Ugly. Ugly as a mud fence. Ugly as a fat man's hind parts. Coyote ugly. "I'll put a bag over it and take it" ugly.
First of all, a big round of applause for the Auburn Tigers. They came into Rupp Arena tonight and fought like their namesake, and very nearly had them some Wildcat for dinner. But in the end, the combination of Meeks, Patterson and Perry Stevenson proved too much to overcome.
I don't know what Gillispie said to the team at halftime, but I have rarely seen a better display of defensive toughness than in the second half. Auburn had to resort to making long, challenged threes just to score at all. The trouble was, they did just that, only not quite often enough.
So here are my observations for this game:
- Talk about your big-time regressions. It says here that Kentucky had 22 turnovers, but it seemed like 32. Meeks, Porter, Harris, Stevenson and Patterson all had either four or five each for a total of 22. That's right, the starters had 22 turnovers and the subs collectively had zero.
- UK shot the ball pretty well, when they actually retained possession long enough to shoot it. Auburn took 27 more shots than UK did. Is it any surprise they gave us such a hard time?
- Get this -- UK shot 53%, Auburn 39%, and the game was in doubt until the last 3 minutes.
- Michael Porter seemed like he turned the ball over 100 times, yet he only got credit for 4. He did have six assists, which helped.
- Patrick Patterson is still having trouble with that finger, but 18 rebounds? Great Zot! 21 points were just icing on the cake.
- Perry Stevenson had a great all-around game. Double-double, opportunistic scoring, timely defense.
- I said the bench had no turnovers, but they also had no minutes. Only DeAndre Liggins reached double figures with 12. The next nearest to him had 5 (Miller). I chalk this up to the Gillispie Effect.
- 31 points for Jodie Meeks. He just piles them up like magic -- you look up and wonder when he scored that many. Quite possibly the most efficient scoring guard I have ever seen at any level.
- Ramon Harris is a singularity shaped like a man. When you put him on somebody, they disappear forever.
I don't care how ugly this win was, they can't all be 54-point record-setters or 20+ point blowouts. These Tigers were tough and determined. They are also, collectively, the worst free-throw shooting team I have ever heard of ... ever. They need a hypnotist or something.
But I'm glad they didn't have one tonight, and I am very happy with the victory however artless it was.