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The Cats didn’t get a win but Big Blue Nation can be happy with the performance from UK in its first true road test of the season. Kentucky fought hard, clawed back and gave us a ballgame against the heavily favored Gamecocks. We finally saw some offensive production, too.
Tune in to 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP, or stream online to hear Matt Jones discuss the game and the football excitement that comes with it.
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Kentucky was fighting to get one shot at tying the game when the defense was hit with an illegal substitution penalty that gave South Carolina a free five yards. The ruling was that Kentucky had 12 men on the field. The 12th defender was invisible, apparently.
The replay clearly showed UK had 11 players on the field and in position when the ball was snapped. Stoops argued the call, a lot, but the ruling stood. South Carolina picked up a first down two plays later on a seven yard run that would’ve been short of the sticks if not for the penalty.
Thanks a lot, stripes.
(h/t UK Athletics)
Over the next few weeks I’m going to start previewing Kentucky’s major competition in the SEC. The SEC has been very top-heavy in basketball the last few seasons and this year expects to be no different. Kentucky will be awesome. Florida will be very, very good. Tennessee should be one of the better teams nationally. After that? Eh. LSU should be better but is very unproven. Ole Miss is kind of the wild card team in the league because they feature the biggest wild card player in the nation in Marshall Henderson.
Nonetheless, one by one over the next few weeks I’ll be breaking every team down so that you’ll be ready come SEC play.
Last season: 29-8 (14-4), advanced through three rounds of the NCAA tournament before losing in the Elite Eight to Michigan.
Who’s Gone: G Kenny Boynton, F Erik Murphy, G Mike Rosario
Who’s Back: F Patric Young, G Scottie Wilbekin, F Casey Prather, G Michael Frazier II, F Will Yeguete
Notable Incomers: G Kasey Hill, G Eli Carter (transfer), F Damontre Harris (transfer), F Dorian Finney-Smith (transfer), Chris Walker (ineligible first semester, possibly second semester)
Strengths: The Gators may have lost some experience in the front court with Murphy graduating, but Billy Donovan has replenished his stock of bigs with the return of bruiser Patric Young and with the transfers of Damontre Harris (South Carolina) and Dorian Finney-Smith. Harris was one of the better players for the Gamecocks two seasons ago when he averaged 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds under former coach Darrin Horn. Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech) is the bigger coup for the Gators, though, as he is a former five-star recruit who played a strong role in VA Tech’s 2012 campaign when he averaged 6.3 points and 7 rebounds per game. These two additions add to an already strong front court, giving the Gators one of the deepest and most talented front courts in the nation. If highly-touted freshman Chris Walker is added to the roster at the midway point then you can almost pencil in Florida as the nation’s second best set of big men behind our beloved Cats (I mean c’mon, WCS, Randle, Lee, and Dakari is just ridiculous).
Weaknesses: While the Gators guard play should be steady with the addition of top-ten recruit Kasey Hill, UF isn’t exactly loaded with scorers which could find them some major trouble. Say what you want about Kenny Boynton and co., but they found a way to put the ball in the basket when they needed to. Wilbekin came on as a scorer a little bit last year, but probably isn’t going to be who Florida looks to for a go-to bucket. Look for Michael Frazier II to make a big jump this season after scoring only 5.6 points per game last season. He shot the ball at a high percentage and should see a major increase in minutes this season which could propel him to be the Gators’ leading scorer.
Bottomline: Give Billy Donovan a ton of credit for what he’s done down there in Gainesville the past couple years. He’s the only coach who has gone to the Elite Eight in each of the past three seasons and it appears he has the club to do so again this year. Florida was one of the most efficient teams in the country last year due to their high effective field goal percentage offensively and defensively. Hill can push the ball in transition and should have a myriad of athletes to get the ball to on the break, leading to a similar result this season.
Following his team’s close win over your University of Kentucky Wildcats, Steve Spurrier said he thought UK would score 17 points in the game. He didn’t have high expectations for the Cats’ offense, clearly. That offense put 28 points on the board.
On his way off the field he told the sideline reporter, “They said Kentucky is at the bottom of the league in offense, but we made them look like the Green Bay Packers tonight.”
You can always count on Spurrier for a good sound bite.
Very few people expected Kentucky to make a game out of it, but the Wildcats gave South Carolina all it could handle Saturday night in Columbia. It looked ugly early after the Gamecocks jumped out to a 21-0 lead, but the Cats battled back and were one tackle away from getting a final possession to try to tie the game at 35.
Jalen Whitlow played great at quarterback; he was 17-for-24 for 178 yards and two touchdowns plus another 69 yards and a touchdown on the ground. It’s safe to say UK finally has its quarterback.
We’ll have more soon.
The Cats haven’t kept it the same this year with the uniforms. Tonight’s subtle difference is the blue helmets and pants with white jerseys. Time is ticking though, hurry and get all your snacks before sitting down for an entertaining Saturday night of Kentucky Football with Tim Couch taking you through the what is hopefully a smooth ride. When that ride inevitably gets rough there’s always the Live Blog.
Kickoff is set for 7:38 PM on Fox Sports South (that’s Channel 929 on Time Warner).
With a recruiting class as loaded as the one Kentucky reeled in this year, coupled with key returners Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein, it would be a bold statement to put the Cat’s success on the shoulders of one single player.
Of course it won’t be a one-man show by any means but all signs point to the weight of the Big Blue Nation being placed on the shoulders of Andrew Harrison.
Harrison was the top rated point guard and 5th overall recruit in this year’s class and with such high expectations, he will be required to perform at a 5-star level. Of course the rest of the team is expected to follow suit, but what single’s Andrew Harrison out as the head for Kentucky’s basketball aspirations?
1. Coach on the court role
Coach Calipari has already stated that he wants perfection this year. Nothing less than a perfect season and a 9th banner in Lexington is acceptable (okay maybe that’s what some fans think). Obviously Coach Cal can’t get on the hardwood and make the plays himself (although that would be a sight to see), which puts that responsibility on Andrew Harrison. Everything starts and goes through the point guard, so Andrew will be responsible for making sure that the rest of this star-studded team hits on all cylinders.
2. Lack of a dominant backup
The starting line up for Kentucky will without a doubt be unreal. When coach Cal decides to make substitutions, he will have NBA talent for relief at every position, except the point guard. With no real solid backup PG, Andrew Harrison will have to take on the load of extra minutes at times when the game is on the line down the stretch even with fewer minutes to rest.
3. Ball Handling and passing ability
The Harrison twins will do exceptionally well in this regard but the rest of the team will be slightly lacking. But, will they receive any help? If James Young has one weakness, it is ball handling and finding the open man for the assist. If nobody emerges as a solid backup point guard who can fill those shoes when Andrew Harrison is on the bench? The Cats might suffer (okay slightly) resulting in more dependence on Andrew.
4. Facilitating the offense
Like I mentioned before, with the lack of another dominant ball handler and passer, Andrew Harrison will be responsible for making sure the offense is clicking at all times. For people like Julius Randle, James Young, and Alex Poythress, who all can dominate offensively, Harrison will have to make sure they are in the right spots and make the plays to them to ensure the expectations of this Cat’s offense comes to fruition. For that to happen, Harrison will be responsible for supplying the ball to seven or eight guys who can all put up points in bunches as well as put up points himself when necessary.
5. Physical ability
Andrew Harrison is what you would call the complete package as a point guard who could easily be a first round draft pick now if college wasn’t required. Harrison is an explosive scorer who attacks the rim relentlessly with a silky smooth jump shot to accommodate the driving ability. Great court vision, confidence with the ball and leadership skills all adds to the impressive resume. Not to mention, Harrison is 6’5, which gives him an advantage over opposing match ups that will make his tenacious defense even more dominant.
All of these factors appear to be something Kentucky’s success will depend on and with National Championship hopes; every bit of these assets will be needed. If these were taken away, the negative factors would be inevitable which is why the Cat’s success falls on the shoulders of Andrew Harrison.
Rather than sitting court side in a cozy Rupp Arena alongside Mike Pratt, Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro will be sitting in stank at Williams-Brice Stadium. A hawk found its way into the away radio booth last week before dying. The pros of radio broadcast will be fighting the smell inside the small room for the entire game.
Now would be an opportune moment for one of those Febreze ads.
Is it finally time for the Cats to take an SEC road game for the first time since Auburn in 2009? Mark Stoops and a starting quarterback to be named hope to take down Shirtless Spurrier and his Gamecocks in Columbia. Matt and the rest of the KSR crew will be giving an analysis of the game starting at 5 PM. Be sure to call in to talk about the quarterback situation, the gameplan, Spurrier’s love of visors and hate of shirts, and why you would name your mascot a Gamecock.
John Calipari has finally started his long-awaited practices with his current squad, and that means less time to recruit his players of the future. Luckily for Coach Cal, he picked up a devoted recruiter in Tyler Ulis. The newest commit to the Cats has took to Twitter to try to close the deal with a few of Cal’s targets. Most importantly, Ulis has been making his pitch to Devin Booker, who is currently on an official visit to the University of Michigan. With only one more official visit for Booker left this fall (Missouri Oct. 19th), the decision date (October 30 or 31st) is coming very soon. Tyler Ulis had this to say about Booker’s trip to Michigan.
— Tyler Ulis (@tulis3) October 5, 2013
Hopefully, Ulis has been in Booker’s ear quite a bit these past few weeks as he looks to add his shooting guard for the backcourt of the 2014-2015 Cats.
The Chicago point guard is not done recruiting with the 2014 class though. Ulis is also setting his sights on the 2015 class. Charles Matthews, the number 1 shooting guard in the 24/7 Composite Rankings, is an AAU teammate of Ulis on Team Meanstreets. In fact, some people trying to sway Ulis away from Kentucky claimed that they were only recruiting him as a pipeline to Matthews. Considering no other point guard in 2014 appears to be coming to the Cats, that is a pretty ridiculous statement, but Ulis has shown that he clearly wants Matthews to join him in blue.
S/o to @CMATTHEWS_1 who will be attending Kentucky with me in 2 years lol
— Tyler Ulis (@tulis3) October 5, 2013
Ulis will also be in attendance at Big Blue Madness on Oct. 19th. Hopefully, he can work his recruiting magic on Trey Lyles, Stanley Johnson, Kelly Oubre, and James Blackmon Jr. It certainly cannot hurt to have your point guard of the future actively recruiting top targets to your school.
Give a shoutout to Tyler on Twitter for his recruiting, @tulis3
And give a follow to your favorite KSR recruiting writer @JayHochKSR
We may still be a few hours away from tonight’s game with South Carolina, but that isn’t stopping college football analysts around the internet from making their predictions. No sir. Unlike last weekend where Kentucky was the trendy upset pick over Florida, many experts from around the web aren’t seeing a positive outcome for Mark Stoops and his Cats tonight. Below you’ll find what the analysts had to say after looking into their crystal balls.
Low: The Gamecocks will be getting quarterback Connor Shaw back for this game. Talk about one tough customer. Either way, Dylan Thompson is more than capable under center. What’s more, nobody has been able to stop Mike Davis this season, and that won’t change Saturday. South Carolina 38, Kentucky 13
Aschoff: The Gamecocks have to tighten up mentally in the fourth quarter, but Kentucky is struggling to put things together … well, everywhere. I see another big game from Mike Davis. South Carolina 34, Kentucky 14
Saturday Down South:
Jon: The Gamecocks at home on a Saturday night? They have been dominant there. Kentucky will move the football, but the passing game just isn’t where it needs to be for the Cats to take advantage of the Cocks’ secondary. Carolina wins, but Kentucky will cover. South Carolina 41, Kentucky 20.
Kevin: 21.5 is a pretty big spread. I think South Carolina runs the rock and the game looks similar to what Florida did to Kentucky. South Carolina 24. Kentucky 7.
Kentucky (+21) at South Carolina (7:30 ET, FSN)
Steve Spurrier was not pleased with his team’s start or finish last week in Orlando. The Gamecocks got the win — 28-25 over UCF — but it was not the type of performance that gave Spurrier confidence his team can compete with the powers in the SEC. He can’t, however, have many complaints about Mike Davis, his sophomore tailback. Davis leads the SEC in rushing with 127.0 yards per game and has done so on a healthy 7.2-yard average. In a surprise, the Gamecocks could have quarterback Connor Shaw, who injured his shoulder in the UCF game, back for Saturday’s match-up. If Shaw can’t go, Dylan Thompson is an experienced backup, but he completed less than 50 percent of his passes against UCF. Kentucky is struggling to get much going on offense in the first year of the Mark Stoops era. This team has some decent pieces on defense, but it’s hard to envision the Cats scoring enough to make Carolina sweat.
As it currently stands, Kentucky is still a 21.5-point underdog to South Carolina.
Yeah, she’s into me.
Hockey season is in full swing, and the Cool Cats returned to home ice to face Indiana University of Pennsylvania (wait…what?) in the third home series of the semester. Attendance wasn’t quite at the level that it reached for the Louisville game last weekend, but fans still packed the stands to watch UK Hockey take on IUP. Looking around the stands, I noticed that many students opted to take the opportunity on Family Weekend to invite mom and dad out to the game (I wouldn’t do it, but props to them), but the atmosphere inside Lexington Ice Center was rowdy as ever, even with Aunt Norma and grandma in town.
Last night marked the program’s poster release, a much-anticipated event that unites fans of all ages. And the decision to release the poster (pictured above) on family weekend? Well played, Cool Cats. Well played. The poster is a long-standing tradition of UK Hockey, and while the line of guys waiting shamelessly in line for an autograph from Kate Rorrer, this season’s poster model, did not quite equal the number of tents packed outside of Memorial Coliseum, a solid number turned out while disgruntled dates sat impatiently nearby. Sorry, girls, but this is important business. Congrats to Kate, who joins the likes of Laura Bell Bundy and Ashley Judd as UK Hockey poster model alumni.
Oh, and there was a pretty good game, too. The Cats returned home after suffering the first loss to Louisville in program history (4-2 at U of L last Saturday night), needing a big win to get things back on track. IUP proved to be a pretty solid club, showing early on that they planned to be aggressive; every hit was a nasty one and it didn’t take long for things to get chippy between the two teams. IUP scored first early on in the first period, and the game was suspended shortly for broken glass during the celebration.
IUP built upon its lead in the second period, putting another one in the net after UK goalie Aaron Tenefelde lost sight of the puck and got knocked to the ice. The crowd was restless, but the roof was ready to blow off the place when the Cats finally found the back of the net. Hunter McFadden found a way to break through the brick wall that was IUP keep Corey Chapin, who, despite attending a university that no one cares about, is tremendously talented in goal.
One student disagrees. Asked after the game about Chapin’s performance, a student we’ll refer to only as Taylor informed me that “Chapin is a (expletive) and his parents hate him.” I won’t pretend to know the kid’s family situation, but he appeared impressive on the ice.
The fun continued for UK after McFadden got the Cats on the board. Ryan Thomas tied the game near the end of the second period, and the ice center was rocking. Things would only get better for UK Hockey, as McFadden used his second goal of the night to net the winner and give the Cats a comeback victory.
Kate Rorrer was happy about it, and that means we’re all happy about it.
The Cats return to the ice tonight to take on IUP in the second and final game of the series. Puck drops at MIDNIGHT.