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January 15th, 2018

Wenyen Gabriel’s play “an example of what we need every player to do”

Wenyen Gabriel is Kentucky’s hardest worker right now, to the point Kenny Payne says the coaching staff is using him as an example of what the rest of the team needs to do to succeed.

“We just had a staff meeting and I told [John Calipari], [Wenyen’s] energy, his effort, what he’s giving us on the floor, just the fight of it, is an example of what we need every player to do,” Kentucky’s associate head coach said this morning.

Gabriel may only average 6.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, but his energy and effort are a big reason Kentucky’s won some games they probably should have lost. After disappearing in the second half of his freshman season, Gabriel has rediscovered his game, which Payne says makes him the perfect role model for a historically young squad.

“This kid came here with a bunch of expectations and it’s easy to get lost in what you are and who you are as a player. He’s finally getting back to being the player that he is: an energy guy, a tough guy, a rebounding guy. Obviously, we’d like him to make better decisions handling the ball. He has some unforced turnovers at times, but his energy, his fight, his determination to play winning basketball, is really good right now.”

Gabriel’s hustle was a big part of Kentucky’s win at Vanderbilt; Payne said they’re using his film to show the younger guys what they must do to go on the road and win in an ever-improving SEC.

“One of the things we’re trying to do, we’re trying to be a great road team. A team that can go on the road and fight and get a win; that starts with guys like Wenyen. That kind of fight, that kind of determination to fight for a rebound. That kind of determination to block a shot at a pivotal time in the game. Take a charge. Dive on a loose ball.”

“When you’re playing road games, every little situation on the court, every possession matters. We need that from more than Wenyen, but he’s an example of why we show film and why we show players, the younger guys, ‘Look at what he’s done. Look at how he fought to get that offensive rebound and he was outside of the three-point line.'”

Look at how he swatted and saved the ball on this badass play:

From liability to leading by example, Wenyen is proving that hard work pays off.

KSR Top 10 Tweets of the Day


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You can be a part of McDowell’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.

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#10 wendell combs

He has my vote.

#9 Kristen

Sounds like she needs to go on KSR Bachelor.

#8 HB & LB

Another sighting!

#7 Alex Richardson

We love t shirts!

#6 Matt Wells

Hmmm….this is a tough question!

#5 Jeremy Triplett

What a superfan!

#4 TW

Got ’em.

#3 Coach Salyers

This does seem like Ryan.

#2 Randolph Vance

This sounds wayyyyy more fun!

#1 Patrick Ballard

What a compliment!

Kentucky women’s basketball falls to Vanderbilt, 70-55

The women’s basketball team suffered another tough loss tonight, falling 70-55 to Vanderbilt. The Wildcats played without the season’s leading scorer Maci Morris, who is still out with a knee bone-bruise injury, and the Cats couldn’t compensate for her missing offensive spark. Tonight’s loss drops Kentucky’s record to 9-10 overall and 1-4 in the SEC.

The Wildcats struggled from the beginning; both teams remained scoreless for the first 5:14 of the game and the Cats failed to get a bucket until only four minutes remained in the quarter. They found a groove by the end of the first quarter, going on a 6-0 run and holding a 10-7 advantage at the end of the period. But it wouldn’t last, as the Commodores responded in the second quarter with a 15-0 run.

Taylor Murray served as Kentucky’s sole offensive power in the first half, scoring 12 of the Cats’ 20 points. She finished the day with a season-high 23 points and a career-high seven steals in her full 40 minutes of play. She was the only player to hit double-digit scoring.

“Taylor was really tough and we need her to play that way,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said after the game. “We will have to see if we can get some [other] players to step up and play that way.”

Freshman KeKe McKinney showed she has the potential to be that player. The freshman added nine points and six rebounds in tonight’s matchup. Senior Makenzie Cann was limited, playing just 15 minutes and scoring zero points. After the game, Mitchell said Cann is dealing with a foot injury, and her reps have been limited.

“You have to congratulate Vanderbilt tonight. They played a tough game and clearly wanted the game more than us and that is disappointing,” Mitchell said. “We have to get back at it and see if we can get better.”

The Cats will look to get back on track Sunday, when Kentucky will host South Carolina at Rupp Arena. Tipoff is set for noon and the game can be seen on ESPNU.


Former Wildcats speak out on Martin Luther King Jr. Day


MLK Day celebrates the birth and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the most prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement, and a man who protested racial discrimination until his assassination in 1968.

Several NBA games are played throughout the day, and as a result, players use these games as a platform to spread awareness to the importance of this day and the impact Dr. King made.

Though he played last night, Karl-Anthony Towns was one of the biggest voices this afternoon:

He even wore special Martin Luther King Jr. basketball shoes for Minnesota’s game last night against the Portland Trail Blazers:

Eric Bledsoe wore his own MLK Day kicks:

DeMarcus Cousins tweeted out this image:

And John Wall:

Anthony Davis is featured on the NBPA #PlayersVoice video, where various NBA players discuss how they would finish the “I Have A Dream” speech in modern society:

Well done, guys.

Go Cats!

UK signee Keldon Johnson scores 21 points on ESPNU, turns heads nationally

Kentucky signee Immanuel Quickley impressed in the Hoophall Classic earlier today, dropping 19 points and five rebounds in a tough loss.

Immediately after, five-star Oak Hill forward and Kentucky signee Keldon Johnson managed to also put on a show, finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds, and three assists on the day. With his team’s victory, No. 2 Oak Hill moves to 25-0 on the year, with Johnson being a massive reason for that.

Though his performance was stellar, the national attention Johnson received after the game was even more impressive. Scrolling through Twitter after the game, countless media members and basketball analysts raved about Johnson’s game, saying his competitiveness and will to win is second to none.

During a halftime interview, Johnson was asked what separates his game from the rest of the nation.

His response? “I’m a dog. I do whatever it takes for my team to win.”

In an interview with Tom Westerholm of, Johnson said things are starting to click for him, and when he gets going, it’s going to be a problem for the rest of the nation.

“I think the sky’s the limit for my game generally, because once I get going, everything gets going,” Johnson said. “My shot, getting to the basket, getting to the free-throw line, getting my teammates involved. Once I get going, it’s really a problem.”

Johnson’s jump shot has always been the biggest knock on his game, but now, he has developed into a consistent threat from both mid-range and beyond the arc. He said if he continues to work on that and build up muscle, he’ll be ready to be a big contributor for the Wildcats next season.

“I hit the mid-range pretty consistently when I shoot it,” Johnson said. “I just think spot-up threes, I really improved on that this year. I’m just working. Keep working hard on my body, and I think I’ll be ready for that.”

Check out his game highlights, and his sit-down interview with ESPN’s Paul Biancardi where he talked about his work ethic and how excited he is to play for John Calipari at Kentucky:

Not enough highlights for you? Check out Johnson’s MVP performance at the Chic-Fil-A Classic two weeks ago:

This kid is going to be good.

Go Big Blue.

Immanuel Quickley remains hopeful Zion Williamson commits to Kentucky

Photo by adidas

This afternoon, Kentucky signee Immanuel Quickley finished with 19 points and five rebounds in his team’s 71-58 loss at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, MA. It was an impressive showing, especially considering Ohio State commitment and defensive specialist Luther Muhammad guarded him from start to finish.

But the questions he was asked after the game had nothing to do with him or his game.

They were all about Quickley’s friend, five-star forward Zion Williamson, and his thoughts on his decision going into the final week of his recruitment.

Though there are rumors Williamson has already made his decision, Quickley doesn’t think his mind is 100% made up, and Kentucky still has a great shot.

“I honestly 100 percent do not know if he made up his mind,” he told Adam Zagoria. “I think he has a couple of schools that are really favored but I don’t know if he’s 100 percent made up his mind. Kentucky is definitely in there.”

If Williamson joined him at Kentucky, Quickley believes the Wildcats would win a national title.

“I think we could win a national championship,” he said. “With him, he’s a monster on offense and defense so that just makes it easier for everybody else.”

And if he ends up staying home, specifically at Clemson?

“Clemson’s about an hour from his home, you can’t be mad at somebody going to college an hour away.”

To read the rest of Quickley’s interview with Adam Zagoria, head on over to

SEC Seinfeld Index: January 15

Before the season began, who would have predicted that Auburn would be on top of the SEC standings and Texas A&M at the bottom? SEC Basketball is a circus this year, so let’s try to make sense of it all with some help from the show about nothing, and in turn, everything, Seinfeld.

First, a look at the current SEC standings:

Auburn 4-0 16-1
Kentucky 4-1 0.5 14-3
Florida 4-1 0.5 12-5
Tennessee 3-2 1.5 12-4
Alabama 3-2 1.5 11-6
Ole Miss 3-2 1.5 10-7
Missouri 2-2 2 12-5
LSU 2-2 2 11-5
Arkansas 2-3 2.5 12-5
Georgia 2-3 2.5 11-5
South Carolina 2-3 2.5 11-6
Mississippi State 1-3 3 13-4
Vanderbilt 1-4 3.5 6-11
Texas A&M 0-5 4.5 11-6


They’re real and they’re spectacular?

 #17 Auburn (16-1, 4-0)

Last week: Won vs. Ole Miss (85-70); Won at Mississippi State (76-68)

So, I guess Auburn is legit? I didn’t take them seriously in the non-conference because of their weak schedule, but they’re the only undefeated team in SEC play and continue to impress, all without Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley. I see you, Bruce Pearl.

This week: at Alabama, vs. Georgia

Still Masters of their Domain

 #21 Tennessee (12-4, 3-2)

Last week: Won at Vanderbilt (92-84), Won vs. Texas A&M (75-62)

After starting SEC play 0-2, the Vols have won three straight. It feels weird to rank them ahead of Kentucky, but there’s no denying that they exposed all of the Cats’ flaws in Knoxville over a week ago. We’ll find out more when they go on the road this week.

This week: at Missouri, at South Carolina

 #18 Kentucky (14-3, 4-1)

Last week: Won vs. Texas A&M (74-73); Won at Vandy (74-67)

Kentucky was without Quade Green and Tai Wynyard this week but managed to grind out wins over Texas A&M and Vandy despite some critical errors down the stretch. Lots to nitpick, but considering the Cats were shorthanded, you have to be encouraged.

This week: at South Carolina, vs. Florida


 Florida (12-5, 4-1)

Last week: Won vs. Mississippi State (71-54), Lost at Ole Miss (78-72)

The Gators’ loss in Oxford snapped a six-game winning streak, but a road loss is forgivable in the SEC these days. How will they respond with two huge games coming up this week?

This week: vs. Arkansas, at #18 Kentucky

 Alabama (11-6, 3-2)

Last week: Won vs. South Carolina (76-62), Won at LSU (74-66)

After back-to-back road losses to Vandy and Georgia, Alabama got back on track, beating South Carolina and LSU. The win at LSU was especially impressive because the Crimson Tide were without starting forward Donta Hall, who is recovering from wrist surgery. Wednesday’s game vs. Auburn is huge.

This week: vs. #17 Auburn, vs. Mississippi State

Yada Yada Yada

Ole Miss (10-7, 3-2)

Last week: Lost at #22 Auburn (85-70); Won vs. Florida (78-72)

Ole Miss’ win over Florida may be reason to sit up and take notice, but I’m waiting to see how they do in back-to-back road games this week before I deem them spongeworthy.

This week: at Texas A&M, at Arkansas

 Arkansas (12-5, 2-3)

Last week: Lost vs. LSU (75-54); Won vs. Missouri (65-63)

Arkansas ended a three-game losing streak with a two-point win over Missouri at home on Saturday, but that’s not enough for me to forget their 21-point loss to LSU on Wednesday.

This week: at Florida, vs. Ole Miss

Missouri (12-5, 2-2)

Last week: Won vs. Georgia (68-56); Lost at Arkansas (65-63)

After losing to Florida and Arkansas by only two points, Missouri is better than their record suggests; however, they have to break their bad habit of starting games slowly.

This week: vs. #21 Tennessee, at Texas A&M

LSU (11-5, 2-2)

Last week: Won at Arkansas (75-54); Lost vs. Alabama (74-66)

Had LSU beaten Alabama at home on Saturday, they would be much higher on this list; however, the Tigers just couldn’t take the next step despite 19 points (including five threes) from Tremont Waters.

This week: vs. Georgia, at Vanderbilt

South Carolina (11-6, 2-3)

Last week: Lost at Alabama (76-62); Won at Georgia (64-57)

South Carolina beat Georgia in Athens despite shooting only 27.1% from the field. That tells me more about Georgia than it does the Gamecocks. We’ll find out more this week.

This week: vs. #18 Kentucky, vs. #21 Tennessee


Georgia (11-5, 2-3)

Last week: Lost at Missouri (68-56); Lost vs. South Carolina (64-57)

It was a bad week for Georgia, which dropped games to Missouri and South Carolina. Try as he might, Yante Maten can’t do it all, and if the Bulldogs want to keep their postseason hopes alive, they’ll need to pull off some big upsets…such as Auburn on Saturday.

This week: at LSU, at #17 Auburn

 Mississippi State (13-4, 1-3)

Last week: Lost at Florida (71-54); Lost vs. #22 Auburn (76-68)

The Bulldogs started conference play off strong, beating then-#22 Arkansas, but lost their next three. Mississippi State actually led #22 Auburn by 13 early in the second half, but collapsed. They’ll look to get back on track vs. Vandy tomorrow night before a tough trip to Alabama.

This week: vs Vandy, at Alabama


Vanderbilt (6-11, 1-4)

Last week: Lost vs. #24 Tennessee (92-84); Lost vs. #21 Kentucky (74-67)

As has been the case all year, Vandy had the chance to upset Kentucky, but choked. In a moment that encapsulated their entire season, senior Riley LaChance missed three free throws in the final minute that could have put the ‘Dores within one. Ouch.

This week: at Mississippi State, vs. LSU

Again with the sweatpants?

 Texas A&M (11-6, 0-5)

Last week: Lost at #21 Kentucky (74-73); Lost at #24 Tennessee (75-62)

At this point, I’m not sure what to think about Texas A&M. The Aggies are clearly capable of being a good team, as they showed vs. Kentucky last Tuesday; however, Saturday’s collapse at Tennessee showed they are still very far from that. With everyone back from injury and suspension, Texas A&M still couldn’t find a way to win, yet another setback for a squad that many picked to win the SEC this season.

This week: vs. Ole Miss, vs. Missouri

Stephen Johnson to be a guest on Tuesday’s show

Matt Jones left town for a couple of days, so Tuesday’s show is in the trustworthy hands of one Ryan Lemond. Ryan called on the help of me to join him for two hours on the air, but I’m not a big enough draw to completely fill Matt’s shoes, so we’re adding a third person to the party in Lexington.

That third person is former UK quarterback Stephen Johnson, who will make his first radio appearance since his career ended in Nashville a few weeks ago. We’ll ask him all about that game and his two seasons at UK, plus whatever comes up along the way.

Tune in.

Leave some questions below, if you’d like, and we’ll ask them.

Kentucky is a 3 point favorite at South Carolina

Kentucky got us paid as a road favorite at Vanderbilt over the weekend, and the Cats are the favorite again in tomorrow night’s game at South Carolina. The line opened up at -3 out in lovely Las Vegas, according to our friends at

UK has only covered once in SEC play, so be cautious.

Gambling is bad.

5 Notes from an insightful Kenny Payne press conference

By now, we all know what John Calipari thinks of this squad, which is why today’s press conference with Kenny Payne was so refreshing. Kentucky’s associate head coach shared his insights on this group, specifically the big men with whom he works.

Nick Richards is over-thinking everything

Richards’ struggles are well-documented by now. The freshman big man just can’t translate his hard work in practice to games. Payne, the big man guru, said it’s all in Nick’s head right now.

“Nick Richards is a very good basketball player who has made the pivotal mistake that all young players make and all players that struggle make: They begin to process. They begin to think too much. They begin to have self-doubt.”

Payne echoed Kevin Knox’s comments from Saturday that Richards works harder than anybody in practice and Calipari’s comments that they’re willing to keep giving him chances…to an extent.

“You have to be the guy that makes first contact and attack that basketball. Once he gets back to that and reacting and doing that in games, he’s going to be fine. We have not lost any faith in him. We believe in him. We just can’t afford to leave him out there and try to figure it out and he continues to make the same mistakes.”

Jarred Vanderbilt is guarding Kevin Knox in practice to toughen him up

After giving us yet another Jarred Vanderbilt update, Payne said they’re using Vanderbilt in practice to help toughen up Kevin Knox in anticipation of another physical showdown tomorrow night.

“[South Carolina is] going to try to make it hard for guys like Kevin Knox because Kevin has shown a tendency to shy away from contact. Well, every day in practice that’s why we’ve got Jarred Vanderbilt guarding Kevin Knox. Jarred, as much as you can, push him. Bump him. Be as physical as you can with him because when he gets that.”

If you missed Payne’s comments on Vanderbilt, click the link below:

Jarred Vanderbilt Update: “We’re leaving it up to him”

Caliapri’s motto for Sacha Killeya-Jones

We’ve already shared Payne’s comments about Wenyen Gabriel, but he also had plenty of praise for fellow sophomore Sacha Killeya-Jones, who is producing valuable minutes thanks to some valuable advice from Calipari.

“Sacha’s been really, really good. He’s grown up a lot. He’s bringing us unbelievable energy. He’s becoming more secure and not just looking for the ball. Want him to be a jump shot shooter and Coach Cal has a great motto for him. ‘Every time you look for shots, you miss every shot that you look for. Every time you just play within the offense and set great screens and dive, the ball finds you and you put the ball in the basket.’ He has to embrace that more, and the more he does it the more success he’ll have.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been “unbelievable” in Quade Green’s absence

Shai finally won the SEC Freshman of the Week award for his performances last week, which give Payne confidence Kentucky can survive another game without starting point guard Quade Green.

“I think [Quade] has done a good job at the end of games of making big shots and making free throws, but to be honest with you the way Shai (Gilgeous-) Alexander is playing right now, I mean the kid has been unbelievable. He’s been great. He’s been our best player by far. He’s putting unbelievable pressure on the defense. He’s living in the lanes, he’s making free throws, he’s defending, he’s filling up the stat sheet. Can’t argue with that.”

No, you can’t.

“Don’t put me out there with these puppies”

John Calipari has a history of being thrown out of games at South Carolina, leaving Payne to run the show. Payne said he’d rather not be put in charge of “these puppies” should Cal get tossed again.

“Cal told the team after the last game that ‘Kenny coached the team, and we won by 30.’ He gave all the credit to Tyler Ulis. I yelled out to him, I said, ‘Cal, don’t put me out there with puppies. Don’t put me out there with these puppies.’“

How can you not love Kenny Payne?

Transcript after the jump…


Kentucky climbs in both college basketball polls this week

Kentucky is gradually making its way back up the AP college basketball poll, where it was ranked as high as fifth earlier this season.

This week the Cats find themselves at No. 18 in the poll, up three places from the No. 21 ranking of a week ago. They were helped by the fall of Seton Hall, TCU, Miami and Clemson, all of which suffered losses that caused their drop in the poll.

Believe it or not, Auburn — yes, Auburn — is the SEC’s highest ranked team, sitting at No. 17 this week, one spot ahead of the Wildcats.

AP Top 25



Villanova (63) 16-1



Virginia (1) 16-1



Purdue (1) 17-2



Oklahoma 14-2



Duke 15-2



West Virginia 15-2



Wichita State 15-2



Texas Tech 15-2



Michigan State 16-3



Kansas 14-3



Xavier 16-3



Cincinnati 15-2



Gonzaga 16-3



Arizona 14-4



North Carolina 14-4



Arizona State 14-3



Auburn 16-1



Kentucky 14-3



Seton Hall 15-3



Clemson 15-2



Tennessee 12-4



Ohio State 15-4



Michigan 15-4



TCU 13-4



Miami 13-3


And in the USA Today Coaches poll, Kentucky moved up four spots to No. 16 in the country. Auburn isn’t as highly regarded in this one, as Bruce Pearl’s Tigers hold a No. 20 ranking.



Villanova (27) 14-1



West Virginia (4) 14-1



Virginia 14-1



Michigan State 15-2



Wichita State 13-2



Duke 13-2



Purdue 15-2



Texas Tech 14-1



Oklahoma 12-2



Xavier 15-2



Arizona State 13-2



Kansas 12-3



Cincinnati 14-2



Gonzaga 14-3



Seton Hall 14-2



TCU 13-2



Clemson 14-1



North Carolina 12-4



Miami 13-2



Kentucky 12-3



Arizona 12-4



Creighton 13-3



Tennessee 10-4



Auburn 14-1



Notre Dame 13-3


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Kenny Payne addresses Louisville coaching rumors

Kenny Payne’s name has been floated around as a potential replacement for David Padgett at Louisville; however, this morning, the former Cardinal great put a stop that speculation, which he says is unfair to Padgett.

“I have love for Louisville, but I have an obligation and love for the University of Kentucky and those guys in the locker room. It’s unfair to Coach Padgett, who is doing an unbelievable job at that university in a tough situation. Really tough. There are veteran coaches that can’t do what he’s doing right now. To put together and get that group to believe — there’s going to be some adversity. There are some ups and downs in every season. He’s done a great job. It’s unfair to him to have any coach mentioned or any situation mentioned other than do the best job for that school right now.”

Hilariously, Payne said that Kentucky’s players didn’t even realize he went to Louisville until Rick Bozich’s story came out a few weeks back.

“You won’t believe this: the players didn’t even know I went to Louisville. And when they did find out, they thought I was a football player.”

Payne admitted that one day, he “definitely” wants to be a head coach, but given his situation at Kentucky, he’s in no rush.

“Of course. Definitely. But I have a great job. I’m not in a rush. I’m not taking a bad job. I love what I do. I’m blessed to be working with a man like Coach Cal, who is a good man. I’m blessed to be working with young men that are exceptional young men that are similar to me: dream chasers. [Guys] that are out trying to do something special. And I don’t take that lightly. So, when the right time comes, it does; if it doesn’t, I can live with it.”

Jarred Vanderbilt Update: “We’re leaving it up to him”

The Jarred Vanderbilt question came up during Kenny Payne’s press conference today, and though Payne’s answer was thorough, we did not learn anything new.

We’re leaving it up to him,” Payne said, reiterating what John Calipari has said many times already.

“First of all, I think when you talk about a kid coming off an injury and getting healthy, there is a mental thing there that he has to get over. ” Payne added, when asked to elaborate. “It’s been a long time since he’s played basketball. He’s going to have some aches and pains. He has to be able to practice and get through those aches and pains, and feel comfortable. He’s getting to that point. I don’t know if he’s there yet. Coach Cal doesn’t know if he’s there yet. But I do know he’s getting to the point where he is feeling more comfortable. Hopefully it’s soon.”

Payne also said, “It’s wrong for adults to force a kid to do anything when they don’t feel like they’re ready yet. Coach Cal is never going to do that to a kid. That’s not what we do here.”

Quade Green still not practicing

Kentucky starting point guard Quade Green missed the last two games with a back strain, and it sounds like there is a good chance he’ll be out at least one more when UK travels to South Carolina tomorrow.

Kenny Payne said today that Green still hasn’t practiced, but he is getting close to a return.

“He has not practiced yet,” said Payne. “I think he’s any day now. I don’t even know if he’s going to practice today, but I know he’s getting close.”

“He’s been watching and observing, and hopefully he’s seeing a different side of the game that he didn’t see from playing, that he can watch and see exactly what we’re trying to get our guards to do.”

If Green doesn’t rejoin the team today, it’s hard to imagine he’ll play against the Gamecocks.