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By LARRY VAUGHT
Tennessee has not lost a game this season when it had the lead with five minutes to play. Yet Tennessee guard Bobby Maze was in a near panic after visiting Kentucky erased a 54-35 deficit to tie the game 65-65 Saturday with 2 minutes, 9 seconds to play.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are a well coached team. They have a terrific team and are one of the best teams in the nation with five minutes to play. They win those games all the time,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Maze. Ã¢â‚¬Å“When we were up 19, I knew they would make a run and come back on us. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why I was worried when they tied the game up.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Volunteers, though, answered with a 9-0 run as John Wall had two turnovers and Eric Bledsoe and Darius Miller both missed shots.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“To me, they are the best team in the country with five minutes to go and the game close,Ã¢â‚¬Â Maze, who had nine points and five assists, said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“John Wall just finds a way to drive and kick and score.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Brian Williams taking that charge from John Wall was huge. That was another dunk for (DeMarcus) Cousins when Wall passed if he had not charged. Then it is a different game. That put the game away.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Everything just went our way, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what has to happen if you are going to beat Kentucky. They are so good, you have to have some breaks to beat them. We knew that going into the game and just because we won doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean Kentucky is still not a great team. They are good.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So good that Maze was almost stunned that Tennessee did manage to pull off the win after the Cats charged back behind the play of Wall.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had a 19-point lead and they tied the game up. What is going on? What is happening? Is Kentucky going to do it again? We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know whether to doubt or not,Ã¢â‚¬Â Maze said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what Kentucky does to you. Vanderbilt and Mississippi State had chances to beat them and couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. Other teams have had chances to and couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. They donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go down easily.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Maze felt Tennessee had a chance to possibly win in Lexington before the Cats pulled away late. Saturday it was TennesseeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s turn to let the fans help win the game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our fans helped us just like it happened to us up there. We had the game close there and they get a steal and dunk and the whole arena was jumping and screaming. That gave them confidence,Ã¢â‚¬Â Maze said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It went the same way for us in this game. We made plays and even when the game got tied, our fans made us believe we could win. That was a huge difference.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Maze being able to go by UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s guards, especially Eric Bledsoe, to get inside to score or pass for easy baskets also made a difference.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I knew I could do it. Honestly, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think anybody can stay in front of me. When I want to get to the basket, I can get there. That has never been an issue. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just time and score,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
However, Maze insisted he was not knocking UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“John Wall is a fast player, but people donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t realize that when the lane is open, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard for anybody to keep anybody in front of them because I know what I want to do,Ã¢â‚¬Â Maze said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just like when John Wall is out in transition. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where he is so hard to guard. You know he is going to attack the basket, but when he is running full speed ahead of you, how can you defend that? You just want to try and stay in front of him and hope he either travels or loses the ball. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to stop anybody when they are running full speed at you.Ã¢â‚¬Â
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also hard for Kentucky to win when it goes 2-for-22 from 3-point range and couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t shoot over TennesseeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 3-2 zone defense in the second half like it did in the win in Lexington.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The zone was more effective because we had played it before at Kentucky. We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know the creases in the zone when we played them the first time because we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play zone,Ã¢â‚¬Â Maze said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The adjustments they made the second half at Kentucky, they were able to find the creases and knock down shots.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We watched film all week. They also had a game (against South Carolina Thursday) when we were watching film. We knew the different counters they were going to come with and we had seen them. That makesÃ‚Â a complete difference. We knew at halftime these were the adjustments we knew they would make against the zone and we were still able to play great defense because we knew what was coming.Ã¢â‚¬Â
2009-10 UK Hoops
No. 16/14 Kentucky at Auburn
Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum
February 28, 2010
FINAL SCORE: AUBURN 65, KENTUCKY 53
Team Records and Series Notes
* Kentucky falls to 23-6, 11-5 in the SEC while Auburn improves to 14-15, 5-11 in the SEC.
* Auburn leads the series 25-12 overall and 10-5 in Auburn. The Tigers have won five of the last six meetings in Auburn. Sunday?s game marked the final women?s basketball contest at Auburn?s Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Kentucky owned a 5-10 mark in the building.
* UK head coach Matthew Mitchell?s overall record moves to 86-67, including a 56-38 mark at UK. Mitchell?s record against Auburn moves to 2-2.
* Up next: Kentucky heads to the SEC Tournament as the No. 2 seed and will receive a first-round bye. The Wildcats will play on Friday at 2:30 p.m. EST against the winner of the to-be-determined No. 7 and No. 10 seed. The tournament will be played at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. The game will be televised by Fox Sports South.
Key run: Auburn scored six of the final eight points of the first half to push a 21-19 lead at 1:34 to a 27-21 advantage at intermission. The Tigers extended their lead to 34-21 thanks to a 7-0 run to start the second stanza. Kentucky closed to within five late in the second half, but could never grab the lead.
Kentucky finishes regular-season conference play with a school-record 11 SEC wins.
Kentucky?s 23 wins in the regular-season mark the most since 1982-83.
Kentucky suffers back-to-back losses for the first time this season. The Wildcats lost 81-65 at Tennessee on Thursday.
The setback marks KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first loss to an unranked opponent while the Wildcats were ranked since an 86-70 loss to Delaware on Nov. 24, 2006.
The Wildcats forced Auburn into 22 turnovers. UK has forced 20 or more turnovers in 21 of 29 games this season.
Kentucky grabbed 13 steals against the Tigers. UK has swiped 10 or more steals in 20 games this season, including 10 league contests.
UK made six three-pointers against Auburn and has now made a three-pointer in 216 consecutive games, dating back to the 2003-04 season.
Kentucky made (3) and attempted (5) a season-low in free throws .
Kentucky has held its opponent under 50 percent field goal shooting in 28 of 29 games this season.
Junior forward Victoria Dunlap finished with four points, five rebounds and two steals.
Ranks in 21st place on UK’s all-time scoring list with 1,132 points.
Ranks seventh on UK’s career rebounds list with 754.
Ranks third at UK with 115 career blocks.
Ranks in fifth place on UK’s single-season steals list with 187 as she has recorded at least one steal in 36 consecutive games.
Marks only the second time this season she did not reach double figures. She scored nine points against Auburn on Jan. 24.
Freshman guard AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢dia Mathies contributed 20 points to go with five rebounds, two steals and two assists.
Has scored in double figures in 21 of 29 games, including 11 of 16 SEC contests.
Has pulled down at least four rebounds in 23 games this season.
Has scored 20 or more points in four SEC games this season.
Junior guard Amber Smith scored 17 points to go with four rebounds, four steals, and four assists.
It marked her best scoring effort since posting 19 points at South Carolina on Jan. 14.
Her four steals were a season high and tied her career high set against South Carolina (1/24/08).
Has four or more rebounds in nine consecutive games and 11 SEC contests.
Has hit 24 of her last 26 free throws dating back to the Ole Miss game (2/4/10).
By LARRY VAUGHT
Since I was at the Kentucky-Tennessee game in Knoxville, I did not get to watch the CBS-TV telecast to see how it might have compared to the ones the SEC Network has done that obviously had not been up to the standards UK basketball fans have for TV games.
But vaughtsviews.com reader Kenneth Cooper had a problem with something on CBS.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Late in the game yesterday, John Wall rolled his ankle. During the next break in the action, one of the announcers while reporting the injury, circled his ankle as it rolled on the telestrator. While they were talking about him injuring the ankle,Ã‚Â both announcers broke into laughter for several seconds.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our whole family was saying we can’t believe he rolled his ankle and they are making a joke of it. Did you watch the game on CBS or did any other fans tell you of this?Ã¢â‚¬Â
This is the first IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve heard of this. No caller mentioned it this morning when I was on WLAP (630 AM) for 90 minutes and no one else has e-mailed or called.
For those of you who did watch the game, did you see and hear what Cooper did? If so, what did you think?
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to believe anyone would make fun of a potential injury to any player. Fortunately, Wall was not seriously injured as his play indicated.
But share your thoughts on what you did or did not see and hear during the CBS telecast.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl agreed that fatigue could have played a factor in his teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s win. However, he thought the rowdy crowd Ã¢â‚¬â€ which included students who camped out overnight for the best seats Ã¢â‚¬â€ had a bigger impact.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is not necessarily a better environment in college basketball than Thompson-Boling Arena Ã¢â‚¬â€ as good as any. We do not beat Kentucky Ã¢â‚¬â€ or Kansas Ã¢â‚¬â€ without 22,000 (fans) here. It just does not happen,Ã¢â‚¬Â Pearl said.
The Volunteers said the crowd did help them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not a great year unless you beat Kentucky,Ã¢â‚¬Â said forward J.P. Prince, who also helped Tennessee beat Calipari when he was coaching at Memphis.
Tennessee did worry, however, when Kentucky came charging back.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I thought, Ã¢â‚¬ËœOh Lord, not again.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ We played too hard to lose. Fortunately we kept our composure and came away with the win,Ã¢â‚¬Â Tennessee guard Bobby Maze said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We could not have done this without our fans. I will remember this game the rest of my life.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Any great team can make a comeback and Kentucky is a great team even if we did beat them,Ã¢â‚¬Â Tennessee center Wayne Chism said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think the crowd was loud enough that it distracted Kentucky at times, and we were able to stay focused and win over a great team.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By SUSAN LAX
LEXINGTONÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€ After a tough loss at No. 4 Tennessee on Thursday, the Kentucky womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basketball team looks to get back on the winning track and end the regular season on an upswing when it takes on Auburn today in the final womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basketball game in storied Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.
Game time is set for 3 p.m. EST and it will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price and streamed live on UKathletics.com.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very important for us to get refocused on what we need to do and that is to play better of the defensive end as we go to Auburn,Ã¢â‚¬Â UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are going to play at a place that is always very tough to play. It will be the last time anybody plays in that building. There is an interesting dynamic there. The overall thing is that Auburn presents some matchup problems for us. We need to be ready to put last night behind us and be ready for Sunday.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Despite being picked to finish 11th in the preseason polls by league coaches and media, Mitchell has led his squad to a remarkable turnaround, going from 16-16 overall, 5-9 in the Southeastern Conference last season to an impressive 23-5 overall, including a school-best 11-4 mark in league play.
With their impressive season, the Cats have secured the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye heading into the SEC Tournament in Duluth, Ga. They will face the to-be-determined No. 7 or No. 10 seed Friday at 2:30 p.m. EST in the Gwinett Center. The CatsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ No. 2 ranking marks their highest finish in the SECÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s current 12-team format. UK was the EastÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No. 2 seed in 1983 when the SEC had a 10-team, divisional format.
Anchoring the turnaround is SEC Player of the Year and All-America candidate, Victoria Dunlap. The 6-1 forward ranks in the top 10 of seven different SEC statistical categories and is the only player in the league to rank in the top four in scoring (4th – 17.7) Ã¢â‚¬â€ and rebounding (3rd – 8.8). She also leads the SEC in steals (3.1), ranks fifth in blocks (1.9) and is seventh in field goal percentage (.506).
SEC Freshman of the Year nominee AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢dia Mathies also has been a key catalyst in the CatsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ success as she ranks second behind Dunlap in scoring (12.5 ppg), steals (70) and blocks (14). She has scored in double figures in 10 of 15 SEC contests and three of her 20-point scoring outings were against SEC competition. She currently holds the school record for steals by a freshman with 70.
The Tigers, who will move into their New Auburn Arena next season, enter their Ã¢â‚¬Å“Senior DayÃ¢â‚¬Â after a 65-61 loss to Ole Miss on Thursday in Oxford, Miss. Auburn (13-15) has lost five of their last six league games with the lone win coming in convincing fashion over Mississippi State (50-36). The Tigers currently sit in a tie for 10th place with Arkansas at 4-11 in the SEC.
Junior guard Alli Smalley and senior center KeKe Carrier lead the team in scoring, averaging 15.1 and 12.7 points per game respectively. Smalley ranks sixth in the league in scoring and also leads the team with 49 three-pointers. Carrier is 13th in the league in scoring but also leads the Tigers and ranks seventh in the conference with 7.3 rebounds per game.
Auburn owns a 24-12 advantage in the all-time series, including a 9-5 lead in Auburn. The Cats have won the three of the last four matchups against the Tigers, including a 68-50 decision earlier this season in Lexington. UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s last win in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum was Jan. 21, 2007, 68-65.
By KEITH TAYLOR
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. Ã¢â‚¬â€ Darius MillerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hot hand gave Kentucky chance on the road.
Miller missed his first four shots Saturday, but he made three consecutive baskets in a three-minute stretch of the second half that sparked a late comeback in the WildcatsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 74-65 loss to Tennessee.
Miller credited his teammates for his ability to make shots when the Cats needed them the most in a hostile environment. Miller missed his first three shots from 3-point range, but recovered to make one of KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s two shots from long range, where the Wildcats were 2-for-22 attempts from long range.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My teammates provided a great opportunity for me,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They just got me the ball when I was open and I knocked them down.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The baskets by Miller in gameÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the critical moments gave the Wildcats an opportunity to win down the stretch.
Miller blocked a shot by Scotty Hopson with 1:08 left and Kentucky trailing 67-65. However, the ball was stripped by a Tennessee defender and bounced off MillerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leg. The Volunteers regained possession following the heroic play, which resulted in a 3-pointer by Hopson that gave them a 70-65 lead with 37 seconds left.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t strong with the ball, and (the Tennessee player) just knocked it out of my hand and it went off my leg,Ã¢â‚¬Â Miller said.
Kentucky coach John Calipari didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fault Miller for the turnover and said the Vols were just determined when it mattered.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That means they wanted it more than we wanted it,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to give them credit. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a great team.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Although Tennessee made the Cats pay for the miscue, Calipari was pleased with MillerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s effort on a day when baskets Ã¢â‚¬â€ especially behind the arc – were hard to come by for Kentucky.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m telling you, Darius is the reason we were back in the game,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I thought Darius played well.Ã¢â‚¬Â
TennesseeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s J.P. Prince wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t surprised by MillerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s late showing. Prince said the Volunteers were focused on DeMarcus Cousins, which created an opportunity for Miller, especially in the second half.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He kept them in the game,Ã¢â‚¬Â Prince said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It saved them. If he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make those shots, the game might have gotten out of hand. He brought them back.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Prince said MillerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s presence and ability to make shots gives Kentucky an added weapon.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That just shows that even though they have players you expect to bring them back, that (their) role players play a key in their games, too,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We were doubling (Cousins), but role players can make shots too and thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nothing you can do about that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Miller said the Cats arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t dwelling on the loss and are looking forward to the final week of the regular season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We just need to make sure we stay humble and focused on what we need to do,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We all know weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not there yet. I think weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll take this loss and build on it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By LARRY VAUGHT
KNOXVILLE Ã¢â‚¬â€ Not having a pregame shoot-around may have been a factor in KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 74-65 loss to Tennessee here Saturday.
Or at least thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what UK coach John Calipari thought after his No. 2 Wildcats lost for only the second time this season.
Since UK had played a late Thursday night game and then traveled here Friday, Calipari decided not to bring his team to Thompson-Boling Arena to shoot early Saturday. He says that is a mistake he will not make again.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If we have an afternoon game, we have got to have a shoot-around,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Calipari. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had two guys sleeping (during the game). No energy. In that mode, you just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t change during the game.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He said it was not a Ã¢â‚¬Å“good choiceÃ¢â‚¬Â on his part to let the players sleep late instead of having them in the gym shooting. It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t only because UK went 2-for-22 from 3-point range, but it was also because of the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sluggish start that allowed Tennessee to rip off 18 straight points to take an 18-4 lead eight minutes into the game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“By not having them up, they were not mature and experienced enough to know. They were sleep walking,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We should have been down by 20 early. I was glad they were holding the ball and running down the shot clock or we would have been down 25.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By LARRY VAUGHT
KNOXVILLE Ã¢â‚¬â€ When his team was behind 19 points with 14 minutes to play, John Calipari figured it was going to be the perfect time for him to see how Kentucky might fare in NCAA Tournament play.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why even though his team 74-65 to Tennessee here Saturday, the UK coach was surprisingly upbeat after the game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Down 19, you find out who you are. What I found out is that we are not bad,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Calipari after UK lost for only the second time this season. Ã¢â‚¬Å“To shoot 2-for-22 (from 3-point range) and tie the game 65-65, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not bad.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Calipari called it a Ã¢â‚¬Å“great learning experienceÃ¢â‚¬Â for his team much like he did when the Wildcats lost at South Carolina last month. He was slightly appalled at UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lack of overall intensity to start the game or early in the second half. However, the final 14 minutes, he had no complaints.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We did not quit. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all you can ask as a coach,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We did not make open shots. We left our feet and ran over somebody about six times. We had a couple of breakdowns that drove me crazy. We had a couple of guys that were asleep.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This was a great. Losing today will wake us up. This was a good thing.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Whether thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right will depend on what the Cats learn from this game Ã¢â‚¬â€ and there were certainly things they should have learned.
Ã¢â‚¬â€ Defend inside better.
Tennessee had 42 points in the paint against the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest team and one of the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s top shot blocking team. The Vols had 20 goals at point blank range off drives, fast breaks or follow shots.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was just breakdowns on defense,Ã¢â‚¬Â Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins, who had 15 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots, said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“
What caused the breakdowns?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Not being ready. Not being in position,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cousins said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was just a bad defensive effort.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬â€ Accept that the 3-point shooting is a problem.
The Cats were consistent Ã¢â‚¬â€ 1-for-11 in each half. That means in the last four games Kentucky is 12-for-73 from 3-point range and teams are just going to continue to dare the Cats to shoot outside. UK was 7-for-19 from 3-point range when it beat Tennessee earlier, but the same shots were not falling Saturday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You are what your stats say. You are what your record is,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are not practicing long. Get in the gym and shoot. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not our birthright to play. I am challenging them to see if they are tough enough to play.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Guard John Wall, who was 0-for-4 from 3-point range but still had 19 points, said the Cats can shoot.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just confidence. If you make them in practice, then you should make them in games,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wall said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are open. It seems like we are shooting scared.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬â€ The bench has to be more productive.
KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s depth is supposed to be a team strength yet the depleted Vols outscored UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bench 20-5. Darnell Dodson, Ramon Harris, Daniel Orton and DeAndre Liggins were a combined 1-for-9 from the field in 34 minutes.
Dodson and Liggins did little to contribute and Calipari and Liggins seemed to exchange angry words once on the bench. Calipari even seemed to pointing to the dressing room when talking to Liggins during the game after he had made a defensive mistake.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I will probably play Ramon more and push other guys (Liggins and Dodson) back (in the rotation),Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said.
Ã¢â‚¬â€ Bring the intensity.
There are no second chances in the NCAA Tournament. Sleep walk for 26 minutes in a NCAA game like the Cats did here and the national titles hopes likely are ended.
Kentucky got pushed around by Tennessee. The Cats got beat to loose balls. They got outhustled on the fast break.
Maybe having to play a Thursday-Saturday game for the first time in SEC play was a factor, but doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the NCAA Tournament feature a two games in three days format?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have to come out intense from the start,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wall said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Coach has told us all year to go hard every day. Some days we seem laid back. He (Calipari) said to imagine in two weeks if we lose and our season is over.Ã¢â‚¬Â
What about it Cuz?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tough at all (to play Thursday-Saturday). We just came out with no energy. They hit us in the mouth and won,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cousins said.
They did. Tennessee could have folded after blowing the 19-point lead, but it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. Instead, UK missed shots, blew defensive assignments and turned the ball over at inopportune times. Give Tennessee credit for holding on to the win much as it did when it beat No. 1 Kansas here earlier this season.
Yet for this to truly be a learning lesson for Kentucky, the Cats have to realize they really are not unbeatable.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This brings us back down to earth. It lets us know we still have a lot of work to do,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cousins said.
And if thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s true, then maybe this will turn out to be a good loss after all if there really is such a thing Ã¢â‚¬â€ and even now I have to wonder if Calipari really believes that.
Tennessee 74, Kentucky 65
Feb. 27, 2010
Team game notes
- The Wildcats used the starting combination of Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Darius Miller, Patrick Patterson and John Wall for the 21 st time this season. Kentucky is 19-1 with that starting five.
- DeAndre Liggins was the first sub off the bench for Kentucky. It was Liggins’ eighth time this season to be the first Wildcat off the bench.
- Kentucky extended its streak of game with a three-pointer to 740 games, the third longest streak in the country.
- The Wildcats were held scoreless for over four minutes from the 16:47 mark to 11:22 mark in the first half.
- Kentucky trailed (40-29) at the half for only the second time in league play this season. The 11-point deficit was UK’s largest halftime deficit this season.
- UK shot a season low 24.1 percent (7-for-29) in the first half.
- Kentucky trailed by 19 (54-35) at the 14:05 mark, its largest deficit of the season. The Wildcats then outscored the Vols 30-11 to tie the game at 65-65 at the 2:09 mark.
- The Wildcats shot 9.1 percent (2-of-22) from three-point range, its lowest of the season and lowest since shooting 8.7 percent (2-of-23) against Miami in the 2009 season.
- UK shot 77.8 percent from the free throw line (21-of-27), its highest percentage from the line since shooting 89.5 percent (17-of-19) against Drexel.
- The Wildcats were outscored in the paint (42-36) for only the third time this season.
Individual game notes
- Has hit a three-pointer in four straight games.
#11 John Wall
- Finished with 19 points, six assists and five rebounds.
- Moved to second on UK’s all-time freshman scoring list with 469 points.
- Went 7-of-8 from the free throw line and is averaging 6.5 made free throws in last six games.
#15 DeMarcus Cousins
- Broke the UK all-time freshman scoring record with 470 points.
- Moved to second on UK’s freshman free throw list with 135.
- Recorded his 18 th double-double of the season.
- Pulled down double-digit rebounds for the 19 th time this season.
#24 Eric Bledsoe
- Finished with five rebounds, the most since pulling down five boards at LSU.
- Moved to within nine points of 18 th on UK’s all-time scoring list with 1,452 points.
- Scored in double-digits for the fifth straight game and has done so in eight of the last nine games.
By JEFFREY McMURRAY
Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Ã¢â‚¬â€ John Calipari is one win away from clinching a Southeastern Conference championship in his first season at Kentucky Ã¢â‚¬â€ just what he was brought in to do.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why his answer was swift and decisive when Calipari was asked Friday what winning the schoolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 44th conference title would mean: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Nothing.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The No. 2 Wildcats (27-1, 12-1), college basketballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s winningest program, would assure themselves of at least a share of the championship by beating No. 19 Tennessee on Saturday. They would get the championship outright if Vanderbilt also loses at Arkansas.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always taken the approach that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about the seed in the NCAA tournament,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you want me to be honest about how I think and what weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re doing to prepare, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what it is. The SEC tournament is about our seed in the NCAA tournament.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Calipari says he isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t concerned about players slacking off down the stretch, considering some have projected that there is virtually nothing Kentucky can do to lose a top seed in the NCAA tournament.
The games remain as important as ever, he said, because everything has to do with getting better. The Wildcats certainly saw plenty of improvement Thursday with an 82-61 victory over South Carolina, avenging their only loss.
Most improved was the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s veteran forward Patrick Patterson, who got a season-high 23 points after managing a season-low five in the previous meeting with the Gamecocks.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know I have to perform well and go out there with a lot of energy and just play,Ã¢â‚¬Â Patterson said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have to come in every game, every night and play ball. I am the veteran, the older guy out there on the court with the most experience, and I should be doing that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Kentucky beat Tennessee 73-62 earlier this month. Just as Patterson seemed to jump-start his season against South Carolina, freshman guard Eric Bledsoe had one of his best outings against the Vols and has continued his consistent play since.
Once again, the Wildcats may be catching the Vols at a time their star big man, Wayne Chism, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t 100 percent. In TennesseeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s loss to Florida this week, Chism committed a hard foul and dropped to his knees in pain near the bench.
Even if heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fully healthy, Kentucky seems to be hitting its stride with its post play. The Wildcats dominated the rebounding and inside scoring against the Gamecocks, and freshman center DeMarcus Cousins got yet another double-double to extend his UK freshman record to 17.
Tennessee has struggled lately, losing three of its last five games and dropping to fourth in the SEC East behind Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Florida.
Still, Calipari knows never to look past Vols coach Bruce Pearl, whom heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s faced numerous times over the years while leading Memphis.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He may try to come out with some funky defense and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll deal with it,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be for the faint of heart. There are no boys in this game.Ã¢â‚¬Â