There is an amazing television show called Dirty Jobs, which features Mike Rowe, traveling the country finding hardworking people taking care of the business that needs to be taken care of.
It is work that is tough, hard, and dirty. Often the work is unappreciated but in the end it makes a big difference. What is so amazing about the work the people on the show do is that if they do it right, it makes it easy to take it for granted.
Now you might be thinking what does this have to do with the University Kentucky basketball victory over Mississippi State? If you are thinking that I will agree with you momentarily – that is a fair question. But in what was a hard fought, great first half, ugly second half, and spectacular overtime win…the W does not land in the Cats record book without some Dirty Jobs happening on the court.
Dontaie Allen, Bryce Hopkins, and Lance Ware rolled up their sleeves (granted, the jersey has no sleeves, but you get the idea) and went to work against the Bulldogs. Allen came up big on the defensive end and made not just one, not just two, but three big defensive plays in the extended minutes he got off the bench. Heart and hustle found him in the middle of the action and each of his moments were badly needed and timely.
Hopkins also hustled his way into some crucial minutes as he came up with a huge block and a monster dunk that came about due to his sprinting down the floor and willingness to maximize the moments he got on the court. In a close game as this one turned out to be, every trip down the court counts because as we all know, you just can’t predict the way the ball is going to bounce next.
Ware made his presence known and was marked by minutes where he was sprinting and hustling up and down the hardwood. Not afraid to get into the mix and bump the opposition, he cleared four rebounds and added a strong dunk of his own.
Allen, Hopkins, and Ware get the Dirty Job Players of the game award. (I know there really is not an award called that, but watching them step up and go to work was fun to watch and helped the team win)
When you take a Kentucky team missing one of their outstanding starters in Ty Ty Washington, you have to have players step up and get to work. The Cats did this against MSU. Their first half defense held the Bulldogs to 24 points, and they constantly pushed Mississippi State away from the goal altering their shot selection.
The second half will not be remembered as amazing, but instead of playing to win, the team settled back into playing not to lose – which they almost did. But they did play tough, even when MSU went on the run that would send the game into overtime. Kellan Grady made sure the victory was locked once the overtime arrived and the game belonged to Kentucky.
Wheeler, Grady, and Mintz all played strong. Oscar Tshiebwe played like the best player in the country, but the discovery that Big Blue Nation found for the first time, or at least were reminded of, was that there are some players on the court that are willing to work. In this case, they did the Dirty Jobs that made sure the Cats did not lose in Rupp.