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Cat Attack 3-1-10

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Sweet Revenge

By Brian Melton

When South Carolina walked into Rupp Arena Thursday night there was only one thing on the over 24,000 screaming fans minds-Revenge.  Those pesky Gamecocks, led by their flea like point guard Devan Downey, had handed the then #1 Cats their first and only loss of the season a month earlier.  Most of the Kentucky team, save the always refreshingly honest Daniel Orton, was politically correct prior to the contest in saying it was just another game, blah blah blah.  But after the game Orton described the team’s feelings about the victory. “It is a little sweeter. We have gotten a lot better. We just had to come back to prove it.”

Kentucky opened the game with a Patrick Patterson three, followed by two DeMarcus Cousins baskets in the paint, building an early 11-2 lead.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be that easy for the Cats as South Carolina went on a run of their own to cut the lead to one with just over 13 minutes left in the first half.  Kentucky dominated in almost every statistical category in the first half, but only led 37-26 at break.

The Cats started the second half much the same way as the first in building a 15 point lead before once again the Devan Downey show began.  Downey scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half to again cut the deficit to only 6 with 10 minutes left in the game.  After a television timeout, Darius Miller scored on a floater in the lane and Gamecocks wouldn’t get any closer.  Kentucky wins 82-61.

Welcome back Mr. Patterson, we’ve missed you.  Patterson has returned to his dominating form of his first two seasons, with three unbelievable games in a row.  On the night Patterson led the team with 23 points on 10-12 shooting while adding 8 rebounds.  Evidently Coach Calipari was pleased with the performance. “I am so proud of him. He is a monster. We needed him to play like this. I would like for have 25 points and 12 rebounds every game. I want him to shoot the ball.”  

Not to be outdone by Patterson, Cousins added 19 points and 11 rebounds to help Kentucky dominate the points in the paint 56-30.  The Cats also dominated the backboards 47-31, allowing only 11 offensive rebounds on the night.  Only 11 you say?  The last time these teams met South Carolina pretty much won the game because of the 20 offensive rebounds and follow-up baskets that followed.  

Darius Miller made his second consecutive start playing 32 minutes on the night, his most playing time in some time.  Miller had a great night scoring 7 points while adding 8 rebounds, and two blocks.  He played with great intensity on the defensive end of the court, which has been one reason he had seen his playing time decrease recently.  I truly believe the team is better when Miller is on the court, especially against zone defenses, with his ability to hit the three and midrange jumper.  

The best news of the night, other than the victory itself, was the fact that Devan Downey has finally played his last regular season game against Kentucky.  I’m sure I’d love him if I was a Gamecock fan, but I get tired of the officials allowing him to push off, travel, and get away with everything but murder during a game.  John Wall gets manhandled nightly and hardly ever gets a call.  Thursday night’s game was more of the same and you wonder if the officials are watching the same game.  You know that things are bad when Calipari talks after the game about how this Kentucky team is not getting the same “home cooking” that every other conference team gets at home.  

Who knew that a Kentucky basketball game would become a red carpet event for celebrities?  First Lebron and Drake, then Ashley Judd, and at the South Carolina game the team got a visit from one of my favorite NBA players of all time in Magic Johnson.  Johnson also made the famous trip to center court to be the Y in Kentucky and helped rile the crowd up.  Oh yeah, there was some quarterback from the Pittsburg Steelers there too, I think his name was Ben or something.  But I’m thrilled to report that the crowd greeted his appearance on the video screen appropriately with boos.  I’m a diehard Bengals fan you know.  

Next up for the Cats is the yearly trip to Knoxville to take on the sweaty, puke orange coat wearing Bruce Pearl and the Tennessee Volunteers.  Unfortunately Jodie Meeks is now playing in the NBA, but I’m sure Wayne Chism still remembers him.  This will be another tough road test and with a victory the Cats would be assured of no less than a share of the SEC Regular Season Championship.  Oh yeah, I really hate Rocky Top.  Go Cats!