Sunday Morning PG: Hoosiers Nicksin’, Cats Jonesin’, Bearcats & Musketeers Brawlin’, Cards Sleepwalkin’

There is a singular aspect to Kentucky’s loss at the horn to Indiana that intrigues beyond any other facet of the hard fought tilt.

Whither Terrence Jones?

On the way home from U of L’s snoozefest, I listened to the end of the first half of UK/ IU as the Wildcats scored 7 straight to cut the margin at the break to a digit. I watched the ebb and flow of the second half, which featured marvelous play by both schools at both ends of the court.

Except for Terrence Jones. His four point, one rebound, six turnover stat line will be viewed with astonishment by all who peruse the box score.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team’s star in any game ever so disengaged. Physically. Emotionally. His body language was very odd. Seriously passive. Once lining up in the free throw land, he looked almost shy, as if he didn’t want fully engage.

To the untrained eye, and to an observer who hasn’t watched him intensely game in and game out, it appeared as if there was something weighing heavily on his mind. Family problems. Girlfriend problems. I’d swear one time it looked like he was about to cry.

I don’t say this as a means to start rumors or cast aspersions. I know nothing other than what I saw as I watched the game. It could be as simple as that he was disheartened at his performance on such a big stage. Or as complex as major psychological issue. Or somewhere between.

Whatever, it was amazing to watch. And certainly sad for UK fans who expect more from Jones.

* * * * *

Kentucky was down 1 at the half.

Kentucky hit 17 for 25 after the break. 68% on the road, in as loud and rabid an environment as a team can face.

Which is to say this. Indiana won this game. Kentucky did not lose it.

The Hoosiers hit their treys. The Hoosiers weathered a sterling comeback by the #1 team in the land. The Hoosiers made plays when they needed to.

It will be a travesty if they poll as usual this week, creeping into the lower echelon of the Top 25. Undefeated, with a strong road win at NC State, and yesterday’s W, IU proved that it’s one of the 16 best teams in the country as they head into finals week.

I dined last night with a group of friends, one of whom is an IU grad. As we were ordering he received a text from a fellow grad, which read, “How’d you like to be at Nick’s right now?”

I’m sure the iconic Bloomington hangout was hoppin’.

* * * * *

I was among the many who felt IU had NO chance to beat the Wildcats.

I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Obviously.

Good for Tom Crean and the Hoosiers.

Indiana has one of the great traditions in college hoops, going back decades. Yes, kids, even predating surly Bobby Knight. Hurryin’ Hoosiers. Don Schlundt. Jimmy Rayl. The VAs. Branch McCracken.

Great to have the Hoosiers back in the mix where they belong.

* * * * *

Here are Saturday’s undisputed villains of the day.

Tony Crisp. Jeff Anderson. Michael Roberts.

Those are the zebras who called the Xavier/ Cincy battle that became, literally, a battle.

I did not watch the entire game, but saw enough of it to know that there was woofin’ and pushin’ and elbowin’ from the get go. Which these refs allowed to fester, until it blew out of control with seconds to play.

What Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mbodj, Dez Wells and their teammates did was totally uncalled for and unacceptable. But a capable officiating crew, aware of the venomous animus that exists between these two squads, would have taken charge of the game early. Which would have made the skirmish that ended the contest — and perhaps the series, at least temporarily — far less likely.

My hat’s off to Cincy coach Mick Cronin, who reacted as forthrightly as any coach I can recall. He pointed no fingers at the opposition. He offered no excuses for his player’s unacceptable actions.

Kudos to Cronin.

Suspend the players involved. From both sides.

Suspend the officials who allowed it to happen.

* * * * *

C.L. Brown’s game story on Louisville’s flat performance and boring W over Fairleigh Dickinson was right on.

The first third of his article was about Briahn Smith trying to enter the game without his jersey and Greg Scruggs’ playing the drums with the pep band. The only thing he missed was the explicable but blessed absence of Joey on the microphone during timeouts.

Those were the highlights.

This looks like a team on a collision course with a comeuppance. If the Cards don’t find some offensive rhythm and panache, they could easily have 3 Ls before the New Year.

If the pollsters do what they usually do, U of L is likely to be #2 or #3 later today. What a schuck.

The list of teams I’ve seen that are unequivocally better than U of L at this juncture includes UK, Ohio State (even without Sullinger), Syracuse, North Carolina, Indiana, Duke, Xavier, Marquette, UConn, Missouri, Florida, Georgetown and perhaps, Harvard.

The Cardinals do have injuries, and are short handed. But to be legit, you’ve got to be able to run some O.

– Seedy K

3 Comments

  1. cbcard
    Posted December 11, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Cronnin stepped up with his comments. But Xavier’s Mack is acting like a pol, not really saying anything more than the slightest lip service. I have no respect for him.

    And yes, you are correct that the Zebras allowed this to happen. I have been to many games where all of a sudden the calls switch from letting everything go to calling a foul when a player tic tacs another. That’s when officials step up and take control. I do not excuse the players in this brawl but it started with the Zebras. And what really irks me is that when (assuming it really does happen) officials are disciplined it is behind closed doors and the public doesn’t know what transpired if in fact anything did. It takes double secret probation to a new level.

    And UofL’s LB State win doesn’t look as bad as UNC beat them by only a half dozen.

  2. doug
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Now that the punishments have been handed out, Cronin’s passionate postgame rant is ringing a little hollow. If I were a Cincy alum, I don’t know that I would want to see Gates in uniform again.
    Xavier player’s comments proclaimning pride in his team’s “gangster” response to being “disrespected” (I hate that word!) were almost as disturbing as the fight itself.

  3. cbcard
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Mick backed down. Not good. Yancey should be long gone. And the X suspensions are far too light also.

    Where is Fred Horton when you need him?

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