- Friday, November 17 2006 -
Mississippi Valley State - 56 (Head Coach: James Green) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 79 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 22nd by AP and 22nd by ESPN/USA Today]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 41, Mississippi Valley State 18
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Miami (OH) 57 - 46|||||DePaul 87 - 81|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Getaway Day: Cats suffocate Delta Devils
If Kentucky was daydreaming about the sandy beaches and lush tropics of Hawaii a night before leaving for the Maui Invitational you never would have known it.
By the time Mississippi Valley State caused the official scorer to flick the button giving them two points on the scoreboard the Cats had already raced out to a 15-0 lead. When UK could finally shove the last pair of board shorts into their Nike duffel bags it had annihilated a hopelessly outclassed Delta Devils team 79-56 in front 22,879 fans at Rupp Arena.
Bring on the leis.
Led by Ramel Bradley's career-high 21 points and a suffocating defensive effort in the first half, the Cats put Mississippi Valley State to bed early and then cruised through an indifferent final 15 minutes. It was exactly the kind of getaway game UK needed before traveling to the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
"We started out in the press and that got the blood moving," senior forward Bobby Perry said. "It got us focused on the game. We forced turnovers and got easy buckets and that's a good way to get into the game."
UK (2-0) sprinted from the gate in running off nine straight points and forcing two turnovers by the time the Delta Devils called a timeout at 17:55 to catch their breath. The bleeding didn't stop there though as UK forced two additional turnovers off its press and pushed the lead to 15-0 by the first media timeout at 15:35 remaining in the half.
When Mississippi Valley State finally scored on a Larry Cox tip-in at 15:24 it was the first field goal UK had allowed in 14:28 of game time and the first points period in 9:25 going back to the opener against Miami (Ohio).
"We came out energetic, pushed the ball and played unselfishly," Bradley said. "We drew the first blow and anytime you do that it gets a team back on its heels."
UK continued the onslaught by shoving the lead out to 29-5 behind crisp passing and easy transition buckets. Just two nights after Smith chastised his team for failing to move on offense or play team basketball on that end of the floor the Cats dropped 15 assists on 17 made field goals.
"We talked about sharing the basketball and teamwork," UK coach Tubby Smith said. "With 20 assists it shows we were looking to give the ball up. Everybody was looking to give the ball up and even passing up shots. But I'd rather have it that way than the other way."
"The Miami game we got away from what we did in the exhibitions," junior center Randolph Morris added. "We had to make the extra pass and get other going. It showed in the assists that we played really unselfishly."
Although much of the night went swimmingly for the Cats, they meandered through the final 16 minutes of the game and were actually outscored 36-25 during that stretch. With the promise of paradise less than 24 hours away, the Cats admitted they checked their focus at the door long before the final horn sounded.
"We didn't have the intensity we did in the first half," Perry said. "I don't know if we were thinking about Maui or not., we just didn't sustain our focus."
Minutes later, Perry stopped trying to put up the facade and confirmed what most everyone suspected.
"We thought we had the game put away and were looking ahead," Perry said. "We've been thinking about (Maui) since the end of last season. No one on this team has been to Hawaii.
"I'm thinking about basketball... and bikinis."
Ramel Bradley scores on a reverse
Derrick Jasper slides through an opening to the hoop