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January 24th, 2015

Saturday Night News and Views

 

@ukphotogs

@ukphotogs

This one is for you Matt.

Kentucky Remains Undefeated 

The Cats are 19-0 for the first time since the John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins era under Coach Cal. Their undefeated season ended at none other than Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.

South Carolina can be a very tricky team to beat on their home court and Kentucky knows knew that after having lost a rough one there last season. The Cats defeated the Gamecocks 58-43 after Kentucky pulled away with a little over four minutes left in the second half. Kentucky scored 14 straight points and the lead never fell below double digit points after that.

Devin Booker lead the team in scoring with 18 points, while Aaron Harrison added 13 of his own. Willie Cauley-Stein made history by being the first player at UK to record 200 blocks and 100 steals. Who would have ever thought a seven-foot forward would be the first person to do this? Crazy.

The BBN showed up in Columbia

We all know that the Big Blue Nation likes to travel, but this season has been better than ever. Kentucky fans have heard on our televisions chanting UK cheers in the last three away games. Today was no different.

The BBN was heard cheering “Go Big Blue” multiple times during the win today. After the game, Kentucky fans were heard chanting “just like football” to some very salty South Carolina fans.

South Carolina fans and other teams in the SEC should be happy that we help sell out their games. Like Cal says, “you people are crazy.”

Senior Bowl Recap

Za’Darius Smith and his North squad defeated the South 34-13 in the 2015 Senior Bowl. Smith recorded two assisted tackles for a loss in the North’s win. Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah was named MVP after rushing for 73 yards and catching for 40 yards.

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A female was the head lines(wo)man in today’s Senior Bow. Awesome.

@Alex_Flanagan

@Alex_Flanagan

Nerlens Noel is Having Himself a Rookie Season

Nerlens sat down with Grant Hill to talk his injury at Kentucky, his rehab and his rookie season with the 76ers. Noel leads all NBA rookies in rebounds (7.4), blocks (1.6) steals (1.6), and he is 5th in scoring (8.2). Watch Inside Stuff: Nerlens Noel here.

Swimming & Diving Competed Against Louisville in their Senior Day Meet

The Kentucky swimming and diving team posted nine individual wins in their Senior Day meet against Louisville in front of a packed crowd at UK’s Lancaster Aquatic Center.

The No. 31 ranked Kentucky women won six events in their 155-154 loss to the No. 13 ranked Louisville women’s team. However, the No. 36 ranked Kentucky men earned three wins against the tenth ranked Louisville men’s team with a score of 211-89.

Postseason begins on Feb. 17 with the SEC Championship at Auburn.

The Gators Continue to Struggle

Florida lost its third straight SEC game to Ole Miss today. The Rebels defeated the Gators 73-71 in Oxford. Florida started conference play 3-0 after beating South Carolina, Mississippi St. and Auburn, but have lost their last three to Georgia, LSU and now Ole Miss.

With a resume like this, you wonder if Florida has enough to even make the NIT Tournament. Even though we might enjoy Florida’s recent struggles, we have to remember we were there just two years ago.

Kentucky’s game at Florida on Feb. 7 doesn’t look that scary anymore, but then again you can never know.

 

Have a wonderful Saturday night folks and we will see you tomorrow!


Former UK baseball player ready to compete for rotation

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Alex Meyer was diagnosed with a shoulder inflammation that ended his season on Aug. 30, which got in the way of his chance to get called up to the Majors for the first time. The No. 4 prospect believes that his ready to impact the Minnesota Twins this season.

“I’m definitely ready,” Meyer said at TwinsFest on Saturday. “I’m going to go in there and give everything I’ve got. There’s a lot of people fighting for essentially one position … . I’m 25 years old now, so I’m just going to go in there and do everything I can to try and force their hand.”

Meyer posted a 3.52 ERA with 153 strikeouts and 64 walks in 130 1/3 innings at Triple-A Rochester last season. During his time in Triple-A, Meyer said he learned a lot and knows he needs to work on being consistent in his delivery. He also improved his changeup, giving him another weapon to go along with his mid-90s fastball and breaking ball.

Meyer is ranked as the N0. 27 overall prospect by MLB.com and will head to Spring Training competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. Meyers would be fine starting out as a relief pitcher if that is what is takes,

“If you look at what the Cardinals have done with [Adam] Wainwright or [Michael] Wacha, these guys are coming up, going to the bullpen and now they’re impact starters. So I don’t care. Whatever it takes to help the Minnesota Twins out, I’m absolutely up for it,” Meyers said.

 


College basketball around the nation

John Weast/Getty Images

John Weast/Getty Images

As March becomes closer and closer, the college basketball season continues to heat up. Here are some games worth noting today and some to watch tomorrow.

— We all know the Big 12 is the best conference in college basketball and there probably will be no clear favorite to win the conference title, but having played two Big 12 teams and beating both it’s always nice talking about their losses. No. 11 ranked Kansas defeated No. 17 ranked Texas 75-62 in Austin. Cliff Alexander finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds.

Another two top 25 ranked Big 12 teams faced off today. In what was a very close game until about four minutes left in the game No. 21 ranked Baylor upset N0. 18 ranked Oklahoma 69-58 in Waco.

Coming into this game Texas Tech and Tubby Smith were 0-6 in Big 12 play. Texas Tech got their first win over a top 10 opponent in six years as they defeated N0. 9 ranked Iowa State 78-73. Iowa State also lost to South Carolina earlier this season.

A No. 18 ranked West Virginia barely beat TCU in their 85-85 OT win in Morgantown today.

— The Big 10 could be described as decent this year with Michigan St., Michigan and Ohio St. all having an off season. Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Maryland are the surprise teams in the Big 10 as all teams are currently ranked in the top 25. However, Purdue upset No. 25 ranked Iowa. The Boilermakers took down the Hawkeyes 67-63.

— The ACC could compete with the Big 12 in having the best teams in college basketball considering they have the only other undefeated team in the nation. But let’s talk about another ranked team we have beat this season because that’s always fun. No. 15 ranked North Carolina avoided an upset by Florida State by barely escaping a 78-74 win over the Seminoles. Florida State’s freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes dropped 35 points on the Tar Heels, which still wasn’t enough for the Noles.

Coach K is looking to get is 100th win tomorrow as No. 5 ranked Duke plays St. Johns at MSG.

After holding Georgia Tech to only 28 points, No. 2 ranked Virginia takes on a Virginia Tech team that is 0-5 in the ACC.

 

@kbernhardKSR


Kentucky has at least an 88 percent chance of winning next five games

According to ESPN, Kentucky has an 88 percent changing of winning each of their next five game.

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After a good win in a tough environment in Columbia earlier today, what are your thoughts on Kentucky’s next five games? Do you think Kentucky will lose any of these games? If not any of these games, which one? Let’s hear what you have to say!


Sha’Keela Saunders sets long jump record

A bunch of other Kentucky sports are competing this weekend including tennis, women’s gymnastics, swimming and diving and track & field. This highlight was to amazing not to talk about.

On Friday, Kentucky’s Sha’Keela Saunders set a new school record with her mark of 21’5.25/6.53 meters and now leads the nation.

Saunders was the 2o14 NCAA Silver Medalist after losing to Oregon’s Jenna Prandini by five inches. Saunders came up big on her last attempt, almost like giving her the go-ahead touchdown in the track & field.

Saunders remains undefeated this season and moved to No. 4 in the nation.

It amazes me that somebody can jump that far because I could maybe jump a good two feet but that’s pushing it.


Jeff Goodman actually put us in the No. 1 spot for something

 

Jeff Goodman tweeted out earlier his ranking of the top 10 craziest basketball fan bases. Surprisingly, Goodman put Kentucky first in his ranking of the craziest fan bases. Thanks for putting us first in this poll, Jeff.

I am kind of shocked not to see Duke or North Carolina on that list, but at least he knows the BBN is the best.


Get your highlights here folks

 

Watch full highlights (courtesy of KyWildcatsTV) of Kentucky’s 58-43 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks as the move onto 19-0 on the season.

 


Nine notes on 19-0

aaron-southcarolina

Sorry, college basketball: Kentucky’s still undefeated. The Cats put on a defensive clinic in Columbia today, beating South Carolina 58-43. Kentucky is now 19-0, matching the 2009-2010 team for the best start in the Calipari era. Let’s break it down.

It was all about the defense

As it has been all season, the secret to UK’s success today was its defense. The Cats smothered the Gamecocks, holding them to 22.6% shooting for the game and a ridiculous 17.3% in the second half. South Carolina only made four field goals in the second half. Four. To put it in ever better perspective, Kentucky had more blocks and steals (17) than South Carolina had field goals (12), the eighth time that’s happened this season.

“What makes it so effective is their bigs. When you drive into the lane, you can’t see,” Sindarius Thornwell said of Kentucky’s defense. “It’s tough shooting it over top of them. When you’re jumping, all you see is their hands.”

Can we get that stitched on a pillow, please?

As you can imagine, Frank Martin wasn’t pleased.

From watching the telecast, it seemed Martin wasn’t pleased with ANYTHING his team did this afternoon. I mean, look at this guy:

Odds he was actually saying “fun” instead of the other f-word?

After spending twenty minutes in child’s pose after the game, Martin calmed down and had nothing but compliments for John Calipari and the Cats in his postgame remarks. “Sometimes the bear gets you and sometimes you get the bear. Today, the bear got us,” Martin said of his team’s performance. And that defense? “Phew, phew” was Martin’s response.

“Their little breakdowns that they had last year? They don’t have them anymore,” Martin said of this year’s team. “I respect the heck out of John Calipari. I’ve heard people say he can’t coach. What a joke.”

Devin Booker warmed back up

Booker only scored six points vs. Vanderbilt on Tuesday, prompting Cal to joke that one night he’s shooting the lights out, and the next he’s making airballs, but he bounced back this afternoon, leading the team in scoring with 18 points, including two threes. That meant he got to break out the three shotgun twice:

Does the gesture bother the coaches? “They haven’t said anything to me about it, they joke around with me about it. I guess it’s just something I do now.”

It’s something the entire BBN does now.

Frank Martin’s reaction to Devin Booker was priceless

“Wooooo! Woooooo,” Martin said when asked about Booker. “And we have to play them again?? God, he’s good.”

Martin made the excellent point that because Kentucky is loaded and has veterans to shoulder a lot of the pressure, Booker can just go out there and play. “The burden of being great is not on his shoulders,” Martin said.

I’m really going to miss him when he goes pro.

Aaron and Tyler played great, too

It was a strong game for Kentucky’s guards in general. Aaron Harrison scored 13 points, but his defense was most impressive to me this afternoon. Aaron had four rebounds, three steals and even a block, and told Mike Pratt he fed off a rowdy South Carolina crowd. “Oh yeah, we enjoy all that,” Aaron said of South Carolina’s jeers. “We love the boos.”

Tyler Ulis was equally impressive, putting up six points, three rebounds, one steal, and six assists. A lot of those were to Devin Booker, and judging by how easily and naturally the two find each other on the court now, it’s like Kentucky has another set of twins. Ulis’ strong performance helped offset a rough outing for Andrew Harrison, who only had four points; however, as you would expect, Calipari praised Andrew for rallying late in the game after a shaky start. “He’s a sophomore. A sophomore. People forget. So much better than last year. Not even close.”

What does Cal tell Andrew when he gets into a slump? “Play with more energy, man. Be more active.” Cal compared Andrew to Derrick Rose in terms of how he internalizes things, and the clearest example of that was in the first half when a South Carolina fan yelled “You blew the National Championship” at Andrew, causing him to look up and frown. Thankfully, Andrew was able to shake it off and make a difference in the second half on the defensive end.

Aside from Marcus Lee, it was not a great day for UK’s bigs

Marcus Lee played well yet again, turning in a career-high four blocks in only thirteen minutes. Meanwhile, the rest of Kentucky’s bigs struggled. South Carolina actually outrebounded Kentucky by 12. Karl Towns really didn’t play well, putting up only two points, one rebound, and two blocks in twelve minutes. Too many times, Karl got beat on defense, and after the game, Cal said the game was just too physical for him. “I love Karl like he’s my son, but I killed him today,” Cal said. “We still had some guys that struggled in the physicalness at the game. It’s a great lesson for them.”

Willie made UK basketball history today

While he only scored two points, Willie did cement himself in UK basketball history this afternoon. Wille had two steals, which makes him the first player in UK basketball history with 200 blocks and 100 steals. Not too shabby.

South Carolina fans 0, Sam Malone 1

Near the end of the game, South Carolina students were so upset they resorted to mocking Sam Malone on the bench, yelling at him to take off his headband because he would never get in. Sam’s response? He pointed to the scoreboard. Even better: after the game was over, UK fans chanted “Just like football,” which I’m sure Steve Spurrier just loved.

Trap game? Nah.

After Kentucky lost in Columbia last season and showed vulnerability at Texas A&M, many had today circled as a trap game. Hell, ESPN even sent Dickie V to South Carolina for a noon tip. How often does that happen? Gamecock fans were desperate for the upset, and in the first few minutes of the game, admit it, we were all a little nervous; however, as they have so many times this season, the Cats stood tall and played to their strengths, making it almost impossible for South Carolina to score.

Last year, Aaron Harrison famously said that he believed his team could still be a great story, which rang a bit hollow in the wake of the worst loss of the season. That line will live on in UK lore, and Devin Booker was asked about it after today’s game. “This is just the beginning for us,” Booker said.

19-0’s a pretty great start.


Za’Darius Smith will be tackling people on the NFL Network

@BoltonSports

Kentucky basketball did its thing today and now it’s Za’Darius Smith’s time to shine. Big Z is suited up and ready to take the field in today’s Senior Bowl, airing on the NFL network at 4:00 pm.

Smith was the defensive MVP of last weekend’s Shrine Game and he’s making the most of his post-college football as the draft approaches. Another big day today will go a long way toward his increasing stock on the boards. Teams will certainly be keeping an eye on him.

Go get ‘em, Z.


“I Respect the Heck Out of Calipari”

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin had glowing remarks about Calipari and the UK team after the game today.

 

“I respect the heck out of John Calipari. I’ve heard people say he can’t coach. What a joke,” Martin said. He also said that he thinks UK’s young guys are thriving because they understand what it takes because of practicing against the veterans on their team. When asked about Kentucky’s defense he mustered one word. And repeated it. “Whew! Whew!”

 

I would agree with anything Frank Martin said because I enjoy living, but I definitely believe WHEW sums up the Kentucky defense quite nicely.


Blue got in and blue got loud

Let’s all give a round of applause for the many Kentucky fans who were at the game today in Columbia. From the girls in the student section who refused to cover up their blue (that was B.S. by the way) to the several packs of fans scattered around the arena, everyone did their part in dimming one of the SEC’s best atmospheres.

I made a second half trip to get Bojangle’s, because Bojangle’s is amazing, and I couldn’t differentiate between the roars during the time I was away. I would hear an eruption and assume South Carolina did something big, only to look back toward the court and see Kentucky was the team that actually made the play. Big Blue Nation was just as loud as the home crowd all day long.

So pat yourselves on the back for this one, BBN. You people are crazy as hell. Seriously. Sometimes I wonder if you have any chill at all.


Cats will have 3 Days Off

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Calipari wasn’t thrilled with only having three offensive rebounds today. He said “The thing about young guys is that when they get blocked out they accept getting blocked out. They don’t fight for it when they get boxed out.” He also added it could also be a matter of being a little fatigued from playing so hard lately.

That being said, the Cats will have the next three days off. The rest of today, tomorrow, and individual workouts on Monday. He said they need the rest to get rejuvenated.

Cal could get his doppleganger to fill in and take off a couple games if he wanted to. I don’t think anyone would notice as long as the doppleganger is good at ridiculous faces on the sideline.

 


Highlights from the W

From the good people at Kentucky Wildcats TV.


Booker claims his Tuesday night airball was tipped

devin-booker

Devin Booker threw up an airball during a critical possession in the Vanderbilt game and Cal referenced it Thursday afternoon in his pre-South Carolina press conference.

Today, Booker would like everyone to know the ball was tipped. It was not an airball, so he says.

“Not many people know that,” he told us today.

Sure it was, Devin. Sure it was.

 

As Flener mentioned in the post just south of this, Booker led Kentucky with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field in today’s win at South Carolina. It’s time we start preparing for his early departure because the NBA talk is only heating up, just like his game.


Booker says he Knows Teams Are Keying On Him

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Devin Booker said he knows teams are starting to key on him because of his hot streak as of late. “I’m trying to use more shot fakes and go to the basket and get my teammates involved.”

 

Booker had 18 points in 26 minutes of action today in Columbia, shooting 2-4 from the three point line, so he’s still getting himself involved as well.