Posted March 30, 2015, 11:57 am
After destroying West Virginia many Kentucky fans thought the Cats would cruise to an easy victory over Notre Dame. Even though the Fighting Irish won the ACC Tournament and were red hot down the stretch, few people gave them a chance at hanging with mighty Kentucky. The Cats were an 11 point favorite coming in and had an average of six inches height advantage at every position. It was a showdown of the nation's best offense against the nation's best defense.
It was clear early on that Notre Dame came to play and were not afraid of the Cats. Zach Auguste seemingly scored at will and had some thunderous Willie Cauley-Stein-esque dunks. Instead of WCS staring down his victims it was Auguste glaring into the camera with his tongue sticking out. For ND to have a chance they had to hang with the Cats in rebounds and unbelievably, they did. Pat Connaughton grabbed six in the first half. The Wildcats looked out of sync, with Trey Lyles making costly turnovers, many times passing the ball right to the Notre Dame defenders. Shots were rattling out for the Cats and the Irish seemed to be beating the Cats to every loose ball. As the clock winded down at halftime it was a 31 - 31 tie, nothing settled.
But we've seen this song and dance before right? The Cats would come out in the second half and impose their will on the undersized Irish, right? Wrong. Kentucky did jump out to quick five point lead in the second half, but the Irish quickly turned things around, and they controlled almost the entire second half. Mike Brey's strategy was to guard Karl Anthony Towns one on one and take his chances guarding everybody straight up. This method worked effectively against Jalil Okafor and it kept everyone else at bay.
On the flip side of the ball, the Irish were as sure handed as any team in the country. They absolutely refused to turn the ball over against the nation's best defensive team. Rather than rely on their usual outside attack, they took the ball right into the lion's den and consistently were able to score on backdoor cuts. Was all this really happening? Was Zach Auguste really holding his own with all of Kentucky's giants? Was Connaughton really outrebounding Kentucky's big men? Were the Irish really outscoring Kentucky in the paint?
Everytime Kentucky made a play the Irish answered right back with an even bigger play. They matched the Cats blow for blow down the stretch. Kentucky's strategy was clear, feed the beast. Time after time they fed the ball to Karl Anthony Towns, and every time he scored. Towns never missed a shot in the second half, going eight for eight from the field. Down six with six minutes to go the Irish finally decided to double-team towns and he had the presence of mind to zip the ball to Tyler Ulis in the corner for an enormous three to cut the lead in half. A couple minutes later, trailing 63-61 with 3:16 left on the clock (fitting), Aaron Harrison bombed a pro three and hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Big Blue Nation rejoiced in celebration!! We'd seen all of this before, right? But before you could finish all your high fives, Jerrian Grant stroked a dagger of his own into the heart of Kentucky fans everywhere. At that moment, it seemed like destiny was calling for Mike Brey and the Irish. Maybe they DID deserve to win this game. Maybe David would slay Goliath. Maybe these Notre Dame upper classmen had earned it. Maybe the dream would end here. Maybe the pursuit of perfection was over. Maybe it was okay for Notre Dame to win. After all, they had beaten Duke twice, North Carolina twice, Michigan State and Louisville too....
What happend in the following minute of the game is a blur to me. I can't remember because I was too stunned from Grant's dagger. All I remember is in the final possessions, that's when it happened. It's moments like those when true champions emerge, when heroes arrive and determine the outcome. Kentucky fed the beast one last time and KAT tied the game. Then Kentucky's D, a historically great defense, locked down. They smothered the Irish and got a shot clock violation, the first turnover for Notre Dame in the last 30 minutes of action. With the clock ticking down the Cats exchanged the ball a few times before it settled into Andrew Harrison's hands. So what's going to happen? Aaron will take the game winner right? Or how about a lob to Willie? Shouldn't Towns get the ball? After all, he was unstoppable. But no, Aaron Harrison isn't the only heroic Harrison. Andrew saw a slight opening and drove in with six seconds left. He was moving so fast the Irish defender couldn't beat him to the spot and slid under him. If the ref had blown that call we would probably all be devestated right now, but the correct call was made. Andrew sank both free-throws with ice water in his veins. The Irish were out of time outs and Coach Cal wisely didn't call one and give Mike Brey a chance to set up a play. As Grant caught the ball and drove down the court Andrew was yelling, "Go go go" to Willie Cauley-Stein and Willie matched the speedy Grant stride for stride all the way down the court and then Andrew leaped and got just close enough to Grant to make him heave a desperation shot that was long. Story over for the Irish. The Cats survive and advance.
It was one of the greatest college games I've ever watched and it got the highest tv ratings for any cable televised college basketball game ever. It's a shame for the Irish, and it's definitely their version of the Unforgettables. These weren't thuggish players hacking and fouling the whole game like so many others have resorted to. This wasn't a hateable coach on the sidelines. These guys were a great team, well coached with a brilliant game plan and they executed to near perfection. But the Cats are too good, and "almost perfect" isn't good enough to beat them.
For the BBN our heroes march on. Now we will face a Wisconsin team scarred from our last second dagger in the Final Four last year. Sam Dekker and Frank the Tank Kiminski will be ready. So will we. 38-0 Two to go! GBB!!
Posted March 27, 2015, 11:36 am
There will be no more trash talking from opposing teams the remainder of the season thanks to Daxter Miles. Daxter "poked the bear" with his comments leading up to the game, saying "Kentucky will be 36-1 tomorrow" and saying Kentucky players don't play hard. The Cats used it as extra incentive and the game quickly turned into a blood bath. Miles was completely shutout, going scoreless for the game in 19 minutes, while Kentucky pulverized West Virginia, breaking their will early in the first half. It had been over a half century since a team scored less than 40 points in the NCAA Tourney until West Virginia put up only 39. The Cats doubled them up, winning by 39 points. The truly amazing stat is that even if Kentucky hadn't scored a single point in the second half, they still would have won.
Up next for the Cats is Notre Dame, who handled Wichita State with relative ease. They jumped out to a big lead, watched Wichita St. come back and take the lead by one, and then pulled away again. Jerrian Grant had 12 assists for the Irish and they picked apart the Shockers and pelted them with streaky waves of three pointers. The Irish are a fun team to watch, and normally I pull for them to win, but not this time. The Cats are favored by 11.5 points. I think they will win by much more than that. 37 down, 3 to go. GBB!!
Posted March 21, 2015, 8:16 pm
Kentucky defeated Cincinnati 64-51 to become the first team in NCAA history to go 36-0. It wasn't easy and the Bearcats absolutely beat the crap out of us the entire game, but the Cats took a 7 point lead into half time and were never really threatened. Now we await the winner of West Virginia vs Maryland. 36 down, 4 to go. GBB!!
Posted March 19, 2015, 10:05 pm
It was a ho-hum effort by the Cats in their NCAA opener but they still managed to get up by over thirty points before eventually winning by 23. WCS and Aaron Harrison had particularly bad games while Karl Anthony Towns had a career high.
Purdue imploded down the stretch to let Cincinnati back in the game and Cincy managed to pull it out in overtime. The Cats will face the Bearcats Saturday at 2:40 with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16. 35 down, 5 to go. GBB!!
Posted March 15, 2015, 7:51 pm
After easily disposing of Arkansas, the Cats didn't celebrate long before taking a private jet to get back to Coach Cal's house in time for the selection show. Kentucky of course got the overall #1 seed. We also got the weakest 2 seed3 in Kansas. Notre Dame is the 3 seed and Maryland is the 4 seed. Clark Kellogg thinks Kentucky got a raw deal with Maryland and ND both posing big threats with wins over other #1 seeds. But I disagree. I love our bracket and think it will be a relatively easy march to the FInal Four.
Posted March 15, 2015, 10:53 am
picture by CBSSports
If you're a little bit worried about the Cats losing today, don't be. Yes, I realize the 1996 National Champs and the 2012 National Champs both lost the SEC Championship game, but this is a different scenario. They will have no problem getting motivated for this game. Here are five motivators and reasons why Kentucky will not only come to play, but will beat Arkansas by double digits today.
1) The undefeated streak - The Cats can see the finish line now and they aren't going to let this game ruin it. They're not looking ahead until this one is over.
2) Lack of recent SECT success - Kentucky has not won the last three SEC Tournaments. These players want to win one, especially WCS, and Cal wants to win this one for the fans.
3) Cal's record against Arkansas - Since coming to Kentucky, Coach Cal only has a losing record to one team, Arkansas. His teams are 3-4 verses the Hogs and he wants to change that today.
4) Bobby Portis - Bobby Portis was named SEC Player of the Year over Willie Cauley-Stein and that's a good reason for WCS to dominate today, especially after Portis' comments lately.
5) Trash Talk - The Arkansas players were said to have rushed to the tunnel after UK beat Auburn to talk trash to the UK players as they were going to the locker room.
6) Bad Blood - The Harrison Twins, especially Aaron, don't like Arkansas. After a fan bowed up on Aaron Harrison last season in Fayetteville, the Harrisons have had a bad taste about Arkansas and they would love to send them packing.
7) Mike Anderson - The guy is a jerk, and is quickly becoming my least favorite SEC coach.
8) Big Blue Nation - This is essentially another home game for Kentucky and The BBN will have Bridgestone Arena rockin'.
9) Greatness - This team knows it has the chance to do something no other UK Team has ever done. Besides that, only a couple teams have ever ran the table in the SEC regular season and conference tournament. But none of them have also been perfect through the non-conference as well. This team can pull the trifecta today, and "one up" all the other great teams of the past.
10) Kentucky is just better - They have the better team with no weak links. They always rise to the occassion in big time games. This one will be no exception.