Survive and Advance

How do you spell "defeat"?

Well, the much talked about “Jocks vs Nerds” battle is finally over, so now maybe we can actually talk about some basketball.

Kentucky won what amounted to a road game against the Giovanni’s Big Reds last night, 62-45.  It was an ugly game, featuring poor shooting from both sides, both from behind the arc and at the foul line, but Kentucky never seemed rattled at all.

After falling behind 10-2, UK battled back to take an 11-10 lead and would never trail again, extending the lead to 16 at the half.  They came back out a little bit flat, looking, as coach Cal said, like they just wanted to get on out of the arena.  Cornell was able to close it to 6 points with a little over 5 minutes to go, but UK kept their focus and worked the lead back out to double digits and then hit their foul shots down the stretch to win the game.

A couple of notes:

– The defense that Kentucky played last night was the best I’ve seen from them all year.  They took the best 3-point shooting team in the country and basically shut them down.  Cornell was 5-21 for the game.

– Darius Miller played GREAT defense and just enough offense.  I love how he is playing right now, and if he can add just a little more offense, this team is going to be hard to stop.

– John Wall didn’t appear to have a typical John Wall game, but then when you look at his stat line, he had 8 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists…nearly a triple-double.  He was calm, cool, and did what he had to do.

– Have to be happy for Patrick Patterson.  He had a solid game, and I’m just glad he is being rewarded with a deep tournament run after all the crap he has been through the past 2 years at UK.  One of my all-time favorites.

– Another player working himself on to that list of favorites is Demarcus “Big Cuz” “Boogie” Cousins.  First off, his line this week about this being a basketball game and not a spelling bee is classic.  Next, there was an awesome article by Larry Vaught about Cousins, in which he talked about how hard it will ultimately be to leave UK when he decides to go.  It is worth a read for sure.  And finally, in addition to just showing up and taking charge of the paint last night, enough cannot be said about how he has kept his cool in this tournament.  He is CONSTANTLY beaten on and fouled with no call, yet he just keeps getting after it.  Last night, he was literally tackled/taken down/thrown to the ground by Cornell’s Jeff Foote, and there was no intentional foul called.  Simply amazing.  Now imagine if that play had been reversed and it was Cousins who busted out that move on Foote…he would likely have been tossed from the game completely.  Just ridiculous.

– Also worth listening to is KentuckySportsRadio.com‘s Matt Jones in a verbal sparring match with a radio station in Boston yesterday.  Matt wrote a piece this week about how Boston journalist Dan Shaughnessy’s article on the UK/Cornell game was elitist and racist.  Well, the Big Blue Nation unleashed on poor Dan, and he responded with yet another article, this time making fun of Kentuckian’s ability to spell.  This all came to a head with Dan and 2 idiots on Boston radio deciding to discuss it with Matt on the air.  It was pretty much chaos, and Matt has said it wasn’t his finest performance because he allowed them to get his anger up so much, but I felt like he held his own and made some good points.

– It was evident that all of the “dumb kids vs smart kids” talk this week fired up and focused the Cats.  They came out to boos every time they stepped on the floor this week, but they stayed focused and did what they had to to win.

The Cats will now face what could be a tough game against West Virginia on Saturday at 7pm.  Something inside me says that UK COULD potentially destroy West Virginia, but most likely it will be an awfully close game.  Hopefully the Cats will shoot the ball better.  It promises to be a bit faster game, and I expect John Wall to be the difference in this one.

One more win, folks…that’s how far away we are from our first Final Four since 1998.  Can we do it?  Tune in Saturday and let’s find out!