Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

SEC tournament: Kentucky Wildcats can smile for now after beating Ole Miss

TAMPA — Kentucky's Jodie Meeks and Darius Miller strolled onto the stage for their postgame news conference cracking jokes and wearing wide smiles. They looked exactly like you'd expect carefree college ballplayers to look.

But, lately, this scene has been an unfamiliar site for the Wildcats.

Kentucky's 71-58 win over Mississippi in the first round of the SEC tournament Thursday provided some much-needed relief for a program that — according to coach Billy Gillispie — has "been reeling."

The Wildcats (20-12) advance to meet West top seed LSU this afternoon at the St. Pete Times Forum, setting up a rematch with a team that dealt Kentucky one of its four straight losses to end the regular season. All told, Kentucky lost eight of 11 down the stretch.

Thursday, it faced a two-point deficit after a tightly contested first half, but the Wildcats leaned on a ferocious defense, hustle plays and Meeks' 15 second-half points to pull away.

Whereas Mississippi was getting its share of loose balls and protecting the ball in the first half, Kentucky turned up its pressure on guard Terrico White and the Rebels, forcing them into 11 second-half turnovers. During one stretch beginning with 15:52 left, they committed turnovers on three straight possessions. Meanwhile, the Wildcats crashed the boards and hauled in 13 total offensive rebounds to the Rebels' seven.

"We refer to effort areas every game, and they dominated in those areas," Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said.

But Kentucky did something more obvious in the second half: make shots. The Rebels shot 31.8 percent in the second half, not nearly enough to keep up with Kentucky's sizzling 53.8 percent conversion rate.

It was all so refreshing.

"We've had a couple of leads this year, and we didn't finish the game out right," Gillispie said.

For the game, Meeks was 9-of-15. Forward Patrick Patterson finished with 15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. White led Mississippi with 21 points.

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com.

Kentucky 71

Ole Miss 58

SEC tournament: Kentucky Wildcats can smile for now after beating Ole Miss 03/12/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 12, 2009 9:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Family a driving force for University of Tampa pitcher David Lebron

    College

    TAMPA — For University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron, baseball reminds him of family. He uses it to help honor the memory of his father, who taught him the game. One day, he hopes his career can help support his mother and allow her to rest.

    University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron (Courtesy of University of Tampa)
  2. L.A. delay could re-open Super Bowl chance for Tampa in 2021

    Blogs

    Construction delays on the NFL's new stadium in Los Angeles mean the Rams and Chargers won't be playing there until 2020, a year later than expected, and the ripple effect could give Tampa another chance at landing a Super Bowl in February 2021.

    Tampa and Raymond James Stadium last hosted a Super Bowl in 2009, when the Pittsburgh Steelers edged the Arizona Cardinals.
  3. Bucs' Gerald McCoy, Jameis Winston honored in NFL top 100

    Blogs

    Helping fans pass time through the offseason each summer, NFL Network has been unveiling its top 100 players for 2017 as chosen by the players, and the Bucs' Gerald McCoy and Jameis Winston are the first Tampa Bay players revealed, coming in at No. 52 and 57, respectively.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis WInston and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, shown in the 2016 season finale against the Panthers, have both been named to the NFL Network's top 100 players for 2017.
  4. The play occurred in the third inning when Angels rookie Nolan Fontana, making his major league debut, tried to slide past the tag of Rays second baseman Michael Martinez.
  5. Former Gator Caleb Brantley paying a steep price for nothing

    Bucs

    It turns out Caleb Brantley isn't quite the dirtbag that millions of people presumed. It's too bad the damage to his reputation and bank account is already done.

    Caleb Brantley, who dropped to the sixth round of the draft, works out during Browns rookie minicamp. [Associated Press]