- Wednesday, February 27 2008 -
Mississippi - 54 (Head Coach: Andy Kennedy) - [Unranked]
|Brian Smith (*)||6||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Kentucky - 58 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
|A. J. Stewart||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||2|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 31, Mississippi 14
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Arkansas 63 - 58|||||Tennessee 60 - 63|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Escape Artists: Cats hold on to beat Ole Miss
Kentucky's uncanny ability to play the same game every time out took on a different twist in the latest edition but ended with a similar result.
The Cats nearly blew a 23-point first half lead but escaped only when Ole Miss' Trevor Gaskins missed a wide open three-pointer from the right wing with less than 10 seconds remaining and the Rebels down two. UK's Ramel Bradley - who had just missed two free throws with 21.6 seconds left - rebounded the miss and hit two charity tosses on his second chance to allow UK to escape with a 58-54 victory in front of 23,330 fans at Rupp Arena.
"We were lucky to escape," UK coach Billy Gillispie said. "We played very well at the start and not very well at the end. We were awfully lucky to get out with a win.
"Guys, we won. I'm glad we're to the point where we aren't earning style points. We'll take (wins) any way we can get them."
They most certainly will, especially after nearly seeing their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes take a severe hit had the Rebels completed their comeback from a 31-8 deficit late in the first half.
A 21-2 spurt helped Ole Miss slice the lead to 33-29 with 14:39 remaining in the game but the Cats recovered with a 14-3 jaunt of their own to push the lead back to 15 with 8:01 left. The advantage was 13 with 5:41 remaining but Ole Miss - on the strength of Chris Warren's 23 second half points - climbed all the way back within 56-54 before the final sequence.
Bradley, who entered the game as the Southeastern Conference's top free throw shooter at 85.6 percent, clanged both free throws to set up a tense closing seconds. Warren missed a wild drive to the rim but Dwayne Curtis, who had 15 rebounds, tipped the ball out to Gaskins all alone on the wing. When the ball drew iron and caromed away to Bradley the Rupp crowd let out a sigh of relief.
"It went down to the wire," Bradley said. "When the shot was in the air I was just like, 'God, please don't do this to me. Please don't do this to us right now.' It looked good."
"From my vantage point it looked pretty good," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "If we could get that trip down the court again for the game then I would take it again."
Ole Miss was able to claw its way back into the game on the strength of UK's spotty offense in the second half and relentless board work. Days after suffocating Arkansas on the glass, UK was torched by the Rebels. Ole Miss held a 42-26 edge on the glass that included 20 offensive rebounds. "They beat us 20-2 (in offensive rebounds) I think that's pretty effective," Gillispie said. "They're really good at it. We had a great day (against Arkansas) but not a very good one today. Regardless, we were able to win."
Joe Crawford and Patrick Patterson each had 15 points and Bradley had 14 for the Cats. Warren finished with 25 points while Dwayne Curtis had 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Patrick Patterson (#54) shoots a jump hook
Ramel Bradley (#3) blocks a shot from behind
Perry Stevenson (#21) finishes around the basket