Congratulations to a tough, determined and very skillful Ole Miss team. They absolutely wanted this game more, and they earned it. I am not going to insult the Rebels by suggesting it was Kentucky's deficiencies that were the difference. The fact is, Ole Miss simply executed almost to perfection in every single facet of the game. Combine sharp execution with players who were very confident and fearless of the newly-ranked Wildcats, and you have a big, fat upset at the Tad Pad.
Obviously, I am disappointed in the outcome, but UK has been on a long road trip and the road in the SEC can often be cruel. Teams can get hot or just plain outplay you, especially in their own gym. It was definitely the latter tonight for the Rebs. Hotty Toddy, guys, well done.
For Kentucky, obviously this setback is a disappointment. The 'Cats were hoping to find a down team that was undermanned, and instead walked into a team that has nothing to lose, and played without a shred of fear. I will say that it looks clear to me that Kentucky was not well prepared for this Ole Miss team. I think the 'Cats assumed that Jodie Meeks could wear his man down and get his shots, just has he has against many other teams this year. That didn't happen.
Anyway, here are the rest of my observations for this game:
- DeAndre Liggins had a good first half, but in the second half he reverted to form. I think we have to be satisfied with that -- for now.
- Jodie Meeks could not guard David Huertas. The Rebels did a super job of bouncing Meeks off of screens, and all too many times, Huertas was able to get a good look, and he was very efficient.
- Kentucky came back hard on the boards in the second half after being ourebounded soundly in the first. UK wound up losing the rebounding battle by a total of five.
- Turnovers did not hurt Kentucky in this game. UK managed only 10 turnovers.
- What did hurt UK in this game was a 25% 3-point percentage, and being held to 34.5% by Ole Miss -- 100% due to outstanding Rebel defense. To everyone's surprise, Ole Miss scored as many points in the paint as UK, 28, and more points of turnovers, 18-7.
- What did Kentucky in was an unusual lack of offensive efficiency. The 'Cats did not get the ball to Patterson enough, and Stevenson simply vanished into the thick air of the Tad Pad.
- Terrico White, Malcolm White and David Huertas were just awesome tonight. Zach Graham was just shy of awesome, but very good.
- UK simply could not make up the 15+ points that Meeks was unable to score. That is obviously a weakness that will have to be addressed.
- I think Gillispie made a tactical error by allowing Meeks to guard Huertas. That caused Meeks to expend way too much energy defensively, and it clearly affected Meeks' offense.
- What happened to the good screens that were freeing up Meeks in the Alabama game? They were absent today.
- Defensively, UK never did get a grip on this team, and made number of glaring errors which Ole Miss was able to cash in on.
- Darius Miller still has a long way to go offensively, but he did manage an inefficient nine points.
- Deandre Liggins should never attempt 16 shots. Ever. He took more shots than Meeks, although they both shot about the same percentage.
- Patrick Patterson mistimed virtually every jump today, and every time he did, Ole Miss got an offensive rebound. I can't figure out why that happened, but it was so obvious it was surreal. Perry Stevenson just took this game off.
- Ramon Harris needs ... something.
- I need a drink.
OK, well, that's that. It's never fun to write postmortems about losses, and this one is no exception. But lets give the Rebels their due -- they took this game with a grunt, grab and growl, and the 'Cats get to go home and dress their wounds -- especially the one to their reputation.