By Sam Gormley on ©January 20th, 2019 @ 10:00am
Well yesterday was fun. Kentucky picked up a massive road win against not only just one of the best teams in the SEC, but also what I believe is one of the better teams in the entire country.
The story of the game? A massive start to the second half that saw the Cats get out to a big lead which somehow flipped the three point switch for Auburn and the three ball began to fall. Auburn took the lead in the closing seconds, but clutch free throws down the stretch gave the Cats an 82-80 victory. Now on to the news:
Keldon Johnson bounced back from Scoreless Game vs. Georgia
We all say it seemingly after every game. For this Kentucky team to be successful, Keldon Johnson HAS to play well. Sure, there was an exception on Tuesday night against a bad Georgia team, but to beat a good team, Johnson must be a star player.
A star player he was yesterday on the plains. The UK freshman scored 20 points, which tied with Tyler Herro for the team lead, and was a major difference in the game. One of the biggest shots in the entire game was a three by Johnson as the shot clock was expiring in the second half. It stopped a huge momentum turn for Auburn.
If Johnson continues this stretch for the next few games, this could turn into a massive run for the Cats, but consistency has to be key.
The game didn’t start great for Johnson as it took a teammate to tell him to… well…. you can probably read his lips:
— Just-in (@Justin_BBN) January 19, 2019
After this moment, he turned it on. In all seriousness, this was a true leadership moment for Hagans and a good sign moving forward.
Tom Hart with a Big Time Tweet Postgame
Everyone’s favorite tv play-by-play announcer, Tom Hart, gave a nice compliment to the Cats after he caught up with the games. This was his opinion on a specific sequence in the game:
The first 3:30 of the second half (as part of that 19-2 run) had the Cats looking like Bahamas Cats. Keldon strong, PJ with his left, and Herro corner 3'. That's UK at it's best.
— Tom Hart (@tom_hart) January 20, 2019
Personally, I could not agree with him more. That run to end the first half and begin the second was some of the best basketball I have seen this team play since the Bahamas. Is it sustainable for a full 40 minutes? Maybe not, but when this team plays that way and fits those keys, there aren’t many teams in the country that can actually beat them.
Charles Barkley and John Calipari have a funny interaction
In case you didn’t watch ESPN’s coverage of the game, “the Round Mound of Rebound” himself, Charles Barkley, was in attendance to cheer on his alma mater. He spent a segment in the first half with the ESPN broadcast in which he had a point where he was very complimentary of Kentucky and the Big Blue Nation.
After the game, Barkley went into the press area during Calipari’s postgame interview in what turned into a perfect moment. Just as a heads up, there is a NSFW moment right at the beginning of the clip:
— Menser (@bballmenser) January 20, 2019
Barkley is one of my favorite studio analysts in sports. His humor and knowledge of the game is unmatched and he works perfectly with the TNT crew for NBA games.
Anthony Edwards to visit Kentucky this Week
While most fans were focusing on the game, some big recruiting news came through the wire with Anthony Edwards announcing that he will be visiting Lexington this week.
While most believe that he is headed to Tallahassee to suit up for former Kentucky assistant Leonard Hamilton, getting him on campus is a big deal.
For more on the announcement, including when specifically he will be in town, click here.
College GameDay to come to Lexington next weekend
In what might have been the least surprising news of yesterday, College GameDay officially announced that they will be bringing their show back to Lexington for the 10th straight year.
With Kansas coming to town, a possible top ten matchup (although Kansas did lose to unranked WVU) is one that producers are obviously excited about. Plus, Kentucky fans always show up in mass numbers.
Heck, this even gives me an excuse to share the video of the first of the ten straight. The moment where many say, “Kentucky Basketball was back.”
The Super Bowl will be set Today
We are only two weeks away from one of the best days in sports; Super Bowl Sunday. After today, we will know the two teams that will be making the trip to Atlanta to compete for the Lombardi Trophy.
Only one former Cat remains, Larry Warford and his New Orleans Saints will host the Los Angeles Rams at 3:05 EST on FOX.
The AFC Championship pits young vs. old as Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs welcome in Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Kick for that game is scheduled for 6:40pm on CBS.
Not that you really care who I am picking, but I am taking the Saints and Chiefs. Every dynasty has to come to an end at some point.
With all of that being said, this probably guarantees that the Rams and Patriots will be meeting up in two weeks in the Super Bowl.
That wraps up your news for the day. If you are in an area that has been affected by #Snowmaggedon, be safe and enjoy your Sunday. Go Cats!
By ShopKSR.com on ©January 20th, 2019 @ 9:45am
Posted in Main
By Drew Franklin on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Kentucky escaped a rowdy Auburn Arena with arguably its biggest win of the season on Saturday. The entire starting five played well and the Cats controlled the scoreboard for most of the entire game, holding off multiple Auburn comeback attempts, to earn the 82-80 victory over sweaty Bruce Pearl and his Tigers. If there were any fans out there who still needed a reason to get excited about Kentucky this year, the win should have us all on the same page.
Let’s talk about it.
Keldon Johnson and Reid Travis bounced back with big games.
Considered to be two of Kentucky’s best and most consistent players throughout the better part of the season, Johnson and Travis were struggling entering Saturday’s game. Johnson had just hung a goose egg in the scoring column at Georgia, and Travis appeared to be having trouble against the length and athleticism of the SEC. They were each in a small slump by their standards, but they each bounced back at Auburn with two very good performances.
Johnson shared high-scorer honors with Tyler Herro at 20 points apiece, while Travis got back into double figures for the first time in four games with 17 points in addition to seven rebounds. John Calipari said, “I thought Reid Travis was really good today,” in his postgame comments.
Johnson also looked like he found his swagger after it appeared he was mentally checked out in Athens. He played with the confidence and attitude that has always been a big part of his game.
It’s great to have both back.
The Cats dodged a slow start.
My biggest concern before the game was how Kentucky would handle the first three or four minutes. Auburn Arena is a very dangerous environment and I worried a couple of early three-pointers by Jared Harper or Bryce Brown could put UK in a hole it couldn’t climb out of. But Kentucky avoided early trouble and even held the lead after the three or four minute stretch I worried about, and then after a little back and forth, went on a 19-2 run to extend its lead, a lead it would never lose. In fact, Kentucky led for over 32 minutes. It was a great end-to-end performance, even when Auburn did all it could to come back. Speaking of that….
Kentucky hit so many “shut the %*&!” up” shots.
So many times, Auburn hit a huge shot to cut the deficit, only for Kentucky to hit one right back on the other end. The crowd would erupt and the Auburn guards would get that confident smile as if they knew they were back in the game, but Kentucky would drain what I like to call the “shut the %*&! up” shot on the other end to silence the crowd and keep a comfortable lead. Two that come to mind are the Keldon Johnson three-pointer to counter Bryce Brown’s three-pointer, and Tyler Herro hitting a three-pointer to erase another Brown three. Both shots put the fans’ butts back in their seats and it happened time and time again. Those responses showed the Kentucky players weren’t bothered by the pressure and that’s a quality of a great team.
Auburn really missed Austin Wiley.
Not to take away from Kentucky’s big win, but it is worth noting Auburn was without its star big man, Austin Wiley. Wiley is a projected first-round NBA draft pick next summer and the Tigers’ leading rebounder and shot blocker. It’s hard to say if he would’ve changed the outcome of the game, but it certainly didn’t hurt the Cats’ chances having him on the bench, especially given the foul trouble Auburn faced inside. Wiley could’ve been a difference-maker, but that’s a big Auburn problem, not a me or you or Kentucky problem. Sorry about your luck, Bruce.
I’ll say it: Jared Harper and Bryce Brown are fun to watch.
Now that they’ve taken their L, I have no problem admitting Auburn’s two veteran guards are a lot of fun. That three Harper hit with 30 seconds left in the game, I feel like I’ve seen him hit it 20 times over the course of his career. He’s so clutch and I’m so glad he didn’t get the last look because I would’ve bet my entire bank account that he’d make it. I think Immanuel Quickley’s missed free throw was a blessing.
Then there’s Brown going 6-for-7 from outside, many of them contested and off-balance, to finish with 28 points. They’re a dangerous duo and Kentucky still managed to fly home with a win. Whew.
I’m going to break KSR company police and make a comment about the officiating.
That flagrant foul call was horrendous. I’m sorry the guy lost a little bit of blood on the fall but there is no way anyone can say PJ Washington wasn’t making a play on the ball. That’s a terrible call. Horrible call. Inexplicable call.
Luckily, Auburn wasn’t able to capitalize on the extra possession.
Ashton Hagans with a quiet but good game running the show.
Hagans had his hands full with the assignment of trying to contain Jared Harper and he didn’t match his 16 points per game output of the last five games, but he still made a huge impact with six assists and a career-high seven rebounds.
His best play of the game, though, was telling Keldon Johnson to, “Wake the f— up.”
It’s his team to run and he knows it. Cal has his next great point guard.
Kentucky is looking like a dangerous team as March gets closer.
The version of Kentucky we saw at Auburn on Saturday is as good as any team in the country. The entire starting five played well and the guys off the bench made big contributions, while playing in one of the toughest environments they’ll face all season against a hot-shooting team that wouldn’t go away. I’m not sure I’d trade rosters with any other team in the country right now because the Cats are gradually putting it all together and looking better and better as the season rolls on. Come March, they’re going to be very dangerous if they continue to come together and push forward.
This was a big statement win for their resume and for their confidence.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
“This is so hard for these kids, and let me tell you again what I’m proud of. We’re playing a veteran team that have been through wars and have been through games like this, they made shots, were down seventeen and never stopped, but neither did we. Keldon [Johnson] makes a play, Tyler [Herro] makes a couple plays, we make free throws. Again the issue here is they’re pressing about individual play, you can’t for a team and be in that mode, you have to just go with what the team is asking you to do, and if you can’t do what the team needs, you won’t play much. In a game like this it’s fight. The game was physical with a lot of hand to hand combat, that’s how the game is played here. I’m proud of him though (Johnson), and this is coming off a game where he scored no points.”
On the biggest difference in the game…
“The defense that we played in the first half gave us a chance. Auburn started in zone to start the second half and we were waiting on it. We were just waiting on that to start the game. But when you have a team that makes threes like Auburn does they’re never out of the game. My thing was make them drive. We gave them too many threes down the stretch where we had our hand down, and bang. We’re lucky to get out of here alive, we’re lucky he missed that little shot.”
On if he thought game would be close at the end once they got a 16 point lead early in the 2nd half…
“I don’t think that way. I’m playing play to play, looking at the score and trying to get these guys to realize that we walked out of two timeouts and they did what they chose to do and didn’t listen. It led to breakouts, bumps, and dribble handoffs. We said no dribble handoffs and they got dribble handoffs. They do that because they are freshman and their whole lives they choose what to do. I thought Reid (Travis) was really good today, he gave us something around the basket and got us easy baskets when we needed it. We made six threes, only took fifteen, but we made six.”
On recent growth of Tyler Herro’s game…
“Yeah, I am seeing it. He wanted the ball, wanted it to come to him. I like the fact that Keldon [Johnson] was telling me he wanted it too.”
On production coming from several guys, in large numbers…
“Two nights ago I woke up and I said, ‘For us to win Keldon and Tyler are going to have to score baskets. We came up with some stuff to run specifically to Keldon, packages that we’ve been working on. The other thing we did is ask ourselves who we would go to if we need a shot late. Who we would run to, and what are we running. So, this is a work in progress, this is a new team that has never played together so it’s a disadvantage that we have, but sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know that they aren’t supposed to come in here and win, be up seventeen, they’re just playing. The problem is that once the game gets going they revert, and start playing like it’s a high school game. For example, that Tyler foul on Bryce Brown, fouling him, and I asked why he’d do that when we’re ready to bury them? So that’s the kind of stuff where we just have to tighten the ship up. But look, when you win on the road in this league, this league is ridiculous. Some of you remember me saying let’s get to the point where we get 8, 9, 10 teams in, and everyone laughed at me. Now you look and say oh my god we may get ten teams in. You know Alabama had Tennessee on the ropes, and Alabama beat us.
On team’s record at home vs. on the road…
“These guys don’t know the difference between and home and on the road. The way we played today, it was one of our better games and it was on the road. The game at Georgia one of our better games. We may be playing better on the road than we are at home. This is the part of our schedule that is ridiculous, even though none of it is easy. We have every good team in the league twice, so we’ll enjoy this and then figure out what we’re doing next.”
John Calipari: “For us to win, Keldon (Johnson) and Tyler (Herro) are going to have to score baskets.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
Two nights ago, Kentucky head coach John Calipari had an epiphany. And though it may sound simple on the surface, it actually might have been exactly what the Wildcats needed to go into Auburn Arena and take home a victory in a hostile environment.
“I woke up and I said, ‘For us to win, Keldon (Johnson) and Tyler (Herro) are going to have to score baskets,” he said.
Kentucky’s two leading scorers on the season need the ball in their hands more and make more shots. Novel concept, right?
But it wasn’t just about getting shots up for the pair of Wildcat freshmen. It had to do with running packages for each of them, specifically down the stretch when the team needs to hit a big shot. Calipari decided that either Johnson or Herro simply had to be the go-to options.
“We came up with some stuff to run specifically to Keldon, packages that we’ve been working on,” he said. “The other thing we did is ask ourselves who we would go to if we need a shot late. Who we would run to, and what are we running?”
And what ended up happening? Herro and Johnson combined for 13 of Kentucky’s final 14 points, giving the Wildcats just enough to take home the gritty victory over No. 14 Auburn on the road.
Calipari said that he was happy both Herro and Johnson are demanding the ball now and looking for their own shot. The development is coming.
“Yeah, I am seeing (Herro’s development),” he said. “He wanted the ball, wanted it to come to him. I like the fact that Keldon [Johnson] was telling me he wanted it too.”
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl also had high praise for the Kentucky duo, saying the Tigers had no answers for each of them on the defensive end of the floor.
“I thought that obviously Keldon Johnson and Herro had big nights for them,” said Pearl. “I think they looked right over our guards. They just looked right over the top of our guards and made shots and was able to get to the rim. We weren’t able to put up enough pressure to be able to extend them far enough away from the basket where that was a factor.
“Tyler Herro was an elite high school player; could have gone anywhere in the country,” he continued. “He’s a big-time athlete. I mean, he’s a big kid. So, no, I mean — I think Keldon and Tyler’s ability at guard, at 6-6, 6-7, whatever they are, was a factor.”
Pearl went as far as to say this Kentucky team, led by Johnson and Herro, is better than last year’s group.
“Kentucky played well,” he said. “They’re good. They’re good. Definitely. They’re better than last year’s team. And I think they’re going to have a really good year.”
He followed up on those comments later, saying this group is “built like champions.”
“There’s a real will to win there,” Pearl said. “They would rather win and score less than maybe just put up their numbers. Those kids are built — they’re built, really, like champions.”
Calipari said that he understands they’ll make mistakes on both ends of the floor, just like Herro did by fouling Bryce Brown from behind the 3-point line down the stretch. Kentucky’s 14-point lead slipped to 11, which ended up being part of an 11-0 run to cut the lead to just three.
“This is a work in progress, this is a new team that has never played together so it’s a disadvantage that we have, but sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know,” he said. “They don’t know that they aren’t supposed to come in here and win, be up seventeen, they’re just playing.
“The problem is that once the game gets going they revert, and start playing like it’s a high school game. For example, that Tyler foul on Bryce Brown, fouling him, and I asked why he’d do that when we’re ready to bury them? So that’s the kind of stuff where we just have to tighten the ship up.”
On the day, Herro finished with 20 points on 6-12 shooting to go with three rebounds, four assists, and one steal.
As for Johnson, the star forward out of South Hill, VA also added 20 points (7-11 shooting, 2-5 from three), along with three rebounds. This comes just one game after his zero-point, 0-6 performance against Georgia on Tuesday evening.
As the great Rex Chapman always says, great players never have two bad games in a row, and Johnson proved why he falls in that category.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
Tyler Herro loves to play the villain. When asked if he’d rather make a big shot at home or on the road, the Kentucky freshman didn’t hesitate.
“On the road for sure,” Herro said. “I just like hitting big shots against people who don’t like us. If they don’t like us, we don’t like them.”
Herro was definitely clutch today for Kentucky. Even though he was only 6-12 from the floor, he had three big threes and was 5-5 from the free throw line. His two free throws in the final 24 seconds helped Kentucky hang on for a win, and even though Bruce Pearl called a timeout to try and shake his confidence, it didn’t work.
“I just, I was like, these are good. I feel like I put in a lot of hours so I knew I was going to make it.”
Count Keldon Johnson among those that wasn’t shocked Tyler came through with the game on the line.
“He’s much more than — everybody says he’s just a shooter. I play against him every day. We go at it all the time. I know he’s much more than that. To see him go out there, what he’s doing is no surprise to us. We see it everyday. It’s normal.”
Herro’s breakout game came against Louisville, but he told reporters he felt like this game was even more important.
“Yeah, I feel like it was just a bigger game because Auburn, they’re a great team and we’re a great team too so it felt like a bigger stage.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 7:43pm
Early on, it looked like Keldon Johnson might be on his way to another bad game. After going scoreless vs. Georgia, the freshmen let a pass from Ashton Hagans sail through his hands out of bounds, prompting Hagans to yell at him, “Wake the f— up!”
— Just-in (@Justin_BBN) January 19, 2019
Thankfully, Keldon did wake up, finishing with 20 points off 7-11 from the floor, 2-5 from behind the three-point line, his best offensive outing since the North Carolina game. When asked about it after the game, Keldon said he appreciated Ashton’s tough love.
“He just told me, you’ve got to wake up, man. It’s not acceptable. If we’re going to be the team we’re gonna be, you’ve got to wake up. We need you to play. I did it for my teammates. They had my back and I had theirs. I just went out there and played.”
Not everyone would accept Ashton’s call-out in such a mature manner, especially a freshman used to leading his team in scoring; however, Keldon said he knew it came from a good place.
“Definitely. In a positive way. I know he always wants what’s best for me. We might argue sometimes on the court, but I know my teammates always want what’s best for me.”
“We all know that we have each other’s back, regardless of if it’s now, beginning of the season, or later down the road. You’ve just got to accept it because if they’re telling you something, they’re not just doing it just because. They’re doing it because they want what’s best for you and what’s best for the team.”
Once Keldon did get going, Ashton kept encouraging him.
“He was just like, you’ve got to just keep playing. Just keep going, keep going. We need you. We need you. Same thing for him. We need him the whole game. We need everybody. Tyler, Reid, PJ, Jemarl, everybody that played tonight.”
Tyler Herro said it wasn’t just Ashton holding people accountable; early in the game, he said something similar to PJ Washington.
“Really all the way from the beginning of the game to the end. When Ashton said that Keldon, I was saying it to PJ. Just sticking together. Keldon, he took it the right way and when guys are taking it the right way, the sky’s the limit because we all have each other’s back. As long as we’re holding each other accountable, we’ll be fine.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 7:20pm
John Calipari and Charles Barkley have been buddies for quite some time, going on record at one point to say they were “friends for life” on Calipari’s podcast back in 2016.
Tonight, they proved just that by participating in some friendly banter following Kentucky’s 82-80 victory on the road at Auburn.
During Calipari’s postgame press conference, Charles Barkley walked in while the Kentucky head coach was breaking down the victory, causing Coach Cal to go off script a bit.
“I’m telling EJ (Montgomery) when I’m walking by him, he should be yelling at me, “I’m better than Charles Barkley,”‘ he said.
Barkley was quick to throw his own jab back.
“I was yelling at you too, I was yelling, “F— John Calipari,” he said.
After some laughs and a hug between the Kentucky head coach and NBA legend, Coach Cal jumped right back in with the banter.
“Where is that statue? I tore it down, did you know?”
“It’s big over here,” Barkley responded. “(They made me) skinny too.”
Here was the entire exchange:
— Menser (@bballmenser) January 20, 2019
Earlier in the game, the former Tiger forward joined the broadcast to talk about the game and the status of the Auburn program under coach Bruce Pearl. Barkley said that Pearl would have to recruit lower-end talent and develop them at an elite level because McDonald’s All-Americans won’t be flocking to play at Auburn.
Dick Vitale then asked Barkley if he was a McDonald’s All-American when he came out of high school, to which Barkley replied that he wasn’t, but he sure eats a lot of McDonald’s.
Look at the exchange below:
Dickie V: Were you a McDonald's All-American?
Charles Barkley: No, I ate at McDonald's
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 19, 2019
Never a dull moment with Charles Barkley.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 7:14pm
By Nick Roush on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 7:11pm
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 6:40pm
By Nick Roush on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 6:17pm
For the first in the Calipari era, Kentucky defeated a Top 15 SEC team on the road. The Cats withstood a late flurry of threes from Bryce Brown to hold on for an 82-80 victory over the fourteenth-ranked Auburn Tigers.
Auburn’s sharp-shooter scored just three points on two shots in the first half, but in the second half Brown was on fire. He made all five threes to finish with 28 points and erase a 17-point Kentucky lead. Luckily, Tyler Herro was prepared to answer.
Herro scored ten points in the final six minutes to help the Cats overcome an absurd late flagrant foul on P.J. Washington. Jared Harper’s three-pointer gave Auburn a one-point lead with 30 seconds to go. Herro answered with a pair of made free throws to give Kentucky the lead. Harper’s contested two rimmed out to secure the UK win.
Kentucky put all of the pieces together to win a hard-fought, nail-biter on The Plains. The future is bright for the Wildcats.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 5:02pm
After what felt like one of the longest halves of college basketball ever, Kentucky leads Auburn 35-27. The Cats ended the half on a 9-0 run, which included huge threes by Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson.
After not scoring vs. Georgia on Tuesday, Keldon leads the Cats with 11 points (5-8 FG, 1-3 3PT FG), followed by Reid Travis with 7 and Ashton Hagans with 6. Kentucky’s holding Auburn, one of the best offenses in the country, to 33.3 percent from the floor (9-27), 31.3 percent from behind the arc (5-16). That’s really, really good.
Nineteen fouls were called in the first half, at least four of which were reviewed by officials. Hopefully the refs left both sides play in the second half. Keep it up, Cats…
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 3:45pm
A message from our sponsor:
Kentucky-proud and locally-owned, Liquor Barn has been serving Big Blue Nation for over 30 years! Liquor Barn and Party Mart are where Kentuckians go to celebrate life.
Head to your local Liquor Barn and Party Mart store to stock up for game day or every day! It’s never been so easy to shop Kentucky’s favorite wine, spirits, beer, and cigar store. Download the new Liquor Barn app to order for pick-up or delivery, save your favorites, and get exclusive deals. We are now delivering in Lexington and Louisville areas. Use code GOCATS for one month of FREE delivery!*
Visit LiquorBarn.com to shop now, download the app, or see what’s happening in your local store. GO CATS!