Part two in an eight part series previewing the 2014 Kentucky Football Wildcats. Cats hope →
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It was a fun night in Atlanta as Kentucky advanced to the tournament’s semifinals with a win over LSU Friday night. The Wildcats handled the Tigers rather easily, 85-67, after struggling in the teams’ two regular season meetings. Anthony Hickey scored just three points in his third look at UK this season, outdone by O’Bryant’s 18 to lead the Tigers. James Young carried the scoring load for Kentucky with 21 while Julius Randle tried to grab every rebound.
UK will face the winner of Georgia/Ole Miss tomorrow afternoon, but for now, we look back on the big win to kick off the postseason…
Did you see the tweak? Did you see it? Huh? It was AWESOME. Best tweak ever, right?
But, um, we’re still not certain what the tweak is, exactly. Calipari deflected questions about the tweak after the game, telling reporters to “keep guessing” when Andrew Harrison was asked if the tweak was to penetrate and kick back out. Andrew said, “It’s a secret. We’re keeping it between us.”
Regardless of the true identity of this mythical tweak, the Cats played arguably their best game of the season tonight. They were dominant, they were having fun, and they were tweaking.
Keep tweaking, Cats. Keep tweaking.
Julius Randle recorded another double-double, flirted with SEC tournament history.
Randle was a man tonight in Atlanta, racking up yet another double-double, his 19th of the season and fifth in a row. The SEC’s top freshman scored 17 points and hauled in 16 rebounds, two boards shy of an SEC tournament record by a Wildcat. Though his stats look nice, it wasn’t a great night offensively for Randle. He struggled to finish around the rim early and finished the game with a 4-for-12 clip from the field. Still, what a night he had. He was a force against the LSU bigs and his double digit rebound total marked the ninth consecutive game he’s grabbed 10 or more.
The fives played great.
Shout-out to Dakari Johnson and Willie Cauley-Stein for playing a great game in the middle for Kentucky. Dakari fell one point shy of a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds, and his energy was contagious throughout the game. Johnson has emerged as UK’s emotional leader, the guy who will yell to the crowd when they’re not doing their part. He’s showing a little MKG with his emotion at times and that passion is spreading to his teammates. I never thought Dakari would be that guy, but there’s no doubt, he’s that guy.
Willie Cauley-Stein was excellent in relief for Dakari with eight points, six rebounds and a dunk on top of one of the Tigers. His six blocks made quite an impact on the defensive end, too. Big game from the big guys.
James Young scored a lot, sees the postseason as a new beginning.
Young led all scorers with 21 points on 6-of-17 shooting from the field. After the game, he told reporters it’s a brand new season for the Cats. “We left the past behind us,” he told the C-J’s Adam Himmelsbach.
Young also said the crowd was amazing and he and his teammates fed off of Big Blue Nation and each other. “We just had the will to win,” he said.
Andrew was gettin’ dimes.
A career-high eight assists tonight with four shot attempts for UK’s point guard. He said he feels like he’s making strides and his timing couldn’t be better, he says.
“I think we’re starting to have more fun out there.”
Cal denies the drive and kick being the tweak, but it’s clear Andrew was out to distribute tonight. And it worked.
Alex Poythress hit the shot of the game.
The sophomore drilled a three-pointer from the corner right in front of the Kentucky bench after LSU had trimmed the deficit to one possession. The big shot sparked a UK run and the rest was history.
Your “InstaJam” of the night…
RIP old game film.
Before the team took off for Atlanta, Calipari gathered everyone together to destroy DVDs of games from earlier in the season. Julius Randle said it needed to be done and now it’s time to move on. “It’s a new season,” he said.
Hopefully this “new season” has eight more games in it.
Shaq was in the house.
The SEC tournament is a great place for celebrity sightings (Barry Booker, World Wide Wes, Macon Volfan etc.) but none were bigger, literally, than Shaquille O’Neal. DeMarcus Cousins’ new mentor stopped by to watch his alma mater take on the Cats, sitting directly behind our guy Lonny across from the LSU bench.
Mrs. Tyler and I tracked him down at halftime for a photo, only to be turned away by one of his people. However he did take some time to pose for photos with kids and we saw him hand one of them a 20 dollar bill, because Shaq loves the kids.
Beat _______. (Ole Miss or Georgia)
Ole Miss currently leads but it’s still anyone’s game. Soon we’ll know if Kentucky will get a look at Mark Fox’s Dawgs or another swing at Marshall Henderson.
See you back here tomorrow for more.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©10:25 pm
Everyone says the postseason is a blank slate. A new season. Cal impressed that upon his players this week, going as far to have them “shred” the DVDs of all the games from the regular season to symbolize the fresh start. Julius Randle told reporters in the locker room that the act was “relieving,” and Andrew Harrison said that it helped wipe the slate clean: “It was just erasing all the wins and losses. Coach told us we had a new slate.”
…do you shred DVDs? Or do you break them?
I think it was Lauryn Hill who once sang, “That tweak, that tweak, that tweeeeeeeak.” With the BBN behind them, the Cats came to life tonight, beating LSU 85-67. Matt Jones and probably all of Catlanta are at STATS to celebrate, so let’s all share our thoughts on the big win.
Give him a call at 1-800-444-8484 or 502-571-8484.
Listen in on 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP, or stream online.
Discuss the show below.
You’re feeling good. I’m feeling good. John Calipari is DEFINITELY feeling good. After the game, Cal was a little giddy. One might call him a little swaggy:
“I think they’ve had a fabulous year, I really do. There were two losses, maybe three I thought we should have gotten. One non-conference, a couple of conference wins. Should have gotten those games, we didn’t. So, okay. Difference between three games and where we are? Come on. I think this team has done well. Let’s see if we can continue on this path and REALLY make some people mad.“
I don’t think anyone would blame Cal for being just a tiny bit smug tonight. All week, the BBN has been questioning whether or not the “tweak” was real, and of course, the topic came up immediately after the game. When Andrew Harrison was asked whether or not the tweak was him penetrating and kicking out to open up the offense, Cal couldn’t help but interrupt…
Andrew: “We were all just playing as a team–”
Cal: “That’s not the tweak.” [laughter] “Keep guessing though.”
Andrew: [nervous laughter] “Yeah, uh, yeah, we just all played as a team, our wings were knocking down big shots. Alex probably hit one of the biggest shots of the game, and if he plays with confidence, it’s pretty tough to stop him too. When we play as a team, and play defense and get stops, we’re hard to beat. And I think we’re starting to have more fun out there.”
So really, Cal, WHAT WAS THE TWEAK??
“I had those two cut their hair different so Aaron was Andrew and Andrew was Aaron. So that was Aaron playing the ball.”
Willie Cauley-Stein, Andrew Harrison, and Dakari Johnson were a happy trio in the media room after the game. I asked the group how it felt to look up and see a raucous Big Blue Nation behind them. Their answers:
Andrew: “The crowd amazing. felt like a home game. It’s just proof that we have some of the best fans in the world.”
Willie: “This being my sophomore year, I know the Big Blue Nation travels everywhere. They went to Dallas and there was an ice storm. It’s amazing, humbling that people care that much about us to travel that far.”
Dakari: “It’s amazing to see the fans go crazy like that when we scored.”
For once, the Cats had a bit of desperation in their step. Willie says the team has adopted the “play like it’s your last game” mentality: “Yeah, that’s something we’ve been talking about as a team. We always have a target on our backs. We’ve got to play like it’s out last game.”
LSU head coach Johnny Jones is meeting with the media right now and told reporters that Kentucky did a “tremendous job” fighting back tonight and made the big shots to win. What was the difference between the Kentucky that lost to LSU, beat them in OT, and won by 18 tonight? “I thought they shot the ball well and got into a rhythm, and certainly once they got going, I thought they could feed off each other,” Jones said, noting how much looser the Cats played once they got the lead.
How big of an impact did the crowd have? Johnny O’Bryant said that he expected the BBN to be loud: “I knew it was going to be a blue atmosphere. This is my third SEC Tournament. I knew coming in what Kentucky brings.”
Kentucky won its rubber match with LSU tonight, 85-67, in the quarterfinals of the SEC tourney. James Young led the way with 21 points to go along with Randle’s 17 and 16. Dakari had a pretty awesome night, too.
We’ll have more from the Dome shortly. For now, enjoy it, BBN. Enjoy it.
Listen to the LSU pre-game show now on 630 WLAP or online here with Ryan Lemond, Drew Franklin and Tyler Thompson. The crew is down in Cat-lanta and preparing for tonight’s match-up against the Tigers in Kentucky’s first SEC tournament game.
Share your voices and opinions by calling 1-800-444-8484 or 502-571-8484.
Discuss the show below.
The 2013-14 season is almost over, and Kentucky is still trying to atone for the disaster was the 2012-13 season. John Calipari’s team is trying to do something that no team in the history of college basketball has ever done: Win a national championship relying primarily on 6 freshmen who were McDonald’s All Americans. With disappointing losses to a whole bunch of teams, the team will fail to reach its ultimate goal of perfect season, and will instead try to console itself with a national title. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*It’s Never Alright: Florida made history this year by becoming the first team in SEC history to go 18-0 in the regular season. Kentucky likes to bill itself as the “greatest tradition in the history of college basketball,” but the Wildcats have never, in over 100 years of playing the sport, gone 18-0 in the SEC regular season. While excuse-makers will point out that UK has gone undefeated in league play 14 times in the past, the fact of the matter is that none of those regular seasons consisted of 18 games. 16, yes, but not 18. Huge difference. Also, it isn’t like this is the first year in the modern era that the league has had 18 regular season games (it’s the 2nd), so it’s not like UK can use this as an excuse. Also, the SEC is stronger this year than in the past. After all the league boasts both the preseason #1 team and the current #1 team. No other conference in America can say that this year. This UK team hoped to make history, and unfortunately, it did just that. It’s the first team in the history of college basketball to start the year as #1, only to finish it unranked while another team in the conference went 18-0.
*Rock It All Away: At the outset of this season, Kentucky was #1, and had designs on a perfect season. John Calipari even went so far as to guarantee a spotless record when he said “we want to win every game.” However, the wheels soon came off, and UK now finds itself unranked. Will this cause the current batch of Kentucky commits to rethink their decision to play college basketball in Lexington? To find out, a reporter recently called each one of them to ask. Though the reporter was unable to speak to any of the recruits themselves, Devin Booker’s 6th grade coach said Booker was “upset, probably” that the Cats are no longer in the top 25. Will this cause Booker to try to get out of his letter of intent? Probably. In what can only be seen as a bad omen, he has yet to show up on campus. Similarly, the middle school bus driver of Tyler Ulis said that while he doesn’t remember Ulis, it is fair to assume that Ulis would prefer that UK be ranked 1st in the country as opposed to not. Likewise, Karl Towns said that he was “saddened” that the Cats had lost 9 times already. (This is not the same Karl Towns who committed to UK, but rather a 49 year old mailman in Peoria, IL who said he considers it sad when anyone loses. One must assume, however, that the other Towns feels the same.) Finally, Trey Lyles previously said his goal was to win a national title in Lexington, so if one does the math, it is clear that he was outraged by the team’s failures this season and in all likelihood feels he made a mistake in pledging to Calipari. Buckle up, Cat fans. This figures to be a bumpy offseason.
*Dim Lights, Thick Smoke: Lately, former UK players have been on a rampage in the NBA, putting up big points, rebounds, assists, and basically dominating. This does not bode well for Kentucky. By garnering so much attention in the professional ranks, players like Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Jodie Meeks, among others, are doing their best to force people to associate them with their pro careers rather than their college careers at the University of Kentucky. In 2012, had you asked any basketball fan which team he or she associated Anthony Davis with, the answer would have been “Kentucky.” Now, thanks to recent 30 point and 10 rebound performances for the New Orleans Pelicans, you’ll get a different answer. Likewise, if you ask the average Sacramento resident which team comes to mind when you say the name “DeMarcus Cousins,” it is doubtful that many of them would say UK. And how many Laker fans associate Jodie Meeks with Kentucky any more, especially after performances like his 42 point outburst last Sunday? Not many, that’s how many. Finally, were any Celtic fans saying “Go Big Blue” as Rajon Rondo was dishing out 18 assists and no turnovers in a game a few days ago? Doubtful. The bottom line is that as long as these former Cats continue to put up gaudy numbers, people will continue to forget about Kentucky.
* On this date: On this date in 2010, the Kentucky basketball program was embarrassed and humiliated in the SEC Tournament finals when DeMarcus Cousins hit a game-tying shot at the buzzer and mistakenly thought it was a game-winner.