There were concerns among the faithful last week after watching the North Carolina manhandle Gonzaga. Was North Carolina that good? Gonzaga overrated? Could the CATS contain their offense by actually showing some defense? Was this game going to be a replay of the disaster on November 6th?
I didn’t hear the usual C-A-T-S cheers as I entered the United Center on Saturday. The “kentucky” blue was scattered across the arena and there was apprehension (fear) in the air. North Carolina fans seemed somewhat “swaggy”. They had every reason to be confident and the BBN had ever reason to be reserved.
The CATS took the floor with focus determination and yes, defense. They were energized. They scrambled for loose balls and disrupted the offensive plays of North Carolina. Nick Richards was present not only in body but spirit. Blocked shots, hustle and made baskets allowed Kentucky to carry the lead into halftime.
In the second half Reid Travis could not be contained. The Tarheels had no answer for the big guy. Herro and Johnson were hitting the 3’s. Most importantly there were extra passes for the open guys. It wasn’t about “me” it was about “us”.
The Tarheels closed the lead to 6 at the 6:30 mark, Herro missed the jumper, Kentucky gets the rebound makes a three. Kentucky steals the ball from North Carolina and Haggans goes for the lay-up. Kentucky up by 10 with 5:34 to play. It has been that kind of game for Kentucky. Everything going right.
Mean mugging PJ Washington and chest bumping from great defensive plays. These guys are having fun. They are becoming a team. As I type this C-A-T-S erupts from the United Center. The first time I have heard this today.
There is 3:44 seconds left. Kentucky has a 10 point lead. Part of growing as a team is to put the final dagger in. Can they do it?
The CATS are growing up….Final score…Kentucky 80 North Carolina 72