Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.
February 11th, 2016

Four years ago today, we Occupied Memorial

Normally, Facebook’s “Memories” feature only shares really unflattering pictures of me from years past, but this morning, it reminded me that four years ago, we occupied Memorial. That’s right, on February 11, 2012, back when I was blogging for KSR part time in addition to my full-time job, I was one of about 500 UK fans that crashed “College GameDay” at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym before UK’s game against the ‘Dores that night. Looking back, it’s one of my favorite things I’ve done for KSR.

KSR and the Nashville UK Alumni Association worked together to plan the siege, meeting at 7 a.m. at the McDonald’s across the street from Memorial Gym to share some free sausage biscuits and swap strategy. Upon entrance to the gym, everyone in blue was ushered up to the third level of seating by Vandy officials, who also confiscated several signs from Kentucky fans. It was clear Vandy knew about our plan, and their tone in dealing with us was hostile to say the least; however, they were docile in comparison to Digger Phelps, who took the mic and lectured UK fans before the taping began:

That video ended up going viral, showing up on Deadspin and several other national sites. You’re welcome, Digger!

Fortunately, Digger’s righteousness didn’t extend to the rest of the “College GameDay” crew, and our group in the third level finally got on camera during the show:

As did former KSR College writers Ally Tucker, Tara Bilby, and Laura Leigh Rossoll, who managed to infiltrate the Vandy student section:

That day also gave us Helmet Guy and a 69-63 win over the Commodores. In a season full of great memories, it still ranks up there as one of the best.

Karl Towns scored 35 points last night

While my main accomplishment last night was branching out and trying a new sushi roll, Karl Towns was doing real work, putting up a career-high 35 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the Timberwolves’ 117-112 win over the Raptors.

As that nifty little graphic tells you, Karl’s now the third youngest player to have 35 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks in one game behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James. That’s just one of many historic milestones Karl’s reaching these days. Last night’s double-double was his eighth straight and 30th of the season. Over the last 12 games, Karl’s averaging 22.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks, absurd numbers that make him a clear favorite for Rookie of the Year.

Some highlights:

I need to see this dunk again:

In true Karl fashion, when asked if his production as of late surprises him, he only had criticism for himself.

“I do surprise myself sometimes. Missing two free throws, missing open jump shots.”

Oh, Karl. Never change.

Tyler Ulis, Dancing Guy, Tom Jurich, and Archie Goodwin, oh my! (Thursday Show Thread)



What do Tyler Ulis, Dancing Guy, Tom Jurich, Archie Goodwin, and the CentrePointe project all have in common? They’re all topics of today’s KSR. Tune in to hear Matt and Ryan break them down, along with a look forward at Saturday’s game against South Carolina.

Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.

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Robert Lewis’ Thursday Morning Wakeup

Photo via

This morning, I’ve got a feel-good story for you from Franklin Road Academy (FRA) here in Nashville. FRA senior Robert Lewis has Down syndrome and, for the past three years, has served as the boys basketball team manager. On Friday, he was given the chance to play in the final minutes of FRA’s Senior Night game, and what did he do to mark the occasion? He airballed a three; however, he more than made up for it on the next possession, hitting a three from the same spot with only five seconds left in the game:

As Kentucky fans, we are spoiled by great basketball, but this is better than any “One Shining Moment” montage. I especially love that the opposing players go out of their way to congratulate him. Just awesome.

On that note, let’s go over today’s agenda…

South Carolina beat LSU last night

After a win over Texas A&M and losses to Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, it was hard to get a good read on this South Carolina team, but last night, they beat LSU 94-83 in Columbia, which means the Cats better bring their A-game if they want to keep the good times rolling. Kentucky, LSU, and South Carolina are now all tied for first place in the SEC, making Saturday’s game even bigger. 

Meanwhile, Texas A&M lost at Alabama, their fourth loss in the last five games. Just when you think you’ve got college basketball figured out this season, something like this happens to shake it all up.

Shannon Dawson may be taking the offensive coordinator job at Southern Miss

In case you missed it in the post directly below this one, Dan Wolken is reporting that former UK offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson will take the same job at Southern Miss. The Cats open the 2016 season with Southern Miss at Commonwealth Stadium, and suddenly, that game’s a little more interesting.

The second episode of “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” was awesome

I was only ten when all the OJ stuff started up, so I’m fascinated by FX’s miniseries. The first episode was promising, but I finally got to see Tuesday night’s episode, and it was even better. I’d wager that anyone over 30 will remember where they were during the Bronco chase, and even though I’m still not sold on Cuba Gooding, Jr. as OJ, I was glued to the TV yet again. If you haven’t yet, check it out.

It looks like Nerlens Noel may not be able to play in the Rising Stars Challenge

The NBA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge is Friday night, and Karl Towns, Trey Lyles, and Nerlens Noel are all scheduled to participate; however, it seems Noel’s recent knee injury may hold him out. Who could replace him? According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Myles Turner or Julius Randle. I vote for the latter.

Meanwhile, Karl Towns scored 35 points last night, the highlights of which I’ll have on this site a little bit later. Devin Booker, who will participate in the three-point contest on Saturday, almost got a triple double vs. the Warriors, finishing with 15 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds. Watch him go up against Klay Thompson:

College basketball on TV tonight

No SEC games and only two Top 25 games tonight, but if you’re really desperate, tune in to ESPN at 9 p.m. to see if Indiana is legit:

  • 9 p.m.: #4 Iowa at Indiana, ESPN
  • 9 p.m.: #11 Oregon at California, ESPN2

KSR in an hour

Tuesday was so crazy we’ll probably still go over the leftovers.

Shannon Dawson reportedly taking offensive coordinator job at Southern Miss

Well, the 2016 season opener just got much more interesting. According to Dan Wolken, Shannon Dawson is expected to take the offensive coordinator position at Southern Miss. The same Southern Miss that will open the season against the Cats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 3.

Suddenly, I feel a lot better about that game.

February 10th, 2016

Popcorn, Point Guard, Pregame, and Pace: A Novice Take on Kentucky Basketball

Photo by Gary Moyers (@gmoyers)

On Tuesday, Kentucky Sports Radio allowed me to cover my first Kentucky basketball game. When I say cover, realize that term is used loosely. I primarily had periphery observations and football comparisons struck my interest. Since the Unforgettables, the Georgia game marked my second UK Basketball experience in twenty-five years.

Here are observations from a rookie basketball quasi-media type:

— I arrived at Rupp Arena around 6:00 for the 9:00 tip-off. Periscoped in the parking lot. Oscar Combs parked alongside me to make a cameo appearance. After rolling down the window, Oscar looked like he had just seen a ghost. While periscoping he asked who I was speaking with on my phone. Parallel technology-minds think alike. Mr. Combs then reached into his trunk and presented me with a 1990 Cats Pause with yours truly on the cover. Being media savvy, I used the picture to illustrate that during my less than distinguishable career, UK’s uniforms and logo changed three times within five years, bringing relevance to today’s conversation.

—  Then I went through Rupp Arena security gate and immediately got lost. Found the media table, and consistent with Commonwealth Stadium, UK hosts were professional and were overly nice. They probably could tell that I was nervous.

— On media row, Jerry Tipton and I were the first on the scene. I observed him going over notes and wearing out what I later learned was free popcorn. I tried to mimic but was more amazed at the new ribbon boards. Rupp has changed over the years. As other media hacks began to arrive, the ongoing joke was, “Are you lost?” and “You do realize this isn’t a football game?” All in good fun, but the nerves were still present.

— Pregame warmups started well before the 60-minute countdown clock started. Basketball pregame is vastly different than football. While on the gridiron, team is the primary focus. On the court, individual shooting took precedent. At this point, I became infatuated with Derrick Willis’ focus and routine. He must have taken two hundred three point shots. There is no way a quarterback could warm up in the same manner. The arm only has so many passes in it before tiring. Another interesting tidbit is how “position groups” dialed in on specific game-like drills. At this point, similarities between football and basketball took shape. Wildcat big men, or as I related to on Twitter, the O and D linemen worked on specific, close to basket fundamental moves. This correlates with linemen working “fits” or close-quarter blocking and shedding. On the basketball court, pregame is much more lengthy than in football. It can be argued that players exert as much energy before tip-off as they do after. Fascinating.

— As the media hoard trekked towards a top-secret, behind curtain room in Rupp’s bowels, I followed. Popcorn, cookies, water, coffee, and sodas were free. That still baffles me, you know the whole feeding the media deal. Reverting back to initial check-in, a concession stand gift card was presented to me. One thing is certain, you’ll never read or hear complaining about free chow from me. I gave my card to Nick Roush, he’s still a growing boy and all. In the media room, I noticed that conversations about basketball were technical (X’s and O’s) by nature. CWS media pregame discussions revolve around non-UK games on the big screen and other chatty topics. At times, I forget just how procedural football can be and how difficult it is to describe. Basketball is a simpler game with fewer moving players and moving parts. I will give the UK-based media credit, they know their basketball. Sitting around circular tables draped with blue tablecloths, I eavesdropped on Mike Pratt and others. A casual conversation for them translated into a classroom for me.

— Game started. Other than the obvious greatness of Jamal Murray, the most striking observation was Tyler Ulis’ eyes. As one of, if not THE best point guards in the game — yes Mr. Danwich I said that — Tyler’s court vision amazed me. He senses and envisions two plays ahead. That innate trait reminded me of Oregon’s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota perfected the RPO, or Run/Pass/Option football play in which the quarterback has the choice to hand the football off to a running back, run himself, or attempt a forward pass. All three of these decisions are executed within one play call. Ulis has the same quick thinking ability and an incredibly high basketball IQ. In essence, every basketball play is a RPO.

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

— The size of the players is not well represented on television. Neither is the elite athletic movements of which are mandatory in virtually all basketball action. On a side note, sneaker squeaks are louder on television than in person. The Network must have sneaker speakers secretly hidden, much like football’s pylon camera.

— For those that think that John Calipari merely throws a basketball on the court and says, “go” you are truly the crazy ones. While dialing-in on the Wildcat leader I became exhausted. Working referees, calling plays, being vocal on corrections and so forth, started at the tip and ended just before the postgame handshakes.

— During Kentucky scoring spurts, the house got loud. Really loud. Rupp Arena’s sheer size and brand is intimidating. Another football/basketball difference was that I counted maybe eight or nine Georgia fans in the stands. The Dawgs football traveling party is much, much greater. Other than UK, I assume that’s the norm in SEC basketball. Sticking with that comparison, the two team’s skill and talent level were noticeably dissimilar. Georgia basketball obviously doesn’t recruit on the same level as its football counterparts.

— The pageantry and show that entails UK basketball is second to none. During the game, I tried to put myself in the Georgia player’s enormous shoes. To the best of memory, it is similar to traveling to Bryant-Denny in Tuscaloosa or Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. While crowd noise impacts football games, it does more so in basketball. Football teams are versed in running silent. Basketball is different in the manner of coach to player communication. When the Rupp crowd erupted, the Cats also got a little extra bounce in their step. That little extra bounce was well above the rim by the way.

— Much, much respect to the media for being able to keep up with the pace of action. After actually trying for the first three possessions, I quickly surrendered a futile attempt in applicability. Action is fast. Possessions change rapidly.

— Could go on with more, but reaching the realm of complaints due to word count. One more. UK is a Nike school. In basketball, the game ball is dictated by the home team’s brand. Thus, players are forced to use a different variation of basketball due to game’s location. Football is much different. Regardless of Nike, Under Armor, Adidas, or Pro Ked; the team with possession of the football uses their own product. An unbranded, universal basketball seems as if it would make sense.


Overall I had an absolute blast. However, throughout the experience I felt a sense of responsibility to honor the tradition that is Kentucky Basketball and Rupp Arena. For Kentuckians, both are considered holy.

Wendy’s KSR Top 10 Tweets of the Day


We’ve partnered with Wendy’s for the Pic & Roll at Rupp Sweepstake! Visit a participating Wendy’s in the Lexington, KY area, take a pic with the in-store Pic & Roll At Rupp sign, and post to Instagram or Twitter using #WendysRuppVIP for your chance to win!
– – – – – – –
Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of Kentucky, 18 years of age & older. Sweepstakes begins at 9:00:00 am EST on February 5, 2016, and ends at 11:59:59 pm EST on March 7, 2016. Void where prohibited. For full prize details, go to

You can be a part of Wendy’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. Now. On to the tweets:

#10 Cross Section




#9 holly

I think we can all take a guess…



#8 Jackie Watson

Could he also revise my English paper while he’s busy saving lives and winning games or??



#7 Travis Workman

And the ads keep on coming!



#6 Billy

Well…he is!



#5 John Calipari

Happy birthday Cal, still swaggy even then!



#4 John Newton

I don’t think anyone in BBN thought they would end the night that way.



#3 Doron Lamb

Always missing you Lamby!!



#2 Corey Burkhead




#1 Billy Crutcher

I vote yes, happy Ash Wednesday and good luck on all that everyone is giving up!

Shannon Spake’s Stair-Running Skills


Shannon Spake is an excellent ESPN sideline reporter.  Last night, she proved that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the story is covered, even if it means climbing to the top of Rupp Arena in these shoes:



Apparently, it’s nothing new for her.  Spake actually has a stair-running routine.

“It was a fun moment,” said Spake, who regularly runs stadium and arena stairs at the sites of her assignements, a tradition she began last football season. “You don’t often times get to do things like that, but because of the score of the game, we took advantage of the opportunity.”

You can watch her perform the feat from last night’s game below, or read more about her stair-running hobby here, from ESPN Front Row.

Archie Goodwin gets in a Scuffle on the Sideline

Kelly Cox | USA Today

Kelly Cox | USA Today

The Suns are heading into the All-Star break on a sour note.  During a timeout in tonight’s game against the Warriors, Markieff Morris shoved and choked former Wildcat Archie Goodwin while he was sitting on the bench.

It’s unknown what started the scuffle, but it’s clear that Morris initiated the argument.  Both players remained in the game following the sideline fight.

Looking Ahead to the Names You’ll Hear in Basketball Recruiting

The best Junior in America is one of the most spectacular basketball players you'll ever see on a court.

The best Junior in America is one of the most spectacular basketball players you’ll ever see on the hardwood.

I’ve spent many weekends wasting away at AAU tournaments.  It’s kinda cool to see coaching legends fill bleacher seats to watch “the next best (insert NBA comparison),” but AAU ball is so disorganized and there are so many games, it’s tough to put a barometer on an individual’s talent.

This past Saturday was different.  Pulaski County High School hosted a plethora of Prep School talent in the Thoroughbred Classic.  With good coaching, these teams are unlike anything I’ve ever seen from amateur athletes.  Now that I’ve witnessed it firsthand, I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more Mustang Madness and Marshall County Hoopfest.

Here are scouting reports from the best of the best, beginning with prospective Juniors, all with Kentucky as possible future destinations.

DeAndre Ayton

They don’t make players like Ayton.  The 7-foot Bahamian is built like the beasts that filled the paint in the 90’s, yet Ayton has a smooth 3-point shot.  He can lower his shoulder and bang in the post, or take the ball from the top the key for a finesse finger-roll finish at the rim.

Ayton’s game was the nightcap, and about two hours behind schedule.  I was tempted to leave after a lackluster first quarter, but once he got going, he had three or four “I can’t believe he just did that” moments.  Like any big guy, the only thing holding him back is his ability to go 100% all of the time.

If Calipari can convince him to become a Wildcat, he will not be able to avoid DeMarcus Cousins comparisons.  Not just because he’s an athletic, dominant post-player, it’s his personality.  Keep a close eye on Ayton because frankly, they don’t make players like him.

Trevon Duval

He’s the number one point guard in 2017 for good reason.  Usually these point guards get their accolades by being flashy, but not Duval.  He’s Mr. Fundamental, playing low and wide with exceptional ball control.  His strength is unlike most 16-year olds, and his acceleration with the ball in his hands is unbelievable.  He knifed through three defenders on a regular basis, whether it was in the open court or in the lane.  Most importantly, when things got tight at the end of the game, he had the ball in his hands to put the game away with an And 1.

Duval visited UK before his Saturday night game, but he surprisingly hasn’t received an offer yet from Calipari.  The only point guard he’s offered yet is ranked #3, Trae Young of Oklahoma.  It will be interesting to see how the dynamics of this duo play out.

Billy Preston

Preston accepts the game's MVP award. (@thegrindsession)

Preston accepts the game’s MVP award. (@thegrindsession)

You know how if you go to any park to play pickup, there’s always one big guy that nobody messes with?  On Savage Drive in Shively, it was Chauncey.  You could score on him, but when he really tried, he would embarrass you and do something ridiculous, like tear down the rim so no one could play anymore.  If you don’t have a similar experience, think Deebo from “Friday.”

Billy Preston is one of those guys.  At 6’10” 240 pounds, when I watched API play, I only noticed his teammate Trevon Duval.  Preston didn’t stand out because it looked like he was moving slow and lackadaisical.  But by the time the game was over, he had 22 points and the the game’s MVP award.  How did he do it?

He played a lot on the perimeter, handling the ball well, but when he wanted to score inside, he was automatic.  Like the big bullies on the playground, Preston has strength that his opponents simply cannot handle, and the ability to be dynamic with the basketball in his hands from anywhere on the court.

Jarred Vanderbilt

The total package.  Name a skill and this kid does it.  You could watch less than half of a quarter and you could see him block a shot, lead the fast break, dunk on someone, pick his opponent’s pocket, and back down a bigger defender on an excellent post move.  If he was playing baseball, this is what it would look like:

Bugs Bunny – Baseball Bugs (1946) by TheCryptoCrew

The only thing I don’t recall seeing Vanderbilt do — knock down a three, and that’s probably because the game was being played well passed my bedtime.

Vanderbilt has played in the state of Kentucky about five times.  He’s visited campus and he has an offer from UK.  The Junior won’t be deciding soon, but if I was going to put money on which kid would commit to UK first in the ’17 class, I’m putting my money on Vanderbilt.

Thon Maker

Moving on to the current Senior class, Maker probably won’t be a Wildcat, but he is one of the most entertaining players I’ve ever seen.

Twice his opponents were going to bring the crowd into a frenzy with an authoritative slam dunk.  Twice the crowd let out an audible, “OOOOOOHHHHHH” after he denied his opponent access to the rim.  The wiry 7-footer took the ball up the court frequently.  He actually might be better away from the rim, with a solid step-back jumper.  His team nearly pulled off an unbelievable comeback, but he put the step-back to the test on a deep three with under a minute to go, and it fell just short.

Maker is an unbelievable talent, but the way he plays will not easily transition to college.  One thing is certain — it’s hard for a UK fan to watch him play and not think of the similarities between him and Skal.

Sacha Killeya-Jones

The UK signee had a bad game, yet he still had 19 points and 18 rebounds.  SKJ’s biggest weakness?  strength, but that doesn’t mean he avoids contact.  In fact, nothing impressed me more than watching him attack the rim over and over, despite getting roughed up without any help from the officials.  If he and Wenyen Gabriel are both considered  “Stretch 4’s” Gabriel prefers the perimeter, whereas SKJ does his dirty work in the post.

I had the chance to speak with SKJ and his coach after the game, but you’ll have to wait a little longer to find out more about one of Kentucky’s Next Five.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Re-Injures His Right Shoulder


Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed the first four months of the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.  He wasn’t expected to return to play at all this season.

Instead, he’s been spectacular, averaging 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, even knocking down three-pointers.  Then things turned South on this play.

Hornets PR has announced that MKG dislocated his right shoulder (even though in that video it appears to be his non0surgical left shoulder).  Hopefully it’s just a slight setback for the Wildcat that never gives up.  Prayers up from the BBN.

Tyler Ulis Makes the Wooden List’s Top 20

© Mark Zerof

© Mark Zerof

To no one’s surprise (except maybe that Danwich guy) Tyler Ulis has made the John R. Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 List.  One of the nation’s best point guards is averaging 16.2 points per game, scoring more than 20 points in nine of his last 13 games.  He’s also dishing it out like a true point guard, getting 6.4 assists per game, good enough for an SEC-best 3.4 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Others on the list:

Ben Simmons, LSU
Brice Johnson, North Carolina
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
Damion Lee, Louisville
Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
Fred VanVleet, Wichita State
Gary Payton II, Oregon State
Georges Niang, Iowa State
Grayson Allen, Duke
Jakob Poeltl, Utah
Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa
Kay Felder, Oakland
Kris Dunn, Providence
Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga
Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
Melo Trimble, Maryland
Nic Moore, SMU
Perry Ellis, Kansas
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana

The winner will be announced at ESPN’s College Basketball Awards Show on the weekend of April 7-9.

The Matt Jones Podcast: E15 Pablo Torre


You might know Pablo Torre from his articles in ESPN the Magazine or  You also might know his face from Around the Horn.  Now you can know him as a guest on The Matt Jones Podcast.  Highlights from today’s episode:

—  Where do all of the giants in the NBA get their clothes?

—  Why Torre believers a 16-seed can beat a 1-seed.

—  How politics and sports are intertwined with one another.

—  Things in sports media that irk Matt.

You can have every podcast delivered straight to your phone by searching for “The Matt Jones Podcast” on iTunes and clicking “subscribe.”  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  If you aren’t an iTunes person, you can also stream every podcast on Podbay.

It looks like the CentrePointe hole is here to stay a while longer

If you live in Lexington, you know the CentrePointe hole has become part of the downtown landscape. Originally scheduled to be completed in 2010, the CentrePointe project has struggled to get off the ground for several years, and there’s no more poignant reminder than the hole the size of a full city block that’s been sitting empty since 2014.

Today, the CentrePointe project was dealt another blow when the newest developers to get involved announced they are pulling out. A lawyer for the developers sent the Lexington Urban County Council a letter this afternoon withdrawing from the project, which was slated to include a hotel, apartment building, restaurant, and retail shops.

The move comes one day after city officials were given a report about possible sites for a new city hall and ruled the CentrePoint project area one of the top three possible sites. When the city sent the developers a letter proposing that the city rent space from CentrePointe for a new city hall, the developers decided to pull out. Mayor Jim Gray said in a statement that the proposal from the developers asked too much from taxpayers.

At what point does the city just fill it with water and make it part of the Town Branch Creek?


Daymeon Fishback is the only ESPN expert that thinks UK can still make it to the Final Four

The guy on the left is former Auburn basketball star and current ESPN analyst Daymeon Fishback, and right now, he’s the only one of ESPN’s 27 college basketball experts that thinks Kentucky can still make it to the Final Four. Today, ESPN revisited its preseason picks for the NCAA Tournament, and Fishback was the only one to stick to his pick that the Cats would make it to Houston. In fact, Fishback kept all of his picks the same, including Kevin Stallings as Coach of the Year, which honestly has me a little worried that he forgot to update them altogether:

Daymeon Fishback
Right now

Final Four: North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Maryland
National champion: North Carolina
Player of the year: Ben Simmons, LSU
Coach of the year: Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt
Before the season started

Final Four: North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Maryland
National champion: North Carolina
Player of the year: Ben Simmons, LSU
Coach of the year: Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt

Regardless, it’s good to see someone still has faith in the Cats…maybe. The rest of ESPN’s experts are split, six picking UNC to win it all, six picking Maryland to win it all, and six picking Michigan State to win it all, further proof that with this season, who knows.