[Editor’s note: Greg is away on business tonight, and despite his best efforts, his Internet connection would not support his normal effort at a postmortem. You will therefore have to settle for the efforts of yours truly.]
Tonight, the lady Wildcats took the #11 Georgia Bulldogs to the woodshed. They did it despite an incredibly poor fist half in which both teams struggled to score, and Kentucky surrendered a five-point lead to Georgia at half time.
The story of the first half could be described in one word – inefficiency. That is, if you are talking offense. If you were talking defense, well, then both teams were exemplary in their efforts. In any case, a halftime score of 24-19 is very fine for a football game, but kind of anemic in a basketball contest.
The second half started out ominously for the Wildcats, as Jasmine Hassell of Georgia scored after an offensive rebound with a smooth hook shot that took the Lady Dawgs out to a 7 point lead. It would be their biggest of the night.
Jen O’Neill came back and immediately swished a triple from the left wing, and the ’Cats were back in the game. A turnover later, DeNesha Stallworth tipped in her own miss, Kastine Evans forced a steal from Anne Marie Armstrong, and O’Neill would score yet again on a driving layup that would tie the game, and represent the closest the ’Dawgs would get for the rest of the night.
The second half belonged to Kentucky in a huge way. The Bulldogs fought, battled, and refused to surrender, but the outcome seemed predestined as Kentucky continued to score, defend, and turn the ’Dawgs over. The lead grew and grew, and in the end, it was a typical Kentucky victory, gotten of defense and intensity.
So the Wildcats avenge the loss inflicted upon them by the Lady Dawgs back last month, a loss that took not only their SEC and home court winning streaks, but also would provide the margin of defeat for UK’s regular-season championship hopes.
Matthew Mitchell completely abandoned his "hockey substitution" pattern of swapping all five players in the second half. Instead, he left at least 3 starters in the game at all times, and still found opportunities to sub quite a bit. A’Dia Mathies, Stallworth, and O’Neill all had 29+ minutes in the victory, and that had a lot to do with the outcome.
It seemed in the first half, when Mitchell was substituting 5 for 5, that it disrupted the flow of the game. Even though it didn’t appreciably affect the defense, it really played havoc offensively, and after going into half with only 19 points to show for 20 minutes of work, Mitchell decided that enough was enough.
Congratulations to Georgia for a great season. They’ll be in the NCAA Tournament no question, and look good to get past the first weekend, and maybe further. This was a good Georgia team that just couldn’t quite match the intensity, nor the talent, of the Wildcats.
Kentucky moves on the the SEC Tournament championship game tomorrow against the Lady Aggies of Texas A&M. TAMU is a bit of a surprise to get to the final, but they dispatched the Tennessee Lady Vols, and the Wildcats get to face a team in the Aggies that gave them two very tough games during the regular season.
Huge day today for Kentucky sports. Rifle gets its second runner-up in the NCAA Tournament, the men’s Wildcats get a huge win at Florida, and the Lady Wildcats get to the SEC Tournament final. Gotta love that.