- Saturday, December 6 2008 -
Miami - 73 (Head Coach: Frank Haith) - [Ranked 21st by AP and 23rd by ESPN/USA Today]
Kentucky - 67 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
|A. J. Stewart||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||0||0||0||0||0|
Halftime Score: Miami 46, Kentucky 26
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Lamar 103 - 61|||||Mississippi Valley State 88 - 65|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Miami canes Cats
Kentucky followed an increasingly familiar script in its latest attempt to win back a measure of national respect, falling behind by a bundle early before staging a rousing rally.
This time the comeback fell short as No. 22 Miami held on for a 73-67 victory in front of 24,109 fans at Rupp Arena. It was the 19th loss for UK in the past 22 games against ranked opponents and once again raised concerns about sloppy starts and inconsistent execution.
Miami took a 20-point lead into halftime and tacked on a single point early in the second half before UK clamped down on defense and started to wage a comeback. Like the VMI and North Carolina games earlier this season the mountain proved too difficult to climb after the Cats allowed Miami to do whatever it desired in the first 20 minutes,
"We haven't started very good against good competition and I don't know what the problem is," UK coach Billy Gillispie said. ""It's not a good pattern. We have to be a little more competitive at the start.
"Sometimes you have to have setbacks to improve. That's not the way I want to try and get better but we have to get improvement somehow. You can't sleepwalk out here, you'll get behind."
The Cats inattention to detail and casual nature at the outset of the game was apparent from the first defensive possession. Locked in a deep slump from three-point range through six games Miami guard James Dews was left open on the right wing and buried a triple to give the Hurricanes a lead it would never relinquish. Dews, who was 4-of-24 from deep coming into the game, drilled another three two minutes later on his way to four - the same number as all year - in the first half alone.
Dews' hot start was a microcosm of what has undermined the Cats for most of the season.
"One of the things we talked about on the scouting report that he hadn't been shooting it well," Gillispie said. "The last thing you want to do is not guard him and let him get some confidence."
Meanwhile, UK was struggling to get anything going on the offensive end. The Hurricanes sat back in a 2-3 zone for most of the half as UK passed the ball around the perimeter before settling for long-range jump shots. The bombs never found their target, serving the dual purpose of seeing the deficit grow and Patrick Patterson be taken further and further out of the game.
"Our whole deal was we were going to get the ball inside against the zone," Gillispie said. "Pat is shooting 70 percent from the field and got 13 shots, it doesn't take too much to figure out who should get the ball all the time.
"We played on the perimeter too much. We were taking guarded shots. You can't play on the perimeter like we're doing. You can't, what did we shoot, 23 threes? Good gracious, you can't do that. Our whole game plan was the drive the basketball and get the ball inside and we didn't start doing that until it was too late."
True to form, UK rallied in the second half behind an improved defensive effort and stricter adherence to finding the weak spots in the Canes' zone. The Cats pulled with 56-52 with 4:50 remaining but Miami pushed the lead back out to 65-56 when Brian Asbury buried his first three-pointer of the season (he had been 0-of-9) at the end of the shot clock with 1:51 remaining.
UK had several more chances thanks to the Hurricanes missing six consecutive free throws in the closing two minutes, but got no closer than 70-66 with 24.1 seconds remaining on the clock. Jodie Meeks missed an open three-pointer from the corner - his 10th missed three of the evening - that could have cut the deficit to 65-63, hurting the Cats' momentum. Meeks had a season-low 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting, including 2-of-12 from three-point range.
"It's painful because of the way we played," Patterson said. "We had a horrible first half and cut the lead to four points. They were pretty much handing us the win and we didn't take it."
Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat wouldn't have been necessary if the Cats had read from a different script.
Michael Porter tries to pass the ball past Miami's Jack McClinton
DeAndre Liggins calls for a time-out while Miami's Jimmy Graham tries to tie up the ball
Patrick Patterson stuffs Cyrus McGowan's shot attempt