Well, it wasn’t pretty, but Rupp Arena continues to prove to be a safe haven for these Cats. They battled, struggled to close it out, but in the end were victorious over MSU, 85-79.
If you had to use the last two outings verse the Bulldogs as an indicator of what tonight’s game would be it would be spot on. Vegas was easy money tonight but not if you were shooting for a blowout.
The Bulldogs came into the game shooting a collective 34% from three on the year, but as we have seen so often from opposing sides, lit it up from deep, going 12-22 (54.5%).
As bad as the perimeter defense was for the Cats their protection of the ball and ability to shoot well themselves kept them in it. At one point midway through the first half the Wildcats were down 11 but were able to mount a small run to get it down to 5 points with few seconds remaining. Then chaos ensued.
Brandon Knight received the inbounds pass right at mid-court and proceeded to jump into his defender and throwing up a hailmary. The officials whistled for the foul and MSU head coach, Rick Stansbury, went ballistic in his best Mike Davis impersonation. Stansbury received a technical for his antics and Knight was able to close the gap to 1 after hitting 4-5 free throws in an odd turn of events.
Coming out of the locker room the Cats’ shots started falling and they never looked back. In fact, they shot 67.1 percent from the field in the second half and 56.1% overall in the victory.
Four Wildcats finished in double figures. Brandon Knight led the Cats with 24 pts. (8-15), 7 assist and 3 rebounds. Hos 11th such outing on the year. Terrence Jones added 17 and 10 behind an efficient ball game minus the foul trouble. Doron Lamb shook his funk and hit 7-8 shots, including 3-3 from three. Lamb finished with 20.
Junior Darius Miller came off the bench after being listed as questionable for a groin injury in the Vandy loss. Miller had 13 including 3 3-pt. field goals.
In the end a good win to get back on track for the Cats as they welcome South Carolina into Rupp on Saturday. Yet, there are a number of things to work on including perimeter defense and closing out games with efficient, smart basketball.
UPDATE: I almost forgot! What did you all think about the hideous viewpoint ESPN decided to go to? Of course they choose to do it during a UK game. I am sure BBN isn’t pleased.