of combined action, totaled three points, and two rebounds. And these are the guys who were being counted on to help replace Patterson's missing 18 & 9 (together the two average 12.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game).
- Kevin Galloway put together a pretty good ballgame -- 30 minutes played, 4-6 from the field (9 points), three assists and one steal. He also committed three turnovers. I'm tempted to make an argument that Galloway should start at the 3 spot, replacing Ramon Harris -- It's a step down defensively, but at least opposing defenses would have to guard him, which would help open the middle up for Patterson. But hey, what do I know?
- A.J. Stewart played a nice game -- In nine second half minutes, Stewart made 4-4 shots (1-1 threes), scored 11 points, grabbed 2 rebounds, and blocked one shot. He had a rough time defending, but in his defense, he hasn't played much lately, i.e. he's shown himself to be a decent defender in previous games. He's another guy that's a bit more offensive-minded than the player currently in front of him in Gillispie's rotation. Just something to think about.
- Other than Meeks, UK made 14-31 shots (45.2%).
- Continuing a trend -- Once again in a loss, UK failed to get out and run, tallying only four fast-break points (they had 24 in the win in Fayetteville Saturday). Vandy did an excellent job in their transition defense, and they shot over 59% in the second half, so the opportunities to run weren't bountiful for the 'Cats. Plus, it's hard to run after an opponent's made free throw.
- In his last 47 minutes played, Michael Porter has committed nine turnovers, and dished out three assists (he had four turnovers in only 15 minutes of action against Vandy).
For those attending Saturday's game in Rupp Arena versus Tennessee: The team needs raucous support, the season is on the line. Another home loss could prove fatal.
Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!