By Zack Geoghegan on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 10:30pm
After an excellent second-half defensive effort from six-seeded Kentucky in round one against the Princeton Tigers, the Wildcats are now set to face the host, the three-seeded N.C. State Wolfpack, at 7 p.m. EST on Monday night.
? Monday Game Times (all ET) ?
7 – Mich St vs Notre Dame
7 – S. Dakota St. vs Cuse
7 – UCLA – Maryland
7 – Kentucky vs NC State
9 – Missouri St. vs Iowa St.
9 – Cal vs Baylor\
9 – Gonzaga vs Oregon St.
11 – BYU vs Stanford#ncaaW
— NCAA WBB (@ncaawbb) March 24, 2019
N.C. State defeated the 14-seeded Maine Black Bears 63-51 in their round one matchup to advance to the Round of 32. The winner of Kentucky-N.C. State will move on to the Sweet 16 in Greensboro.
In case you missed it, here’s the recap from Kentucky’s win over Princeton along with some highlights courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 10:00pm
With a 62-56 victory over Wofford, the Kentucky Wildcats are headed to the Sweet 16.
As we celebrate the big victory and look forward to Kansas City, check out just a few photos KSR took down in Jacksonville this afternoon:
Here is the entire gallery, filled with almost 70 of the best images you’ll find from the victory:
By Brent Wainscott on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 9:00pm
Five games and five losses to open SEC play for Kentucky. The Bat Cats drop game two to No. 13 Texas A&M 9-3 to lose their second straight weekend series.
Texas A&M made sure to jump on the Kentucky pitching early, scoring a run in each of the first two innings then added two more in the fourth. The backbreaker came in the fifth on a three-run home run by Mikey Hoehner to give Texas A&M a 7-1 lead. Kentucky tried to battle back with two runs in the seventh started by Elliott Curtis’ first career home run.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 23, 2019
After Curtis’ home run Austin Schultz would score on a throwing error after his double, but it was too little too late as the Aggies tacked on two more to win 9-3.
It was not a banner day at the plate for Kentucky, as every starter struck out at least once in a 17-strikeout effort. Texas A&M starter Asa Lacy was on the right side of 13 of those strikeouts through six innings of work. Dalton Reed and Coltyn Kessler had the dreaded hat trick.
Outside of Curtis’ home run, the only other bright spot in Kentucky’s lineup this afternoon was Jaren Shelby who had two hits including an RBI-single in the first inning. A bright spot came on the defensive end as well for the boys in blue as Cam Hill tried to outdo his outfield counterpart, Jaren Shelby, with a diving catch of his own.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 23, 2019
Grant Macciocchi dropped to 1-2 as a starter this season. He gave up ten hits and seven runs through five innings of work.
Kentucky will try to break through in the win column in conference play tomorrow afternoon for the final game of the weekend series with Texas A&M at Kentucky Proud Park. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. if you can’t make it out to KPP, you can watch the game on SEC Network+.
Kentucky is now 14-9 on the year.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 7:30pm
They were exactly what we thought they were.
The Wofford Terriers were feisty, incredibly skilled on the perimeter, and had several opportunities to come up with a victory.
But when push came to shove, Kentucky was able to capitalize on their talent, length, strength, and pure athleticism, ultimately forcing just enough separation at the end to pull out the 62-56 victory.
Let’s look at the key takeaways from UK’s gritty Round of 32 performance.
Credit where credit is due
Before we get into the specifics on Kentucky’s end, we have to give credit to what.
To start the game, Wofford made Kentucky incredible uncomfortable, especially on offense. The Wildcats were unable to get anything going with the ball in their hands for the majority of the first half, settling for contested jump shots and making questionable decisions over and over again.
With 4:23 remaining in the first half, the Terriers found themselves up by six points, which felt like 20 considering how hard points were to come by at that point. The Wildcats fought back and retook the lead before halftime, but the Cats still only managed 28 points before intermission. Again, the Terriers forced the Wildcats to play their way, not the other way around.
In the second half, Wofford clawed back to take a three-point lead with 17:02 remaining, but Kentucky’s sheer talent and strength was too much to handle. The Cats took back the lead one final lead and never lost it the rest of the way.
If it weren’t for Wofford star guard Fletcher Magee missing everything he threw at the rim, though, the Terriers absolutely could have pulled off the upset.
Now that we got that out of the way…
Jemarl Baker was the game MVP
When Kentucky needed a spark, it wasn’t one of the usual suspects saving the day. This afternoon, that person proved to be redshirt freshman Jemarl Baker Jr.
In the first half, Baker was one of the main reasons the Cats were able to come back, finishing with five points (1-2 shooting, 3-3 from the free throw line) and a +/- of +10. He followed it up with an even better all-around performance in the second, finishing with eight points, two rebounds, one steal, and a +/- total of +19.
On defense, the Wildcat shooting guard had a pretty impressive day, specifically off the ball. He absolutely made his impact known on both ends of the floor.
Baker finished with a career-high seven points against Abilene Christian on Thursday, and he followed it up with another career outing in the victory today.
Reid Travis was unstoppable… when he wanted to be
To start the game, the senior forward was incredibly frustrating. Despite being the strongest and most dominant player on the floor, Travis never demanded the ball. And when he finally got it, he relied on unnecessary jumpers and gave the ball up to some of the other Wildcats struggling with their shots (Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans).
Even when Wofford’s best frontcourt player, Cameron Jackson, got in foul trouble early, Kentucky wouldn’t force the issue and capitalize with Travis in the paint. They needed points, yet still didn’t utilize their most consistent option to make that happen. After starting the game with just two points in the first 17 minutes, he finally managed four points in the final three minutes of the half to help
In the second half, however, the Travis we expected to see coming into the game finally arrived.
Almost immediately, the senior forward demanded the ball in the post, and the abuse followed. He would work to create space down low, hit the Wofford defenders with a variety of post moves, and score with ease. He proved to be unstoppable.
Travis finished the day with a team-high 14 points, 11 rebounds, and one steal in 37 minutes of action. With star forward PJ Washington out, they needed the senior big man to come up big in crunch time, and he managed to do just that.
Ashton Hagans was a force on both ends
Like Travis, Hagans settled for several frustrating jumpers and failed to find his groove on offense to start the game.
Once he realized he was more athletic than the opposition and could get to the rim at will, it was like a switch flipped with the freshman point guard. He attacked on the perimeter and worked his way to the paint time and time again. If he wasn’t scoring, he was getting fouled and going to the line. Sometimes he did both.
He also did this, which was pretty freaking ridiculous.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 23, 2019
On defense, Hagans wreaked havoc in the second half, contesting Wofford jumpers and making the Terrier backcourt uncomfortable. He slipped up several times in the first half in leaving shooters open on the perimeter, but he cleaned things up and really found his footing after intermission.
He finished the day with 12 points (4-11 shooting), five rebounds, four assists, and one steal in 33 minutes.
We saw a new side of Tyler Herro
For star shooting guard Tyler Herro, while his shot was cold (nine points on 2-11 shooting, 1-6 from three), his impact on the defensive end was second-to-none and one of the key reasons Kentucky was able to pull off the victory.
Matched up with Wofford star guard Fletcher Magee, Herro allowed almost zero easy shots on the perimeter. In fact, the only real mishap the Wildcat guard had was on a backdoor cut in the second half. He looked exhausted at various points, but it was justified, as he chased the Terrier sharpshooter all across the floor from start to finish.
The major storyline of this game was Magee’s horrendous performance from three, and Herro is a major reason for that.
The scoring is fun and we certainly appreciate it, but him stepping up on defense was much more important today.
Kentucky needs PJ Washington back on the floor
They didn’t need him against Abilene Christian, and they were able to win without him this afternoon against Wofford, but the Wildcats can’t afford another NCAA Tournament game without star forward PJ Washington.
When Kentucky needs a basket, Washington has been the player to do that throughout the season. When they need a big stop or a momentum shift, he has been that guy time and time again. As the overall level of competition improves each round, the significance of those moments increases.
They got by today, but there are certainly no promises that remains the case moving forward.
Kentucky needs PJ Washington back out on the floor.
By Drew Franklin on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 7:00pm
You might’ve noticed that Reid Travis ditched his knee brace midway through the game. If he hadn’t, he doesn’t think he would’ve been able to finish.
“I was just cramping way too much,” said Travis, when Kyle Tucker asked why he removed his knee brace. “I wanted to keep it on, but I didn’t think I could finish the game, as far as my leg. It’s tough having it on there, it’s heavier, it kind of cuts off my circulation. I knew if I kept it on I was probably going to cramp down the stretch and I wasn’t going to finish the game, so I kind of just made that call on my way own.”
Travis felt that his rehab and training paid off, which is why he was able to play so hard on that right knee down the stretch. He plans to continue on without it (without the brace, not the knee), but he will see how the it holds up in practice next week before making a final decision.
Calipari also spoke about Travis’ training on a much broader level, in how Travis was ready for his first NCAA Tournament.
“He trained his whole life for this,” said Calipari. “Before the last game, I just told him, you’ve been waiting for this your whole life, and yesterday he was unbelievable, had eight of nine or whatever he did, 18 points, and today he did well again, and every time we needed a basket to separate, we were throwing it to him.
“He is truly professional in how he deals with everything, from training to weight training to keeping his body right to being where he’s supposed to on time. People that have come in my gym and watched us coach said that kid never takes his eyes off you. He is totally engaged with what you’re saying. And I get on him, now. Like I’m on him like I am these young kids. I just don’t have to as much because his is never effort. Theirs is always effort. His is never effort. It’s like some other things he may do, and basically it’s revert back some.”
Now enjoy this funny moment from the locker room when Reid Travis and WHAS’s Kent Spencer couldn’t get on the same page.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 6:50pm
THE MODERATOR: Coach, some opening thoughts about this fantastic basketball game today.
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, you know, I’ve got to give Wofford — they’ve just played, and they knew they were going to run down that shot clock and they knew we had a bunch of freshmen and one of them would break down, which is what happened at the beginning of the game. Every last five seconds, one guy broke down. Hard for young kids to do that and play this way.
We got it going at half, and then they never went away. I thought there were chances, we got up eight, we just couldn’t get the lead any more. The way they shoot threes, they’re just dangerous, and they change how you have to play defensively. And I thought our bigs did a great job. I thought Nick was unbelievable in what he did today. And even EJ did well, where we really helped those guards and played the way we had to.
Q. Ashton, the job you and Tyler did on Fletcher Magee, can you talk about the challenge he presented and how well you played on him?
ASHTON HAGANS: We knew coming into this game he was a great shooter, so the game plan was just make him make a basketball play, put it on the floor. That’s what we was trying to do. Tyler did a great job of talking to me when he wanted to switch, but you know, for us to be at our best, we’ve just got to talk and be for one another.
Q. Ashton, down the stretch you put the ball on the floor and penetrated and made some big finishes. Talk about that and your poise down the stretch.
ASHTON HAGANS: You know, when I was driving in the lane, they wasn’t collapsing on me, so I just had a wide-open lane, so I took that. But even if they was, I would just kick it out and give my teammates the ball, and if I was getting to the line I was knocking down some big time free throws. EJ did the same, as well, and Jemarl make some big-time baskets and we just came out with the win.
Q. Just the defense on Fletcher —
JOHN CALIPARI: First of all, let me talk, you guys haven’t asked Jemarl Baker a question, but let me just tell you, I said it after the game, we coach every kid like they’re a starter. That’s how they’re trained, every one of these kids. And I keep saying, we don’t know who’s going to be a star. What he did today defensively, he made a basket or two and we needed them. What he did defensively meant he was prepared for this moment. Immanuel didn’t play as well and he had been playing really well, but you know what, this happens. Today Keldon didn’t play as well so we had to go and say, are you ready, and he’s like, I’m ready. And so I’m proud of that, and it’s hard.
I mean, these kids, I told you before, what they go through, what they hear, what’s thrown at them, and staying the course, I just appreciate the kind of kids we have and the kind of families they come from.
I don’t know what you asked me, but go ahead.
Q. Defense on Fletcher Magee.
JOHN CALIPARI: What we did was we were never going to go under any screen. The bigs were going to help as long as they had to. We hoped our length would bother them. But we also knew we were just as afraid of Hoover, and he goes 6 for 9, 4 for 5 from the three. We talked about one, but we said the other one is an assassin, too. He just throws darts out there.
Again, but it was the effort and energy, and my hope is they got a little worn down because these guys did not stop. They just chased, and they knew they couldn’t let up in this game or they were going to score baskets because it’s how they play.
By Drew Franklin on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 6:26pm
Jemarl Baker played the best game of his career in Kentucky’s win over Wofford in the second game of the NCAA Tournament. Without Baker, it is hard to imagine Kentucky escaping the upset. He made two big shots, three important free throws, and his defense on Wofford’s shooters was key in saving the game.
John Calipari stole the mic during the postgame press conference to say, “First of all, let me talk, you guys haven’t asked Jemarl Baker a question, but let me just tell you, I said it after the game, we coach every kid like they’re a starter. That’s how they’re trained, every one of these kids. And I keep saying, we don’t know who’s going to be a star. What he did today defensively, he made a basket or two and we needed them. What he did defensively meant he was prepared for this moment.”
Baker chatted about his performance in the locker room, telling reporters, “I’ve just pictured it like this the whole time, just being able to come in and get on the floor and make an impact. I’ve been working hard my whole life to be able to perform in moments like this, and I just want to continue to get better and continue to be aggressive and get back to myself.”
Hear all of his comments:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 6:18pm
I think every Kentucky fan breathed a sigh of relief after the Cats’ 62-56 win over Wofford today, but John Calipari insisted the only emotion he felt was pure joy; in fact, Cal told a reporter that he was so happy his short-handed squad advanced to the Sweet 16 that he busted a move in the locker room.
“No, here’s what I would say to you: In this profession I’m in, if winning is a relief, it’s time to retire. Now, I may not be showing it right now, but I danced in that locker room. I am ecstatic when my team wins, and when we didn’t finish the game off like we normally have, maybe it’s because PJ is not playing, but no, there’s no — I don’t think that way, and I don’t — I just want my team in the hunt. I want them playing at their best.”
That’s not easy when your star player is out. With PJ Washington on the sideline in a cast, Kentucky struggled, at times looking lost on offense, but they still won. That fact might lead anyone — including Cal — to shimmy.
“We’ve only got eight guys. We can’t even practice. So if you take yourself out, you’re going to go back in. We don’t have enough guys.”
Normally, I’d call BS on Cal’s claim that he danced in the locker room, but Kentucky says they have the footage to prove it:
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 23, 2019
Yet again, counting down the minutes until the next episode of The Journey.
By Maggie Davis on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 6:00pm
It was a close one, but Kentucky survived the Round of 32 to advance to the Sweet 16. Reid Travis led the way for the Wildcats, finishing with 14 points. Ashton Hagans was the only other Cat to finish in double digits, recording 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and one steal.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s defense was able to hold Wofford superstar Fletcher Magee to 0-12 from the three-point line. The senior finished with eight points.
Check out the best moments of the game, courtesy of the NCAA:
Jemarl Baker’s eight points apparently qualified him for some post-game rewards. Watch Kentucky’s redshirt freshman add Kentucky’s name to the Sweet 16 line.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 23, 2019
The Cats will be back in action next Friday.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 5:58pm
If you just looked at today’s box score, you would think Tyler Herro had a horrible day; offensively, he did, but his defense more than made up for it. Herro held Fletcher Magee, the NCAA record holder for career threes, to eight points and a shocking 0-12 mark from the behind the arc. Afterwards, John Calipari admitted he was hesitant to put Herro on Magee, but Herro proved it was the right call.
“I worried about putting Tyler on Magee, and I worried about it because I didn’t want to wear him out because we need his offense because PJ is not playing. So we need to go to him and get him to make some baskets. But if he’s running around with Magee, running in circles, running out, dribble hand-off, get being bumped, screen down, we’ll do that, like every possession, do it 12 straight possessions. It’s like being an offensive lineman in football. And so I worried about it, but he said, Coach, I’ll be fine. Well, obviously probably took away from his shots and he missed some shots that we’ve all seen him make.”
Ashton Hagans, Kentucky’s go-to lockdown defender, praised Tyler for letting him know when he needed to switch off Magee.
“We knew coming into this game he was a great shooter, so the game plan was just make him make a basketball play, put it on the floor. That’s what we was trying to do. Tyler did a great job of talking to me when he wanted to switch, but you know, for us to be at our best, we’ve just got to talk and be for one another.”
Thank you, Tyler.
By ShopKSR.com on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 5:45pm
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 5:39pm
March is made for unsung heroes, and today, Jemarl Baker stepped up to give Kentucky the spark they needed to beat Wofford. The redshirt freshman had a career-high eight points, and at times in the first half, looked like the only player confident enough to score. Baker only played 18 minutes, but led the team in efficiency at +17. At the postgame press conference, John Calipari seized the mic to make sure to Baker got his due.
“First of all, you guys haven’t asked Jemarl Baker a question. Let me just tell you, I said it after the game: we coach every kid like they’re a starter. That’s how they’re trained. Every one of these kids. And I kept saying, we don’t know who’s going to be a star. What he did today defensively — he made a basket or two and we needed them — but what he did defensively meant he was prepared for this moment.”
With Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson both struggling, Jemarl’s contributions were huge.
“I’ve never been afraid to put Jemarl in because of his defense,” Cal said. “Even his rebounding, he’ll go after balls. Just got to make some shots.”
Today, we saw what happens when he does. This three was huge:
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 23, 2019
…but I may have loved this behind-the-back play with the crossover even more:
— John Jacob Jingleheimer Smyze (@smyzo) March 23, 2019
This is Jemarlch.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 23rd, 2019 @ 5:13pm