- Tuesday, February 20 2007 -
Louisiana State - 63 (Head Coach: John Brady) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 70 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Louisiana State 31, Kentucky 30
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|Alabama 61 - 72|||||Vanderbilt 65 - 67|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats snap skid; squeak by LSU
Fat Tuesday turned out to be a celebration for Kentucky but perhaps the Cats should consider giving up their slow starts for Lent.
UK put the brakes on a three-game losing skid by overcoming another double-digit first half deficit, beating LSU 70-63 at Rupp Arena, but failed to emphatically squash the questions that have dogged it the last few weeks. The Cats (19-8, 8-5) continued their recent malaise at the beginning of games though, falling behind 28-12 before engaging themselves in the fight.
"I looked at the score and was like, 'Oh my God, give us some kind of miracle," junior guard Ramel Bradley said. "As long as we get the win....it was very important. I felt like it was life and death. We needed to come out and get a win. We needed to get some good feelings."
The good vibrations were nowhere to be found in the first 13 minutes. The Cats made just three of their first 17 shots - all by center Randolph Morris - and allowed a LSU team playing without reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Glen Davis to get the exact kind of start UK didn't want.
"We did some things we wanted to," Smith said of UK's slow start. "We got the ball inside early on but missed some easy shots. I thought we played hard but when you are not making shots it looks like you are lethargic."
Sensing impending doom the Cats finally found their emotion with a three-point play by Morris and a runout lay-in by Bradley to kick start the comeback. The Cats closed within 31-22 when LSU coach John Brady was whistled for a technical foul after an exchange with official Doug Sirmons following a 10-second backcourt violation on the Tigers. UK freshman guard Jodie Meeks swished both free throws and then buried a three from the top of the key on the ensuing possession to pull the Cats within 31-27 with 1:21 remaining in the half.
"I'm 52 years old. I started coaching when I was 21," Brady, who was sitting down when T'd up, said. "This is the first time I've gotten a technical foul sitting on the bench."
The Cats pulled within a point by intermission despite making just 34.6 percent of their shots and then completed a 21-3 spurt when senior forward Bobby Perry drilled a three from the top of the key to begin the second half. But following the same pattern of the three losses, UK's comeback was quickly negated when LSU fought back for a 47-46 lead on Tasmin Mitchell's jumper. UK reclaimed the lead on Morris' putback and then sat back for more of the Jodie Meeks Show.
Meeks, who scored 13 of his 18 points after intermission, poured in 10 straight points for the Cats by slicing to the basket without the basketball and taking passes from observant teammates. Three times he converted in the paint, once drawing a foul, and also swished a three from the wing to put the Cats up 58-54 with 7:32 left in the game.
"He's active and he's always on the move," Smith said about Meeks. "You can count on him making free throws, he moves without the ball and he's very athletic. I think the players believe in him."
Still, UK found itself tied at 58 with five minutes left after Bradley and fellow junior Joe Crawford ignored the hot hand and jacked up quick three-pointers on consecutive possessions. With the late-game failures of the past three outings fresh in their minds, UK looked like a team ready to wilt at any moment.
It wasn't going to happen on this night, not on Mardi Gras.
Bradley cut to the basket for a lay-in to give UK the lead for good and then Crawford made a sensational block of Darnell Lazare's lay-up attempt to save the tying bucket. Morris capped his 20-point effort with two free throws and then Crawford scored on back-to-back drives - his first four points on the game - to push the lead to 66-58 and put the Tigers back in their cage.
"We had lost three in a row," Smith said. "It wasn't necessarily desperate but I could tell the guys were tight. It was an important win. Every game is a must this time of year. You don't want to be losing a bunch of games, that's for sure.
"We have a tough row to hoe. We've dug ourselves a real hole."
At least they started filling that hole in. Now, about those leads.
Ramel Bradley guards LSU's Garrett Temple
Randolph Morris tries to fend off LSU's Dameon Mason
Jodie Meeks (#20) shoots ahead of Mason