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Kentucky 68, North Carolina 66 -- Postmortem

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Wow, what a game.  Thank God I am diligent about exercise, because at my age, these kinds of games are bad for a less than strong heart.

Thanks and well-wishes to North Carolina for a very tough game.  The Tar Heels came back from a big deficit in the first half to make this game a nail-biter.  Needless to to say, my nails are bleeding all over the place.  The Tar Heels showed much better defense in the second half and forced the Wildcats in to a level of turnovers that could have done us in.  Kudos to the Tar Heels for a strong effort.  Not only that, their presence today allowed UK to set a new Rupp Arena record for attendance.

For Kentucky, this represents a very good win that could have been great -- not because of anything the Tar Heels did, but because UK did not appear to come out ready in the second half.  Combined with John Wall's apparent dehydration (I have no doubt he went to the locker room to take an IV), Kentucky and North Carolina literally swapped places at halftime.  With UK at 43 points going into the half, who would have believed they would only score 25 points in the second half?

Of course, you can expect a team like North Carolina, a team with many players who know what it's like to play in the NCAA tournament at the highest level, to make a game of it after being uncompetitive in the first half.  It will be very galling to UK fans who saw some great basketball in the first half to remember how the 'Cats went out in something less than style.

More after the jump.

 

Here are my observations:

  • DeMarcus Cousins has got to learn to control his emotions -- and his foul shots.
  • It goes without saying that this team is different without John Wall in the game.
  • Eric Bledsoe showed nerves of steel by making all those free throws at the end.
  • Patrick Patterson was awesome, but for some reason, we went away from him in the second half.
  • Dunk on Daniel Orton?  Nope.
  • Ramon Harris continues to amaze with his rebounding and heady play.  If he could only score a little more.
  • Darnell Dodson seems a bit off form, but he contributed some good offensive minutes and made a couple of good defensive plays.
  • Speaking of defense, this was the best defensive game the 'Cats have played all year.
  • Seeing North Carolina play at the pace they did was just weird.
  • Darius Miller vanished in the second half.  But he sure was great in the first.
  • Calipari showed why he is such a winner.  I think he out-coached ol' Roy today, and had a big hand in the outcome.
  • Perry Stevenson made some nice contributions on defense.  I wish he could score more.
  • The best thing about this win was that UK will get better.  So will UNC, but I think UK's ceiling is significantly higher.

That's about it for now, I am getting ready for the SEC championship game.  This win makes my weekend automatically great.  I am tickled to be writing about a win, because I was prepared to write about a loss.

Great win by Kentucky.  Not perfect, but in the end, we won the stat that counts the most -- the final score.