Brandon Priddy writes for The Smoking Musket, West Virginia’s SB Nation site, but he’s also →
By Courtney Sealey on ©March 28th, 2015 @ 1:15pm
This picture was seen today on SportsCenter. No idea when it was taken, (and I haven’t found it on KSR from the past) but I am assuming it was middle school. It’s hard to tell since Andrew Harrison looks like a full grown man and Ulis, well, he looks like a smaller version of himself now.
Ulis kind of makes Harrison look like Mamadou Mdiaye a bit.
By Trey Huntsman on ©March 28th, 2015 @ 1:12pm
For the seventh time in the Gary Henderson era, Kentucky has knocked off the #1 team in the country. A 5-4 upset over LSU on Friday night improved Kentucky’s record against #1 teams to 7-7 under Coach Henderson. The win did not come easy as the game rolled into extra innings.
LSU got the ball rolling with two runs in the second inning to take the first lead of the game. RBIs by Jake Fraley and Chris Sciambra put Kentucky starting pitcher Zack Brown in an early hole. Brown managed to work out of that inning and keep the score at 2-0 into the seventh where Kentucky’s offense woke up. LSU starter Jared Poche’ didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, but Kentucky found five hits off Poche’ in the seventh. Dorian Hairston started the inning with a double. Thomas Bernal collected one of his three hits on the game with an RBI single to score Hairston. Later in the inning, Connor Heady singled to bring home Bernal and tie the game. Kentucky had an opportunity with two outs to take their first lead of the game. Kyle Barrett came through in the clutch with an RBI single to score Greg Fettes and give UK a 3-2 lead.
LSU quickly responded in the bottom half of the seventh. After a throwing error by Bernal, LSU scored to tie the game at three. The unearned run would lead to Brown not picking up a decision on the mound as he exited after 6.2 innings. Dylan Dwyer came on to finish the seventh and pitch into the eighth for Kentucky. Both team’s bullpens were able to shut down the other’s offense leading into extra innings. A duel began between Kentucky’s Zach Strecker and LSU’s Jesse Stallings in the extra frames. Strecker went three innings out of the bullpen, allowing four hits and an unearned run. Stallings was fantastic as well before he reached the 12th inning.
Kentucky’s offense had been relatively quiet in the final two innings and in extras. Stallings had been cruising through the lineup before Barrett singled with two outs in the 12th. Following Evan White being hit by a pitch, Ka’ai Tom came to the plate with runners on first and second with two outs. Tom drove a 1-2 pitch down the right field line to score both Barrett and White. Tom’s RBI double gave Kentucky a 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the 12th.
Just like the 7th inning, LSU managed to begin another rally in the 12th. Two errors by Kentucky allowed LSU to cut the score to 5-4. Kentucky closer Spencer Jack was brought on to end the threat. Jack got a groundout to end the game and solidify a 5-4 win for Kentucky.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 28, 2015
-Starting pitcher Zack Brown was phenomenal in his third consecutive Friday start. In his 11th career start, Brown went 6.2 innings and allowed three runs while striking out three.
-Evan White extended his hit streak to nine games while Kyle Barrett extended his to eight games.
-Zach Strecker picked up the third win of his career after pitching three innings and not allowing an earned run.
-Ka’ai Tom did not have a hit in his previous four at-bats in the game before his RBI double in the 12th inning. Tom now has 26 RBIs in 2015.
-LSU’s Alex Bregman and Connor Hale combined for one hit in ten at-bats against Kentucky pitching on Friday. Neither of LSU’s big run producers drove in a run against UK.
-Over 11,000 people were at Alex Box Stadium to see Kentucky knock off LSU in Baton Rouge.
By Courtney Sealey on ©March 28th, 2015 @ 12:30pm
Who would have thought it would be a Sam Malone heavy day?
Yesterday, Jim Rome did a radio CBS Sports Minute dedicated to Sam Malone where he confessed his love for Malone in 60 seconds. All of BBN, especially the ladies, love Sam Malone but I don’t think we have ever been able to describe in in the perfect way Jim Rome did. Click the link below to hear it.
3-27 Jim Rome CBS Sports Minute
Jim Rome is the man hahaha http://t.co/oQhZPubeJl
— Sam Malone (@SamMaloneuk13) March 28, 2015
By Courtney Sealey on ©March 28th, 2015 @ 11:00am
I imagine this is how the #1 ranked LSU baseball and softball teams felt last night after they fell to the Cats in both match ups. The baseball team strung it out to 12 innings and the softball team tossed seven to both pull out the wins. Here is a break down of the matchups:
The Cats (17-9,3-4) fell behind early after LSU brought home two runs in the second inning with RBIs from Jake Fraley and Chris Sciambra. LSU Jared Poche’ was working on a no hitter, before the Cats broke that up in the fifth inning. The Cats then collected a total of five hits in the top of the seventh, givinig them at 3-2 lead. The Tigers tied it after a throwing error.
The game stayed at a standstill until the bottom of the 11th, when the Tigers rallied on a leadoff single from Jake Fraley.
Jared Foster then rolled a ball into the hole on the left side, with shortstop Connor Heady ranging to his right and his off-balance throw sailing wide of the bag. Greg Deichmann then grounded into a double play that pushed Fraley to third base with Mark Laird at the plate. After UK intentionally walked the bases loaded with two outs, Conner Hale ripped a line drive in the gap on the right side, plunking Alex Bregman with the hit, ending the 11th inning.
At the top of the order, Kyle Barett smacked a single throughout the right side of the field and Evan White forced him to second after a hit on a 3-1 pitch. Ka’ai Tom hit a 1-2 offering, skipping the ball over the head of first baseman and bringing in two runs for the 5-3 lead. LSU scored one in the bottom of the inning, but it was not enough to overcome the Cats’ late rally.
Junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley did work for the Cats, tossing seven innnings with three strikeouts and only one run, with catcher Griffin Joiner leading the offense with a 3-for-3 night with two runs batted in and a HR. This victory over LSU is the first-ever for the No. 15 Cats over a No.. 1 ranked team in program his tory.
Kentucky (22-8) handed LSU (32-2) its second loss of the season, marking the Wildcats fourth win over a ranked foe. Here is a neat little breakdown UKathletics did.
Maise Steed went 2-for-3 in the game, extending a hitting streak to five games. Christian Stoke went 1-for 3, while Breanne Ray scored the game winning run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly.
Both teams will continue the battle against the Tigers today. Baseball is this evening at 7:30, while the girls have a noon start time in Lexington. Get out and enjoy the game if you can.
By Courtney Sealey on ©March 28th, 2015 @ 10:00am
Hi. It’s me again this morning. I figured since the Cats won last Saturday, I should do the shift again to keep the mojo going. Cats face the Fighting Irish at 8:49 tonight on TBS and the pregame show will start around 6:15.. Until then come back to KSR for updates throughout the day. Let’s start off with some links:
– Guess what day it is? That’s right. Open football practice day. The practice starts in 30 minutes, so If you’re in Lexington make your way to the practice fields and go and support the team. Here are some details about the practice.
– Only two games to talk about today, Arizona vs. Wisconsin and Notre Dame vs. Kentucky. Still. Since I always put a schedule in my morning post, here it is.
– Kentucky canceled practice for an NBA Draft suit fitting, but I think it was worth it. According to this source, Cal insisted the boys see a tailor so they would all get an early start to the suit game. Also, that source is the Onion and its totally fake, but still funny.
– An SB Nation affiliate posted a story on how Kentucky would be an underdog compared to the greatest college teams of all time. They said they would even be underdogs to the 2012 Kentucky ream. They used quotes from former Vegas oddsmakers and other gambling experts to come to this conclusion. I personally hate comparing teams from different years since they cannot play each other, but I’m sure the comment section will probably see a debate.
– The funny thing bout Kentucky coverage is that within hours of each other one media will say one thing and another the exact opposite. So here is an AP writer who thinks the Cats are the greatest team ever.
Crazy to think that shot was a year ago in the Elite Eight, but here we are today. Let’s hope for the same result, but hopefully a little less drama.
Big Blue Nation vs the Nation
That’s how it’s going to be tomorrow according to Notre Dame’s head coach Mike Brey. During today’s press conference Brey said that the Irish will be America’s team when they take on Kentucky. It shouldn’t be that shocking of a comment as there’s a clear line of people who want to see Kentucky go 40-0 and those hoping for a loss.
Karl-Anthony Towns Gets It
The kid might just be a freshman, but you could argue no one has embraced the culture at Kentucky more than Karl-Anthony Towns. He was quoted today at the press conference saying “I think that’s the biggest joy I have is the fact that I still get to play with my brothers. Like I said, we love each other tremendously and it’s one of those things, it’s not even the fact about playing another game, it’s an opportunity to play another game with my brothers.” He’s a special player and person.
Little Guy with a Ton of Swag
Leave it to the one many people would least expect to be the ‘swaggy’ talker of the group, but it was Tyler Ulis who still had some harsh words for our friends from West Virginia. Ulis told Tyler Thompson today that Kentucky wanted to beat West Virginia by 50 because they felt disrespected. If this keeps making Ulis dish out assists and not turn the ball over, go for it young fella.
Diamond Stone Wants to be a Turtle
Five-star center Diamond Stone committed to Maryland tonight via Twitter.
I Am Committing To The University Of Maryland🐢⚫️🔴 #Terps
— All Eyes On Me (@Diamond_Stone33) March 28, 2015
He was once a Kentucky recruit, but chose Maryland over Wisconsin, UCONN and Oklahoma State. I guess Kentucky can’t have ALL the five-star recruits.
The Coaching Carousel is Going Round and Round
Big news today in the SEC as Tennessee fired Donnie Tyndall this morning. Tyndall, who just completed his first year in Knoxville was let go presumably for an investigation when he was the head coach at Southern Miss. Steve Lavin was also fired today from St. John’s. There are plenty of big name programs out there that should have some interesting hires this offseason.
Louisville Joins Kentucky in the Elite Eight
I think we all can admit it’s pretty impressive that Rick Pitino has Louisville in the Elite Eight again, with a 10-point win over North Carolina State tonight. This team has struggled all season scoring and obviously lost starting point guard Chris Jones. Might just have to start penciling in Kentucky teams in the Elite Eight all the time now.
Kentucky Opens as an 11-point Favorite
It shouldn’t shock anyone, but Kentucky will be favored by double digits tomorrow. If you’re in a certain city in the desert, the Wildcats opened giving 11 points to the Irish. Cats by more than 11.
We’ll be back at it tomorrow at 10 a.m. Until then here’s a picture of three goggles in front of Touchdown Jesus.
By Andrew Cassady on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 9:30pm
For the fifth time in six years under John Calipari the Cats are back in the elite eight with a trip to the Final Four on the line. This time the Cats face Notre Dame, a team that upset Nerlens and Willie back in the 2012 when the two teams met last. What will the Cats need to do in order to avoid that same fate? Here are my three keys to beating the Irish and reaching the final four:
1. Wear Them Out.
So far in the NCAA Tournament the Fighting Irish are playing basically their starting lineup for the entire game. Reserves Bonzie Colson and VJ Beachem have averaged 10 and 5 minutes respectively during these three games which equates to a whole bunch of minutes logged for the starting five over three games. Notre Dame star Jerian Grant has yet to go to the bench.
That gives the 8-deep Cats a chance to bring relentless defense and take the deep shooting Irish legs out from under them. Plus with Karl-Anthony Towns only playing 13 minutes against WVU the big man should have fresh legs to dominate ND down low.
2. Crush Them On the Glass.
Notre Dame does a lot of things well. They score in bunches. They move the ball exceptionally. They shoot over 51% from the floor. But the one thing they don’t do well is rebound. The Irish rank 250th in the nation with 32.8 rebounds per contest and rely on 6’5 combo forward Pat Connaughton to shoulder much of that load. What is he going to do against 7 foot Willie Cauley-Stein? Or even 6’9 Marcus Lee?
Notre Dame’s starting five goes 6’1, 6’5, 6’5, 6’5, and 6’10 and as I’ve mentioned they basically play the entire game. The Cats go 6’6, 6’6, 6’10, 7’0, and 6’11 with solid rebounders in Lee, Johnson, Booker, and Ulis coming off the bench. The Cats should dominate the glass and get plenty of opportunities for second chance points.
3. Stem the Tide
As I mentioned, the fighting Irish like to score in bunches. In the ACC Championship game the Tarheels had taken a 64-56 lead with 9:21 to go when ND decided to turn it on. A three here, a steal there, and a 15-0 run buried the Tarheels in just over three minutes making it 64-71. The Irish never trailed again.
Last night they used two surges, including one 38-18 run, to keep Wichita State at bay. Kentucky will need to avoid the floodgates collapsing and match ND blow for blow as they attempt to make in runs in the game. Basketball is often an game of momentum. The Cats will need to control the tides to cruise to another easy win.
What do you think the Cats will need to focus on in order to reach a second straight final four?
By Nick Roush on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 9:00pm
– After a sloppy start to the week, the team got it together today. He was not happy at all Wednesday, but today’s practice was much more productive, especially the offensive efficiency. Stoops admits at times it’s tough to take off his defensive coordinator hat, but today he had to just sit back and applaud the offense, “If we don’t make plays down the field we ain’t going to win football games.”
– Part of the reason the offense looked better was the return of Blake Bone. After a minor injury sidelined him Wednesday, today he was back, and his presence was much needed, “he makes a difference.” His P.I.C. is on the rise too. Dorian Baker had offseason knee surgery, but told us on Twitter earlier this week that he’s back to running, and should begin routes in two weeks.
– Mike Edwards has great instincts. After redshirting last season and arriving to campus late, Edwards finally has five practices under his belt, giving Stoops a chance to see his intangibles in action. “We put guys in position but ultimately sometimes you gotta to have instincts, you gotta to make plays and I see a nice comfort zone with him,” Stoops said.
– Replacing Bud and Za’Darius won’t be easy. But neither was replacing Avery Williamson, but as D.J. Eliot reminded us today, Josh Forrest did a pretty damn good job of rising to the occasion. Forrest led the team in tackles with 110. Eliot also said that it’s going to take a group effort in order to continually make big plays (like Bud’s Pick 6, For the Win).
“We’re working with Jason Hatcher and Denzil Ware. We’ve got some guys coming in the Fall that will be playing those positions so we’ll just have to have somebody step up and fill those roles. On top of that, you’re going to have to make up for the plays those guys made, not necessarily with their position but as a defense. So we may have to make more plays at inside linebacker, may have to make more plays in the secondary, might have to make more plays at defensive tackle but somebody has to step up.”
– Blake McClain is working the nickel and strong safety. They’re trying to get the two-year nickelback (not the terrible band) starter on the field as much as possible. By moving him around some, it gives Kendall Randolph extra opportunities to make big plays.
– Matt Elam is down to 360, but still wants to lose more. He came to campus near 400 pounds. He’s lost plenty, down into the 365-360 range but wants that to be closer to 345-350 by the end of Spring practice. With the release of the media guide, I’ll have complete updates of all the weight gained/lost over the offseason later.
By John Wilmhoff on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 8:00pm
John Calipari has called Trey Lyles the X-factor for Kentucky ever since he fully regained his health in late February. But this Kentucky team is like Noah’s Ark — there are at least two of everything — and there are two X-factors. If Trey Lyles is the X-factor of the White Platoon, then Devin Booker is the X-factor of the Blue Platoon. When both are on, the Cats are unbeatable.
Both players have gone through slumps. Lyles, who was sidelined for three straight games with an undisclosed illness, didn’t get going again until his fifth game back in action, an 18-point performance against Mississippi State which was followed with another 18 points versus Arkansas.
Booker, we hope, just came out of a slump of his own Thursday night against West Virginia. In Booker’s previous seven games, he had scored in double figures just once. He had combined for just 11 points in his last three games. In the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Booker was 0-for-7 from 3-point range.
In Thursday’s rout, both Lyles and Booker were on top of their games. The result? A 39-point win over the Mountaineers, tied for the largest win ever in the Sweet 16.
Lyles sparked the Cats early, scoring nine points in a 30-9 run to start the game. He finished with a team-high 14 points and also grabbed seven rebounds. Booker snapped his skid from behind the ark with two 3’s and a total of 12 points.
When either is playing at their best, it can be demoralizing for opponents. Kentucky’s guards and big men are overwhelming strengths, but who has a small forward who can match up with Lyles? When Booker comes off the bench and is nailing 3’s, forget about it. When these two are on, you can bet on a long day for the opposition.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 7:30pm
The media wasn’t allowed to watch today’s practice, but our best friends at KyWildcatsTV were kind enough to share some footage. In this short clip, Aaron Harrison’s finger looks just fine. Watch Aaron get buckets from his favorite spot on the court:
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) March 27, 2015
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 7:00pm
Willie Cauley-Stein was understandably a popular guy this afternoon, and his breakout room was by far the most packed of all five UK starters. Willie made it worth it with this great quote about his journey over three years at Kentucky:
“I feel like I’m on a mission. I said that day, after we lost (to Robert morris), I have never won a championship before. I’ve never won anything, any crazy awards, and I’m coming back to fill that spot in my heart, that emptiness. And crazy enough, it’s happening. Never thought it would happen like this, but it’s really happening. It’s crazy to think that two years ago, I was just talking. And now I’m living it, and it’s sensational.”
And that’s why Willie’s the media darling.
(H/t Eric Crawford)
By Drew Franklin on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 5:15pm
Mike Brey stood in front of a room full of people with bald spots and notepads and said the Fighting Irish will have the entire country behind them tomorrow against Kentucky.
“We are America’s team tomorrow,” Brey told reporters. “There’s no question about it. Got some great texts. And we love it, we certainly will take all that support. We’ve got a monumental challenge on our hands.”
Brey said playing in the ACC, the best conference in America, prepared his team for the Wildcats.
“We’re the most efficient offensive team in the country. They’re the best defensive team in the country. I think it’s exciting to see how this thing plays out over 40 minutes.”
I know one nation that will be rooting against Brey’s team: the Big Blue Nation.
Let’s go Cats.
By Drew Franklin on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 5:00pm
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I bounced around Quaker Oats-Quicken Loans Arena this afternoon, popping in and out of the locker room, breakout interview rooms and the main press conference. Here’s a little of what I heard during my adventures…
“Well, if I have to deal with their expectations, I would be under the desk in a fetal position.”
When asked if this season has raised Big Blue Nation’s expectations to even higher levels, John Calipari said he has to ignore what the fans want in order to keep his sanity.
“Well, if I have to deal with their expectations, I would be under the desk in a fetal position.” Cal said today. “So I don’t worry. The expectations we have for ourselves on this team is within us. The only thing that I can be concerned with is us being at our best and us having each individual player being coached as though they’re a starter being the best version of themselves, understanding what that looks like.”
Cal said the staff has a lot of footage of each player when they’re at their best and they show it to them over and over, hoping it registers that this is how they should play every night. If Kentucky loses when they’re playing their best, Cal will “deal with it.”
“He’s got a little Kobe in him.”
Andrew Harrison compared his brother to Kobe Bryant when describing that “it” factor Aaron has in the clutch. “It’s something inside him,” Andrew said of Aaron’s confidence when the game is on the line, recalling last year’s magical tournament run. “He’s got a little Kobe in him.”
Andrew said Aaron has been hitting big shots their whole lives.
“Allowing Brian and Sam and EJ to get in, it brings joy to us, for real.”
This was Willie Cauley-Stein’s way of saying, “We had a lot of fun beating the hell out of West Virginia last night.”
“We didn’t play last night, but we played this morning.”
This is about Super Smash Bros., of course. Dominique Hawkins said it was too late to play Nintendo when they got back to the hotel, but they played first thing this morning.
“Just a normal day in the NCAA Tournament. That’s all we’ve been doing is basketball practice and Smash Brothers.”
Is that normal, though?
“That’s a tough question, I never got that one before.”
And for my favorite response of the day, Andrew Harrison said, “That’s a tough question, I never got that one before,” when asked about playing with his brother. If you listened to the KSR pregame show yesterday, you probably heard me go off about how tired I am of the same questions over and over and over. The “What’s it like playing with your brother?” question is the most abused and I couldn’t believe someone asked it again today. I thought about doing it as a joke, but someone did it for real and Andrew’s response was brilliant.
“It’s fun playing with him,” Andrew added.
Still plenty more to come…
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 4:45pm
Trey Lyles photobombs on the court, he photobombs in the locker room, he photobombs in the airport.
Would you like your Lyles photobomb on a jumbotron?
Would you like it while you read Kubla Khan?
Trey’s photobomb streak continued today while the five starters headed back down to the court from the breakout rooms:
I hope Shawn Marion appreciates this.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 4:14pm
You can forgive Karl Towns for being a little down today. Karl had one of his worst games as a Cat yesterday, scoring one point in only thirteen minutes, largely because of foul trouble. Karl being Karl, he was extremely polite today and mustered up a few jokes and smiles, but there’s no denying that he’s down right now.
In his press conference, John Calipari said that Karl’s father, Karl Sr., texted him last night to make sure Cal stays on Karl amid his struggles.
“He’s a great kid. I’ve been harder on him than anybody on this team, but I told him at the beginning of the year, it would be that way because he had a long way to go, but I saw his upside being the best big guy in the country, and I’m not settling for anything else,,” Cal said. “When he gets off point, I’m right there, but after the game I get a text from his dad: Stay on him, don’t let up, Coach. Not: Get him more shots, play him more minutes.”
Karl even sounded a little prematurely nostalgic this afternoon, telling reporters that for him right now, it’s not about the run, or being undefeated, it’s about playing with his brothers.
“We came into the postseason, and we didn’t know we were going to be perfect. We never ever expected that. We came in to every game just worrying about that game and with the mindset that we’re sticking to the game plan,” Karl said. “Now it’s funny that we have a chance at perfection to achieve the goal of winning the national title. Of course, it’s a lot of fun, especially when you have great brothers like I have. That’s what makes it fun. It’s not about the goal, it’s about the journey you take.”
(If for some absurd reason, this basketball thing doesn’t work out for Karl, he would have a great career writing inspirational posters.)
I remember Cal saying of his 2012 team that in the end, they played just for the opportunity to play with their brothers one more game. I asked Karl about that, and he finally cracked a smile.
“I think that’s the biggest joy I have is the fact that I still get to play with my brothers. Like I said, we love each other tremendously and it’s one of those things, it’s not even the fact about playing another game, it’s an opportunity to play another game with my brothers. Getting to go back out there and lace up our shoes again, hopefully for at least a few more times.”
Three more times, at least.