Breaking News: Kentucky Wildcats Stunned By Keydets

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst INovember 14, 2008


Maybe Wildcat coach Billy Gillispie should just skip the whole non-conference thing.

Last year the Gillespie era at Kentucky got off to a very rocky start when the Wildcats fell to Gardner-Webb in a shocker.

Well, history repeated itself as Kentucky opened their season with a humbling 111-103 loss to the VMI Keydets in front of a stunned crowd of over 22,000 at Rupp Arena.

VMI put forth a game plan Mike D'Antoni would have called crazy.  Despite playing one of the most loaded rosters in college basketball, the Keydets did what they do best—run.

Their shooters played with confidence and Kentucky kept feeding their own demise with costly turnovers.  The Wildcats had 16 turnovers in the first half alone and it took a run near halftime just to cut the deficit to 10.

Kentucky's big man Patrick Patterson did not score his first basket until 18:27 to go in the game.  Foul trouble plagued him, and his teammates could not consistently find him when they needed a key basket.

Still, despite a very underwhelming performance and even being down twice by 23 points in the second half, it looked like Kentucky was going to pull it out.

The Wildcats scored 16 straight points and took their first lead with 4:52 to go when Ramon Harris knocked home two of his 16 points.

VMI, completely gassed, was not even attempting to play defense.  However, some well-timed timeouts and a few hustle plays down the stretch were the difference.

An offensive rebound and lay-in after Michael Sparks missed an open three-pointer gave VMI a two possession lead with only a minute remaining.

Austin Kenon then stole any ray of hope for Kentucky when he swiped the ball moments later.

From that point on it was a free throw shooting contest and if VMI proved anything, it is their ability to make an open shot.

VMI deserves a lot of credit for their heart and determination; most teams would wilt after a 23-point collapse. 

Still the Kentucky fans will point to the well over 20 turnovers, the 3-for-16 performance from behind the arc, and a 22-for-33 performance at the line. 

The Wildcats simply did not execute and it spoiled a 39-point outburst from Jodie Meeks.

Upsets are a part of college basketball, and time will tell how both teams respond to this game. 

I don't know what this means for either side but I do know this:

It's officially basketball season.