Wildcat Comeback

  • November 30, 2008 01:29 AM
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By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
November 29, 2008

Kentucky 54 West Virginia 43
Las Vegas Invitational
Championship Game
West Virginia
Stat Comparison
FG Made-Att 15-39 15-49
FG Percentage 38.5% 30.6%
3P Made-Att 1-5 3-18
3P Percentage 20.0% 16.7%
FT Made-Att 23-25 10-17
FT Percentage 92.0% 58.8%
Rebounds 36 26
Turnovers 23 16
Top WVU Players
Top Scorer
Top Rebounder
Alex Ruoff
10 Points
Da'Sean Butler
9 Rebounds

Jodie Meeks scored 19 points and Patrick Patterson added 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead Kentucky to a 54-43 come-from-behind victory over West Virginia in the championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational Saturday at the Orleans Arena in downtown Las Vegas.

Meeks got 12 of his 19 points from the free throw line and the Wildcats cashed in on 23 of 25 from the line in a rough, physical game that kept officials busy. A total of 41 fouls were called on both teams with West Virginia being whistled for 24.

West Virginia (4-1) controlled play for the first 25 minutes of the game before hitting a cold spell. The Mountaineers made just three field goals in more than 13 minutes of play, and did not make a field goal during the remaining 7:12 of the game.

“We had great shots and we didn’t make any,” Huggins said.

West Virginia’s big guns Alex Ruoff and Da'Sean Butler were a combined 5 of 22 from the floor with Ruoff going 1 of 10 from behind the 3-point arc.

“We were 5 of 22 from those two and Alex was 1 for 10 from 3 and they were good looks. I thought he took one bad one when we ran the stagger for him. Other than that, the other nine were step-in shots that you’re supposed to make,” Huggins said. “Jodie Meeks made them and we were as open as he was.”

West Virginia was 5 of 19 from the floor in the second half and finished the game 15 of 49 overall for 30.6 percent.

Patrick Patterson and Josh Harrellson had double-doubles; Harrellson came off the bench to add 12-points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats, now 4-2.

In the early going West Virginia’s half-court pressure was giving Kentucky great difficulty. The Mountaineers used a Truck Bryant 3, a Butler free throw and a pretty Ruoff feed to Flowers on the break to build a 26-16 lead.

Three times West Virginia led by 12 at 28-16, 30-18 and finally at 32-20 before the Mountaineers went cold. Kentucky was the biggest beneficiary of the whistle, cashing in on 17 of 17 from the free throw line in the second half.

“If we make shots in the first half it’s over because then they’ve got to come out and get us,” Huggins said. “When you’re not making your shots we have to find some way to get it to the rim. You’ve to be able to throw the ball close and you’ve got to be able to score. That’s what we did a year ago with Joe Alexander.

“My job is to fix it and we will.”

After Wellington Smith’s 3 tied the game with 7:09 remaining, Kentucky was able to get a pair of free throws at the other end from Harrellson to make it 41-39. Ruoff tied the game at 41 on a pair of free throws and West Virginia had a chance to retake the lead with John Flowers at the line with 5:12 left and shooting one-and-one.

But Flowers, 0 for 11 from the line this year, missed his 12th and the Wildcats were able to cash in on a lob inside to Harrellson. The big play was a three-point play from Patterson with 4:15 remaining when Patterson was able to beat Flowers under the basket for a basket and convert the free throw after he was fouled by Flowers.

“When they make the run we miss the front end of a one-and-one which I guess we’re going to have to get used to or have them shoot 100 underhand or something,” Huggins said.

All eight of Kentucky’s remaining points came from the free throw line.

“We’re going to have to keep a 10-point lead because they’re going to start fouling us and what are you going to do? I was upset with those guys that came off the bench last night because we’ve got two guys that can make free throws,” Huggins said. “But we’ve got to throw them in and they can’t handle the ball and they’ve got to be serviceable on defense and go to the line and make free throws. Then you know you can trade baskets.”

Kentucky had a 36-26 advantage on the glass against the Mountaineers to compensate for a 23-16 disadvantage in turnovers.

Ruoff was the only WVU player to reach double figures with 10 points.

“We played. It wasn’t like we didn’t play,” Huggins said. “Patrick Patterson has got four fouls and we’re trying to run an iso and we throw the ball to the other side of the floor.

“You’ve got a left-handed point guard and a right-handed point guard. When the right-handed point guard is in he’s going to take it to the right because he can’t pass the ball with his left hand to the baseline when they’re on the high side. So we’re going to take it there and we line up on that side when guys really ought to know better. It’s the first time we’ve really been in a hard situation and we didn’t respond very well.”

West Virginia next travels to Oxford, Miss., to take on 5-1 Mississippi Wednesday night in a 9 p.m. game that will be televised on Fox Sports South.

The Rebels beat Morgan State earlier tonight 78-70 and also show victories over Arkansas State, South Alabama, Marshall and Central Florida. The only loss was an 83-72 decision against Utah in Daytona Beach, Fla.


  • Kentucky’s 16 points in the first half were the fewest the Wildcats scored since Kentucky scored 16 at Ole Miss on Jan. 19, 2005.

  • The Wildcats improve to 13-4 against the Mountaineers and have won seven straight including an 80-66 decision in Kansas City in 2006.

  • West Virginia is in the midst of a 30-day stretch when the Mountaineers play just once at the Coliseum against Cleveland State on Saturday, Dec. 6. In addition to Mississippi on Wednesday, West Virginia also plays Davidson in New York City on Dec. 9 and then at Duquesne on Dec. 13.