UK beats Portland Print

 

By Special Correspondent

Aaron B. Haggard

When one thinks of basketball, University of Kentucky has to be mentioned as the Mecca of the basketball world. The only word that comes to mind when sitting in Rupp Arena and seeing basketball legends like Kenny “The Sky” Walker, Antoine Walker (former 3-time NBA All Star) and Kyle Macy (former NCAA 1st Team All American and NBA great) all present for this game and hearing the crowds cheering and chanting as fireworks explode from the ceiling is ELECTRICAL. When the opposing teams play at Rupp Arena one thing that has to be considered is a 6th man on the floor, meaning the “Big Blue Nation” cheering…defining is the word.The atmosphere in Rupp is like having a 6th man on the floor at all times, my team has not played in this type of environment and it caused some problems for us” said Portland’s Head Coach Eric Reveno.

#2 University of Kentucky 5-0, battles with Portland 2-3 at Rupp Arena. UK is lead by Sophomore Guard Doron Lamb and Portland is lead by Sophomore Forward Ryan Nicholas. As these two teams collide at Rupp, how will the Wildcats match-up with a smaller sharp shooting team that shoots up 17.2 three point shots per contest? So far this season Kentucky’s length, agility, strength and athleticism have been unmatched. After last week’s win over Kansas arose areas of improvement for the #2 Wildcats. Playing with aggressiveness, light bench in the point guard position and free-throws have somewhat hampered the Wildcats this season. Overall, Kentucky has not met their match that has sparked the scare of urgency. Does Portland have an answer for Kentucky’s length, athleticism, and strength to compete? Kentucky has too many answers for various questions on the court. From front to back UK is defiantly one of the best teams in the country and still has a lot of growing to do before the SEC Tournament and March Madness.

From the start UK gets the tip that resulted with a pass from Lamb to Jones layup and takes the lead. Portland’s Ryan Nichols answers with a made 15’ jump shot, score 2-2. For the next 2 minutes, both teams went through a scoring drought. At 17:19 minutes to go in the 1st half Jones shoots a jumper and scores. For the next minute Portland in quiet, after a Kidd-Gilchrist three point attempt Portland’s Nemanja Mitrovic hits his first three pointer of the night putting Portland up 7-6 with 16 minutes to go. Another minute and a half goes by that without a score until UK’s Teague dunks one down, 8-7…UK. At this juncture in the game Portland in running man to man defense and has out rebounded Kentucky. To start the game Portland has been the aggressor on the court and UK looks sluggish. They continue to play trading missed shots and turnovers until UK’s Terrence Jones blocks a layup attempt by Portland and is rebounded by Doron Lamb pushing the ball down the floor, pulling back to set up the offense moving the ball around that resulted in a Teague three point field goal, UK 11-7 lead. As Kentucky and Portland trade baskets for the next four minutes and UK starts to get some momentum, Portland calls a time out. Portland misses UK gets the ball, Davis pushes the ball down the floor and passes to Miller, Miller to Kidd-Gilchrist back door Davis, Gilchrist throws the ball into the air to Davis and Davis dunks the ball, 21-12 UK lead. Portland fires back with a three by Mitrovic, 21-15 with just over 7 minutes to go in the first half. Miller and Jones hit a couple three pointers, UK up 27-15. For the next couple of minutes UK adds a Jones jumper and a Teague layup. Portland calls a time out. Portland sets up Tanner Riley for a three point shot and nails it, UK 31-18. Portland will hit a few more three point shots before half time, Kentucky with a 38-26 lead going into half time.

At this junction in the game UK’s athleticism has put them on top of Portland but UK is not doing a good job on stopping Portland’s three point specialists. Portland is wining the rebounding war 21-16. Portland shot 50% from three point range while Kentucky is shooting 37.5%. Kentucky leads the field goal %, shooting 48.3% to Portland’s 30%. Kentucky needs to work on paint presence, defending the three and capitalizing on second chance points.

The start of 2nd half, UK comes out shooting, but Teague missed from three point range and Portland rebounds the ball pushing passed UK defenders scores a layup by Tim Douglas. On the other end, Gilchrist shoots and is fouled, he will hit 1 of 2 from the line, UK 39-28. Off the missed free throw Portland pusses the ball down the floor from Van Der Mars to Mitrovic for another three point made, UK 43-34. Kentucky tries to answer, with a Teague three pointer but misses rebound Gilchrist that is followed by a turnover, Portland ball. Portland moves up the floor into their set, swing the ball from left to right, Van Der Mars 10’ jumper is good, UK 43-36. At this point in the game UK appears to gain momentum and starts to push ahead that is sparked by two UK dunks by Davis and Gilchrist this sparked a 15-3 run pushing the lead 58-39. Darius Miller started adding (3) three point field goals and a couple jump shots. With 11:22 left to go in the game UK never looked back.Kentucky improves to 6-0 defeats Portland 87-63.

At the press conference Coach Cal said that he was a little disappointed in his team with their three point defense and their full court pressure. He went on to say that his team has many areas of improving before they matchup with Florida who will shoot 37 three pointers. Cal said if UK defends Florida the same way they defended Portland, Florida will beat UK by 109 points. I spoke to Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and asked him how they were preparing for the St. John’s game next week. Davis said that they have to block out in the paint, get into their transition game and play more physical in order to win. Next game St. John’s at Rupp Arena, 7:30.