In case you were wondering, it’s ‘Cat-Tampa. Kentucky fans have shown up to watch their mediocre basketball team. For them, the SEC Tournament is what Disneyworld is to you and me. They know they’re going once a year whether they want to or not.
The St. Pete Times Forum is about three-fourths full and almost all of them are Big Blue fans. Or should I say Big Boo. They don’t like these officials very much. And they’re not real fond of their coach, either.
What has gotten into Perry Stevenson? He’s scored eight straight points, four of them to start an 8-0 run that gave Kentucky a 28-23 lead. The Wildcat fans are happy again. But the lead doesn’t last long. After a timeout, Mississippi scores eight straight points.
Terrico White hits a long 3 and then makes a sick move driving to the basket to give Ole Miss a 38-36 halftime lead. But it’s only a lead because Kentucky’s Michael Porter misses the front end of a one-and-one after Murphy Holloway fouls him in the backcourt – yes, the backcourt – with .8 on the clock.
Jodie Meeks misses all three of his shots from beyond the arc. Wonder if he’s worn down from carrying the team all year. White has 15 points and four assists at the half. And he’s just a freshman. Mississippi returns all of its players next year and could be a force in the West.
Ole Miss starts the second half with three missed 3-point attempts and two turnovers in the first two minutes. Interestingly, ex-Gator David Huertas didn’t start because of a foot injury but played 16 minutes in the first half and started the second.
Meeks still hasn’t made a 3 but he has 16 points and Kentucky looks like it might run away with this game. The ‘Cats are up by nine and Ole Miss keeps turning the ball over. “Go Big Blue” is filling the arena.
Meeks hits Kentucky’s first 3 with 12:25 to play, but it’s in the paint where Kentucky is killing Ole Miss. They’ve scored 38 of their 56 points inside. That’s Andy Kennedy’s big issue and it will be again next year – the lack of a true post player. UK is up 11 with 11:30 to go.
Watching Huertas play, it’s obvious why he transferred to Ole Miss. He wanted to go somewhere where he could play out of control. The guy has talent, but takes some of the worst shots.
Ole Miss can’t buy a basket. The Rebels have made five in the second half and there are four minutes to play. As a result, Kentucky is pulling away behind Meeks. The Wildcats’ lead is up to 14 and Ole Miss has no chance of coming back in this one. Give Kentucky credit. The Wildcats played like a team that was desperate, cranking up the defense in the second half. Ole Miss finished the second half with seven made shots, one of them by Malcolm White at the buzzer.
The final is Kentucky 71, Ole Miss 58. The SEC can breathe a sigh of relief the ‘Cats and their legion of fans will be around for another day.