- Sunday, December 7 2008 -
Mississippi Valley State - 65 (Head Coach: Sean Woods) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 88 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
|A. J. Stewart||8||2||4||0||0||2||3||2||2||4||0||0||0||2||0||6|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 39, Mississippi Valley State 31
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Miami 67 - 73|||||Indiana 72 - 54|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Black-clad Cats pull away from MVSU
The Kentucky basketball team wasn't nearly as sharp as the new black uniforms it wore but took care of business anyway a day after dropping what it hoped would be a breakthrough victory.
The Cats methodically pulled away from Mississippi Valley State for an 88-65 win in front of a sparse Rupp Arena crowd on a day when the final tribute to Bill Keightley took place. The win over former Cat Sean Woods' team helped ease the sting of the loss to Miami a day earlier and gave the Cats four wins in the past nine days.
Kentucky wore black uniforms - complete with black socks and shoes - with the name 'KEIGHTLEY' across the back to honor the late equipment manager on a day of tribute to his legacy. A video montage of pictures was shown in place of the normal AC/DC intro music, timeouts featured audio clips of interviews Keightley had given and halftime featured a retiring of his jersey for the second time.
"Mr. Keightley, what can you say about the man? He's a legend," forward Patrick Patterson said. "He's Mr. Wildcat and he's done everything for this program. We love him and we miss him and not one day goes by that we don't think about him."
The entire afternoon was geared toward celebrating Keightley's legacy at UK. Gillispie even invited Keightley's daughter, Karen, to deliver the final message to the team before they took the floor.
"To be able to honor Mr. Keightley was special," Gillispie said. "I thought the uniforms were great, having Karen on the sideline and she gave our team the final instructions before we started the game and she's 1-0 now as a coach."
"She said just play hard for Mr. Wildcat, the guy you love," Patterson said of the message. "Cherish him and cherish what you do like he did. I mean, he worked from 5 o'clock in the morning until 8 o'clock at night, he loved his job. She told us to love being out there on the court. We just wanted to win this one for Mr. Keightley."
Despite the tribute the Cats played like a team with a severe hangover from a loss to Miami less than 24 hours prior to tip off. The Cats didn't claim a double digit lead until the final two minutes of the first half and allowed the Delta Devils to score more points in the half (31) than they did in the entire game (25) in an earlier loss to Washington State.
Perhaps sensing his team's focus wasn't sharp Gillispie inserted Kevin Galloway, who had played just 29 minutes all season, into the starting lineup but pulled him just minutes into the game in place of walk-on Landon Slone. Gillispie substituted liberally in the half trying to find a combination that would provide some life for the dormant Cats but the edge still sat at just eight by the break.
UK pulled away with a 17-1 run early in the second half and mostly played out the string from that point on, never letting the lead dip below 19 again. Jodie Meeks rediscovered his shooting stroke in scoring 24 points while Patrick Patterson added 21 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cats' performance impressed Woods enough that he suggested UK will be a tough draw for anyone once it gets one ongoing saga solved.
"They have good talent," Woods said. "They are going to be good once their point guard situation is solidified. That's where they're struggling. They just don't have any play makers there right now but they'll be okay. They're long and they've got the pieces they've just got to solidify the point guard position."
That problem can wait for another day. In the meantime you can bet there will be some lobbying to wear those black uniforms when that time comes.
Mississippi Valley State's Emmenle Preston fouls Patrick Patterson as he makes his way to the hoop
Josh Harrellson fights for the ball
Perry Stevenson grabs a rebound