It Can't Get Much Worse For Gillispie

By Josh Herwitt - December 15, 2007

Maybe he didn't hear me.

Maybe he didn't believe me.

But Billy Gillispie just might want to think about that Southwest Airlines gig after all.

In what was one of the biggest choke jobs of the season, UAB overcame a 14-point deficit with 10:54 left in the second half to stun the Wildcats with a 79-76 victory at Louisville's Freedom Hall Saturday.

And afterward, it was two former Indiana Hoosiers in UAB coach Mike Davis and junior guard-forward Robert Vaden who got to share the spotlight for the Blazers.

"This is a proud moment for our program and a proud moment for our conference," Davis asserted. "Being on national television and then to win a game like this, especially the way we won the game, was big. We hit the shots we needed to make."

That was certainly the case with Vaden, who scored 28 of his career-high 33 points in the second half and was nearly unconscious from three after halftime, draining seven of 11 attempts from beyond the arc.

"Going into halftime, we knew if we were going to have a chance to be in this game, we would have to play a lot harder in the second half, and we did," Vaden explained. "I was just out there playing, but it felt pretty good to be hitting shots. A lot of those points came in the second half when we needed them."

For Gillispie and Kentucky, though, it was another low point in a season that has already seen the Wildcats get stunned at home by Gardner-Webb back in November and blown out in Bloomington, Ind., by No. 13 Indiana last Saturday.

"It has been rough so far and we know that it is, but we have been getting tougher," Gillispie remarked after the loss. "It's bad that we are having to learn so many tough lessons early on in the season. We battled back, it just wasn't enough to win."

Kentucky stormed out to a 12-point lead at halftime on some hot three-point shooting from senior Ramel Bradley, but Gillispie's team cooled off in the second half, and that left the door open for Vaden and the Blazers to turn things around and come away with its biggest victory so far this season.

"It always hurts to lose games but times like these are when we have to come together as a team," said Bradley, who led the Wildcats with 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting (5-of-10 from three-point range) to go along with six rebounds and two assists. "Right now we just have to keep going and keep our heads up because it is a long season. It is so important for us to keep our confidence right now and remind ourselves that we can play good ball."

"I think we just get scared and don't attack the basket," added Gillispie. "We had a couple of guys get in the wrong spots today. I don't think we panic, I just think that we were real tentative with the ball and some guys just didn't know where they were supposed to go."

But when it comes down to it, it wasn't the Wildcats' offense that cost them the game. It was the defense, which allowed UAB to shoot 70 percent from the floor in the second half and use a 16-0 run after halftime to retake the lead in the final 2:28 to play.

"We just can't be as lackadaisical as we were defensively today to have a chance to win," Gillispie offered. "We didn't pressure the basketball at all. We just didn't compete for baskets."

With the way things are going in Lexington these days, Kentucky might not be competing for much at all this season.

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 04:10 PM on December 15, 2007
Comments (2)


Bad calls, blood on a player and poor judgement on defense by the Cats. One of the refs working the game was the same ref that gave the technicals against them when they were at Indiana. And he bent over backwards to call it for UAB to make up for those calls back then. Just plain bad luck in the second half.

In the 2nd half, Kentucky didn't have an answer on offense to UAB's shifting defensive stances. Who's fault was that?

Answer: the coaches.

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