I love being right.
Of course my projection earlier was not much of a leap. MTSU was caught bringing a knife to a gunfight and it showed. UK got out on defense fast and furious and by the time MTSU caught their breath at halftime they were down by 16. Make no mistake, however, MTSU came to play. They play a defensive game much like UK, and they play hard the whole game. They simply didn't have the horses to stay in this race for the distance. And had the referees not gotten in the way with whistle after whistle with no evidence of violation, it would have been much worse. By halftime UK had two of it's best players sitting on the bench with 2 fouls, and they had both been there for about 7-8 minutes. Luckily for Coach Matthew Mitchell and the rest of the UK Hoops squad, this is a very balanced, and very deep team.
The offense came from everywhere, and when it was clicking, it looked very good. When it wasn't, it looked like a train wreck. UK was 1-11 on 3pt attempts and finished the night 3-23. 13%-3pt shooting will not get it done most nights, and not very many of those shots were contested. MTSU's defensive plan was a simple one, and had UK not been so superior athletically, it would have worked. They tried to push UK out to the perimeter and force their hand from outside, and UK couldn't throw it in the ocean. But what UK did do well was make their FT's in the middle of a foul-fest of sorts, finishing 15-18 on the night. Their rebounding was respectable, but they finished the night -14 on the boards. Offensive boards were pretty close however, and UK didn't waste many inside shots. But A'Dia Mathies once again disappeared for most of the game, fighting foul trouble all night before finally fouling out with about 6 minutes to go in the game. I know I have harped on this all year, but I have to say it again. A'Dia Mathies must get into the game. She had a rebound of sorts against DePaul, but DePaul is not much for competition, no offense to DePaul. A tough and tested team like MTSU knows how to exploit weakness, and they showed it in handing A'Dia a seat on the bench for half the night. She played only 20 minutes, and that just cannot happen.
Once again, DeNesha Stallworth stepped up with 16pts, 3 reb., and 5 assists in 33 minutes. She is your Women's Warrior for the night. Freshman Janee Thompson had another good night, scoring 8 pts. in 19 min. While Bria Goss added 10. UK held MTSU to a 31.3& shooting percentage while hitting 38% themselves. Not earth shattering, but a decent enough night for UK, but it would have been so much better had they not spent the night shooting target practice. Mathies, Goss, and Thompson were a combined 0-8 from behind the arc, but while Goss and Thompson managed to hit a few inside shots to improve their nights, Mathies got a total of 4 pts and 2 of those were FT's. She played well on defense when she was not fighting off the fouling bug.
All in all, pretty much what I expected, but not where this team needs to be yet. Maybe they were as the announcers said, tired from the quick turnaround, but I find that unlikely at this point in the season. It is simply too early to be tired from two games in three days.
Slowly, ever so slowly, A'Dia Mathies is losing her grip at the helm of this team. They need her to right herself, so she can be there when the going gets tough. The women have 9 days to get it together before they start a 4 game swing in 12 days. Pepperdine and UC Santa Barbara constitute a West Coast swing, and then back to the old home place to face Alcorn State and Marist. There is no TV again until the Marist game on Dec. 30th. so game threads will be suspended until then. Let's hope that the next three weeks are fruitful.