First of all, a big congratulations to the Oklahoma Sooners for a very impressive effort, particularly in the second half. Kentucky is very young, but the Sooners have as just as many new pieces as Kentucky does. In spite of that, they gave a gritty and determined effort after getting down as many as 18 points, coming back to within six at one point and making it a very competitive game.
At one point in the game, it seemed like Kentucky would run away and hide for yet another blowout, but the Sooners found the pride and determination, particularly in senior Cade Davis and sophomore Andrew Fitzgerald, to chip away at the lead and ultimately get back into the game.
I am going to resist the temptation to blast the young Wildcats for this lackadaisical performance. We have to remember that this team is not only painfully young, but that they have no experience in tiny, hot gyms 6000 miles away to draw upon. Basically, I just used a lot of words to say, "This team is young, and tonight, it showed."
There were some positives to appreciate -- once again, Terrence Jones proved to be the emotional leader of the team, and he translated that emotion into yet another double-double. Kentucky once again won on the offensive glass, and this time against a team that was as big as they are. Finally, there was the inspired play of DeAndre Liggins, diving on the floor multiple times to create turnovers, but ultimately forced to leave the game with an apparent shoulder injury we hope is minor.
More after the jump.Observations:
- The referees allowed far too much contact, and ignored several obvious fouls on both sides. In addition, they allowed elbow-swinging that should have been a foul to happen without comment, infuriating John Calipari to the point that he was still discussing that non-call with the refs 15 minutes after it happened. And I'm not sure he's done yet.
- Brandon Knight was awful in the second half. He made turnovers, missed open shots, failed to guard his man, and just generally stank. Bad game, I guess.
- Doron Lamb had his moments, but Davis abused both he and Knight off the curl dribble over and over again. It was like being forced to watch Plan 9 From Outer Space 15 times in a row, and not being able to turn off the TV or leave the room. You know what will happen, and that it will be horrible, but you can't do anything about it.
- Transition defense was just abysmal. I don't know why, perhaps they are jet lagged or something. Whatever it is, I hope we have seen the last of it.
- Darius Miller did it again. He disappeared offensively, taking only six shots and never making himself a threat.
- I've already talked about Jones, but he was quite marvelous, mostly. He scored, he rebounded, and he blocked shots. What he did not do was defend his man very well. But he gets the game ball, since it has to go to somebody.
- Josh Harrellson, overall, played about like you would think he would. He got some rebounds, clogged up the middle, but was unable to stop Fitzgerald whatsoever. Fitzgerald completely dominated him in every conceivable way, and giving Jeff Capel credit, he convinced his team to draw fouls by running right at Harrellson's hip on the hedge move.
- Free throw shooting was abysmal, atrocious. A galactic, unearthly, epic, Plan 9, Golden Turkey level fail.
- The dribble-drive was the dribble-watch in the second half.
- DeAndre Liggins brought what he always brings, and I think he had a pretty good game.
God, I'm glad this game is over. I haven't seen such a horror in 12 months when UK played Miami last year. I hope DeAndre is okay.
That is all.