- Saturday, February 2 2008 -
Kentucky - 63 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
Georgia - 58 (Head Coach: Dennis Felton) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 30, Georgia 29
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|South Carolina 78 - 70|||||Auburn 66 - 63|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Myth Busting Cats topple Georgia on road
ATHENS, Ga. - Standing in the huddle with just a shade over three and a half minutes to go, Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie looked around realized his team was going to have to pull out its first road victory of the season without the aid of three of its best players.
For most coaches that would be a moment of sheer terror, but not Gillispie. No Ramel Bradley, no Joe Crawford, no Jodie Meeks? How about no time to worry? Instead of closing up shop the Cats got five points from three role-playing sophomores and a thunderous alley-oop dunk from super freshman Patrick Patterson to laugh in the face of conventional wisdom on their way to a 63-56 victory over Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum.
Georgia's perfect 10-0 record at home? Gone. The assumption UK can't win without Bradley and Crawford on the floor in crunch time? Also obliterated. Not that the Cats want to make a habit of destroying such myths.
"It's another thing coach emphasizes - we want to win with everybody, but we can win with nobody," Patterson, who scored 16 points and added six rebounds, said. "We don't rely on one player. Ramel, he's a great basketball player. He provides a spark for us and the leadership in everything he does. He helps us out, but we have other people on the team, role players, that can step up at any time.
"(Michael) Porter did, Ramon (Harris) stepped up, Joe tried to come in when he could. With the people who sat out, that brought more people in for opportunities, and we just capitalized on them and they just played their hearts out."
The latest victory for the Cats came despite another square dance with the injury bug. Jodie Meeks never made it out of his warm-ups. Bradley played the game's first 11 minutes with a nasty flu-like virus before he was literally knocked out of the game with a concussion and gashed chin. Meanwhile, Crawford spent the game's final 4:31 gulping Gatorade at warp speed because of crippling cramps throughout his entire body, taking the 26 points (of the team's 56 at the time) with him.
Nevertheless, UK shackled Georgia in the closing minutes and held them to just one field goal over the final 5:19 to score an improbable win. It was UK's first triumph away from Rupp Arena and another you-can't-miss-this sign that Gillispie is building something special in Lexington.
"It was a hard fought win, probably not the most beautiful game for the casual fan but it was beautiful to us with the way it happened with all those guys out," Gillispie said. "I thought our guys showed tremendous courage, tremendous teamwork, tremendous everything as far as all the intangibles.
"I really think you can talk about offense, you can talk about defense and you can talk about all those things that show up on the stat sheet but the thing that's winning games for us right now is heart, determination and togetherness."
You'll get no argument from Georgia, who watched Harris gash them for a career-high nine points, including a huge backdoor lay-up with 2:38 left, and Patterson turn in another sensational effort for a freshman in his first go around in the league.
More than anything though it was tough, physical defense that proved to make the most difference. Like they did in previous close wins over Tennessee and South Carolina the Cats virtually shut down Georgia's offense in the final five minutes of the game.
"I think we're just stepping up our defense," Patterson said. "Coach says that's how he wants it at the end. If we can't have a huge lead, he'd like to have a five-point lead with five minutes left. That's where he wants us at, because he has faith in us. We all believe in each other that we can lock up on defense and we can score on offense.
"We all have total faith in each other coming down the stretch. At the beginning of the year, I don't think we had that family type atmosphere, had the belief in each other, the togetherness. As the year (has) progressed, I think we're starting to get that, and it showed out here."
As they say, the proof is in the pudding and UK provided it yet again.
Dave Bliss (#44) runs into Ramel Bradley, giving him a concussion
Patrick Patterson battles Georgia's Sundiata Gaines for the ball