- Saturday, January 12 2008 -
Vanderbilt - 73 (Head Coach: Kevin Stallings) - [Ranked 13th by AP and 12th by ESPN/USA Today]
|Ross Neltner (*)||24||1||2||0||1||0||0||1||2||3||5||0||2||0||7||2|
Kentucky - 79 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 32, Vanderbilt 22
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Louisville 75 - 89|||||Mississippi State 64 - 69|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Double (OT) Your Pleasure in win over Vandy
Ramel Bradley and Ramon Harris turned and let out primal screams. With Rupp Arena roaring like it hasn't in two years, the pure, unadulterated joy was evident.
Kentucky 79, Vanderbilt 73. Double overtime. Talk about a pressure relief, this was it.
UK squandered a 16-point second half lead but took every shot previously undefeated Vanderbilt had to offer and responded in a way it hadn't all year. Joe Crawford's drive and subsequent goaltending call on the Commodores' A.J. Ogilvy gave the Cats the lead for good with 3:33 remaining. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt scored just one point in the second overtime and missed all five of its field goal attempts as UK pulled away for the biggest win of Billy Gillispie's first season in Lexington.
For a team that had been on the short end of the stick almost all season long the final buzzer offered a breath of fresh air and positive reinforcement they had been searching for since Gardner-Webb embarrassed them in early November.
"It says that we are going to fight," sophomore Ramon Harris said. "This is what Coach wanted and has been saying and we really showed it. I think he's very proud because we fought an we fought and we fought. I think we competed as hard as we could, laid it all on the line and played with some pride and some heart.
"I think we showed that we are a team that is going to fight. We are not going to get back in the national rankings or anything like that after one game so we are going to take it one at a time and let the media and everyone do what they do and we'll do what we do."
Ironically, UK did what it hadn't done most of the year to take down the swashbuckling Commodores. The Cats displayed a gritty toughness in out rebounding Vanderbilt by 22 and scoring 18 seconds chance points to just a deuce for the 'Dores. They held SEC leading scorer Shan Foster to 20 relatively quiet points (he had none in the two overtime periods) and made Ogilvy look human in the paint.
In short, the Cats finally answered the bell Gillispie had been imploring them to since he arrived.
"I said (before the game) I think our guys are a little tougher than you give them credit for," Gillispie said. "I think they are going to play to the end and they are going to continue to get better. I don't think they are soft mentally. I think they have really gained a lot of mental toughness. They've been in tough situations and handled those situations very well and a lot of that was very evident in how tough they played.
"When you win a game like this is says a lot about the toughness you're developing mentally because we would never give up. Our team definitely did not give up and that's what makes me most proud. I don't know if there was a possession we didn't compete and that's what makes me most proud as a coach. You can't win at the very highest level without competing."
Although the fingernails are gone and the stomach turned the manner in which UK took out the league's last undefeated team could certainly be the impetus the Cats need to realize their potential.
"We had to take this, we had to earn it," Bradley said. "Those guys kept fighting back and we went to overtime, made some plays, went to another overtime, so this really boosted our confidence. I looked in guys' eyes and they were ready."
When it was over, Bradley turned and pointed to the family section and let loose. Harris quickly followed suit. Their message?
Or at least on the right road.
Mark Coury (#42) tries a reverse layup
Ramel Bradley looks around two Vanderbilt defenders to feed Perry Stevenson
Patrick Patterson (#54) celebrates breaking the Vanderbilt streak