Kentucky displays killer instinct in route of LSU
Posted by sawdog on January 28, 2012
There are numerous amateur and professional writers online that cover Kentucky basketball in one form or another. This is a well known fact. When the Cats win big like they did today at LSU–a 74-50 pummel of the Tigers–the feel good articles will surely be written. Some writers will focus on Terrence Jones’ outstanding resurgence, a 27 point and 9 rebound effort. Many will note LSU point guard Anthony Hickey and his struggles throughout (because he is a former Kentucky Mr. Basketball). And many more will note the ridiculous and dangerous flagrant foul LSU forward Malcolm White committed on Kentucky star Anthony Davis.
All of these storylines are relevant and capture the imagination of the game, but to me they are not the top stories.
What I will remember most, undoubtedly, are the back-to-back 3 pointers by UK’s Marquis Teague and Darius Miller late in the first half.
Kentucky started fast with two 3 pointers to take a 6-0 lead. They built the lead to 22-10 with 8:26 remaining in the first half. From there LSU started chipping into the lead. The chipped and chipped so well they eventually cut the UK lead to just 25-24 with 3:19 remaining. The LSU crowd was at fever pitch. The Tigers energy level was through the roof. At this point, the way this UK team has played in first halves, I worried. Not that they would lose the game. But I worried that they would lose the lead. I worried that they would miss a few shots in a row and would go into the half tied, something like that. In other words I didn’t expect a killer instinct.
But I saw just that in those two shots. I saw Teague drill that first one to silence the crowd, giving the Cats a 28-24 cushion.
After another LSU bucket–and another resurgent act of bedlam from the LSU faithful–I saw senior Darius Miller calmly rise from the wing and bury another 3 pointer for a 31-26 lead.
I texted one of my favorite texts of the year to a family member: Killer Instinct.
They’ve shown the “will to win” time and time again in the waning moments of tight games all year but until the back-t0-back 3 pointers by Teague and Miller I had yet to be overwhelmed with the feeling of a killer instinct developing in this team.
The cats would eventually tack on four more points before the half to take a 35-26 halftime lead. The dagger 3 pointers spurred a nearly double digit lead at the half, and effectively ended and silenced the Tigers attempt to take the lead and build fervor in the stands.
It wasn’t just the fact that they hit back-to-back 3′s. It was the way in which they hit them. It wasn’t at the end of the shotclock after nervous offense. Miller, in particular, rose confidently and just bullied the ball thru the hoop. I loved his reaction. I saw in this moment a team building a tougher mentality.
This team will have a lot to prove in the coming weeks as they continue to defend their #1 ranking and they start to finally play the better teams in the league (Florida, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State). Until today, I was sure they would have a couple of losses. Now, I don’t know. They may very well still end up with two or three losses in league play but the Cats took a major step forward today. They went on the road, took on a packed house, and punched the Tigers squarely in the face when LSU put forth their absolute best effort.
Most importantly, they didn’t wait till the end of the game to do it.