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. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant, Alex Colome worrying in 10-inning victory (w/video)

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning while working eight solid. And Alex Colome couldn't have been much worse, blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better, which could make the decision whether to trade him tougher. Cobb had a no-hitter through six and threw his biggest pitch with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, getting Josh Bell to roll into a double play.

  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)