Down go the Wildcats! Down go the Wildcats! Last evening, in stunning upset fashion, the South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the newly number 1 ranked Wildcats. One day at number one proved too much to handle for this very young and talented Kentucky squad. John Calipari had said all day that he was curious to see how his young squad would react to the number 1 ranking. I mean Calipari has voted his team number 1 pretty much all year in every poll so I am not sure why he was curious about this . It was inevitable for this team to hit the top of rankings. But maybe they are not quite ready for the limelight.
The littlest guy on the court slayed the monster juggernaut that is the UK Wildcats. The little big fellow, as I will call him, was the sole reason the Gamecocks, a team that was previously 0 and 7 vs number 1 ranked teams in school history, was able to pull off the monumental upset. Downey scored 30 points and could not be stopped down the stretch. Maybe John Wall is not the fastest player in the country? I kept hearing how Downey is just good at changing speeds and that is why he continually blew by the super frosh. Whatever it was, Wall at 6 4 had a half-foot on Downey and still got smoked consistently throughout the entire game. John Wall may be the main candidate for National Player of the Year, but do we have another candidate for SEC Player of the Year? Lets not forget that Downey dropped 36 against Florida in a 2 point loss to the Gators a few days ago.
Downey is a journeyman. He originally began his career as a UC Bearcat and transferred after the departure of interim head coach Andy Kennedy. Downey has been a part of college basketball for 5 years and has a lot of game experience. UC is kicking themselves over letting this guy get away and UK is wishing that Downey would have stayed a Bearcat. Even at just 5 9, he was able to score at will on one of the biggest and longest teams in the country. Kind of scary.
Now last night does not make me think much less of UK. But it does unveil that invincibility cloak that they had sported for the duration of the season. This team has consistently grinded out close games against lesser opponents all season and was unable to get the job done down the stretch against a very mediocre South Carolina team last night. Analysts all year have pointed at the Wildcats youth as the only factor that could hold them back from a National Championship with 3 freshman starters.
When the team started out 19 and 0 I thought nothing of these predictions. Last night made me think a little bit different. The team moves to number 1, and loses to a very undersized and undermanned South Carolina team one day after becoming number 1? Can this team handle the pressure of being the hunted? Should be very interesting to see how the Wildcats come out against Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Last night was a great showcase for the little big fellow who is still making a case for the NBA even at just 5 foot 9.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.