Cats show a bit of Memorial Magic in UNLV win

Fans, players and coaches saw an all too familiar scene when UNLV trimmed Kentucky's 20 point second half lead to a mere three points, when UNLV's Joe Darger nailed a three-point shot with four minutes to play on Monday night. This game turned out far differently than other close games this season.

Yes, it was the first round of the NIT, and yes, the Cats should not have lost the twenty point lead they had built in the second half.

However, unlike other games this season where UK held a close lead late in the game, or were within striking distance late in the game, on this night the Wildcats would finish strong.

Following Joe Darger's three the Wildcats went on a 10-3 run to finish the game strong.

After the game Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie discussed his team's play during UNLV's run, and what his team did right to earn the victory. Gillispie said, "We're not looking for anything easy but I thought (our team) responded much better than they have because we were running out of timeouts, they were trapping us, we weren't doing the greatest job being strong with the ball. We were picking the ball up too much and offensively we were less than stellar. When we missed, Pat (Patrick Patterson) got a real big play and saved that ball, then we almost threw it away and I think Perry (Stevenson) got the loose ball. Those are the things that determine games; those are the things that we've probably been missing down the stretch."

Gillispie also thought his team got an assist from the homecourt crowd, as the Cats played their first game since 1976 in Memorial Coliseum.

"I thought it was a great crowd," said the Kentucky coach. "I don't know what time you all got here but it was a great crowd this afternoon. I think that a lot of people at a lot of different places - when you we've been there 17 straight years, didn't make it, so how is everyone going to handle it? How did our crowd handle it? Well, they sold out every single ticket as quickly as it could happen. They were excited about it. I don't think anyone in that building tonight wanted us to be playing in this tournament, but I know this, I doubt if anyone came to the game and didn't enjoy the game and I think they did their part to help us it make it a nice game and good win for us."

Kentucky's Jodie Meeks discussed the UK response to the UNLV run saying, "I thought we responded really well. I think that shows how our team is maturing. Earlier this year, we had games where we had leads and let teams back into the game. I thought we did a good job of withstanding their run and getting stops on defense when we needed to."

AllWildcats Top Stories