How about the girls today? They came into a game against arguably one of the best teams in the nation and controlled through out. The Cats wiped the bad memories from the beat down they were given a couple of weeks ago, and they are now playing freely and are having fun (take notes guys). Not many thought the Lady Cats could make it to the SEC Championship, but they have done just that. They will take on Tennessee tomorrow for the SEC Championship at 3:30. UK Hoops defeated Tennessee 75-71 a couple of weeks ago in Knoxville. The Cats will be searching for only their 2nd ever conference tournament championship with the first one coming back in 1982. If the Cats can beat Tennessee tomorrow, I think they have a great shot of moving up to a 3 seed for the NCAA Tournament. Congrats to the girls and good luck tomorrow.
It was nice to collectively catch our breath earlier this week as we watched our beloved Wildcats beat Alabama at Rupp. It was truly a great scene as Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood bid farewell to the ”Capital” of Kentucky Basketball. As they recover from the emotional high of Senior Night, the team must focus their attention on the best team in the country: the Florida Gators. Here’s how Kentucky pulls off the upset.
Play With Confidence
It’s now just a fact we have to accept as a fan base: sometimes this Kentucky team suffers from confidence problems. James Young even said so in his interviews. At this point in the season, the coaching staff has to concern themselves with preparing for teams, not fixing petty attitudinal problems. If that hasn’t been fixed so far in the season, it won’t be. That’s okay, though. By going out and competing hard, letting good shots fly, and playing with energy, these guys can elude this problem. I have no doubt that when the Cats are confident and energetic, they can keep themselves close in any game.
Restrict Florida’s Drives
Last time out, Scottie Wilbekin just killed the Cats by driving to the basket and getting fouled. This time, the Big Blue Defense needs to step up and not let the small quick guards and Casey Prather drive to the basket at will. The more they are out of the lane, the longer shots they will take, which is always the best defensive plan. Don’t get me wrong, the Gators can hit threes, but I think we can all agree that we would rather have them take long shots than easy layups or free throws.
In case you haven’t heard, the last couple of games have provided brutal shooting performances by the Cats. They shot 32% against Alabama, 27% against South Carolina, and 34% against Arkansas. The percentages shot by any team is the direct product of the kind of shots the team gets. Obviously, Kentucky isn’t getting good shots. The drive-into-the-lane-and-throw-it-up play isn’t working. Taking good, open shots is key. For those who say there are no open shots, you’re wrong. They’re out there, and these guys just have to find them.
Go Big Blue!
UK Track and Field Coach Edrick Floreal shared his take on the teams’ preparations ahead of next weekend’s NCAA Championships. Take a listen.
UK Tennis defeated number 8 Texas A&M in dominating fashion, and the Cats looked like a force today out on the courts. In the doubles, Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai defeated Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow 8-7, and Alegandro Gomez and Beck Pennington defeated Harrison Adams and Shane Vinset 8-5. The Cats carried their momentum over to the singles with Beck Pennington, Tom Jomby and Jerry Lopez all winning their matches to clinch the math and win 4-0 over the highly ranked Aggies. Freshman Jerry Lopex has now clinched all three of UK’s SEC wins on court four. Not a bad start to conference play. UK improves to 10-4 on the season and to 3-0 in SEC play. Kentucky will take on Mississippi State next Friday on March 14th.
Kentucky takes on Florida tomorrow night in a big time matchup. This is an underrated rivalry around the nation, and it has produced some great moments throughout the years. Get ready for tomorrow night’s game with some of those memories.
1993 – (5) Kentucky 85 Florida 77 (Full Game)
2002 – (10) Kentucky 70 (5) Florida 68 (Full Game)
2009 – Florida 65 Kentucky 68
2010 – Florida 66 Kentucky 74
2011 – Florida 68 Kentucky 76
2012 – Kentucky 74 Florida 71 – SEC Tournament
2013 – Florida 57 Kentucky 61 (Full Game)
Written by Matt May | The Cats Pause (All Rights Reserved)
Florida waltzed into Rupp Arena the newly anointed top team in all of college basketball. The Gators left a humiliated group after Kentucky turned them into pretenders with a 70-55 blitzing at Rupp Arena.
“For us to play as well as we did and handle Florida in the fashion we did, as a coach, you just don’t expect that,” UK Coach Tubby Smith said. “I hope it wasn’t a fluke.”
Smith should rest easy because the Cats shredded Florida with suffocating first half defense and a barrage of three-point shooting and dunks to turn a 15-14 lead into a 45-22 halftime advantage. The lead grew to as much as 60-31 with 12:49 remaining as the Rupp record crowd of 24,459 stayed in a frenzy.
“They were a deserving number one,” Smith said of Florida. “Our crowd and players were really into it. You could just feel the energy in the building. For us, it was a great college basketball game. We came focused and ready to play.”
The win gave UK (17-3, 7-0 SEC) a leg up in the Southeastern Conference’s East Division race, while increasing the Cats’ winning streak to 11 games. Florida (18-3, 7-1), which hadn’t lost since December 3 to West Virginia, had its 14-game winning streak snapped just one day after ascending to the No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history.
Still, Florida Coach Billy Donovan didn’t exactly give UK all the credit for the rout after the game.
“Their pressure wasn’t as good as Kansas’ pressure the way I looked at it,” Donovan said. “Our guys just hung their head when our shots didn’t go. When that happened, we stopped defending and tried to go one-on-one. That played into Kentucky’s hands.”
For all intents and purposes, UK won the game with a 22-2 flurry late in the first half, which was capped by a series which saw a Cliff Hawkins’ uncontested lay-in after Brett Nelson inexplicably saved the ball under UK’s goal, then a Keith Bogans steal and dunk and then a Bogans alley-oop to Chuck Hayes.
Gerald Fitch, who had 11 first half points, said Florida, which bragged about not getting rattled in Rupp, sure looked the part at the break.
“I don’t know, but a 20-point lead at the half, I’d get rattled,” Fitch said. “It’s tough to come into Rupp. The crowd was big time, which made it even worse (for Florida).”
Bogans led UK with 15 points, all in the first half, while Fitch added 14 and Hawkins dished out eight assists. Florida was led by its two precocious freshman, Anthony Roberson (18 points) and Matt Walsh (15 points).
UK has said it doesn’t care about making statements, but on a night when the Cats looked every bit the part of a Final Four team, Bogans may have made a lasting impression as the final minute ticked off.
The senior yelled at Roberson from the bench, no doubt letting the freshman who had made some bold remarks about Rupp know that UK has a claim to No. 1 as well.