Another day, another 15-point win over an SEC team, right? The Cats cruised by Alabama →
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 31st, 2015 @ 10:30pm
Another day, another 15-point win over an SEC team, right? The Cats cruised by Alabama tonight 70-55 to complete the sweep, and thanks to Duke, become the only undefeated team left in the country. Kick back, grab another, and let’s go over it.
UK’s bigs finally reasserted themselves
Trey Lyles had to sit tonight’s game out due to illness, but that didn’t stop the Cats from putting in one of their more efficient offensive performances of the season. Kentucky made a season-best 59% of their shots from the floor to Alabama’s 46%. After Kentucky’s guards stole the spotlight in recent games, the big men showed back up tonight, combining for 38 of UK’s 70 points. “We finally had some post presence,” Cal raved after the game, giving Karl (at least in the first half), Dakari, Willie, and Marcus Lee credit. “When you’re 8-8 from your post players, you end up playing pretty good.”
Will Trey be back for Tuesday night’s game vs. Georgia? The jury’s still out. “Don’t know if he’ll play against Georgia. He’s pretty sick,” Cal said. “We’re having tests done. He was pretty sick after the Missouri game. It changes us.”
I’m going to try really hard over the next few days to not be concerned about that.
First half Karl > Second half Karl
Karl Towns got a lot of heat from John Calipari this week after a string of bad games, and in the first half, he responded to the challenge, putting up 12 points in 12 minutes on 4-4 shooting. Cal was thrilled as he headed to the locker room. “He looked like the best big man in the country in the first half,” Cal said. “That shows you how good he can be.”
The second half? Not so much. Towns didn’t score a single point in the second half, playing only three minutes before fouling out. As you can imagine, Cal was upset. “Whatever you’re telling yourself at halftime, you better stop.” Cal said. “That second half is just like, come on now. No way. This should have been a 25 and eight night for him, it really should have.”
Karl knows. “You have to keep playing through a lot of things that happen in the second half, no excuses and just keep going,” Karl told reporters afterwards. “I have to make sure I play the same game I played in the first half.”
Knowing Karl, he’ll punish himself with no recreational reading for a week.
Marcus Lee had yet another good game
Marcus Lee put in another solid performance, with 8 points and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes. “Marcus Lee was really good,” Cal told Tom Leach. “When Dakari missed that one-footer, he came and tipped it back in. Those can be demoralizing. Those change the complexion of the game.”
Cal being Cal, he had to find one thing to nitpick: “Couple one-handed rebounds.” By the end of his career at Kentucky, Lee may be known as “One-handed Marcus,” a really unfortunate nickname for a college kid.
Devin Booker warmed back up
Devin Booker had a rough trip to Missouri, but finally got back in the groove. After a few bricks, Booker finally connected and reloaded the shotgun, finishing with 11 points, including three of four threes. If you’re keeping count, he’s now made 25 of his last 38 threes for 68%.
“I thought he played good,” Cal said. “I got upset that we threw a ball to him in the corner and he didn’t have a shot, instead of driving it, he just passed it.”
Fouls made the game unwatchable…again
Not to sound like a totally spoiled UK fan who’s complaining about her team’s 21st straight win, but did the second half drag for anyone else? It’s probably because, yet again, the refs tried to choke all the life out of the game, calling 41 fouls, although it felt like a lot more than that. Cal doesn’t seem too concerned.
“When you have a good team you don’t have to worry about refs. When your team’s not good, you really worry about refs. Say put a fourth out there. Somebody said four times zero is zero. Six times zero is zero.”
Actually, anything times zero is zero. Wait, why are we doing math again?
The BBN repped at Louisville/North Carolina and Duke/Virginia because of course
At this point, why wouldn’t you want to wear your colors in enemy territory? It’s the best thing ever.
Calipari still wants more
You can’t blame the guys for getting a bit complacent. Kentucky has trailed only 103 minutes out of 855 minutes the entire season. Aside from a few scares from Ole Miss and suddenly surging Texas A&M, they haven’t really been challenged. Think of the Cats like…well, cats playing with a ball of yarn for a while until they get bored and it drifts too far away and then pulling it back to go in for the kill. In a game it felt like Kentucky was up by 30, it was sometimes a bit surprising to look at the score and realize they were only up by 15. While Cal says he’s okay with room for improvement, he wants his team to hone that killer instinct.
“We shoot 50-some percent, had five turnovers, and there was, we were just a little bit off,” Cal said. “Now think about what I’m saying. I may be wanting these guys to be perfect on every possession, but you know what? I just think we have to keep that standard high of what we’ll accept and what we’re not accepting.”
Standard coach-speak, but I think Cal, like the fans, just wants to see how good this team can be out of sheer curiosity at this point. “This team, the question is, how good can we be. And I don’t know yet. I’m trying to get guys to go to that next level. I’m prodding and pushing and screaming and yelling, go, because I really do want to see how good can we really be.”
Even though everyone else is, the team claims they’re not thinking about undefeated
For the first time probably ever, Duke earned a cheer in Rupp Arena tonight. Why? They knocked #2 Virginia off the pedestal to leave Kentucky as the only undefeated team left standing. Calipari said he talked to the team last night to keep their undefeated dreams in check, telling them if they lose, it’s not the end of the world. “We lose today, we’re 20-1. So? We lose in March, your season’s over,” Cal said. “I’d rather them win them all, but if they don’t, they don’t.”
Like a good basketball player, Aaron Harrison claimed the team isn’t thinking about the “un” word. “It doesn’t matter. It means nothing at all,” Aaron said. “Because neither one of us have won anything or lost anything.”
I’m glad Aaron’s being reasonable, because as the games go on, I’m finding it harder and harder to be.
Marlana Van Hoose delivered the best rendition of the national anthem that you will ever hear in your entire life
By Drew Franklin on ©January 31st, 2015 @ 10:12pm
By Drew Franklin on ©January 31st, 2015 @ 10:08pm
“The question is how good can we be, and I don’t know yet,” Calipari said after the game. “I’m trying to get guys to go to that next level,”
You mean, there’s another level?
Oh man. That sounds fun. Kentucky is 21-0, winning damn near every game by double digits, and Cal wants to go to the next level. That’s exciting.
By Drew Franklin on ©January 31st, 2015 @ 10:00pm
Kentucky was without its two small forwards tonight and Derek Willis still didn’t find time in the game. This seemed to be the perfect opportunity to let the Kentucky boy get some clock, but Calipari did not see it that way. He used a nine-man rotation with Aaron Harrison and Devin Booker sharing Lyles’ minutes at the three. Willis watched on from the pine.
Afterward, Cal assured us Derek will get his chance, eventually.
“He’s going to have his opportunities,” said Cal. “Other guys deserved to play.”
I’m sure Matt will get a call or two about this from all of the Willis fans around the state, who were already begging for minutes before tonight. Voice your frustration in the comments section below if ya got it.
By Drew Franklin on ©January 31st, 2015 @ 9:28pm
Trey Lyles did not play and did not attend today’s game due to an undisclosed illness. Kentucky may be without the freshman forward again on Tuesday against Georgia.
Coach Cal said, “Don’t know if he will play on Tuesday. He is pretty sick.”
Speaking of pretty sick, it’s pretty sick to be the only unbeaten team in college basketball and two wins away from the second best start in school history.
By Drew Franklin on ©January 31st, 2015 @ 9:22pm
— Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) February 1, 2015
Anthony Davis took a break from dominating the entire NBA to send out a 21-0 tweet after today’s victory. He should be a senior right now. CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT HE WOULD DO TO COLLEGE BASKETBALL?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 31st, 2015 @ 9:06pm
It was another run-of-the-mill SEC win as the Cats put away Alabama 70-55. Thanks to Duke, Kentucky is the only undefeated team in college basketball, as Virginia went down at home.
The Cats shot at season-high 59% from the field, and Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl Towns led all scorers with 12 points a piece.
We’ll have more throughout the night.
By BrandonRamsey on ©January 31st, 2015 @ 6:00pm
Kentucky Basketball Scouting Report
Opponent: University of Alabama Date: 1/17/15
- 13-7, 3-4 this season. Coming off a tough stretch dating back to our last meeting.
- #20 Levi Randolph is one of the best players in the SEC.
- Very physical team; they will look to get into you defensively and bother the ball.
- Playing without 2nd leading scorer Ricky Tarrant (13.1 ppg).
#20 G Levi Randolph: 6’5’’ 208 SR.
Randolph has had an outstanding 4-year career for the Tide and is one of the SEC’s most improved players so far this season. He is a do-everything guard averaging 14.7 points and 5 rebounds per game. He is a good athlete with very good size on the perimeter. Randolph has turned himself into a good shooter, knocking in 31% of his 3’s and connecting on 83% of his foul shots. He is definitely still more aggressive as a driver than a shooter though.
#21 G Rodney Cooper: 6’6’’ 218 SR.
Cooper is super athletic and does a great job of rebounding from the perimeter; he led Alabama in rebounding as a junior. He is their best 3-point shooter so we have to take away his catch-and-shoot, he is shooting over 40% on the season from 3. Averaging 10.9 points and 4 rebounds. He knocked in 2 3’s against us a couple of weeks ago.
#1 G/F Riley Norris: 6’7’’ 207 FR.
He was a highly rated recruit out of high school and has made an impact off the bench in his first year at Alabama. Norris is a great 3-point shooter, connecting on 45.8% of his 3’s so far this season. He is a good athlete and plays with a very high motor and basketball IQ. Averaging 4.7 points and 3.6 rebounds. Norris is beginning to take on an expanded roll for the Tide and had a solid, efficient game off the bench last time out against us.
#3 F Michael Kessens: 6’9’’ 223 SO.
After an outstanding freshman season at Longwood, Kessens transferred to Alabama and sat out last year. He is a strong kid with good feet in the post. He is averaging 6.9 points and a team-leading 5.8 rebounds per game. He works very hard and has good instincts on the offensive glass. I expect to see Kessens slide back into the starting lineup to matchup better with our size.
#10 F Jimmie Taylor: 6’10’’ 240 SO.
Taylor is a big, strong presence on the low block. He isn’t overly skilled or aggressive offensively, but he is a great finisher and cleans up a lot on the offensive glass. Defensively he is blocking nearly 2 shots a game and is improving on really impacting the game without fouling.
#5 G Justin Coleman: 5’10’’ 160 FR.
Coleman is having a solid freshman season in his role as the backup point guard. His scoring ability allows him to play off the ball at times as well if he has too. He is an aggressive offensive player and will look to make plays when he is in the game. We have to just use our size and make him score contested 2’s over us.
#32 G Retin Obasohan: 6’1’’ 208 RS JR.
After being the 3rd leading scorer a year ago, Retin has taken on a smaller roll off the bench for the Tide so far this season. He is a very strong guard who will really get after it defensively. Good shooter.
#11 F Shannon Hale: 6’8’’ 226 SO.
A back up forward, Hale has picked up right where he left off after a strong freshman season. The skilled face-up 4 man has yet to find his stroke from beyond the arc, but is very capable of knocking it in from deep. Very skilled offensively and can’t let him getting going from 3-point range. Averaging 7.6 points per game.
Keys to the Game
- Contain Levi Randolph. There isn’t a player in the country that is good enough to beat us on his own, but Randolph is the type of player who can give UK a lot of problems. He is big and physical and is an absolute playmaker. If he is allowed to get going he could play like the best player on the floor.
- Dominate the Glass Once Again. Down in Tuscaloosa we absolutely controlled the glass and never let their big men get second chances. However, we did allow 5 offensive rebounds to Hale & Norris. If we can match that level of physicality and effort on the glass this game shouldn’t be close.
- Lock Them Down. Especially with Ricky Tarrant out, their 2nd leading scorer, Alabama is a team that we should absolutely overwhelm with our length and athleticism. Along with the last key about dominating the glass, our guards and forwards should be able to really pressure them into some turnovers like the last game.
By Ryan Clark on ©January 31st, 2015 @ 5:43pm
According to UK, Trey Lyles will not play tonight due to illness. That means both teams will be short a player tonight.
Who gets the minutes? Is it a Derek Willis opportunity?
Trey Lyles will not play tonight vs. Alabama due to an illness.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 31, 2015
By Ryan Clark on ©January 31st, 2015 @ 5:05pm
Here’s some news from the day before we get you ready for Kentucky-Alabama . . .
Remember when Chandler on Friends got so flummoxed because he had so many jokes in his head he couldn’t think of what to say? “Too . . . many . . . jokes . . .”
Yeah – that’s me. Right now. After seeing this pic.
All I have to say is Go Heels. (North Carolina is currently up 36-25 on the Cards at halftime in the Yum! Center).
Cobb visits with Rachel Nichols and CNN
Check out the prettiest eyes on television . . . oh, and Rachel Nichols is there, too!
Cobb talked with Rachel on CNN this afternoon.
Young sent down to D-League
Former C-J staffer Adam Himmelsbach reports the Celtics have sent James Young to the D-League in Maine.
He went on to report the move was made so Young could get more playing time.
Shot of the Day (so far)
In a game NC State could not afford to lose, Trevor Lacey drains a three at the buzzer in OT for the win.
And watch after he lets it go – he knows it’s good.
Kentucky-Alabama on the way . . .