Right from the start you could see what kind of game this would be. Kentucky, coming off a major defeat at the hands of the VMI Keydets, carried their loss over to their matchup with the #1 UNC Tarheels.
UNC came out gunning from the start. They took advantage of the soft looking Wildcats by ultimately forcing the Cats to turn the ball over 28 times; three more than their last game. But that’s what teams are supposed to do. Take advantage of the other team’s weaknesses, which Kentucky has a lot of thus far.
A lack of talent in point guard Michael Porter, and a lack of experience in freshman guard DeAndre Liggins caused jitters among the two. Combined they had 8 of the 28 turnovers. It wasn’t like they were the only ones turning it over. Everyone was turning it over. Junior guard Jodie Meeks struggled to find his shot, while Patrick Patterson did his best to overcome the double and triple teams he was seeing all night. The Cats defense wasn’t stellar either.
UNC moved the ball extremely well; the Tarheels fastbreak and half-court offense were on point. This gave the Cats a lot of problems, with many UNC shots going uncontested. One shot that was contested was Tyler Zeller’s attempted dunk that was challenged by UK’s Ramon Harris. Zelller going up and coming down awkwardly, fell on his wrist and is now out for the season. Harris was called for an intentional foul, which from replays, would later show that Harris didn’t even touch Zeller on his way in for the dunk.
The hustle showed by Harris in the second half was something seen by many of the UK players that did play. A spirited half time speech by UK coach Billy Gillispie could not overcome his team’s woes. A ton of turnovers, lack of proven leadership, bad shots, and anything else you could think of really hurt the Cats. It is still early in the season, but this game left many Cats fans scratching their heads about this year’s team.
UNC went on to romp UK by a tune of 77-58 but much of the game was already decided before the first half even ended. The Cats looked awful much of the game proving that there is still a lot of work to do down in the Bluegrass state. UNC now heads to Maui, Hawaii to take part in the Maui Invitational where they look to be the favorites to win it. UK will head back home to take on Delaware St. and Longwood, hopefully acting as tune-ups for their trip to Las Vegas in the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational.
However big the loss is for UNC in Zeller; a 5-star caliber player who hails from Indiana, the Tarheels are loaded with talent. Beating a Cats team already without Tyler Hansbrough and Marcus Ginyard, the Heels look like the team to beat this year. Experience and depth are this team’s best assets as they begin their journey to Detroit to contend for a National Title.
If this game is any indication for what is to come from this season, look for UNC to be vying for their second national title in four years and the Cats, once again struggling to make it into the tourney.