Well, it's 1:00 AM here in Las Vegas, and even though I am tired, I figure I owe all you intrepid Wildcat fans a report on how the game went live.
First of all, I want to congratulate Kansas State on a hard-fought game that they nearly pulled out in the end. As a Kentucky fan, and a fan of college basketball, I really appreciate how Kansas State relentlessly attacked UK's weakness and in the end, nearly overcame a deficit that got to as large as 17 points. Toward the end of the game, Kentucky's players were visibly more fatigued than those of K-state, and that allowed open 3-point shots and offensive rebounds which really hurt Kentucky.
In the end, though, UK made just enough rebounds to send the K-State 'Cats to tomorrow's consolation game vs. the Iowa Hawkeyes, who were handily defeated by West Virginia in the first game of the evening session.
Some observations from the bleachers. A note -- I have not looked at the statistics, as I find they tend to color my observations.
- As good a game as Jodie Meeks played in the first half, he played an equally poor game in the second half. He was repeatedly beaten off the dribble, had the ball stolen from him over and over again, and just generally stunk in many ways.
- Michael Porter played about 15 minutes of good basketball, and the rest was abysmal. One thing I will give him credit for (and the reason he stayed in the game so much despite his obvious failings to handle the ball at times) was his defense. It was notable, and impressive against some guards who, quite frankly, are significantly better than he is.
- Perry Stevenson starred in this game as the Invisible Man. He did have one block in the first half that almost brought Orleans Arena to the ground with a roar that would have deafened a man at 100 yards.
- Darius Miller played a very strange game, almost Porter-esque. Up and down. In the end, he fouled out.
- The officials failed to call two indisputable, prima facia intentional fouls. The officiating in this game would perhaps generously be described as "uneven."
- Kansas State has some really good players. If they had either Beasley or Bill Walker back, they would surely be a top-25 team. With both, they would be top 5.
- At times, UK's defense was worthy of a top 5 club. In the beginning and in the end, it wasn't worthy of a top 100 club.
- I like the way Frank Martin coaches. They guy is a real up and comer, and will one day be a star.
- Gillispie did a very smart thing at the end of the game when UK was up by five. He basically told his players that if anyone guarded K-State over half court, they may never see the floor again. UK players literally ran away from Jacob Pullen as he lined up and made the last, meaningless three.
- Patrick Patterson struggled to rebound. That's not good.
- Ramon Harris worked hard on defense, but struggled handling the ball and making free throws.
- Patrick Patterson ran the floor like a gazelle. Maybe that's why he was so tired at the end.
- Billy Gillispie has a deep bench which is utterly wasted, because he almost never used it. That has got to change.
- UK fans were at least 5-1 more numerous than K-State fans, although K-State was much better represented than any other fan base besides UK. That says a lot for them, and how seriously they take their team.
- Man, the blue. Wait until you see the pictures. For an arena that seats about 7,000, the first game had maybe 1500 people in the stands. For the UK game, there were at least 3500 and maybe 4000.
- UK fans were passionate and pretty darn fair. It was a pleasure being with them so far from home. I have had many interesting conversations.
- I was very impressed so many of you stayed up and blogged the game. Give yourselves a pat on the back.
That's all for tonight. Tomorrow, Ken has an awesome preview of the UK-Tennessee game and I will have an open thread up as always. I'll be watching that game (UK doesn't play until around 7:00 Las Vegas time) and will try to participate in the conversation.