By Nick Roush on ©March 26th, 2019 @ 9:00am
Today’s the day, the day doctors are expected to crack open P.J. Washington’s cast to see how his sprained foot is healing.
What will doctors discover? Probably a smelly surprise. Aside from that, the day we’ve all been waiting for probably will not produce any news. John Calipari isn’t expected to meet with the media again until Thursday’s shoot-around at the Sprint Center. Your best bet is to wait for an Ashton Hagans Instagram live and hope Washington makes a cameo.
Instead of freaking out over every waking minute of the day, I’ll take Paul Washington Sr.’s advice and “just relax.”
Cal Sings Houston’s Praises
In-between the brief P.J. Washington updates on The John Calipari Show, Coach Cal had plenty of nice things to say about the Houston Cougars.
“It’s going to be a hard game, folks. Don’t think because you’re hearing ‘Houston’ that it won’t be,” he said.
“If they outwork us, they are an unbelievable offensive rebounding team. They play with great toughness. They collapse defensively. Every time you throw it to the post, for all the 4 million coaches in our state, they trap. Kelvin Sampson literally, I think he’s coach of the year nationally. He has been a friend for a long, long time, and is one of those coaches that has unbelievable game plans and will have his guys ready.”
Season Ends for UK Hoops
The Kentucky women’s basketball team could not mount a comeback to upset three-seed N.C. State in Raleigh, falling to the Wolfpack 72-57. The Cats kept it close through three quarters, but failed to make a fourth quarter run to close the gap.
The loss ended the historic careers of Taylor Murray and Maci Morris. Murray finishes her career ranked fourth in school history in steals and fifth assists. Morris leaves as the program’s best career three-point shooter, hitting 41.1 percent from behind the line, and ranks sixth in career points with 1,692.
Kentucky finished the season 25-7. It did not end with a miraculous NCAA Tournament run, but it did include an exceptional 9-0 start to the season and a victory in the Paradise Jam that defied expectations and created a memorable 2018-19 campaign.
Georgetown College Fighting for a Title
The top-ranked Tigers are back in the NAIA men’s basketball championship game of the seventh time in program history after they took down William Carey College 94-83 in last night’s semifinal. Chris Coffey had 32 points and 12 rebounds to lead the way, including this incredible buzzer-beater just before half.
— NAIA (@NAIA) March 25, 2019
Georgetown College will play for its third championship in school history against Carroll College. It airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET on the Watch ESPN app.
McDonald’s All-American Media Day
Jack Pilgrim is in the ATL to see the McDonald’s All-Americans go to work at an open practice. Following the practice, he’ll have updates from Jaden McDaniels, Matthew Hurt, Kahlil Whitney and Tyrese Maxey. Until then, enjoy highlights from Maxey’s first day of practice.
Back to Practice
Spring practice, that is. We’ll hear from the offense this morning following practice No. 7, the midway point of the spring season.
The only thing better than an arena transformation time-lapse are severe weather time-lapse videos. Action at the Yum! Center begins Thursday, which means that god-forsaken orange is about fill my city. Gross.
ALERT: Some very cool video just released from the @kfc_yumcenter of a time lapse of the @marchmadness floor installation that took place this morning 3-25-19 in #Louisville. The Road to the Final Four makes a stop this week in #Louisville. Catch #MarchMadness on #TBS Thurs/Sat. pic.twitter.com/kGLmFGOTVt
— Aaron Ellis (@aaronellis01) March 25, 2019
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 26th, 2019 @ 8:30am
McDonald’s All-American Game festivities tipped off yesterday, and future Kentucky Wildcats Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney made sure their presence was known from the jump.
The Wildcat duo, both suiting up for the West squad this week, got things started on Monday morning with their first practice, followed by a brief media opportunity. Yesterday evening, Maxey and Whitney each participated in the Powerade Jam Fest event, where they both turned heads.
Let’s dive right in.
With over 90 NBA scouts in Atlanta watching the top high school basketball players in America compete, both Wildcats participating this week let those watching know that they are two of the most impressive players in high school basketball.
For Maxey, it was his elite shooting ability and competitive nature that had onlookers fascinated.
Here are just a few of the reactions:
I’d say Kentucky commit SG Tyrese Maxey (@TyreseMaxey) caught all the NBA scouts eye’s this morning. A pure stroke in his shot, brings great energy on the floor, and is able to knock down jumpers from basically anywhere on the floor #MCDAAG. Potential one-and-done.
— Samad H. (@Mod_Hines) March 25, 2019
I love watching Tyrese Maxey. Kentucky fans are going to have so much fun watching him and his consistent energy on the floor. Just an infectious positive dude to be around.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 25, 2019
Here is Maxey’s entire highlight tape from this morning, where his ridiculous shooting stroke separated himself from his peers:
As for Whitney, while his athleticism and defensive intensity is always the center of attention, his improved jump shot was also quite impressive.
Here is one look at it:
Stay tuned for our upcoming documentary on him called ‘The Year of the Dragon’ dropping after the Dance. pic.twitter.com/GT1869PU8U
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 25, 2019
And another look:
Kahlil Whitney from deep at McDonald’s practice… pic.twitter.com/RpqKcsvSGM
— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) March 25, 2019
As early as last year, Whitney had a Hamidou Diallo-like hitch in his shot that really hurt his ability to find consistency as a shooter. He has always been able to drive and finish in the paint, but opponents could neutralize him a bit on the floor by sagging off of him and forcing him to work from the outside.
Now that he has tweaked his form and has developed that muscle memory, he has truly become a threat on all three levels of the floor. Every time I watch him play (especially now) I see a more-advanced Jaylen Brown at this stage. Going into college, Brown was a low-30s 3-point shooter, and he followed it up with a “meh” 29.4 percent clip in his lone season at Cal-Berkeley.
In the NBA, though, Brown has shot 36.3 percent from three over the course of his career and has become just enough of a consistent threat to keep defenders.
If he’s even an above-average perimeter shooter at Kentucky, the rest of his game will more than make up for it.
As far as media availability is concerned, we only got about ten minutes or so for quick interviews after practice, so it’s slim-pickings with news (from yesterday, at least).
The biggest updates of the day, though, are as follows:
- 2019 five-star forward Matthew Hurt will make a decision on April 19, down to Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Memphis, and Minnesota. He’s still working on visits to Memphis and Minnesota, and he claims all six schools are on equal ground.
- 2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels still has no idea where he wants to go and has no timeline for a decision.
- Kahlil Whitney talked about how excited he is to get pushed to the limit by John Calipari in Lexington, says the elite competition makes him want to get on campus as soon as possible.
- Tyrese Maxey believes Kentucky is going to win the national title this year, says he thinks his group can make another run next year. Still recruiting a piece or two to close out the 2019 class.
As far as light-hearted content is concerned, Jake Rosen of JakeInThePaint.com sat down with Maxey and asked him about his favorite food, movies, music, and more.
You can check that out here:
Caught up with Tyrese Maxey (@TyreseMaxey) after the early morning practice. The future Kentucky Wildcat is a killer on the court and has a personality that leads people to gravitate towards him. He brings an elite package of energy, skill and leadership to the hardwood. pic.twitter.com/030w9Mqa4p
— Jake Rosen (@JakeInThePaint) March 25, 2019
With Media Day taking place this afternoon, we’ll have more time to talk with the players, where I’ll be able to ask more Kentucky-specific questions to those in attendance. Be on the lookout for that in a bit.
Powerade Jam Fest
After practice and media opportunities, we packed into buses and drove to Wheeler High School (EJ Montgomery’s former school) in Marietta, GA for the Powerade Jam Fest.
There, Maxey competed in the Legends and Stars Shootout, where he absolutely dominated the event.
After going 1/2 from the 3-point line (both shots looked good, if we’re being honest), the future Wildcat jogged over to the half-court line and drilled it in one attempt.
Take a look:
— HoopFocus (@TheHoopFocus) March 26, 2019
No one else came close. Maxey ran away with the easy victory in this one.
From there, Kahlil participated in the Slam Dunk Contest, where he unleashed his ridiculous athleticism.
On his first attempt, Superman cape and all, Whitney got Maxey to toss him an alley-oop off the backboard:
Kahlil Whitney gets help from future Kentucky teammate Tyrese Maxey on his first dunk attempt: pic.twitter.com/JdFWneeNUy
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 26, 2019
On his second attempt, Whitney went with the self-oop back-scratcher, where his entire head was above the rim.
On his second attempt, Kahlil Whitney gets his whole head above the rim: pic.twitter.com/5igqmHLt31
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 26, 2019
Maxey also helped out future Florida Gator Scottie Lewis in his insane dunk attempt:
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 26, 2019
This was the contest-winning dunk from Stanford women’s basketball commit Francesca Belibi:
Only the 2nd woman to EVER win the dunk contest ?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 26, 2019
Overall, it was a fun event and the Cats looked impressive in the national spotlight.
Evening Media Opportunity
After the Powerade Jam Fest, Maxey, along with Belibi, five-star recruit Cole Anthony, and Notre Dame women’s basketball signee Samantha Brunelle, each talked to the media about their performance.
Maxey, in particular, talked about his Lewis jumping over him in the Dunk Contest, his favorite dunk from the night, and practicing specifically for the half-court attempt in the Legends and Stars Shootout.
Take a look:
Practice will be from 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. this morning followed by Media Day from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
I’ll have several updates with all the footage, interviews, and analysis you could ever need throughout the day.
See you then.
By Nick Roush on ©March 26th, 2019 @ 8:30am
Need tickets to see the Cats in the Sweet 16? You’re in luck.
Beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET the UK ticket office is releasing a limited number of tickets for the Midwest Regional in Kansas City. You can get seats in the UK allotment (sections 211-214) by calling (800) 928-2287 (Option 4). Tickets to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight are $250 and can be picked up in Kansas City at will call.
Secure your spot in the Sprint Center by calling as soon as the ticket office opens. Hurry, they won’t be around for long.
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 11:30pm
Devin Booker scored 59 points and it’s not even a career-high.
The 22-year old former Wildcat finished one point away from his second career 60-point performance in a blowout loss to the Utah Jazz. Booker almost doubled the rest of his team’s output. No other Sun scored in double figures, combining for 33 points in the 125-92 loss.
To get to 59 points, Booker made 19-of-34 shots, 16-of-17 free throws and 5-of-8 three-pointers. The Jazz intentionally fouled with 20 seconds to play to keep Booker from breaking 60. Just a few of his best moments:
Two guys all over Book?
Don't matter. 59 POINTS! ? pic.twitter.com/omLdRxjgyg
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) March 26, 2019
Devin Booker has 47 PTS and counting heading into the 4Q ?
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) March 26, 2019
Booker is the fourth player in NBA history with multiple 50-point games before his 23rd birthday, joining Rick Barry (7), LeBron James (3) and Kyrie Irving (2). Tom Chambers is the only player in franchise history with multiple 50-point games. Booker’s first game over 50 was a 70-point performance against the Celtics in 2017.
Devin Booker is a bad, bad man.
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
P.J. Washington’s absence from the Kentucky basketball team since the beginning of the NCAA Tournament has caused some fans to go crazy. While we wait to see how quickly he can recover from a sprained left foot, Paul Washington Sr. has one clear message for fans: relax.
“It’s like looking at that cup,” he told the Herald-Leader. “Either it’s half-way full or half-way empty. The water level is at the same level…Tell people to just relax. PJ will play when his body says he can play.”
The message echoes the same sentiment Washington Sr. shared with Kyle Tucker Friday night.
“This isn’t about his draft stock, and it isn’t about Kentucky. It’s about making sure my son is healthy,” he said prior to UK’s victory over Wofford. “I would say those people just gotta try to be a parent in this situation and stop being a fan. And just relax.”
If fans believe he’s sitting out to save himself for the NBA, there are no financial motives. For those who question his toughness, allow Washington Sr. to remind you what his son did last season.
“Where were these same people when he played from January to March last year with a broken finger? Where were these people saying he wasn’t tough? He laid his health on the line then,” P.J.’s father told Jerry Tipton.
Fans will have to wait a little longer to learn more on Washington’s status for Friday night’s game against Houston. On his call-in show, John Calipari revealed doctors plan on removing the cast from his left foot “probably tomorrow,” however, we will not receive another update from the team until UK’s media opportunity in Kansas City Thursday afternoon.
Until then, take Paul Washington Sr.’s advice, relax.
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 10:45pm
While many of you were busy fretting over P.J. Washington’s injured foot, Kentucky football players were making money. Personnel from all 32 NFL teams were in attendance for UK Pro Day 2019, and now that I’ve had some time to digest what went down at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility Friday morning, I can safely say it was one of my favorite experiences on the job.
On New Year’s Day we saw the culmination of the players’ hard work in the form of a Citrus Bowl win. For some, Friday morning gave them a chance to prove to NFL officials how much they are worth. For everybody else, it was a comic-con for football nerds. Before I nerd out, here’s who made serious money.
There Goes Lonnie
Not many of the players who attended the NFL Combine attempted to improve their numbers at UK Pro Day. Benny Snell retried the vertical leap, Darius West ran the 3 cone drill and Derrick Baity and Lonnie Johnson Jr. ran the 40-yard dash.
Johnson captured every scouts’ attention at the Senior Bowl. His size and physicality set him apart from the rest of the pack. The only question mark on Lonnie’s rap-sheet was his speed. Confident he could post a 4.4 40-yard dash, he failed to meet that mark at the NFL Combine, coming in at 4.52. Unlike the laser-timed combine, pro day times are all clocked by hand. The slowest time was 4.45, with his best cracking a new milestone at 4.39.
When I saw the time on my stopwatch, my jaw dropped. I turned to Freddie Maggard who was wide-eyed in disbelief. NFL scouts shared that sentiment. The once quiet bleachers were buzzing with conversation until the next participant went to the line. Days later they’re still talking about it.
Might have been a record number of top NFL personnel men for a @UKFootball pro day last week. And they saw CB Lonnie Johnson (6-2, 210) put on a show. I think he has chance now to go Round 1 with teammate Josh Allen. Tall corner with speed (4.45 40).
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 25, 2019
If you thought people were shocked at Johnson’s time, they were floored when Westry crossed the finish line. The undeniable MVP of UK Pro Day, as soon as Westry exploded out of his stance, you know something crazy was happening. Vince Marrow’s reaction sums it up best:
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) March 22, 2019
On Westry’s second attempt he ran a 4.37, no big deal. His vertical leap may have been more impressive than either run. The cornerback nearly cleared the entire rack on his second jump. His teammates could not have been happier.
Chris Westry’s teammates went nuts when he jumped 38 inches in the vertical leap. pic.twitter.com/9RWtMGQYnZ
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) March 22, 2019
After an excellent start to his Kentucky career, Westry failed to finish with a bang. Even so, his athleticism is undeniably amazing, especially for a 6’4″ cornerback. His raw numbers will get him a shot at playing for an NFL team, whether it’s as a late round draft pick or a free agent, somebody is going to take a chance on Westry.
Eli Capilouto, Cheerleader
Before Kentucky’s president departed for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in Raleigh, Eli Capilouto stopped by the Nutter Field House to supports UK’s outgoing seniors. Capilouto wasn’t just making an appearance, he was cheering on the Wildcats.
Seated on the turf near the finish line, I heard somebody behind me say under their breath, “Come on George. Beat five seconds. Come on!”
When I turned around, I was surprised to see Capilouto was the person cheering on “Big” George Asafo-Adjei. I wasn’t surprised to hear Capilouto cheering on the players. I was surprised he knew what George needed to surpass. After posting a 5.03 in his first 40-yard dash, a sub-five second 40 would make him one of the fastest offensive linemen in the draft.
With a little help from President Capilouto, Big George ran a 4.93. Compared to those who were invited to the NFL Combine, he would have been the fourth-fastest offensive lineman.
Big George’s 40-yard dash wasn’t even his best drill. The offensive tackle logged 34 benchpress reps, rather easily too, which would have tied him for second at the NFL Combine. He also had a 30-inch vertical leap. That’s a half-inch higher than Benny Snell, and George is a hair shy of 6’5″ 300 pounds. Incredible.
Right Where C.J. Conrad Belongs
It’s difficult to articulate how great it was to see C.J. Conrad back on the football field with a smile on his face. A consummate professional and an excellent teammate, even though he was limited to just route running, his energy was infectious. Just watch him while Big George hits the bench.
That enthusiasm is the perfect reflection of Conrad’s character. When I spoke to Conrad after he picked up a sweat on the football field, he spoke about the tumultuous two and a half weeks where his football future was up in the air. He was distraught not because of what could potentially be lost. He was heartbroken for his parents. Thinking of others first, that’s the kind of guy C.J. Conrad is.
By Brent Wainscott on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 10:30pm
The one and only Big Mick is a meaty masterpiece in its own right. Composed of two quarter-pound patties* of never-fresh, frozen, mostly beef raised close to the processing plant. Only McDowell’s has the frosted beef and processed cheese to give you a major reason for the afternoon trip to the secret bathroom only you and Debra know about on the 9th floor that is under construction.
You can be a part of KSR’s 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.
If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us at Via Email.
#10 Michael Rains
@UKAthletics has enjoyed success in Florida since September. On September 8th @UKFootball beat the gators. New Year’s Day in Orlando @UKFootball wins the @CitrusBowl. This past weekend in Jacksonville @KentuckyMBB wins first 2 games of NCAA tournament. #BBN #KSR @UK_KFund @UKTix pic.twitter.com/Gv0uYFqrvq
— Michael Rains (@RuppArenaMike) March 25, 2019
The trifecta! I love it.
#9 PJ’s Scooter
Hell Yeah!! Off to Kansas City we go!!! @KentuckyMBB @BBNation15 @KySportsRadio @DrewFranklinKSR @TheErinCalipari @ryanlemond @raf_tyler @MrsTylerKSR @iamnickrichards @PJWashington @jemarlbakerjr @KSBarAndGrille pic.twitter.com/IgUub2CAMp
— PJ’s Scooter (@pj_scooter) March 23, 2019
I love this account, but I hope PJ’s scooter is short lived.
#8 Joe Lay
— Joe Lay (@JoeLay4UK) March 24, 2019
#7 John Newman
— John Newton (@jnewton56) March 25, 2019
#6 Jared Young
— Jared Young (@JaredKYoung) March 25, 2019
As am I.
— Barrett (@KentuckyBoy33) March 25, 2019
It’s only cool when Pantelis does it.
#4 Ahmed/Nav’s Shill
Michael Avenatti literally tweeted 15 minutes ago about Nike being corrupt. pic.twitter.com/SHvJe3Ij9o
— Ahmed/Nav’s Shill (@big_business_) March 25, 2019
When hip hop culture and sports collide, I am a fan
— ??isaiah.?? (@FourWitTheFive) March 25, 2019
Power K forever.
#2 Billy Sewell
— Billy Sewell (@GoCats2) March 25, 2019
Better than Shakespeare.
Blaine wrote on his bracket: “Herro hits a jump shot from the free throw line at the buzzer to beat Duke.” I asked him why, “so they can feel the pain and agony we have felt for 27 years.”
“Blaine, you are only 12.”
“I know, but I can feel it flow through my blood.” #BBN
— jcolliver (@jckeeper13) March 26, 2019
Follow me on twitter and tag me in one of your tweets for a chance to make KSR’s top 10 tweets: @BrentW_KSR
By Hey Kentucky! on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 10:15pm
The Hey Kentucky crew was in the UK locker room after the Cats took down Wofford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. See what Jemarl Baker, Keldon Johnson, Reid Travis and more had to say about the win in Jacksonville.
Click here to see the rest of today’s episode with Matt Jones and Lee Cruse.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 9:27pm
The six-seed Kentucky Wildcats have been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament after falling in Raleigh, North Carolina to the three-seed N.C. State Wolfpack by a score of 72-57.
Rhyne Howard finished with 21 points and seven rebounds while Maci Morris‘ final game at Kentucky closed with 18 points and four made triples. The Wolfpack were led by 26 points from Kiara Leslie.
The game kicked off with a Morris three and back-to-back tie-ups courtesy of some excellent defense from Tatyana Wyatt. Kentucky was commanding the offensive glass, quickly pulling down board after board. It was a near perfect start for the Wildcats, but one that didn’t take long to turn the other way.
N.C. State jumped out to a quick 10-5 lead before Maci Morris drilled a jumper to bring the game within three. Rhyne Howard came out looking to attack, but was forcing things early before finally settling in after the first few possessions.
Kentucky’s offense soon went into a rut and the Wolfpack capitalized, building a 12-7 lead at the first TV timeout. N.C. State made its first four three-point attempts but Howard soon got into her groove.
Despite the team offense struggling, Howard was looking to score at every turn. She had a couple of and-ones within two possessions of each other and was getting to her spots with ease. If she was in a one-on-one situation, she was taking it to the rim or pulling up for an easy jumper.
The first quarter ended with Kentucky trailing 25-17, but the Cats were attacking the offensive glass with consistency and the Wolfpack had missed its next three triples.
KeKe Mckinney opened up the second period with a massive block on N.C. State’s Elissa Cunane to get the momentum swinging back in Kentucky’s direction.
The Cats would scoop up an additional six offensive rebounds in the second after corraling four during the first 10 minutes. They actually finished the half with more offensive rebounds (10) than defensive (8).
With those extra chances, Kentucky did a solid job of making sure they didn’t go to waste. The halfcourt defense finally picked up, as well and the Cats forced six turnovers in the frame compared to only two in the first. Howard and Taylor Murray continued to drive the offense as Morris sat on the bench after picking up her second foul in the first period.
The Wildcats were able to trim the lead down to 25-22 in favor of the Wolfpack, but could never cut it under three before the half.
Howard made a couple more shots before the intermission and after the first 20 minutes, Kentucky found themselves trailing 35-30 despite 15 points from Howard.
The Cats fired up 15 three-point attempts in the first half but converted on only three of them. The team shot below 32 percent overall and were outrebounded by eight.
The third quarter was a back-and-forth battle throughout. Both teams were exchanging threes and Kentucky never let the Wolfpack out of its sight. At one point, the Cats cut the lead all the way down to three at 44-41 after a massive triple from Wyatt.
Every time N.C. State wanted to pull ahead by six or eight, Kentucky would bring it back to four or five. Roper hit the biggest shot of the game up until that point at the third quarter buzzer to keep the Cats down, 53-48, heading into the fourth and final quarter.
But then things started to get away. Kentucky went the first two minutes without scoring and the Wolfpack finally managed to push the lead to double-digits. Wyatt picked up her fourth foul and things felt all but over. Morris made some shots down the stretch to keep things from getting too out of hand, but the ending was never in doubt for the last five minutes.
The Wildcats finished the game forcing 16 N.C. State turnovers but shot only 9-29 from three.
In the end, Kentucky’s season comes to a conclusion in Raleigh, 72-57.
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 9:15pm
For the first time in the internet era of the NCAA Tournament, one bracket is still perfect after the first weekend.
Submitted on the NCAA.com’s Bracket Challenge, the “Center Road” bracket correctly picked the first 48 games of the NCAA Tournament. It shattered the previous record of 37 set in 2017. According to the NCAA, if every game were a coin toss, the odds of predicting 48 in a row are 1 in 281,474,976,710,656.
To keep the streak alive, the chalky trend must continue into the Sweet 16. If the “Center Road” bracket predicts the future, Kentucky fans should be pleased in April.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 8:57pm
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 8:30pm
Before each Kentucky home game, the PA announcer says, “Welcome to Rupp Arena, home of the greatest tradition in college basketball!” Well, that’s not home-cooked hyperbole.
Ahead of the Sweet 16, ESPN’s Tony Moss ranked each remaining team based purely off tradition. The same man who ranked John Calipari as the 41st-best coach as a player, I don’t think Cal will have a problem where the Cats rank on this list. Michigan State is fourth, Duke is third, North Carolina is second and the Kentucky Wildcats are ranked No. 1.
This has not been one of Kentucky’s consistently dominant teams, nor are the Wildcats healthy right now — PJ Washington is a major question mark to appear in this tournament. None of that will diminish expectations for a program that annually sets the bar at “national title.” If UK fails to reach the Final Four, the drought will reach four years for a program that previously made four appearances in five seasons from 2010-11 to 2014-15.
Kentucky basketball, still the greatest tradition in the sport. Disagree? Say it to Anthony Davis’ face. I dare you.
By John Reecer on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
The College Basketball season is another week old, and the SEC consistently provides the sport with several talented players and teams. Here are the major storylines surrounding conference teams from the first weekend of NCAA Tournament play. (AP Rankings accurate up until March 25, 2019.)
1. Kentucky Survives First Weekend Without PJ
Sometimes its better to be lucky than good (just ask Duke). Lucky is exactly what Kentucky was on Saturday as they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by defeating Wofford 62-56.
The Terriers had the all-time leading three-point shooting in NCAA History shoot an abysmal 0-12 from beyond the arc. Did Kentucky play outstanding defense on Fletcher Magee? Of course, the Wildcats did play outstanding defense as Tyler Herro smothered Magee for the majority of the game. However, going 0-12 is just outstandingly bad.
The Terriers road ends in Jacksonville.
Kentucky and #BBN contain Wofford and Fletcher Magee, who goes 0-12 FROM DEEP!
The Wildcats are on to the Sweet 16!pic.twitter.com/PC8UnhM8bk
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) March 23, 2019
If Magee hits at least 30% of those threes, then the outcome probably is not so great for UK Fans. Good fortune like that in the NCAA Tournament is required no matter how much talent any team may have Besides, Kentucky was due some good luck with the recent injury to PJ Washington.
Now, the Wildcats move forward into the Sweet Sixteen for the eighth time in John Calipari’s Tenure at the school. Out of just ten seasons, that is an incredible stat. Besides a poor shooting performance to Indiana and a terrible Nerlens Noel injury, Calipari has always had the Wildcats make a run in March.
Houston will be next for Kentucky as the college basketball world awaits to see the status of Washington. However, I have better hopes for Houston than I had coming into the Wofford matchup. I think the Cougars are very good, but the Wildcats matchup very well with them. They are a small team that plays with great speed and confidence.
Kentucky should have no problem playing at that kind of a pace. I’m fully expecting an Elite Eight bout with North Carolina. Let’s just hope Washington is back by then.
Houston starters go 6-foot-1, 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 and 6-8 (260 pounds). Kentucky would have a few inches on the Cougars at every position but the five, where it's basically a push for Reid Travis.
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) March 25, 2019
2. The State of Mississippi Disappoints
Without a doubt, the greatest disappointment of the Tournament for the SEC has been the play of teams from the state of Mississippi. Both Miss. State and Ole Miss lost to mediocre teams (Liberty and Oklahoma) who did not even make the Sweet Sixteen.
Both losses were indeed very different. The Bulldogs lost a very close matchup against Liberty 80-76. Simply put, the Flames just hit more threes than Miss. State did as they had a 12-8 advantage in that area. Stars Quinndary Weatherspoon and Lamar Peters combined to score 48 points, but it just wasn’t enough to avoid the ole’ 12-5 upset.
On the other hand, Ole Miss was completely embarrassed by Oklahoma. The Sooners blew out the Rebels 95-72 in one of the more embarrassing first round results. However, this one wasn’t entirely Ole Miss’s fault.
The Sooners shot the ball incredibly well despite the fact that the Rebels actually made 11 three-point shots. This happens to good teams sometimes in the tournament. Sometimes a lesser squad will come out on fire and put you away early. Ole Miss has nothing to hang their heads about, however. Making the tournament when you were originally picked to finish last in the SEC is quite the accomplishment.
Final: Oklahoma 95 – #OleMiss 72
Worth reminding people: Ole Miss wasn’t supposed to be good. They weren’t supposed to be in this tournament. Rebels were picked dead last in the SEC and finished T-6th. All things considered, this season was a massive success for Ole Miss hoops
— Nathanael Gabler (@ngabler4) March 22, 2019
3. Tennessee Finds Ways to Win
One cannot say that reaching the Sweet Sixteen is a disappointment for any team, but wow did Tennessee have a suspiciously bad weekend in the first and second rounds.
First, they were given a great game by #15 seed Colgate University. This had no business being a close game, but the Volunteers had a terrible time guarding the three-point line. Colgate hit an outstanding 15 three-point shots to get the game within three points with just two minutes remaining.
But, Admiral Schofield hit a couple of clutch threes and the Volunteers easily pulled away down the stretch. Things did not get much better in the next round as Tennessee gave up a 25-point lead to Iowa. The Hawkeyes somehow managed to force overtime despite shooting a very poor 39% from the field.
Overall, the Volunteers had an “even” assist-turnover ratio in the first weekend which a huge cause for worry. I find it extremely startling that against Iowa and Colgate, Tennessee did not have more assists than turnovers.
Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield are legitimate superstars in the sport, but there are too many isolation plays being drawn up for them. The Volunteers have not found a natural flow yet against two below average teams. What’s going to happen if they can’t find that flow over a red-hot Purdue team or a stifling Virginia club? If something does not change soon for Tennessee, then they will not be making it to the Final Four.
Admiral Schofield on Purdue, who Tennessee will face in Louisville on Thursday: “Carsen Edwards is a prolific scorer.. they play similar ball to Iowa.”
Schofield also said he didn’t watch any of Purdue’s big win over Villanova.
“I don’t watch anybody else. I don’t care to.” pic.twitter.com/NUiFa2rV2e
— Ben McKee (@benmckee14) March 24, 2019
4. LSU Finds March Magic Without Head Coach
I’ve been hyping up this LSU team all season long as a team that should advance deep into the tournament. Of course, recent events have made me question my initial thoughts. With their Head Coach Will Wade still suspended, I was not sure what to make of the Tigers’ tournament chances.
Its clear to the nation now that LSU’s talent overcame its off-the-court problems. They annihilated Yale in the first round, and then Tremont Waters hit the shot of the tournament so far to push the Tigers into the Sweet Sixteen.
Now, the only question is if LSU can actually knockoff Michigan State and Tom Izzo without their head coach. To be completely honest, I expect them to do so. The Tigers matchup relatively well with the Spartans. They shoot the three ball very well, and they have the big guys to compete with MSU’s size.
But it does not really matter if they beat Michigan State or not. The fact that LSU actually reached the Sweet Sixteen despite all of the drama speaks to the character of those student-athletes. They are playing like they have nothing to lose, because…well….these wins are probably going to be vacated anyways. They are the Bad News Bears of College Basketball.
LSU, the bad boys of college basketball, who are basically coaching themselves at this point, are on to the Sweet 16. Admit it: You're entertained by this team, aren't you?!??!
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) March 23, 2019
The end of that LSU/Maryland game>>>? pic.twitter.com/nqqP1xiXe1
— BettorIQ (@BettorIQ) March 23, 2019
5. The SEC Proves Its Strength
Overall, the SEC proved a lot of people wrong this weekend. The conference went a very successful 9-3 in the first weekend of the tournament. Only the ACC had a better record at 10-2.
Sweet 16 teams by conference:
Big Ten 3
Big 12 1
West Coast 1
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) March 25, 2019
The SEC has 4 teams advance to the Sweet 16 for the third time in conference history. pic.twitter.com/7QQ46za4Qr
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) March 24, 2019
This is only the third time history that the SEC has four teams (UK, LSU, Auburn, Tennessee) all in the Sweet Sixteen. In those other two tournaments (1986 and 1996) a team from the state of Kentucky ended up winning the National Championship.
This was a conference that many considered overrated throughout the season. Well, its safe to say that we can put those criticisms to rest now. Unless the SEC completely falls apart in the Sweet Sixteen, I think we should at least see two of those teams make the Elite Eight.
There is no question that this conference is, at the very worst, the second-best in college basketball. The ACC still has the right to be called the best for now until the SEC can successfully win a National Title for the first time since 2012. And who knows, with a little bit of that Duke-type of luck, I really like the SEC’s chances at doing so.
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 6:22pm
Two days after Kentucky punched its ticket to the Sweet 16, John Calipari is still not sure if the Cats will have help from P.J. Washington when they take on Houston in Kansas City.
“We don’t know if he’s going to play this weekend yet, so I told them, ‘We need every man, every hand on deck,'” Calipari said in the opening minutes of tonight’s call-in show.
Meanwhile, an Instagram live from Ashton Hagans revealed P.J. still has a hard cast on his sprained foot. There’s no need to be concerned.
“He’ll get the cast off and move around, probably tomorrow sometime, and we’ll see,” Calipari said.