Kentucky Basketball is More than Jodie Meeks And His 54 Points. Seriously.
When Kentucky Basketball has been mentioned across the country this year, I think most everyone automatically thinks of the 54 points junior guard Jodie Meeks put up at Tennessee. I mean, 15-22 on field goals, 10-15 on three's, and 14-14 on free throws. I mean, that's UK's all-time record, passing the great Dan Issel's 53 from almost 40 years ago. But the team really is more than just Jodie Meeks.
As many know, sophomore Patrick Patterson is one of the best in the big men in the country. His natural position is power forward, but since the only true center we have is Jared Carter, he had to be moved to center for his two years at Kentucky. This season, he's averaging almost 18 points and over 9 rebounds a game. If it weren't for him, UK would be nowhere near where they are today. He, along with Meeks, are the scorers on the team, and the team leaders as well. Together, they combine for 44 points a game, now that is a great duo. But, UK basketball is still more than that.
Two major key players for UK are also junior Perry Stevenson and freshman Darius Miller. Stevenson leads the team in blocks with 2.3 per game, and the team is 2nd in the nation, because of the tandem of Stevenson and Patterson down low. Stevenson also averages almost seven rebounds and eight points a game. Miller has struggled a big part of this season, but lately has been playing more like himself. I mean, he was Mr. Basketball last year in Kentucky. He had just put too much pressure on himself, but is finally starting to play up to his potential. Kentucky basketball is still more.
Ramon Harris, (who collapsed at Alabama, but has been cleared to play, and I also saw him the day after he collapsed and he said he was feeling great), is phenomenal on the defensive side of the ball. He's not great with the shot selection, but Stevenson, Patterson, and Harris, I believe are the foundations of our defense. Josh Harrellson is a JUCO player who is in his first year at UK. He's one of those big men that doesn't really get all the stats, but does what you need him to do. He can rebound, he can score, he can shoot the three, he plays good defense, and he can get some blocks here and there. DeAndre Liggins leads the team in assists, but I believe he will transfer next year. He has not been a very good team player throughout, and I'm honestly ready for him to leave. Michael Porter is one of those guys that no one likes because he makes so many mistakes. Yes, he's been a turnover machine during his career at UK, but lately, he has finally stepped up and done well at starting point guard. He has had some turnovers, but he's hit some critical shots late in games, made some great passes, and has done pretty well defensively. Then you've got the situational players who have done great. Landon Slone doesn't play much, but when he does, he gets done what needs to get done. Same with AJ Stewart and Kevin Galloway.
Then you've got the team chemistry. Since the loss to Miami on December 6th, UK has finally started playing like a team. They've won 11 out of their last 12, the only loss coming at Louisville on a last second shot by Edgar Sosa to win it by three. This team is legitimate, they're on fire, and other teams better watch out in the Big Dance.
Oh, and we're only getting better. Although Patterson may leave, we have Daniel Orton, currently given a grade 97 by ESPN.com, along with John Hood (grade 89), and GJ Vilarino (grade 88) coming in next year. Lance Stephenson (grade 98 is also still considering UK.) Billy Gillespie has done an amazing job with this program, and will continue to succeed as head coach of the University of Kentucky Wildcats.