Kentucky Wildcats 74, Tennessee Volunteers 45:  Postmortem

This was one physical basketball game on both ends of the floor.  It was pretty much the kind of no-holds-barred cage match you expect from two bitter SEC rivals -- four technical fouls and a flagrant foul that resulted in an ejection.

There is no doubt that the Tennessee Volunteers did not play their best game, and the Kentucky Wildcats gave what was arguably their best defensive effort of the year.  Tennessee shot the ball poorly and never seemed in sync on offense, and utterly failed to get a sufficient number of rebounds to get out in transition. 

I know people will be tempted to make angry and insulting comments due to Melvin Goins' ill-advised deliberate elbow to DeMarcus Cousins' junk, but you can be assured that was not something this excellent Volunteer team wanted or needed.  Goins was correctly removed from the field of battle, and Cousins' man-parts will surely recover from the insult.  Other than that unfortunate affair, the Volunteers played hard, clean basketball, but in the parlance of horseracing, lacked a late response.  Kentucky, therefore, ran away from them and buried the Vols by an embarrassing margin under a fusillade of three-pointers and layups.

I was struck by the amazing passion of both coaches in this game.  They truly coached this game like they hated each other, alternately encouraging and reviling their players in loud, demonstrative ways, stomping, gesticulating, and generally behaving like men possessed of great emotion.  It was all a bit much, if you ask me, but it was definitely exciting.

More after the jump.

So here is what I think:

  • Game ball -- DeMarcus Cousins.  He wasn't just a beast today, he was Leviathan, or the Kracken -- utterly indomitable and almost unstoppable on the glass.  It was a performance for the ages when it comes to rebounding.
  • John Wall is just amazing.  He keeps so much pressure on defenses that when he gets help, they just collapse.
  • Eric Bledsoe began fearlessly shooting threes, and the result was a bunch of burried shots.
  • Darius Miller had his moments, both good and bad.  But overall, he played pretty well.
  • DeAndre Liggins really is going to be a great player at Kentucky, he just isn't quite where he needs to be yet.
  • Patrick Patterson did a lot more than his stat line will indicate.  He created many offensive rebounds by keeping balls alive and did a great job on Wayne Chism defensively.
  • Darnell Dodson did what he was supposed to do -- make shots.  He also had a couple of very good rebounds and defensive plays.
  • Daniel Orton played a strange game, but he did more good than bad out there.  He really suffered by comparison to Cousins today, but his effort was not bad.
  • This team, when properly motivated, is one of the best defensive teams in the nation.
  • This is the kind of game that can launch the 'Cats into the post-season.
  • I have rarely seen this Kentucky team so focused and determined.  I wish that Cal could bottle that, because they are going to need it later.
  • In the middle of Tennessee, the best the Vols could manage was what looked like about 1000 fans?  I know they are a football school, but Pearl and his fine players deserve better.  I hate to say it, but I was disappointed in the Vol faithful for their showing today.  I expected much more orange.
  • What a great showing by the Big Blue Faithful.  I just have no words.  The place was a sea of blue.

I am very pleased, and I know most Wildcat fans are just as pleased.  This is the kind of game that makes me think we have a chance to go all the way this year.  I'm still not there yet, but this was a step in that direction for me.

Now, I'll turn my attention to this tot of Four Roses Single Barrel.  Enjoy the rest of the day, we'll have more later.

Go, 'Cats!

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