Kentucky Wildcats 72, Auburn Tigers 67:  Postmortem

Well, I said it was a cat fight, and it was.  The Kentucky Wildcats narrowly defeated a game Auburn squad that came back from a 19-point first half deficit to tie the game at one point.

Great effort by the Auburn Tigers, they probably played their best game of the season today, particularly defensively.  Auburn gave us no end of difficulty getting their hands on basketballs inside the paint.  It was as though Kentucky was a step slower than the Tigers today.

In the end, though, this team once again showed its remarkable aplomb.  Losing a 19-point lead should rattle a normal team, but this is a team full of AAU heroes who have overcome 19-point leads themselves, and know that the effort of such a comeback usually falls short.  Poise is something that can't be taught, and this team has more poise at the end of games than most teams full of seniors.

This Kentucky team has absolutely no killer instinct, and does not understand that in the arena of college basketball, when you find yourself with your foot on the neck of your opponent, you draw your sword and take your trophy.  This young UK team allows their opponents to get up off the mat, and that is all because of their youth, really.  One day, and it could be any time, an opponent will get up off the mat and take the game away from these young guys.

But that day was not today.

Here are some quick observations:

  • John Wall had his worst game of the season, by far.  He almost looked human.
  • Eric Bledsoe reprised his spectacular performance versus the Florida Gators with a relatively uneven outing that included many turnovers and some very poor judgment driving into the lane.
  • DeMarcus Cousins was pretty much as he always was.  He was tough inside, and although his defense wasn't great, he did well overall.  Cousins is learning to pass out of the post.  Great to see.
  • Patrick Patterson had a great first half, and a not so great second half.   He did make some good passes out of the post, but when the game was on the line and you expected a lot of touches by the talented junior, it didn't happen for some reason.
  • Darnell Dodson just struggled defensively, and didn't do much offensively.
  • I said the 'Cats could not afford to sleepwalk through this game, and in the second half, that's exactly what they tried to do.  Let's hope this time the message is received.
  • DeAndre Liggins did all kinds of good things on offense and defense, and his huge rebound near the end of the game was absolutely beastly.  This guy is earning his minutes with great play.
  • Darius Miller, once again, disappeared for much of the game.  But he did have one huge three and two very impressive blocks.  But Miller is not defending well at all in the half court, and his number was barely called when it comes to rebounding.
  • Giving overmatched teams hope is never a good idea.
  • Perry Stevenson contributed some very good minutes today.  The thing I like about him is that he defends well away from the basket, and makes the simple play.
  • Daniel Orton had a so-so game today.  He seemed to struggle with the quicker Auburn players.
UK gets a week off, and hopefully Calipari rams home some of the obvious lessons of this game during that time.  The next game UK plays will be Saturday in the friendly confines of Rupp Arena versus the Arkansas Razorbacks, who now have their point guard back and have suddenly become dangerous.

18-0 is a great record, but #18 was not a thing of beauty.  Perhaps that will come versus the Razorbacks.
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