Well, it came sooner than we hoped, but it probably came when it should have. Notre Dame was simply the fresher and better-shooting team out there tonight, and the dismissed the Wildcats from post-season play by making the shot that has haunted Kentucky all year -- the long ball.
Congratulations to the Fighting Irish on an outstanding victory. They showed great determination and grit in the face of a serious UK charge at the end that just fell short. The Irish shot the ball lights-out from the perimeter, and managed to manufacture enough open looks from three to get Kentucky in a 17-point hole halfway through the second half. That was just more than UK was capable of coming back from. Good luck to Notre Dame for the rest of their NIT run, and kudos for a great game.
As for Kentucky, well, they played hard but they did not look like they were fully recovered from the last game. Sometimes, turn-arounds are tough, and this was one of those times. Billy Gillispie and his charges have almost always played hard this season, but too often, miscues have been the difference between success and failure. Today, it was players simply taking plays off on defense, and allowing the open Irish shooters way to many good, clean looks. When a team makes 12 threes on you, your ods of winning go way, way down.
I didn't expect UK to hold down Harangody, he is just too good a player and Patterson is too valuable to risk the number of fouls it would have taken to play him the way you have to to keep him under 20 points. What I did not expect was for both Ayers and McAlarney to have 14 aind 15 points respectively, and Meeks to have only three points to show for his efforts deep in the second half. Jodie eventually got it going, but it was just too little, too late.
- Gillispie's demeanor as coach has markedly changed. He now pulls players aside and spends time with them when they mess up instead of just getting in that crouch and shouting a sarcastic comment at them. Interesting.
- Perry Stevenson was once again back to hesitating. He has to stop that.
- I thought Porter played pretty well, but he struggled fighting through screens and with Jackson's quickness.
- I took Kevin Galloway's name in vain several times tonight. Sometimes, that kid is capable of the most boneheaded things.
- Darius Miller is still a freshman. That showed up again tonight. One rebound in 21 minutes?
- You look at Patterson's line and you see 18 points, but then you see seven rebounds. Against Notre Dame, one of the worst rebounding teams in the tournament. Kevin Galloway had as many rebounds as Patterson did.
- Speaking of rebounds, want a stat that hurts? 37% OR's for Notre Dame, a team that averages 31%
- AJ Stewart sure isn't shy about shooting the basketball.
- Jodie Meeks went 12 minutes and 12 seconds between shots in the first half. What the hell?
- Ball game boys and girls #1 -- Points off turnovers: Kentucky -- 2. Notre Dame -- 17
- Ball game boys and girls #2 -- 2nd chance points: Kentucky -- 6. Notre Dame -- 13
- Ball game boys and girls #3 -- Scorers in double digits: UK -- 2, ND -- 4.
- Ramon Harris did not play much in this game. That really hurt us. Word is, he has a slight concussion, and it looked like it when I saw a shot of his eyes right after he sat on the bench. With Harris out there, I say Ayers never reaches double-digits, and Harris has been doing great things. He had two assists and 3 rebounds in only 10 minutes.
Well, the moment is finally here. Our long journey through the Seventh Circle of Hell that has been the second half of this basketball season is over, for at least a few hours. Depending on the outcome of the great "evaluation" meeting, we could spend another 4-6 weeks vacationing there, tearing each other to ribbons with recriminations and angry invective. After that, our prize will be to move out to the regular Hell that Notre Dame Football has been in for over a decade, and that Alabama football only recently left after ten long years. Something to look forward to, I guess.
I'm not totally sure, but I think the Devil knows we're here.