- Tuesday, November 18 2008 -
Kentucky - 58 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
|A. J. Stewart||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
North Carolina - 77 (Head Coach: Roy Williams) - [Ranked 1st by AP and 1st by ESPN/USA Today]
|Larry Drew II||11||1||2||1||1||0||0||0||1||1||1||2||1||0||2||3|
Halftime Score: North Carolina 41, Kentucky 25
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Virginia Military 103 - 111|||||Delaware State 71 - 42|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Top-ranked Heels whip mistake-prone Cats
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The state of Kentucky owns a proud heritage in the tobacco business but Tobacco Road has never been kind to the Commonwealth's revered basketball program.
The latest trip put an exclamation point - for now at least - on an inauspicious start to the season for Kentucky. Top-ranked North Carolina smoked the Cats 77-58 at the Dean Smith Center, preying on a team that gave the basketball away as often as soup kitchens do hot meals on Thanksgiving. The loss also dropped UK to 0-2 for the first time since the 2000-01 campaign.
"It's just horrible," sophomore forward Patrick Patterson said. "All the hard work we put in in practice, and just coming out here with the mindset to win, and things go the wrong way in the first 10, 15 minutes of the game. Then we have to start playing (from) behind. We have to practice a lot harder. We have to start listening to coach, pretty much."
It's early but the Cats have displayed three glaring weaknesses thus far - a propensity to turn the orange over at an alarming rate, an inability to keep opponents in front of them off the dribble and far too many offensive rebounds allowed at inopportune times.
Carolina took advantage of all two of those issues, turning 28 UK giveaways into a 26 points on the other end while outscoring the Cats 21-4 on second chance points. Five UK players had at least four turnovers and only freshman DeAndre Liggins had more assists (7) than miscues (4).
"We have to cut down on our turnovers and when I say 'we' I mean all of us," junior forward Ramon Harris said. "Most of the time it was what we did, rushing, letting them pressure us, a lot of times it was just our mistake. We created a lot of them ourselves. You can't do that when you're playing a team like North Carolina. We can't give away turnovers."
"It didn't matter if we played fast or slow we were still making mistakes," UK coach Billy Gillispie added. "Some of them are trying too hard, some are lacking a little bit of confidence because they haven't done it at this level. They really attacked our weaknesses."
For the Cats it was another humbling loss to start a season that had so much build up and promise. After VMI shot their way into national exposure at Rupp Arena UK's trip to one of college basketball's other meccas was supposed to help them right the ship.
Instead it took on more water.
The Tar Heels raced out to a 19-4 lead in the first 6:58 of the game, nearly a full minute before UK star forward Patrick Patterson got his first touch on the offensive end. At the under eight minute media timeout Patterson had just two points and two touches on his way to six points and five rebounds in the half. Meanwhile, UK trudged to the locker room with 17 turnovers and just 25 points.
In a throwback to the second half of last season, Gillispie's troops didn't fold. After Carolina's lead ballooned to 52-31 with 13:35 remaining the Cats battled back to within 13 points with 5:31 left due in large part to finally discovering Patterson in the post. The sophomore big man had 13 points in the second half on his way to 19 for the game but the Cats never closed the gap any further.
"The sign of light at the end of the tunnel that I saw was just our ability to fight," Patterson said. "We were down and none of us gave up. We were pushing through the hard times."
Still, it wasn't enough to realistically overcome the shoddy start and careless turnovers.
Jodie Meeks finished with 19 points for the Cats but was just 5-of-20 from the field. Deon Thompson poured in 20 points for Carolina by dominating the offensive glass, while Wayne Ellington added 16 points.
Perry Stevenson defends against UNC freshman center Tyler Zeller as Patrick Patterson looks on
DeAndre Liggins looks to pass as he's defended by UNC's Wayne Ellington
Ramon Harris attacks the basket and is fouled by Deon Thompson