With about two minutes left in today's ridiculously tense 64-60 victory over Mississippi State at Rupp, Tubby Smith, in his infinite coaching wisdom, fielded some sort of all-hands team featuring Sheray Thomas and Jodie Meeks, among others, with All-American candidate Randolph Morris on the bench.
The result? A shot clock violation as a Derrick Jasper three-pointer was blocked.
Ignoring for the moment why the hell your best player and only post threat was not in the game -- how can you argue defense for offense substituting? -- the dead ball allowed Tubby to rectify the situation. He inserted Morris in immediately, subbing out Thomas.
The result? Down the stretch, all Morris did was score four points, steal the ball, block the potential game-tying shot and all without a hint of emotion. Ice, meet veins.
So despite the Cats committing just one turnover in the entire second half (and just 9 total), outrebounding the Bulldogs by 7 in the second frame, holding the visitors to 40% from the field and shooting 15-for-19 from the stripe, nothing was decided until the final seconds.
The why of that closeness is actually fairly simple. MSU shot nine of 19 from three-point range, far too many to allow for a supposedly good defensive team. They also held the Cats to 36% shooting for the game.
Before we rake the Cats over the coals, revisit Truz's pregame warnings -- the 'Dawgs are nearly as good as the Cats in holding opponents down field goal-wise.
But credit where credit is due, the Cats won their 10th straight game -- the third time that has happened under Tubby's watch -- and moved to 3-0 in the SEC, something only probable new No. 1 Florida can claim. Leaning heavily on your stars is how you get it done. And for this game, it was an unflinching center that came through in the clutch.
That's why they call him 'Big Randy.'