December Game Blog Award
(Nobody's gonna break my stride, ain't nobody gonna slow me down, oh no (oh no!), I-got-to-keep-on-mo-vin)
Kentucky is beginning to find an all around complete game for themselves as the stats would suggest again for the fourth straight game owning up to double digit victories since beating Indiana by 5 earlier this month. In fact against EKU, Kentucky found one of their best TO/Assist ratios of the season while also dominating the boards.
Not to take away from their progress thus far, but honestly Kentucky really has only played three games this month which the pressure was on them to win - the other four (Chattanooga, Santa Clara, UMass, and EKU) the pressure was more so for Tubby to open a can of Runaway than having the pressure of possibly losing those games, and with Tubby's credit, the Cat's have responded with all double digit wins over them. The three schools Tubby faced this month in which he encountered the most pressure to pull out a win, the Cats went 2-1 (L UNC, W Indiana, W L'ville). L'ville is underachieving, Indiana is still a very good ball club, and we all know what kind of team North Carolina is. North Carolina is a team that has a knack for overachieving in which Kentucky lost by 12 to.
But I think Tubby is getting through finally on offense, and I think Derrick Jasper has just as much a part of it as anyone else on the team. Since Jasper moved to the point, Bradley's game has opened up and all of a sudden Kentucky has that two guard threat again, but what's so different with those two compared with Patrick Sparks and Rajon Rondo is that Bradley and Jasper are both perimeter shooting threats and will drive the paint as before Sparks would be the only duo threat of shooting and passing and Rondo would only drive and dish and steal for the most part. Then add Joe Crawford to that mix and Kentucky has the potential to be a major threat if they can keep Morris involved in every game.
So they really are coming along quite nicely despite the light sched the last half of December and aside from lacking a compliment to Morris underneath, the only thing I'd love to see is for Kentucky to put together two dominant halves. Against Chattanooga and UMass, the Cat's came out roaring with a double digit half-time lead only to then just do enough to break even the second half. Against EKU, they barely held on to the half-time lead before putting together a similar second half for the double-digit win, and even against L'ville they only had a 3 point half-time lead before pulling away at the end of the game for the W which was reminiscent of the game against Indiana a week prior. In their only loss of the month against UNC, they put together similar 1st and 2nd half performances like that against EKU but were on the trailing end of each half which resulted in the double-digit loss and only loss of the month, but I'll be real, that WAS the North Carolina ON THE ROAD. There's just one more game before conference play starts and they have to find a way to pull away early and not let up in the second half against weaker SEC opponents because by the time the LSUs, Alabamas, Tennessees, and Floridas roll around, Kentucky is going to need that confidence to grind out some exciting wins, and by February, we're going to know how good Kentucky is going to be this year.
Game Blog Award/NOMINEES
With that said, it's the season for the December Game Blog Award. Kentucky's only loss comes to UNC early on, and with wins over Indiana and Louisville, the month of December has proven to be eye opening for the Wildcats. We saw the emergence of a freshman point guard and because of that allowing Ramel Bradley out of the cage so to speak to becoming a reliable second option - go-to-guy for Kentucky if you will. There's no doubt that since Jasper roared for a starting spot, Kentucky has played better, are getting better, and are now legit SEC Title contenders. Beyond that - not so sure. One thing is for sure - that's expecting double doubles from Randolph Morris.
at North Carolina
Kentucky packed their bags for Chapel Hill in the first week of December with hopes of a desperate win not only to rebound from Maui and build upon their strength of wins but also to notch a win in front of a national audience against one of the best storied college programs in history and break the losing streak against them.
North Carolina shot 37% while Kentucky shot 46% but in the end it was Kentucky's turnovers, UNC's D, and UNC's three point shooting that got the best of the Cats that day and Kentucky suffered yet another disappointing loss to a Top 10 team within a matter of weeks 75-63.
Joe Crawford:5-12, 14 pts, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, (7 TOs), 35 min
Bobby Perry:5-8, 12 pts (2 Threes), 6 rebounds, assist, (2 TOs), 25 min
Game Blog NOMINEE
Randolph Morris: With his near-perfect game against the Tar Heels, he was clutch against UNC, and without him, Kentucky would have been embarrassed on the road yet again. Stats: 11-12, 23 pts, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, (3 TOs), 31 min
Kentucky bounced back and took some of their frustrations out on Chattanooga in the first half with 15 pt half-time lead dropping 45 within the first 20 minutes. They relaxed a bit only sporting a 1 point edge in the second half finishing for 79-63 victory and forcing Chattanooga under 30% field goal shooting.
Derrick Jasper: 1 pt, game-high *10 rebounds, game-high *6 assists, 3 steals, (4 TOs), 28 min
Joe Crawford: 7-13, 4-9 Tri's, 19 pts, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, (2 TOs), 30 min
Randolph Morris: 7-10, 17 pts, 7 rebounds, assist, 4 blocks, (3 TOs), 31 min
Bobby Perry: 7-8, 3-3 Tri's, 17 pts, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, (2 TOs), 28 min
Game Blog NOMINEE
RRamel Bradley: 8-13, 6-9 Tri's, team-high *23 pts, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, steal, (2 TOs), 31 min
Kentucky grinded out a tough hard fought win against a very good shooting ball club in Indiana 54-59. Although Indiana showed great poise for an upset and out rebounding Kentucky by 3, +12 offensively, Kentucky held the Hoosiers to 30% shooting and thanks to freshman Jodie Meeks, clinched the home victory with two clutch free throws with seconds left.
Randolph Morris: 6-12, 16 pts, game-high *10 rebounds, assist, 4 blocks, (2 TOs), 37 min
Ramel Bradley: 2-9, game-high *6-6 FTL, 10 pts, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, block, steal, (3 TOs), 37 min
Jodie Meeks: 1-3, game-clinching *2-2 FT, 5 pts, rebound, block, 12 minutes
Game Blog NOMINEE
Bobby Perry: 5-9, 11 pts, game-high *10 rebounds, **12 stitches, 2 assists, (2 TOs), 24 min
Because Randolph Morris uncharacteristically this season got in early foul trouble, someone had to step up. Nope, not Perry. Nope, try again, not Crawford. Um, no not the freshman Jasper. Try freshman Jodie Meeks. Kentucky missed Morris as they never really broke away from the Cardinals until the end of the game despite holding the Cardinals to 27% shooting and earned another quality win 74-60 down the stretch. Ramel Bradley provided offensive support for Kentucky while Morris sat out most of the game, but it was freshman Jodie Meeks that impressed by providing scoring power that Morris was expected to provide.
Ramel Bradley: 4-10, 6-7 FTL, 15 pts, team-high *6 rebounds, 2 assists, block, (3 TOs), 31 min
Game Blog NOMINEE
Jodie Meeks: 5-10, 4-7 Tri's, 4-5 FTL, game-high *18 pts, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, (TO), 21 min
It was the first game of the month that saw Kentucky's Assist column rise higher than their turnovers. Kentucky shot 41% holding Santa Clara to 35% and it wasn't until after the half-time, 2 point lead locker room pep talk that the Wildcats broke away to seal a 14 pt victory led by Randolph Morris' bounce-back performance of 23 pts and 13 rebounds.
Ramel Bradley: 4-14, 3 Tri's, 14 pts, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, (2 TOs), 29 min
Derrick Jasper: 2-3, 6-8 FTL, 10 pts, 3 assists, block, steal, (2 TOs), 25 min
Game Blog NOMINEE
Randolph Morris: 10-18, 23 pts, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, (3 TOs), 33 min
Kentucky took a 12 point half-time lead and sat on it for the most part in the second half for a 14 pt victory of UMass 82-68 in one of their highest scoring totals of the season thus far. Kentucky practically shot lights out with nearly 60% shooting and holding UMass to under 40% and it marks the second straight game Kentucky's assists were more than their turnovers. They went into the Christmas weekend with a 5 game winning streak.
Notable Performances (Morris, Bradley, and Crawford 14 pts each)
Jodie Meeks: 5-5 FTL, 10 pts, 3 assists, game-high *3 steals
Randolph Morris: 6-10, 14 pts, 5 rebounds, assist, 4 blocks, (2 TOs), 25 min
Game Blog NOMINEE
Derrick Jasper: 3-4, 9 pts, 5 rebounds, Game-High *8 assists, 2 steals, (4 TOs), 29 min
Bradley sank threes, Morris tied a career high, and Kentucky continues to win with their sixth straight victory with a 13 point win over Eastern Kentucky in their first game back after the Christmas break. Morris reached another double double and he helped lead the Wildcats to 51% shooting as they built upon a six-point half-time lead and played a solid second half for their fourth-straight double digit win of the month. Joe Crawford added 13 pts on 6-12 shooting as it also marked the third straight game Kentucky's assists were higher than their turnovers.
Randolph Morris: 9-12, 7-10 FTL, 25 pts, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, (TO), 31 min
Game Blog NOMINEE
Ramel Bradley: 6-10, Team-High *4-7 Tri's, 4-4 FTL, 20 pts, 5 rebounds, Game-High *4 assists, Game-High *5 steals, (TO), Game-High *36 min
Here's again a quick list of the Wildcat Blog's December Game Blog NOMINEES
· Randolph Morris, vs UNC
· Ramel Bradley, vs Chattanooga
· Bobby Perry, vs Indiana
· Jodie Meeks, vs Louisville
· Randolph Morris, vs Santa Clara
· Derrick Jasper, vs UMass
· Ramel Bradley, vs EKU
The 2006 December Game Blog Award
And the Wildcat Blog's 2006 December Game Blog Award goes to Bobby Perry for his gutsy performance against Indiana.
This year has been up and down for Bobby Perry, but one thing is for certain, Perry will show you 100% one hundred percent of the time. He may not be that low post compliment to Randolph Morris Kentucky is needing to be complete, but Perry can score and will show that when the matchup is in his favor. His defense and toughness rivals that of anybody in the SEC and even in college basketball itself. His willingness to play tough, play hurt, and help make others elevate their game according to the game plan shows you just how important Bobby Perry is to Kentucky this year. His senior leadership and example on the court provides as an example to the freshmen on the team waiting for more minutes.
I could easily hand out the Dec. Game Blog to Morris or Bradley for their contribution lately, even maybe Jasper, but when I look at what Bobby Perry does when he doesn't score, the intangibles - the stuff you miss if you're not paying attention, and more specifically, Perry's willingness to shed some blood in a game against Indiana in a grind-it-out win as they struggle for a five point win in front of a home crowd in Rupp while logging his first career double double, it was kind of an automatic thing for me to honor this kid unless someone else had a performance which rivaled his this month. The senior Perry displayed his leadership, his determination to do whatever it takes to win against a team they had to beat for the sake of salvaging some respect after losing against the Tar Heels. I don't think no other performance rivaled that of Bobby Perry's given the circumstances, the opponent, and the desperate nature of the win. After all, double-doubles come easy for Morris and is expected of him at this point in the season, Perry's out-of-the-blue performance against Indiana isn't quite what Kentucky fans are used to. Congratulations to Bobby Perry, he's well deserving of this award.
'06 DEC Game Blog
Bobby Perry: 5-9, 11 pts, 10 rebounds, (12 stitches), 2 assists, (2 TOs), 24 min in a 5-point win over Indiana, 59-54.