The SEC might not be so easy after all for Kentucky. They remain undefeated in the 2014-2015 season, but were pushed to the brink by Ole Miss in their first conference game, missing 89-86 in overtime led by a huge shooting performance from Aaron Harrison.
The Rebels, 9-5 going into their first SEC game of the season, had a chance to win the game in the final seconds by Jarvis Summers missed a long range 3-pointer. In the final seconds of overtime they missed a tough 3-pointer to try and tie the game, as Martavious Newby pulled up but was guarded rather well and forced into a very tough shot.
The story in the first half was the Kentucky defense not handling Stefan Moody, scoring 25 points with a fantastic array of buckets from close and long range, including connecting five times from beyond the arc during the game. Summers was the more dominant scorer in the second half with 23 points. These two made Kentucky put up their worst defensive performance of the season, and hung with them like no other team this year including Louisville not too long ago.
Kentucky Defense This Season (Via ESPN)
|1st 13 Games||Tuesday vs Ole Miss*|
|3-pt FG pct||26.7||52.4|
The biggest surprise was Ole Miss outscoring Kentucky in the paint 30-26, despite the size and depth of the Wildcats. This was the first time this season they’ve been outscored in the paint. John Calipari said it was about passion and fire more than anything else. Kentucky did seem more motivated in the second half, but maybe there was more to this fantastic game than just wanting it more than your very talented rivals.
We’re still learning and this is a wake-up call for them. Look, teams are coming after you. We didn’t play great, but you have to give it to Mississippi, they played. We knew they were going to fight. The SEC is tougher than what people think and we knew they weren’t going to lay down. They came out and fought really hard. We had a game where we had to make big plays and we made them.
Aaron Harrison led the game with 26 points, including five 3-pointers. Four other Kentucky players scored in double figures, but the Wildcats were trailing deep in overtime and their problems from the free throw line almost cost them the game, shooting 28-of-40 and missing the shots that would have sealed it in overtime. The SEC is more difficult than it’s made out to be, and despite the 14-0 start, perfection and going undefeated is far from guaranteed.