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February 19th, 2017

Will 2017 be Year of the RB in the SEC?

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Before the 2016 football season began, many thought the SEC was going to be all about it’s star running backs. LSU’s Leonard Fournette was expected to be the Heisman front-runner. Georgia’s Nick Chubb had healed up and was prepared to carry the Bulldogs. Jalen Hurd had star potential written all over him in Tennessee. Fast forward to 2017, and none of those names really headlined, at least not in the way we expected.

Fournette didn’t really live up to expectations, Chubb struggled while sharing carries with Michel, and Hurd completely disappeared from college football. As one ESPN writer posted this week, “something else happened: A lot of names that weren’t nationally known turned in impressive seasons running the football, and many of them are back for 2017.”

According to ESPN’s Kahn Jr., 2017 will be the real year of the running back in the SEC.

This fall, the running backs with the top five rushing totals in the conference in 2016 all return and eight of the top 10 are back. And several of these young backs are just getting started.

The top 5 returning rushers, in order of rushing yards last season, are as follows:

Derrius Guice, LSU – 1,387 yards

Rawleigh Williams III, Arkansas – 1,360 yards

Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt – 1,283 yards

Kamryn Pettway, Auburn – 1,224 yards

Nick Chubb, Georgia – 1,130 yards

Can you guess who was 6th in rushing yards returning? That’s right, Benny Snell, Jr!  

Snell rushed for 1,091 yards and tied for 2nd in touchdowns among SEC running backs (13). With Boom and Jojo moving on from UK, it opens up a lot more carries for Benny to showcase his talents. Don’t be surprised if Snell passes the 1,300 yard mark next season. Based off of his freshman performance, of which he didn’t take a snap until week 3, it’s safe to assume he would’ve had almost 1,300 yards in 2016. That’s only with 186 carries last year, which you can expect to go up a lot in the Fall.

Had Boom decided to return to UK, Williams would’ve been 5th in yards returning, just ahead of Georgia’s Nick Chubb.

The stats don’t lie. On paper, 2017 looks like it could be a huge year for running backs in the SEC. Fortunately for Kentucky, we have one of the SEC’s best in the back field. It’ll be football time in the bluegrass before we know it.


John Wall responds to LaVar Ball’s insane comment

wall-ball

Big Blue Nation’s own John Wall has chimed in on LaVar Ball saying his son, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, is better than Steph Curry. (If you missed that one, scroll down or click here.)

Wall was asked about the outrageous comparison in an interview (that may or may not have been recorded in his hotel bed in New Orleans), to which he said, “It’s funny… I feel like he’s putting a lot of pressure on his kid though … he added fuel to the fire for when he plays Steph Curry, or any other point guards after he gets drafted.”

Sounds like the bullseye in on Lonzo’s back when he gets to the league next season.


Further proof that LaVar Ball is a crazy person

When it’s all said and done and the dust settles and the Ball family flakes out of the high school and college basketball spotlights, I think LaVar Ball, father of all those Ball boys, will go down as one of the craziest sports parents of all time.

I mean the guy has already admitted to picking a wife that would help him breed future NBA basketball players. He once said, “We’ve put this together from a while ago, from me picking out my wife. I had a lot of little cute shorties but there wasn’t anybody tall and like a stallion like she was.”

He also guaranteed a UCLA championship in November, which, actually, isn’t as crazy as it sounded at the time (before the Bruins beat Kentucky in Rupp Arena):

But now LaVar Ball has gone way too far.

Now he’s saying Lonzo Ball is better than Steph Curry:

“Hey, let me tell you this right now. I have the utmost confidence in what my boy is doing. I’m gonna tell you right now, he better than Steph Curry to me… Put Steph Curry on UCLA’s team right now and put my boy on Golden State and watch what happens… Like I said, if I don’t know what my boy is about, I’m not going to make that statement. Steph’s going to have problems trying to guard my boy. Play 1-on-1!”

Lonzo Ball is very good and he will soon be a very rich man, but come on now. Better than the reigning two-time NBA MVP?

Come on now.


BBN Struggles in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge

@NBA

@NBA

When the participants for the 2017 Taco Bell Skills Challenge were announced, the odds were in heavy favor of the Big Blue Nation. Four out of the eight participants were former Wildcats, with John Wall and Devin Booker being two of the three favorites to win. The rules were quite simple, with players having to weave around obstacles, complete a pass through a hoop, run down the court for a layup, and come back to make a 3-pointer.

Unfortunately for the BBN, none of the NBA Cats made it through to the second round. Despite the analysts picking players from Kentucky to advance, things just didn’t go according to plan.

The first match-up saw John Wall taking on Gordon Hayward. Even though both players are considered to be top guards in the NBA, neither completed a pass in three attempts. Following the unsuccessful passes, Wall took the lead by completing his layup first, but would miss his first 3-point attempt. This allowed Hayward to drain his only shot. Game over, John Wall.

Next up, we had Devin Booker facing the overall favorite, Isaiah Thomas. Booker missed all three of his passing attempts as well, and Thomas never looked back. Thomas nailed his first pass, completed his layup, and sank his 2nd 3-point attempt before Booker even took a shot. Come on, man!

The third match-up consisted of DeMarcus Cousins and Kristaps Porzingis. Cousins would surprisingly complete his first pass, finish his layup, then proceed to have a shootout with Porzingis. Boogie actually had a 3-pointer going in first, but it was knocked out by an opposing shot. Cousins didn’t go out without a fight, as John Wall was seen falling out of his seat laughing. 

That is .GIF gold.

The final showdown of the opening round was Anthony Davis taking on Nikola Jokic. Jokic was there replacing the injured Joel Embiid. Davis probably had the best showing of all four Wildcats, but his hustle was a little bit absent (it’s just All-Star weekend). Davis would get to the 3-point line first, however his first shot was a miss, which allowed Jokic to seal the deal on his initial attempt.

New York’s Porzingis would go on to win the skills challenge, defeating Gordon Hayward in the finals.  Around the league, it’s really not cool if you try hard on All-Star Weekend. This weekend’s events are about having fun, which all of the former Wildcats seemed to have. It’s fun just to watch them enjoy their time in the spotlight.

One interesting note, the winner of last night’s dunk contest copied the dunk John Wall used to win the 2014 contest. 


Last Night’s Highlights: Kentucky 82 Georgia 77

Credit @KentuckyMBB

Credit @KentuckyMBB

Start off your Sunday morning with highlights from Kentucky’s tough 82-77 victory over the Bulldogs.

It wasn’t easy, but the Wildcats came home with another SEC win on the road. Georgia fans hoped to see their team finally get that ever-eluding key victory, but Fox’s late game heroics was enough to keep Kentucky on top.

How about Dominique Hawkins with the steal and score?


International Tug of War Day’s Sunday Morning Wakeup

via Kentucky Digital Library

Tug of War match at the University of Kentucky (circa 1916-1919) via Kentucky Digital Library

What does the International Tug of War Day have to do with anything? Honestly, I cannot answer that question, but today is the day folks! I was personally never on the winning side of a Tug of  War match, but that’s neither here nor there. Can you imagine if NCAA Tournament seeding rested on the shoulders of teams battling it out in a Tug of War tournament? Neither can I, because that’s probably the dumbest idea I’ve come up with. Any who, grab that old rope you’ve got lying around and celebrate International Tug of War Day with the rest of BBN!

Now, onto why you’re really here..

UK beat Georgia on the road

Brett Davis | USA Today

Brett Davis | USA Today

The Cats gutted out a huge road win yesterday at Georgia, defeating them for the second time this season. The team showed incredible toughness throughout the game and relied heavily on a clutch play from De’Aaron Fox. Down the stretch, it was Kentucky’s grit and Fox’s free throws that put the nail in the coffin. But giving credit where it is due, Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins and Michael Mulder all brought their A game, coming off the bench for major plays.

NBA All Star festivities continued in New Orleans

via @NBAAllStar

via @NBAAllStar

While the Skills Challenge featured plenty of UK guys, they all unfortunately didn’t make it past the first round. Nevertheless Jamal Murray represented us well, winning MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night. The 66th NBA All-Star Game airs tonight on TNT at 8:30 p.m. Cheer on your favorite former Wildcats as starter Anthony Davis and teammate, Demarcus Cousins face-off against John Wall.

5-star Kentucky signee played in Kentucky this weekend

2017 five-star signee, P.J. Washington, and his Findlay Prep team have been playing in Marshall County over the weekend. Washington had a monster game Friday night with 23 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks. Due to an early lead Saturday, Washington sat most of the second half leaving his final stats at 10 points, six rebounds and seven assists. This kid is a great passer for a big man and the stats don’t lie. Check out this dunk video below and get hype for this addition to the Cats.

UK Hoops are at home against Florida today

via UK Athletics

via UK Athletics

At 1:00 p.m. the UK Hoops will take on the Florida Gators in hopes of continuing a three-game SEC winning streak. Most recently, the team defeated Arkansas 69-62 on the road. Today’s game will be UK’s annual Play4Kay Pink Game, benefitting the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Check out the matchup and cheer on these ladies by heading to Memorial Coliseum or tuning into the SEC Network today at 1:00 p.m.


President’s Day Sale at the KSR Shop!

presidents_day_ksr

The huge President’s Day sale continues at the KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded. Hurry as the special deal ends Monday. Make sure you head to ShopKSR.com to receive up to 30% OFF your entire purchase. 

The KSR Shop has a great selection of short and long sleeve t-shirts, hats, fleece pants, sweatshirts, and lots of other great gift ideas. Have you seen the all new Raglan shirts or the huge selection of shirts to show off your Kentucky state pride? Simply go to ShopKSR.com before Monday to receive up to 30% OFF your entire purchase by using the corresponding COUPON CODES in the image above.

 

[President’s Day Sale at the KSR Shop!]


February 18th, 2017

10 Takeaways From Another Close Call Against Georgia

Brett Davis | USA Today

Brett Davis | USA Today

Whew, what a game.

It was a little closer than Big Blue Nation had hoped, but in the end, your University of Kentucky Wildcats escaped Athens with an 82-77 win in a game that saw 13 ties and 15 leads changes.

Like you, I’m a little gassed from yelling at my television, but let’s use what little energy we have left to run through some takeaways from the big SEC road win…

 

1. The Rule of 71 failed.

Georgia was the first to 71 points after J.J. Frazier made a three-pointer to reach the 71 plateau and put the Bulldogs ahead by two. But the Rule of 71 would not hold true tonight as the Cats still pulled off the win in the end.

Kentucky also won without getting a single point from Isaac Humphries for only the second time this season.

2. J.J. Frazier was unstoppable.

The Kentucky defense couldn’t do anything about J.J. Frazier and it was so frustrating to watch. JUST MAKE SOMEONE ELSE BEAT YOU!!!!

Georgia ran the same offense over and over and over again in the second half — ball screens to get a mismatch — and Frazier scored at will to the tune of a season-high 36 points, one shy of his career best mark.

Frazier was hot, but at some point you have to swarm him and make someone else do some scoring.

3. De’Aaron Fox was Mr. Clutch down the stretch.

Fox’s play was disappointing through the first 25-30 minutes of the game and the he took over in crunch time, scoring 10 points in the final two minutes and hitting six straight free throws in the last 44 seconds to close it out.

Fox said afterward, “I can step up in big moments.”

Yeah, we saw that.

4. Bam Adebayo also made big plays in the end.

Two plays in particular stand out: the block of Pape Diatta’s shot in a tie game with 33 seconds to play and the hustle to secure the long offensive rebound after a Kentucky missed shot with a little over a minute to go, which led to a tie game with the second chance bucket.

Adebayo also hit three clutch free throws and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds in 36 hard minutes.

5. You have to feel bad for Mark Fox and his Bulldogs.

Georgia has played two very tight games against Kentucky and had both of them won, plus an overtime loss at Florida, a one-point loss at Texas A&M (because the clock got stuck) and a two-point loss at South Carolina. They could’ve won any and all of those with just a couple different bounces of the ball, but instead they went 0-5 in those tight contests that could’ve really helped the NCAA tournament resume.

Unfortunately Georgia will likely miss out on the tournament now and that has to suck. They played so well in big games, just couldn’t finish.

6. Prayers up for Yante Manten.

Georgia’s star forward went down with a knee injury in the very beginning of the game and didn’t return. Hopefully it doesn’t keep him out too long and on into the summer when he is projected as a second-round pick in the draft.

Also, big pat on the back to Manten’s teammates for playing so well after he went out. You gotta wonder what the score would’ve been had he not suffered the injury.

7. Kentucky’s three seniors had good games.

Big night for the three seniors as they combined for 25 points off the bench and a whole lot more in other aspects of the game, including a CAREER-HIGH 12 REBOUNDS BY WILLIS. Derek did exactly what Kentucky needs from him outside of his shooting contributions and it’s time to consider moving him into the starting lineup.

Then of course Dominique Hawkins continued his streak of solid play by doing all the things Old Reliable gives you each night.

And how about my boy Mychal Mulder? I’ve been saying it all year: he needs more clock. Tonight he had nine points on three treys with two rebounds. Maybe I’m alone here but I wouldn’t mind seeing him take some of Isaiah Briscoe’s minutes when the situation calls for some shooting.

Coach Cal said on the postgame show, “I love what I saw from Dom and Mychal… And Derek did good.”

8. Malik Monk was cold from outside but made some key plays.

It looked to be one of those awful nights for Monk until he came up big late in the game and on the foul line. Monk finished 9-for-11 for the charity stripe with only three made field goals on 11 shots, and it was enough.

He got robbed of a big rebound when Kentucky was called for a cheap blocking out foul, too.

Speaking of bad calls….

9. WHERE WAS THE FOUL HERE!!!!!!!!

Had Kentucky lost that game, we were all taking a KSR field trip to the SEC basketball offices.

10. Moving forward…

It’s simple: learn to guard the high pick-and-roll. If not, that’ll be what kills this team in the end.

But for now let’s celebrate a hard-fought win in a tough environment against a very good team and a very good guard in J.J. Frazier.

Get back to Lexington with that W and put it behind us.


Calipari went on long rant in defense of fellow coaches Fox, Gottfried

KSR-0564

John Calipari used his postgame press conference to go on a long rant in support of Georgia head coach Mark Fox for the job he has done with the Bulldogs throughout so many close, heartbreaking games.

The rant then turned to Mark Gottfried, who was fired from NC State earlier this week, as Calipari said, “We’re firing coaches in midseason… Are you shitting me?”

He concluded it with, “FAKE NEWS!!!! I’m just kidding.”


Hear what De’Aaron Fox and Derek Willis had to say about the win

fox-uga

De’Aaron Fox and Derek Willis were available to the media after tonight’s win and Kentucky Sports Radio was there with a camera to capture it all.

Have a listen/watch as Fox and Willis explain how their performances contributed to their team’s narrow win.


LIVE: John Calipari’s postgame press conference from Athens

ksr-live

Tune in to hear what John Calipari has to say about the close call against Georgia:


Fox Ices Frazier to Squeak Past Georgia, 82-77

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Just like the first time these two teams met, it was a hard-fought, knock down, drag ’em out, that ended with Kentucky leaving victoriously.

Georgia ran J.J. Frazier off ball screen after ball screen to score 36 points, but his adversary had the last laugh.  De’Aaron Fox struggled with foul trouble and often failed to finish at the rim, but when Kentucky needed him most, Fox delivered.

Trailing by two with 1:12 remaining, De’Aaron Fox kissed one off the glass to tie the game.  Frazier responded, but Fox didn’t back down.  Fox was sent to the free throw line.  His first shot drew iron three times before rolling through the rim.  From there, Fox was good to go.  Fox hit six free throws in the final minute and scored eight of the Cats’ last 11 points to ice the game.

Fox and Malik Monk led the Cats in scoring with 16 apiece, Derek Willis tied a career-high with 12 rebounds and Bam Adebayo finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds.  The full box score:

uga-final

 


A Turnover-Filled Halftime Box Score

Pic via @KentuckyMBB.

Pic via @KentuckyMBB.

Kentucky averages 12 turnovers per game this season. In the first half they’ve given Georgia the ball nine times.

One other thing worth mentioning: Georgia’s star power forward, Yante Maten, is doubtful to return after suffering a right knee injury in the first half.

uga


UNC Takes Series With 6-5 Win On Saturday

(Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

(Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Zach Reks went 4/4 and Kole Cottam drove in three runs for Kentucky in a 6-5 loss to North Carolina. UK trailed 6-1 headed to the 7th before the offense woke up with three runs in the 7th and one in the 8th. It was a little too late as UNC took game two of the series.

Recap

UK jumped out to an early 1-0 in the first as Kole Cottam doubled to score Reks. The lead would be short lived as the Tar Heels used a Kyle Datres RBI single to tie the game at one. Logue was able to wiggle out of multiple jams throughout his 4.1 innings on Saturday. The senior stranded six runners in the first four innings, but the Tar Heels began to knock him around in the fifth. Logue allowed single runs in the fourth and the fifth as he exited allowing three runs in 4.1 innings on six hits and four walks and five strikeouts.

As Kentucky’s offense struggled to bring in runs, UNC jumped on their biggest opportunity in the sixth. Leading 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, UNC batted around and scored three runs against four different UK pitchers. Alec Maley hit a pair of batters and Mark Doerries and Austin Keen combined for three walks as UNC stretched their lead to five. Brad Schaenzer got the final out and left the bases loaded for UNC.

Kentucky found their fight in the 7th as Reks singled and Riley Mahan and Tristan Pompey walked. Cottam roped his second RBI double of the game to score Reks and Mahan. Pompey was thrown out at the plate but the Cats trimmed the lead to 6-3. Marcus Carson knocked Cottam home with an RBI double of his own with two outs.

Zach Pop came in and held the UNC offense down. The Top 100 MLB Prospect held the Tar Heels scoreless for 1.2 innings before Logan Salow got the final out of the eighth. In the top of the eighth, UK used an RBI groundout by Mahan to get one more back before the ninth.

For the second consecutive day, Josh Hiatt came in and shut the door for the Tar Heels in the ninth. UK got a man on first but Hiatt ended the game with a strikeout.

Notes

Reks continued to hit well. The second year left fielder has seven hits in the first two games with one walk. Having a guy like that at the top of your lineup can truly change how an opposing team pitches to you.

Evan White missed today’s game. White was out with a hip issue that is supposedly minor. Nick Mingione held him out today due to caution.

Plenty of new faces. We saw a lot of new guys come out of the bullpen today. Pop, Salow, and Logue are all guys that started last year. Keen, Maley, and Doerries made their debuts today.

Game three is tomorrow at 1 ET. Justin Lewis is set to go for UK. 

 

 


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