- Saturday, December 12 2009 -
Kentucky - 90 (Head Coach: John Calipari) - [Ranked 4th by AP and 4th by ESPN/USA Today]
Indiana - 73 (Head Coach: Tom Crean) - [Unranked]
|Verdell Jones III||22||3||7||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||1||0||0||6|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 42, Indiana 41
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Connecticut 64 - 61|||||Austin Peay 90 - 69|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats ride 18-0 run past rival Indiana
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Like Rocky Balboa the Kentucky basketball team took a barrage of haymakers in the early moments of its bout with rival Indiana. In the end the Cats were also the ones left standing.
Indiana blitzed the Cats out of the gate, feeding off a wired Assembly Hall crowd to put UK in a nine-point hole just five minutes into the game. As it has done numerous times already this season UK absorbed the body blow, caught its breath and then delivered a serious of jabs and hooks, eventually pummeling the Hoosiers for a 90-73 victory in front of 17,316 fans in the old barn.
For UK coach John Calipari it was the perfect scenario for his young team making its first true road trip.
"I was so happy about how Indiana came out and tried to run us off the floor, made every shot and played with such unbelievable energy," Calipari said. "I knew (Indiana coach) Tommy (Crean) would have them ready to go because he's a great coach. That was the best thing for our team to learn what we were, and we responded to it. For us to win in that fashion, we played well. We're not better than that, that's like a February effort."
It was a fitting end to a week long stretch were UK defeated defending national champion North Carolina, Final Four participant Connecticut in its own backyard, and the rebuilding Hoosiers in a gym as loud as any the Cats will ever step foot in. While there have been some lingering doubts about whether this UK squad was deserving of such high preseason praise most have been erased with a perfect 10-0 start.
By Calipari's unique mathematical skills the victory made the Cats' 5-5 through a difficult first month of the season, given his penchant for saying his team should have lost a handful of games to this point. However, pounding Indiana in a venomous environment apparently righted the coach's arithmetic.
"He actually said we were 10-0 today," freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins said. "I guess he was worried about that three game streak. We knew we were a good team but we're trying to prove it to everyone else."
The Cats showed a backbone that will serve them well going forward but it was their size, quickness and natural talent level that ultimately overwhelmed Indiana. The Hoosiers spent the first half playing 'H-O-R-S-E' with a variety of wild outside shots, helping them remain within 42-41 at the break and leaving Calipari to stalk off the floor before his players could even clear the court. One look at Indiana's 63 percent shooting in the first half (including 62.5 percent from three-point range) and the message during the break was clear.
"Our job was to make it hard for them in the second half because they may come out and shoot 70 percent in the second half, but let's make it hard," Calipari said. "They shot 63 percent in the first half and 62 percent from the three and we were up one. How? Guess what, we played well too and that's why we were up one."
"We're going to witness that a lot this year because we're every team's Super Bowl and teams are going to come out making shots they never made in their life," Cousins added. "That's what they did today."
The point was well taken. Despite allowing Indiana freshman guard Maurice Creek to bury his fourth three of the game - on his way to a career-high 31 points - on the Hoosiers' first possession and falling behind 48-47 with 17:42 remaining the Cats buckled down on the defensive end and suffocated the Hoosiers into just 33.3 percent shooting after the break.
With the defense hounding the Hoosiers into more difficult shots and the rebounding not even being a contest - UK won the battle of the boards 49-24 - the Cats were able to unleash their potent full court offensive assault. No sooner had Indiana taken the lead did UK rip off 18 consecutive points in the span of 4:41, effectively burying the Hoosiers.
"What helped us was just playing defense, that's basically how you get most runs so we tried to punch them in the mouth and then bury them," Cousins said. "The hustle points in the second half, we had a lot more. The first half we messed up the little stuff and they became one big thing."
Indiana sliced the lead to 12 with just under nine minutes left but the Cats spaced it back out to 20 in the closing minutes, leaving the once volatile crowd as dazed as Apollo Creed.
"It's fun playing against an entire gym that hates you and then you make a big shot," Cousins said. "What can they say, awww? It feels good to know they're going home sad."
John Wall prepares to dunk as he flies past Jordan Hulls
Christian Watford gets called for a charge on DeMarcus Cousins
Eric Bledsoe makes a pass around IU's Bobby Capobianco