- Tuesday, February 17 2009 -
Kentucky - 64 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
|A. J. Stewart||12||4||4||1||1||2||3||2||1||3||5||0||0||1||2||11|
Vanderbilt - 77 (Head Coach: Kevin Stallings) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 30, Vanderbilt 30
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Arkansas 79 - 63|||||Tennessee 77 - 58|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Vandy deals Cats crucial setback
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Memorial Gymnasium is quickly becoming Billy Gillispie own personal 'House of Horrors'.
For the second time in as many trips to Vanderbilt's quirky theater-style home arena Kentucky seemed utterly flustered and frustrated, culminating in a 77-64 defeat that again leaves the Cats' season teetering on the brink. The fourth loss in Southeastern Conference play matched the Cats' total for all of Gillispie's first season at the helm.
The Commodores scored the first nine points of the second half, knocking UK back on its heels and forcing a team without star forward Patrick Patterson to try and manufacture offense on a night when Jodie Meeks wasn't draining jump shots from all over Music City. Although Meeks finished with 26 points he made just 6-of-21 shots as it appeared Vanderbilt's length bothered him at times.
"It's tough (without Patterson)," Meeks said. "Pat is definitely a big part of our offense and our team. When he's not out there and we were faced with adversity and things were going bad it was hard for us."
Due in large part to Meeks' heroic performance at Arkansas three days earlier the Cats were able to survive their first foray without their All-SEC forward. Up against a more mobile and physical frontcourt headlined by A.J. Ogilvy the Cats were bombarded on the glass, getting out rebounded for just the fourth time all year. Vanderbilt's 37-26 edge marked the first time UK was beaten by double digits on the boards.
"We had 15 defensive rebounds," Gillispie said. "That's a really good game for a really good player. That's not going to get it done. We were dominated."
Despite the lack of toughness on the glass and struggles to score without Patterson taking some of the attention off Meeks the Cats fought back to within 45-41 with 12:40 remaining before watching the Commodores push the lead to 60-44 on the strength of a 15-3 run. During the deciding stretch freshman swingman Lance Goulbourne hit two three-pointers (he had made just six all season) as the shot clock buzzer roared in the background on his way to a career-high 17 points.
The Cats would never fully recover.
"He made a couple of threes and that's not his strong suit," Gillispie said.
Much like in the 41-point defeat UK suffered here last season the tone was set in the early moments and never changed. Also much like last season the Cats were on the wrong end of that tempo for virtually the entire game.
The ongoing issues between Gillispie and official Tony Greene continued, as the longtime SEC referee hit Gillispie with a technical foul less than eight minutes into the game. It was the second time this season Greene has had a quick trigger with the UK coach and the third technical Gillispie has received. At the time the Cats had been called for seven fouls to just two for the Commodores and ended up on shooting just 23 free throws in the game to 40 for Vanderbilt.
"I don't know, it was very physical but a lot of fouls were called in their favor," Meeks said, choosing his words carefully. "I'm not a ref so I can't get into that."
Gillispie downplayed the disparity in free throw attempts and fouls called, instead focusing on the way the Cats were manhandled in the lane and the right cross the Commodores hit the Cats with right out of halftime.
"They made a basket and then just took the ball from us, just took our cookies," Gillispie said. "They got on a roll and before you knew it was a 10 or 12-point deficit and we never could make a dent."
The loss leaves UK with a lot of work to do as the SEC race reaches the final turn. The Cats play four of the top six teams in the league over their final five games, not exactly a recipe for postseason aspirations.
Vanderbilt's Jeffery Taylor attacks the basket as Perry Stevenson and A.J. Stewart defend for Kentucky
Darius Miller (#1) tries to shoot over Vandy's A.J. Ogilvy and Brad Tinsley
Steve Tchiengang and Festus Ezeli make the inside difficult for Jodie Meeks