- Saturday, December 19 2009 -
Austin Peay - 69 (Head Coach: Dave Loos) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 90 (Head Coach: John Calipari) - [Ranked 3rd by AP and 3rd by ESPN/USA Today]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 49, Austin Peay 35
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Indiana 90 - 73|||||Drexel 88 - 44|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats party like it's 1,999
For much of Kentucky's first game since throttling Indiana it looked like a team still trying to shake the cobwebs after cramming for final exams all week. Ultimately, the alarm clock went off in plenty of time to push within a step of history.
UK took advantage of a 24-6 run deep into the second half to put away a scrappy Austin Peay team 90-69 in front of 23,938 fans at Rupp Arena. The Governors hung around for 30 minutes but ran out of gas as the Cats dominated down the stretch to run their record to 11-0 on the season.
Even with the impressive finish UK coach John Calipari warned his squad is walking a fine line with the way it approached practice and the game.
"We played how we practiced this week," Calipari said. "If you can get yourself to turn it on like (the end of the game) than you can do it anytime. Practice dictated how we played. We were so non-competitive (in practice) this week because of finals and it carried over to the game."
The Cats made an entire afternoon out of pushing the lead to into the teens before allowing the feisty Governors to scramble back into the contest and slice the lead. When reserve Duran Roberson scored over DeMarcus Cousins to draw Austin Peay within 64-56 with 10:01 remaining it was clear the Cats realized its opponent wasn't going to go softly into the cold December night. By the time Austin Peay coach Dave Loos called a second timeout in the span of less than two minutes the Cats had stretched the lead back to 19 in only five minutes of game time.
"There are going to be games in the SEC the same way where you are expected to win and you think you're going to win," Calipari said. "If we play the way we played here we won't make as many baskets because they'll defend us better and all the sudden we're down four trying to turn it on. You don't know. Now there is a danger zone. This is natural. These kids are not machines and are not going to play great every time out."
Coming on the heels of a week where UK showed superior competitive mettle in beating North Carolina, Connecticut and Indiana it was certainly ripe for a letdown game. Factor in the first week of final exams for more than half the Cats' roster and a lack of detailed focus in practice and the performance was somewhat predictable, although unacceptable.
"We still have to come out and give as much energy as we have," sophomore forward Darius Miller said. "We didn't play with any intensity today and we have to learn how to play when you really don't feel like playing. We won't be able to do that against (SEC) teams so we can't come but sluggish and expect to blow people away when we want to."
"We all came out very lazy and sluggish," freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins added. "That's something we can't have because when we play better teams we'll come out with a loss. I think we've just been lucky lately."
Luck or not the Cats have put themselves in position to be the hunted once again, a stark contrast from recent seasons. The return to elite status draws the best performance of every team UK laces up its high-tops against, leaving little room for miscues and lapses in effort.
Perhaps sensing his team needed a reminder of the urgency it must play with Calipari noted Patrick Patterson's team-highs of 21 points and nine rebounds were the 'softest' he had ever witnessed. He called out Eric Bledsoe, the hero of the win at Indiana, for what he termed as being a 'no show' for the first half on his way to just seven points, five rebounds and a single assist.
"You think about the sloppiness we had when were up 18 or 16, we lose our minds and look like the Globetrotters at times," Calipari said. "To be honest with you I was just trying to shove them over the finish line. We just weren't alert.
"Like I said, every day we step on the court it's an experience for us to learn from."
Look out below as Patrick Patterson dunks
Eric Bledsoe trips on his way to the basket
John Wall with a defensive block