Cats find a new way to win in victory over Ole Miss


Sacha Killeya-Jones #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats and Quade Green #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats defend an Ole Miss player during the game Wednesday, February 28, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated Ole Miss 96-78. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

Against Ole Miss, the UK basketball team showed it could win in a different way: through physicality and aggression.

For some reason, Ole Miss came to Rupp Arena intent on bullying the Cats to a 9-8 record in SEC play. Needless to say, that was not the result of the game. UK ended up defeating the Rebels by 18.

Recap: UK wins fourth straight after downing Ole Miss

This game saw more chippy play in the first five minutes than the Cats have probably seen all year, except for in West Virginia. Marcanvis Hymon was out of control, getting tossed before the second media timeout after two quick technical fouls. UK center Nick Richards picked up his first technical of the season in the process as well.

The fans in Rupp got an extremely rare sight Wednesday night, one that should be encouraging: The Cats were frustrated into action. They matched intensity with intensity, so they won the game.

“If they fight, we’re going to fight too. As a team,” Quade Green said after the game.

For example, when Wenyen Gabriel got posterized by Ole Miss’s Breein Tyree, he immediately threw the 6-2 guard into his own bench. Was it right, or legal? Absolutely not. Was it surprising, and even encouraging? You bet. Gabriel got UK’s second technical foul for his efforts.

To be fair, Gabriel did say after the game that he was “going for the ball.” Because of course, the ball is a Rebel guard in this scenario.

Read: Gabriel proves his value in win over Ole Miss

Another time was by Hamidou Diallo, who has been struggling of late. A 50-50 ball bounced out of bounds and appeared to have last been touched by the Rebels. The officials said otherwise and Diallo, along with Green, vehemently disagreed, although not enough to pick up more technical fouls.

As soon as the next play started, Diallo batted the ball out of bounds, for it to stay with Ole Miss again. The Cats eventually forced the turnover, and Rupp Arena thunderously cheered for what was, in the grand scheme of the game, a minor play.

Podcast: UK’s win over Ole Miss making Chris question his alliance

Too often, when the Cats give up a big play, or a big run, they bow their heads a bit and struggle to get started again. That was never the case against the Rebels, as an Ole Miss run always seemed to lead into one by UK. There were only three minutes in the game during which the Cats trailed.

This game was not perfect for the Cats by any stretch of the imagination. However, there was a level of physicality and aggression that spectators haven’t been used to this season. Even if it doesn’t always work out, it shows effort.