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Posts from Saturday, Jan. 31

Sophomore forward Patrick Patterson and the Wildcats are looking for their sixth conference win today against South Carolina.

Sophomore forward Patrick Patterson and the Wildcats are looking for their sixth conference win today against South Carolina.

Wildcats topple nation's top duo

Posted 10:00 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

The Wildcats pulled off a huge upset on the tennis courts Saturday.

The No. 13 UK duo of senior Bruno Agostinelli and sophomore Brad Cox paired up Saturday to defeat the top-ranked doubles in the country from Ole Miss. UK lost four singles matches against Ole Miss and ultimately fell 4-3 in the second round of the 2009 Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Indoor Championship in Oxford, Miss., but the upset of the No. 1 duo in the nation proved the Wildcats deserve to be mentioned with the best teams in the country.

“It was a very good match and a great atmosphere with a big crowd in a nice indoor facility,” UK Coach Dennis Emery said. “This was the type of match we needed to play for us to get better. We had two freshmen play against a ranked junior and senior. Today gave those young guys a lot more experience on the court in tough matches. Ole Miss has an unbelievable home record with just a handful of losses over the past few years, so it is a very tough place to get a win.”

As you'd expect, toppling the No. 1 duo in the nation didn't come easy. Tied at 8-8, the teams had to go to a tiebreaker to settle the match.

In the tiebreaker, the Wildcats found themselves down 5-1 at at the first changeover, but Agostinelli and Cox came back to even the tiebreaker at 6-6 at the second changeover. UK went on to win three of the next four points to win the tiebreak 9-7 and clinch the match 9-8.

 

Final thoughts on the game

 

Posted at 9:05 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

 

First of all, I hope everybody enjoyed the new interactive blog today. We had some great feedback from you all, and I hope more of you will join us next time. Like anything new, we had a couple of hiccups (we lost connection for a few seconds during the game so we lost a few fan comments), but overall we had a great time listening to what you all had to say during the game.

 

Now, onto what went down today in Rupp Arena.

 

The theme of UK Coach Billy Gillispie’s post-game news conference was toughness, toughness, toughness. Gillispie has been extremely disappointed with his team’s effort the past two games and said they’re playing too soft.

 

In particular, he pointed to a loose ball situation midway through the second half when the Cats had a comfortable lead. The Gamecocks came up with the ball, passed it to Zam Fredrick, and then South Carolina started to get on a roll. It’s lackadaisical plays like that, Gillispie said, that has plagued UK in the last two games.

 

And he’s right. UK grabbed that 10-point lead midway through the second half and then became way too complacent until the Wildcats found themselves down. They were able to climb back in it and had a lead in the final minute, but when you don’t make the hustle plays, you’re usually not going to come up with the desired results.

 

The numbers speak for themselves. South Carolina had 18 offensive rebounds, 21 second-chance points and forced 21 UK turnovers. Looking at those numbers alone, it’s kind of shocking UK even had a chance to win.

 

Maybe the Wildcats would be wise to look at a player like South Carolina’s Devan Downey. The junior, all 5-foot-9 of him, epitomizes toughness. Even when the cards were down (he only had four first-half points), he kept fighting and ended up with the game-winning basket.

 

Now, back-to-back losses is troubling, but let’s not get too carried away with ourselves here. As Gillispie said after the game, the sky is not falling. It’s two losses. It is what it is.

 

The key thing is to get the toughness issue solved. We’re turning into February tomorrow, so the clock is ticking. It seems like there is still plenty of ball to be played, and technically there is, but UK needs to start rounding itself into shape if it wants to go anywhere in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Based on what you saw today, what’s the biggest reason for the recent two-game slide? Is it toughness like Gillispie said after the game? Something else? Let me know by e-mailing me at catscratches@email.uky.edu.

Also, the game recap is on the front page. Check it out here.

 

UK-South Carolina live blog


 

 

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