Long story short, State fans in an ‘upset-ready’ atmosphere, saw the Bulldogs fight and claw the #2 UK Wildcats and the officials, for 65 minutes. Goaltending, blocking fouls, grabs, pushes, charges, over the back calls, were simply non-existent for MSU, but in the Wildcats’ case, they were not to be touched. MSU was whistled 27 times, for ridiculous calls that eventually led to items being thrown onto the court, in the final seconds. Rick Stansbury, known for working the officials, and sometimes earning a tech, found his hands tied throughout this match up, due to the close score and the fact that every possession seemed to be of the utmost importance…giving away points or a possession, was not an option. Jarvis Varnado, was whistled for back-to-back fouls at the 17 minute mark of the 2nd half, earning his 3rd and 4th fouls. Any type of inside presence for MSU, was gone with JV absent. Varnado’s 5th foul, drew cries of disbelief from the crowd, and from the center himself. Turner, Augustus, JV, and Osby, were all pushed around near the rim the entire night (I actually wanted to say RAPED, but out of respect for that type of horrific experience, and the vulgarity of the term, I’ll change the wording). Wow, all this and I haven’t even discussed other aspects of the game, so here’s my game notes…
(1) Fans can blame the players for lack of execution during the final minutes, but like I always say, what takes place on the court, is a product of coaching. I’m gonna lay off Stans for the most part today, due to a decent night all around from his standpoint, but up 67-60, with 3 minutes to play, we cannot sit on the ball, especially with history not on our side-when we do so. His inability to hold a lead, be it early or late in a game, is sickening. The 3 or 4 possessions leading up to that 7 point lead, State had out-rebounded, out-scrapped, and out scored UK, and taking their foot off the gas in the final minutes cost us dearly. To be specific, it cost us an extra 5 minute period, when time was our enemy, not to mention we were 2 starters down, with others in foul trouble. You have to win that one in regulation. (2) We also are in terrible need of an assistant coach who knows X’s and O’s. Not trying to score on a game winning possession, but rather looking to get fouled and go to the line and win it, is NOT how you win ball games. Especially not against the SEC’s golden child in basketball, which is the equivalent of Alabama in football, you are NOT getting the call. UK is the perfect example of a mechanical offense. Screens left and right, the dribble drive, working the ball in and out, and they always have a back up plan when the play is not developing. We need that. (3) John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, are two of the most arrogant young men that I have ever watched play college sports. One and dones are all they are, probably taking English I, Tennis, and Scuba Diving, while they snicker with their pompous smiles, completely in it for themselves. They could take a whole novel of notes from Patrick Patterson, who is classy. Funny how Coach Cal put the attention back on our fans at the end, that after Cousins was jawing with fans, and Wall fingered the crowd going into the tunnel, then flashing what appeared to be gang signs. (4) Even though we can complain about Barry Stewart (16pts) and Dee Bost (22pts) throwing up some junk in the closing minutes, they both hit big shots to keep us in the game, all night. I think Kodi Augustus (17 pts) is starting to choose wiser shots (5-10 FG’s, 4 of 7 from 3pt, and 3-4 FT’s), protect the ball, and pitch in on rebounding. He could be special next year, but still needs some work. We needed more from Romero Osby. He played 38 minutes, but came away with only 5pts. I know it was an odd role for him, thanks to Ravern, but we gotta have smarter shots. (5) Speak of the devil, I sure hope Ravern Johnson has learned his lesson. Ray is and has been my favorite player on the team, but man did we miss his 13.7 ppg. Selfish actions hurt the team. I just wish Stans wouldn’t have dressed him, because it sucked knowing that he was on the bench, dressed and ready, in a game with multiple clutch situations. Put the pride aside, and get back to work #2. (6) If you have noticed my frustration with this team throughout the season, lastnight is why. A starter down, foul trouble all night, but hung step for step with the #2 team in the country. We could have played up to those standards all year, and haven’t, which leaves a lot to be desired.
The Ugly Truth: MSU was a couple of loose balls, a bounce here and there, a 3 pointer that just wouldn’t stay in- away from having this one in the bag. Hurts. The loss probably puts us out of the Dance, unless we go undefeated the rest of the way…not probable.
It’s nights like lastnight, that make you hope we don’t lose Greg Byrne any time soon. Great crowd, atmosphere, and producti0n.