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The Most Exciting 57 Points in UK History

January 26, 2012

Come on, admit it. You’ve made fun of Big Ten basketball. It’s ok. Nobody will be mad. We’ve all done it. But looking at the final score of Kentucky’s Tuesday win over Georgia in Athens, you’d be hard pressed to be able to tell the difference between that game and any number of plodding snore-fests that the Big Ten produces on the regular. But there was reason inside those numbers for Cats fans to be excited anyway.

Why? Terrence Jones produced probably the best double-single of his career. His five points, seven rebounds and four fouls look a lot like a stat lines that we’ve seen from Jones too often this year (it was his sixth double single against NO double-doubles), but for once that line didn’t tell the story of his contribution. Unlike the other five (two of which Jones was either injured during or tried to go when he was still injured), this was a very active five and seven. That activity bodes well for this Kentucky team going forward. It hasn’t really been his M.O. this season, but if Jones can work hard and be a contributor in ways that don’t necessarily fill stat sheets, this team has a much better chance of ending its season on a Monday in New Orleans.

Truthfully, we may have made too much of off games by a number of Wildcats this year.  Jones has been a popular target, as has Darius Miller, but callers to my First State Financial Sunday Morning Sports Talk Show (9 am-Noon on NewsRadio 630 WLAP in Lexington and have also at times been critical of Doron Lamb’s scoring in games where UK struggled. Even Anthony Davis didn’t have the kind of big number game that UK fans have come to expect from him (although he did have 11 rebounds and five blocks and alter nearly every shot Georgia took all night). Through those ups and downs Kentucky has lost exactly once.

I think that’s what makes this team different – better – than teams that may have had more heralded parts than this one does. This team has consistently found a way to win when one of its top six players – and sometimes two of them – hasn’t put up huge numbers. The team that lost to West Virginia in the 2010 Regional final didn’t have enough shooters to pull the Mountaineers off DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson. Last year’s team missed 67% of its foul shots in the Final Four against Connecticut.

These Cats have more options on the perimeter, are second in the SEC in foul shooting and play better defense than either of those teams did (remember, UConn shot almost 47% from the floor). I like that mix come March and, hopefully, one Monday in April.

Out Of Uniform Day

My kids go to Catholic school, so “Out of Uniform Days” and Out of Uniform passes are coveted commodities in my house. Well, the Cats get an Out of Uniform Day on Jan. 31 when they play Tennessee at Rupp – shockingly thanks to Nike.

Nike unveiled new Something Elite Something Else uniforms on Wednesday for UK and eight other schools. Not surprisingly, I hate them … a lot.

First, I resist all change to college uniforms. College sports’ biggest advantage over pro sports is tradition. You start jacking around with uniforms and you give that advantage away.

The reason I hate these SPECIFIC uniforms is that, because they will all be the same body color and the trim is kind of sparse, the nine team versions are nearly indistinguishable from each other at a glance. In fact when I saw the original photo of all nine together, I couldn’t find Kentucky at first (the UK uniform was in the back row). You may think Kentucky is special, but Nike clearly doesn’t.

By the way, all the Hyper Elite Whatever uniforms will be worn in games where the team wearing them is a non-Nike school. Make no mistake, these things are about Nike marketing Nike, nothing else. YOUR team is being used by them.

I’ll let you be the judge as far as whether they look good or not. Dave Baker (@buzzbaker) likened them to James Caan’s uniform in the original Rollerball (yes, kids, there was a GREAT Rollerball movie before Chris Klein and LL Cool J made a crappy one). I don’t think he was being complimentary (at least I hope he wasn’t), and I would tend to agree with him.

At least there is some solace in the fact that these are no worse than the third ugliest uniforms in program history. I hated the 1996 denim uniforms. Even those weren’t as bad as the icicle shorts (apologies to Tony Delk). And I think I am pretty glad that I can’t seem to find a picture of the ones that made it look like a giant blue shark bit the players in the leg.

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