- Tuesday, January 27 2009 -
Kentucky - 80 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Ranked 24th by AP and NR by ESPN/USA Today]
|A. J. Stewart||7||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||1||1||0||0||0||0|
Mississippi - 85 (Head Coach: Andy Kennedy) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 39, Mississippi 37
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Alabama 61 - 51|||||South Carolina 77 - 78|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Newly-ranked Cats upset by Ole Miss
Billy Gillispie insisted his Kentucky basketball team wouldn't fall victim to the 'trap' of being ranked for the first time all season or playing an injury-ravaged team, but the message didn't seem to filter down to his players.
Ole Miss appeared to be a step ahead of UK all night, shocking the Cats 85-80 at Tad Smith Coliseum despite playing without three of its top players. The Rebels dominated the backboards, shot the highest percentage of any opponent since Louisville and beat the Cats to virtually every loose ball in taking the fight to UK right from opening tip.
A day after entering the Associated Press poll for the first time UK (16-5, 5-1) looked like anything but a Top 25 squad. Ole Miss jumped ahead early and never looked back, taking the lead for good at 42-41 with 18:04 remaining and slowly stretching it out the rest of the way. Despite Gillispie's opinion of 'if we get beat we get beat but I don't think we're going to fall into thinking we're something we're not,' the Cats certainly didn't look like the same team that had began Southeastern Conference play 5-0 and won 11 of their previous 12 contests.
"We had been winning some games because we were doing the little things," Gillispie said. "Playing tough defense, listening to the scouting report. We take 28 three-pointers? DeAndre Liggins takes 16 shots? Patrick Patterson gets two defensive rebounds? And that's all my fault. We did not put a very tough team on the court.
"It makes no difference who you put out there if you think that you're something that you're not. When you have shot selection like we did and you aren't able to finish inside because you're not tough enough, then you're in for a long night."
Ole Miss, who had lost nine straight to UK dating back to 2001, put on a clinic of how to exploit UK's few weaknesses, attacking the Cats off the dribble and sending a horde of red jerseys to the offensive glass. On defense, Andy Kennedy had his squad create a wall around Jodie Meeks, holding the SEC's leading scorer to just six points (all from the free throw line) while missing all six of his field goal attempts in the first half. He finished with 21 points (including two meaningless threes in the final 11.1 seconds) on 4-of-15 shooting and didn't convert his first field goal until 11:46 remaining in the game.
"We weren't able to rebound," sophomore Patrick Patterson said. "They were real physical. We didn't expect them to be that physical so I'd say we underestimated them. They put their hard hats on and hit the boards. They got to the ball a lot quicker than we did.
"We let them penetrate to the basket way too much tonight and they were able to find the open man. It seemed like they all had total confidence in one another out there and they felt like their shots were going to go down."
The Cats still managed to ride out the early storm and used a 6-0 run over the final 1:32 to claim a 39-37 lead at the break. Patrick Patterson was back into scoring form before the break and Darius Miller gave UK a huge lift with eight points, including just his sixth and seventh three-pointers of the season. They were two of eight Cats to score in the first half, helping them offset Meeks' slow start.
The lead was gone less than two minutes into the second half as Ole Miss banged in four three-pointers in the first five minutes on the way to six triples after the break. The Rebels pushed the edge to 10 and UK never got closer than three again.
Ole Miss got a career effort from sophomore forward Malcolm White (20 points) and a ton of help from freshman guard Terrico White (21) and David Huertas (21), the SEC's second-leading scorer. Patrick Patterson led the Cats with 24 points.
A.J. Stewart fights Mississippi's Terrance Henry for the ball
Will Bogan (#3) runs into Kentucky's DeAndre Liggins
Jodie Meeks shoots while defended by Zach Graham