I am trying not to go on a tirade for the ages here. This was a good game for Kentucky, no doubt. It was also one of the most wasted opportunities that UK has had all season...let me explain.
All of you know I am not a big stats fan, however, in recent history, I am trying to learn the nuances of how stats define your team. If we look at the stats here, there are a lot of questions raised.
These figures are correct, I double-checked them. Kentucky shot 40.5%. That's respectable, right? Here, however, is the kicker; that percentage is on 34-84 shooting. No, I did not make that number up. Want another one? The Cats had 57 rebounds against Ole Miss, 57. Someone explain to me how we got 57 boards, 27 of which were offensive, and we still miss 50 shots? Also, we allowed Ole Miss some interesting stats of their own.
The Lady Rebels, a much smaller team, had 5 blocks against the bigger and more athletic UK personnel. Kentucky had 2. Now, DeNesha Stallworth was out sick with the flu, so I give some leeway for that in the stats. She shoots point blank a lot, and she blocks everything she can. The fact remains that UK missed out on an opportunity to completely blow out an opponent on the road, at a time when a signature win could be the difference between a 2 seed and a 3 seed. This game was never close, but it should have been a landslide.
A'Dia Mathies had 20 points, 4 boards, and 2 steals, in only 21 minutes. Excellent numbers and again, a game ball performance. Considering that Matthew Mitchell was making wholesale 5 for 5 substitutions all night, that is indeed impressive. Samarie Walker had 13 boards and 2 blocks, a very serviceable night herself. The bench got a huge amount of minutes, which is the only reason I can find for that embarrassing 50 missed shots total.
Kentucky is now 24-4, 12-3 in the SEC, and in sole possession of second place. And that, is where they will stay thanks to Tennessee dropping Texas A&M tonight and capturing the SEC Regular Season Title. Congrats to UT and their first year head coach, Holly Warlick. UK has no one to blame but themselves for that, however, as they had the season locked up and salted away until they dropped 3 out of 8 the last 4 weeks. The SEC schedule is always a minefield, and LSU for some reason owns us late in the season, so I guess some of that was to be expected.
Kentucky's busiest player, Kastine Evans, played 27 minutes, and no one else got more than 24. It was obvious that Mitchell used this game to get his bench some much needed floor time, I just thought that they would be better at taking advantage.
We have a lot to do to get ready for Tennessee come Sunday. If I sound concerned, I am. This is not the tune-up I was looking for. I do however trust Coach Mitchell saw what he wanted to see, so I take solace in that and go on. Sunday's game is nationally televised at 3:30 on ESPNU. A win will give Matthew Mitchell the record as the winningest UK Head Coach in the history of women's basketball. He tied Terry Hall tonight with 138 victories. Let's hope there is one more in the tank so he can hold the title outright after Sunday's game. Tennessee played like they were in a war tonight, and I hope they got it out of their system. Please tune in with us on Sunday, we are going to need every live body and set of typing fingers we can get.