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247Sports.com’s final Top247 for the 2014 class is out

Lost in all the pre-Arkansas excitement yesterday was the release of 247Sports’ final Top247 for the 2014 football recruiting class. The last edition of the recruiting rankings came out Tuesday afternoon and only one Wildcat, Drew Barker, made the list.

Barker, the ninth-ranked pro style quarterback, moved up four spots to No. 109, while UK target Matt Elam saw a drop in his ranking. The John Hardin defensive tackle fell 12 spots from No. 9 overall to No. 21, and down one spot in the position rankings to the third best defensive tackle in the class.

Elam is scheduled to take his official visit to Alabama this weekend. Barker is already on campus.

Cats.


Julius Randle was in class at 8:00 a.m. this morning

How, I don’t know, but Julius Randle was up and at ’em early this morning, hours after arriving back in Lexington after the tough loss. Randle was in his 8:00 a.m. class, on time, and ready to learn whatever the professor was dishing out during Wednesday’s lecture.

Keep in mind, eight hours earlier, Randle was sitting at a podium in Fayetteville, Arkansas answering questions as to why his team couldn’t get it done in the closing minutes of a tough SEC road game. He then had to shower, board a plane with his teammates, and get back to Lexington. That puts him back in the bluegrass somewhere in the 3:00 to 4:00 a.m. range.

A student-athlete attending class should never be news, but sometimes we forget what these kids go through while working their tails off to keep us, the fans, entertained. Several of us struggled to make that 8:00 a.m. class in college when we were up late watching TV, three blocks from campus. And by several of us, maybe it was just me. I doubt that, though.

Someone get that man a nap.


Vote for your favorite Louisville fan of the day

Vote for your favorite Louisville fan of the day

We have a friendly competition this morning between two Louisville fans who have no respect for their bodies. We’ll put their unique looks to vote in the comments section and whoever emerges victorious will receive a lifetime of failed job interviews and never-ending laughter wherever they are.

Happy voting. Good luck to both. Let’s get to it…

 

Up first we have “502 Head,” an oversized mural of blood red filth on the side of the skull. It looks like he went to the airbrushed t-shirt stand in Panama City and laid his head on the counter.

“I’ll take the letter L in Old English, my area code, the fluers-de-lis symbol, and the Louisville Cardinal, please. Extra red if you can.”

louisville-fan10

Next we have “Cardinal-Bird-Firing-An-AK-47-While-Standing-On-Rick-Pitino’s-Head Leg Tattoo Guy.” We’ve seen his haunting Rick Pitino tattoo before, but I believe it’s the first time we’ve seen his AK-47-toting Cardinal and Denny Crum on the other leg.

louisville-fans-tattoos

 

 

So who will it be, folks?

 


UK games with Roger Ayers aren’t very fun

UK games with Roger Ayers aren’t very fun

roger-ayers

Last night’s loss to Arkansas marked Kentucky’s fourth consecutive loss when referee Roger Ayers is patrolling the court with his exhausted whistle. Think about that for one second. Kentucky, a team that hasn’t lost many games under John Calipari, lost its last four that Roger Ayers officiated.

In those four games, John Calipari received three technical fouls (his streak ended last night) and the opposing teams shot a combined 142 free throws. Better yet, Kentucky attempted fewer free throws than its opponent in all four games. May I remind you, Kentucky is ranked eighth in the nation in free throw attempts per game. Kentucky rarely makes fewer trips to the stripe than the other team.

Let’s continue, shall we? John Calipari’s record is 135-30 at UK over the last four and a half years. He is 2-5 when Roger Ayers is involved.

So we can all agree we’ve seen enough Rogers Ayers for awhile. He needs to stay away from Kentucky and stick to letting 11 players on the court in Sun Belt games.


Nerlens Noel surprised a Lexington high school kid

More from the Nerlens-Noel-Is-A-Good-Person Department, the former Kentucky big man surprised a Lexington high school student with the trip of a lifetime last night. Braxton Upthegrove, a basketball manger at Henry Clay who is awaiting a kidney transplant, received a video message from Nerlens during halftime of a game at the high school Tuesday evening. Nerlens told him he is flying Braxton and his mother to Thursday’s game against the Miami Heat and then they’ll spend the weekend together playing video games.

Can you think of a former UK player, or a player from anywhere for that matter, who does so much good off the court? It seems Nerlens Noel has a story similar to this one for every blocked shot he had at Kentucky. He’s a great young man who understands the importance of giving back, with a bigger heart than you’ll find on most 19-year-olds.


(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Recapping a crazy night in Fayetteville (Wednesday Show Thread)

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

It feels like the game only ended a few hours ago, but let’s talk about it some more on the morning after edition of Kentucky Sports Radio.  Matt and Ryan will do their best to recap Kentucky’s painful 87-85 loss in Fayetteville last night, so get some more coffee and settle in for the next two hours.  ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes called the game and will call in to discuss his thoughts as well.

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

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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: What is Our Offensive Identity?

Every great team has something that it does better than most.  It’s what makes the team great.  Calipari’s first 3 teams all had some identity on the offensive floor that you knew they could rely on.  From where I was sitting, those teams excelled at:

2009-10
-Best transition team in the country
-Quickness at the guard spot

2010-11
-Great Pick and Roll with Knight and Harrellson

2011-12
-Inside-Out game with Davis/Jones out to Lamb/Miller
-Versatility with MKG

We’ll leave off last year because, frankly, that team wasn’t good on the offensive end of the floor and thus had a poor season.  This team is a very good team already, but I am not sure I know what their offensive identity is.  They seem to have a lot of pieces that can do a lot of different things.  But what is THE strength of this team on offense?  Some options:

1. Rebounding
-One of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, Randle and Cauley-Stein are going to be hard pressed to keep off the glass this year.  But the funny thing about that is the worse UK shoots from the perimeter, the more chances at offensive rebounding.

2. Overall Size
-I think this one is more advantageous on the defensive end of the floor, but UK clearly has very good size at all 5 positions.  This allows them to not have many shots blocked, and once again, is big on the glass.

3. Dunks?
-All 5 positions can dunk? 

I would think at this point in the year, what Kentucky does best is rebounding.  It’s a great trait to have.  But I am not sure if leaning on rebounding as your major advantage is enough to to win a national title.  Kentucky needs to develop more in transition or a better outside game or more than Randle making consistent post moves in the post.  Kentucky needs to find that something that when slumping in a game they can go to and convert.

So, would you agree that UK’s main offensive identity thus far this season is REBOUNDING, or am I missing something?  And if it is rebounding, is that a trait that can be what a national title team can rely on?


What a game, what a finish

What a game, what a finish

(Walt Beazley | ArkansasRazorbacks.com)

Kentucky was on the losing end, and that’s never fun, but we just watched a spectacular basketball game in Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday night. The ESPN Super Tuesday game in Fayetteville, Arkansas, an 87-85 UK loss, featured 18 ties, 10 lead changes, a last second three-pointer in regulation, overtime, and a late game-tying three-pointer, followed by what will certainly be SportsCenter’s No. 1 play Wednesday morning, a put-back dunk to end it all.

All that excitement came after one of the longest and slowest games in recent memory, thanks to an officiating crew that must’ve had money on the over in total fouls called. The crew of Ron Groover, James Breeding, and Roger Ayers called 60 fouls, and though the total on each side is close to even, a lot of those whistles were terrible. Both coaches have good reason to complain to the league office. It really affected the flow of the game and sent key players from each team to the bench in crucial moments.

Whistles aside, it was a gritty, hard-fought game for the Cats and one that will only help in the long run. And that’s what the regular season is about, right? Growth, progression and experience for that final run in March. Kentucky took a huge step in that direction Tuesday night.

Let’s discuss so we can catch the late night Australian Open action. (Kidding… you don’t care about tennis. You only care about losing at Arkansas.)

 

Alex Poythress’ offensive rebound was incredible.

It’ll get lost in the stories, maybe forgotten, but Alex Poythress made the best play of the first four minutes and 59 seconds of overtime, only to be overshadowed on the other end.

After a missed three-point attempt from James Young (a great look, too) to tie the game, Poythress soared over two Razorbacks for an offensive rebound to keep Kentucky’s hopes alive.

Watch the determination as he skies for the board. No one, NO ONE, was keeping Alex from getting that basketball:

poythress-rebound

Young got another look from the same spot (automatic for any great shooter) thanks to Poythress’ effort and he knocked it down to tie the game with ten seconds on the clock. Unfortunately, Poythress and Young’s late heroics were short-lived.

I ain’t mad at ya, Michael Qualls.

It’s hard to be mad at Arkansas guard Michael Qualls for that dunk to win the game. Mad at his dreadlocks, yes, but not at his slam. That was a hell of a way to win a basketball game.

That being said, box out much?

Put a body on that man.

Big Shot Andrew, Big Shot James

Two freshmen playing in only their second true road test of their careers were as cool as the other side of the pillow when their numbers were dialed late in the game.

First, it was Andrew Harrison, calm, cool, and collected, busting the three-pointer with one second remaining in regulation to face overtime. Pressure? Never heard of it. Rim? Don’t need it.

Then in overtime, it was James Young making the aforementioned sweet string music to erase an Arkansas lead in the final seconds. He missed his first attempt after a great move to create space, but there was no doubt he was finding the bottom of the net when Poythress blessed him with another try.

That’s two clutch late-game jumpers from young Wildcats in one of the most hostile environments they’ll see all year.

Coach Cal blamed the loss on one bad box out and missed free throws.

On his postgame radio show, John Calipari said he was proud of the fight his team showed in the loss.

“We grew up.” he said of his young bunch on the air.

Cal blamed the loss entirely on two simple, avoidable things: missed free throws — UK was 26-for-40 from the stripe in the game — and one bad box out on the game’s final possession.  He said his guys just stood around and watched Qualls clean up the miss after Kentucky’s defense did a great job of forcing Arkansas into a bad shot.

Photo evidence of that standing around:

(@CLykinsBlog)

No cramps, only dominance, from Julius Randle.

It was the second half of the Michigan State game all over again for Julius Randle as he played hard and showed a ton of fight on both ends of the court to collect his however-many-eth double-double of the season with 20 points and 14 rebounds. He added two big blocks and two more big blocks that were mistakenly called fouls, plus five turnovers from going to that spin too much in the paint.

After the game, Randle said he thinks his diet had a lot to do with keeping the cramps away. Something obviously changed because if there were ever a time to cramp up, his effort in Tuesday night’s was it.

Foul trouble took Willie Cauley-Stein out of the game, which hurt UK defensively.

The absence of Willie Cauley-Stein was clear on the defensive end and it had a major impact on the game. Foul trouble limited the Kentucky big man to 18 minutes, 10 below his season average, and he was never really a factor. I can remember his one basket, a very nice post move, but that’s about it from Willie for the evening.

His fifth foul was pretty big, too, I guess. I think he was set but leaned out of it.

Aaron Harrison and an Arkansas fan exchanged words after the game.

Assistant coach Orlando Antigua had to get between Aaron Harrison and an overconfident Arkansas fan as Harrison walked off the floor toward the locker room following the loss. The Herald-Leader’s Mark Cornelison was nearby to capture the altercation and John Clay posted the photos to his blog.

If you’re keeping score at home, Arkansas beat eight-time national champion Kentucky at home and one fan stormed the court. Indiana beat zero-time national champion Wisconsin and everyone stormed the court.

Bring on Tennessee.


Too soon for highlights?

 


Same. (Photo © Beth Hall)

It’s late. Keep Matt company on the postgame show.

Same. (Photo © Beth Hall)

Same. (Photo © Beth Hall)

It’s late. I’m tired, you’re tired.  But not quite sleepy, right?  Wind down (or up) by listening to Matt on the postgame show.  Call in and share your thoughts at 1-800-444-8484 or 502-571-8484.

You can catch all of the action by tuning in to 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP, or stream online to hear Matt and the after midnight crowd recap the Cats’ heartbreaking loss in Fayetteville.

Discuss the show below.


UK vs. Arkansas box score

UK vs. Arkansas box score

MBB_011414_Arkansas


(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Cal says he’s proud his team didn’t quit

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

While Cal admitted that his team didn’t play perfectly–Willie Cauley-Stein was a “non-factor”–he did say that he was proud of his guys for the fight they showed down the stretch tonight in Fayetteville: “I hate losing, but I’m fine,” Cal said. “Those kids did not quit.”

However, there were good freshmen moments and bad freshmen moments.  Good: Andrew and James making threes to keep Kentucky in the game.  Bad: That last play. “My kid watched, my guy watched. And that guy ran by him and dunked it. He’s a freshman, that’s what freshmen do.”

How about the 60 personal fouls called throughout the game? “We were beating the crap out of each other out there. Hand-to-hand combat,” Cal said, pointing out that it was the first team Kentucky has played that’s taken more free throws than them. “You have to give them credit.”


Photo © Beth Hall

James Young tries to take responsibility for the last play, Julius won’t let him

Photo © Beth Hall

Photo © Beth Hall

After the game, James Young tried to take responsibility for the loss, telling reporters he was supposed to block out Qualls on the play, but Julius Randle cut him off and said it was a team effort, and therefore, a team loss: “If one person messes up, we’ve gotta have each other’s back.”

Young said that while the loss “hurts a lot,” you can tell the team is growing.

Yes, they are.


(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The craziest game ever ends in heartbreak

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

I don’t even know what to say about that.

The game that would never end is finally over, and it ended in the most bizarre way possible.  After 45 minutes of non-stop fouls, the Cats fell to Arkansas 87-85 in overtime, after a dunk by Michael Qualls with 0.2 seconds left.  With a wing and a prayer, Aaron Harrison inbounded the ball only to watch it get stuck in the scoreboard in the middle of the arena, and after a replacement ball was found, the game quickly ended.

Julius Randle was magnificent, with 20 points and 14 rebounds.  James Young scored 23, and Andrew Harrison took the game to overtime with a three at the end of regulation.  The story of the game, unfortunately, may be fouls.  A whopping 60 personal fouls were called in tonight’s game, with more than a few very questionable.

It’s late, and the outcome sucks, but be proud of the fight these young Cats showed.  More coming all night morning.