UK was hoping to win this game today. I just don't think anybody expected them to win the game this way -- or this big.
This was definitely not the Volunteers' best effort. For some reason, in an almost karmic inversion, the Volunteers looked like the team afraid to shoot the three point shot, and Kentucky looked comfortable and confident taking the open shots that Tennessee gave them. I'm sure UT played hard, but this just wasn't their day.
Kentucky, on the other hand, played their most complete offensive game of the season with almost everybody looking like they belonged on the floor. Many times this year, Kentucky fans have seen a team that looked so one or two dimensional that you could have put almost anyone in the place of every player other than Patterson and Meeks, and you could have had the same result.
But today, the "other guys" played terrific. Patrick Patterson was back to normal, his ankle looks mostly healed and his "mummy" finger a lot better. His touch looked like the touch of the old Patterson, and he sent a couple of memorable jams down the cylinder that I'm sure many Tennessee players would like to forget immediately.
Here are my observations for this game:
- Game ball: Darius Miller. This is the promise that we had all hoped to see fulfilled. Darius has gradually improved, and now he has reached the point of logging more minutes than Ramon Harris. How's this for a line: 17 points on 100% shooting in every single category, six assists, one turnover and 3 rebounds. Folks, that is about as good as it gets.
- Michael Porter was unpressured, and when you don't pressure him, he can be very effective. Today, he was very effective, and hit some big shots with confidence. 3-6 shooting (all threes), six assists and two turnovers, a steal and a block
- Perry Stevenson looked great in the first half, but disappeared (as is his wont) in the second half. He did rebound better, getting five to go along with six points, all in the first half.
- Patrick Patterson was back to being himself, mostly. Great to see. 9-12 shooting, 19 points, only 5 rebounds though. When we got the ball to him, he was effective.
- Ramon Harris had his usual line, 5 points and 3 rebounds, although he did go without a turnover today. Ramon gave us defensive toughness and hit a three. Overall, not bad.
- AJ Stewart once again gave us some valuable minutes. If he would just defend and rebound better, I think his minutes would go up substantially. He had five points but on ly a single rebound in six minutes.
- DeAndre Liggins had some nice assists, but also some bad turnovers. However, Liggins is starting to get it. Zero bad shots, always looking to distribute even when he made errors.
- Jodie Meeks had another tough shooting day, but I knew Tennessee would take him a way from us. He still managed 14 points on 14 shots, and made all his free throws. That, we can live with.
- Michael Porter logged 34 minutes today, and played well for about 32 of them.
- Tennessee pounded UK on the glass, 35-28.
- Great shooting day for the 'Cats. Tough to beat 60% from the floor, 41% from the arc and 87.5% from the line.
- The 'Cats had 32 points in the paint. That's a welcome stat after the last game.
- Kentucky just looked very confident today, and Tennessee's body language was very subdued.
- No technical on Gillispie by Greene today. Pearl got one, though.
- Scotty Hopson had a very good game, but he was overshadowed by Darius Miller. That's sweet.
- 17% from 3 for UT. Ouch. 30 second-chance points made up for some of that.
- Kentucky's offensive and defensive execution was excellent today. UK didn't play a zone, but they really dared the Vols to beat them from the perimeter. Tennessee couldn't.
- Holding Tyler Smith to six points will win you most games. Holding Chism and Smith to 16 points combined will win them all. Terrific defense today by Kentucky.
- Despite getting beat on the boards, UK had 8 OR's which should give them a very good OR %, considering how well they shot from the field.
Overall, this was a confidence-building win for UK, and taking a broom to the Vols for the regular season is something UK hasn't done in four years. It really feels good to take back the "team to beat" status in the East from the Vols, and now, we need to take it back for the whole league by beating South Carolina and LSU. I suspect much of the coach-bashing will cool now, since Gillispie may be the only coach to go 3-1 against the Vols in the last two years.