- Saturday, November 22 2008 -
Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational (at Lexington, KY)
Delaware State - 42 (Head Coach: Greg Jackson) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 71 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
|A. J. Stewart||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||2||0|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 37, Delaware State 23
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|North Carolina 58 - 77|||||Longwood 91 - 57|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
UK rights itself, stings DSU Hornets
Desperately wanting to wash the taste of two disappointing defeats out of its mouth Kentucky returned home to face a grind-it-out opponent that could frustrate a team anxious to make up for lost time.
The style proved to be the soul food the Cats were in search of as they methodically dismantled Delaware State for a 71-42 victory at Rupp Arena. The first of four games in the Las Vegas Invitational provided UK a chance to get back to the brand of basketball it prefers to play.
"We are trying to get back on track and this was the first step," forward Patrick Patterson said. "We showed signs of great defense, people diving on the floor, denying the first pass, trapping, but we have to pick it up in rebounding. We really wanted to pick it up on the defensive end. Both VMI and North Carolina played the way they wanted to play and we wanted to come out and change that."
UK reversed it's trend of poor starts by jumping on top of the Hornets 17-5 in the first seven minutes, turning Delaware State over nine times in that span. It was a stark contrast to the deep holes UK built for itself in each of the first two games of the season and was done mostly on the strength of physical, intense defense.
"As far as defensively, getting up in them and forcing them out of their game, that helped us," guard Michael Porter said. "We needed someone to do it and Ramon (Harris) did a great job doing that. Sometimes when someone does it it leads to all five guys doing it."
By halftime UK had pushed it's lead to 37-23 but the Hornets crept within 11 at the under 16 media timeout of the second half. The Cats exploded from there, using a 19-2 spurt to put the game out of reach.
More importantly, the Cats turned the basketball over just 12 times, well below the average of 26.5 they had posted in the first two games. Part of that could be attributed to a more responsible approach with the ball but it also came from Delaware State's less aggressive defensive approach than what VMI and North Carolina threw at the Cats.
"We still had a couple of turnovers we don't need," Porter said. "We just need to cut out all the dumb turnovers, the unneeded and not forced. They didn't pressure us and trap us like the other two teams so it was a little easier. They let us attack them so we're still working on cutting our turnovers down. We'd like to say we've gotten better but we don't know yet with the way they played."
There was some life on the offensive end as well despite an uncharacteristically poor shooting game from Patterson. Jodie Meeks led UK in scoring yet again by pouring in 22 points despite facing a box-and-one defense, while freshman Darius Miller rebounded from a poor performance at North Carolina by scoring 13 points, grabbing three rebounds and dishing out four assists.
"I thought he played really well," UK coach Billy Gillispie said. "He played two different positions and almost every time he touched the ball something good happened. He passed up too many shots in my opinion. He's a very unselfish player but he needs to shoot it when he's open. I thought he played really well. He was good defensively, okay on the boards and really good offensively for us."
The one somewhat dim spot was Patterson's game. The sophomore forward had 9 points, four rebounds and five assists but missed numerous shots in the paint - he was 4-of-10 for the game - and struggled at times on defense. At least four of those errant attempts where from point blank range and at least once the normally sure-handed forward fumbled the ball out of bounds instead of throwing down a dunk.
"That kind of stuff happens, just like I had a bad shooting night the other night," Meeks said. "We're not worried."
There wasn't time for the Cats to be concerned, they were too busy relishing the first victory of the young season.
Ramon Harris dunks
Michael Porter shoots a layup in front of Frisco Sandidge
Darius Miller shoots as Delaware State's Kris Douse defends