This may sound strange, but that game was horribly ugly and beautiful all at the same time. It's just more of the weird, the odd, and the inexplicable of Kentucky basketball this year.
First of all, kudos to the Auburn Tigers for a hard fought game, one they very nearly won. That last shot they took may look bad in hindsight, but it would have been a real heartbreaker if he had hit it, and it looked good a long time. After that game was over, I was shaking like leaf.
How can it be beautiful when Derrick Jasper and Joe Crawford combine for more turnovers than we had the entire last game? Well, Jasper got credit for 1 block, but he actually had at least 3, and a huge and timely drive to the basket. Despite how ugly the game was to they eye and the ridiculous number of turnovers we had, Kentucky's offense was reasonably efficient at 106.5. Without all those excess turnovers, we blow them out of the water.
Quite honestly, I hope this is the last time this year we are forced to play so short-handed. I am sick and tired of coming into every game so gimped up that if we win, it looks like some kind of miracle or a collapse by the other team. I'm tired of making excuses for victories, and hearing people call our team "ugly." If you watched any of the Duke-UNC game, I would contend there was a lot of very ugly basketball there, especially in the second half.
But this is about Kentucky, and the Cats got their fourth win in a row against a depleted but never-say-die Auburn team. I warned in my pre-game comments that they were going to be dangerous, and I think I largely got that right. But Gillispie has to be pleased with our defense, holding the second best eFG% team in the conference to a paltry 45.9%, while UK shot a blazing 74.3% effective FG%. If we could have had a few less turnovers, we would be talking about a dominating victory instead of a very close shave.
Great game by Joe Crawford, Ramon Harris and Perry Stevenson. And a "Not bad. Not bad at all" game to Michael Porter who played gritty defense in relief of Ramel Bradley and hit some big threes in the first half. Of course, what can you say about 19-8? Patterson was huge once more, especially making all his free throws down the stretch.
Well done, Cats. Hopefully, we will be healthier for the Crimson Tide on Saturday.