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The UK Baseball team took two hard luck losses in the first SEC series of the season against the Tide in Tuscaloosa. The Cats were shutout in the opener due to a couple of incredible defensive plays by Alabama, won the second game of the series, but dropped the series finale (which was moved to Saturday with adverse weather expected Sunday) as the Tide rallied to hit two-run homeruns in the ninth and tenth innings to take the series.
Fri: UK 0, BAMA 3
A.J. Reed was robbed of a game-tying homer in the fourth by Alabama right fielder Ben Moore, lined into a 6-4-5 triple play with the bases loaded in the sixth, and ended up the losing pitcher as he allowed three runs on four hits and struck out six, a season high, in seven innings. The Cats were able to muster just four hits as Alabama ace Spencer Turnbull worked seven and one-third shutout innings.
Game 1: UK 7, Bama 2
The Cats got out of the gate quick in the first game of the double header as center fielder Austin Cousino and catcher Micheal Thomas hit two-run homers in the first inning. Thomas would drive in another run in the seventh in route to a 4-for-4 day at the plate. UK starter Chandler Shepherd allowed nine hits but just two runs in seven and two-third innings while striking out five.
Game 2: UK 3, Bama 5
The Cats were one out away from the first series win Tuscaloosa in over two decades but the Tide hit a tying two run blast in the ninth and another in the tenth to walk-off with the series. All three Wildcat runs came with two outs in the fifth inning when A.J. Reed belted a three run homer, his nation leading ninth. UK starter Andrew Nelson held a 3-1 lead with two outs in the ninth but ‘Bama first baseman Austen Smith belted the game tying homerun to tie the game at three. Shortstop Mikey White would win it for the Tide in the tenth with a two-out blast off Spencer Jack.
The Cats return home this week to host WKU Tuesday before welcoming top ranked South Carolina to The Cliff for the SEC home opener next weekend.
Happy 55th Birthday William Drayton, Jr! Mr. Flav was a founding member of the 80’s rap group Public Enemy, but is wasn’t until 2006 that he stole America’s heart as he looked for love on his show, Flavor of Love. I am sure you and Mrs. Flav will be spending the day relaxing and eating at one of your restaurants…if they haven’t all been closed down yet.
The SEC final is set
Kentucky is going Caligator hunting once again. The Cats will face Florida Sunday at 3:15. The Wildcats beat Georgia Saturday, 70-58, in an amazing game. Coach Cal had a lot to say in the postgame conference.
“We’re not the same team. You’ve seen us now, we’re not the same team we were two, three weeks ago. It took some stuff and tweaking some stuff and making us more physical in practice, because the games are becoming slugfest again.”
While Willie said he was ready for another shot of Florida, Cal said he has had enough of the Gators. One thing is for sure, the Cats will need to keep playing like they have been down in Catlanta.
(Still trying to figure out what that tweak is, by the way)
DeAndre Liggins was cut by the heat
The Heat signed Liggins to a 10-day contract in late February, but Pat Riley announced today the Heat would be releasing Liggins from his second 10-day contract and replacing him with former LSU center Justin Hamilton.
The tweak has an anthem
And it might be my new ringtone (sorry Mark Stoops Titanic song).
”BBN up starting to freak, then Cal grabbed the mic and said it’s on me.”
Kentucky is a rising 6 seed in the latest bracketology
Joe Lunardi put Kentucky in the spot, pairing UK up with top seeded Florida in the South region. Of course, that all could change based on the results of the game against Georgia.
Julius Randle is a BAMF on SportsCenter
I know the video is a little old, but what better way to get into a good mood than to watch Julius Randle do what he does best?
Lecrae visited Rupp
Too bad the basketball team wasn’t there to enjoy his company though.
— Lecrae (@lecrae) March 15, 2014
UK Softball team won their series at Missouri
The No. 9 Kentucky softball team won the series 3-2 against Mizzou. They fell to Mizzou 7-2 Friday, but came back to win two games Saturday, 3-2 and then 8-7 later in the day. Kentucky moves to 21-4 on the season and 4-2 in SEC play. The team next travels to Bloomington on Tuesday to face Indiana in a one game match up.
I’ll leave you with this video of two America East Conference mascots fighting at the Stony Brook and Albany game. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.
In this article the Harrison Twins’ father talks about how he told his sons it would be okay if they return to Kentucky.
According to the article, Aaron Sr. said he had never had an extensive talk with his sons about them leaving for the NBA, but gave them some advice after Andrew said the pressure to leave for the NBA was wearing on him.
“What I told him was, ‘Son, me and your mother, we’re in a fine financial situation. It’s not like you have to go, If it doesn’t work out, we’ve got next year, the year after that or the year after that. …There’s no pressure for you to go. And I don’t know where he got that in his mind, that pressure. I told him not to worry about it. Relax and have fun.” -Aaron Sr. said.
What daddy Harrison said must have worked, because the twins have been playing great in the SEC tournament since they sat down and had ‘the talk’.
You can read the full article here.
Much has been made about the tweak heard round the basketball world. I must shamefully admit that I am in the group Cal referred to when he said that many people would not be able to spot said tweak. Outside of a complete turnaround in attitude, effort, confidence, and improved execution, I can’t point to anything basketball-wise that Kentucky is doing differently. But things certainly have changed.
Even in the darkest of times–so like, three days ago–no one was denying the talent of this loaded roster. What people were questioning, is what in the world was preventing these guys from playing up to their obvious potential. In fact, many people had stopped questioning anything about this team. They were simply resigned to what appeared to be a season doomed for mediocrity. Something has happened in the past two days that has people tweaking their tune, however.
I would like to advance a theory (since my basketball IQ isn’t high enough to spot the mysterious tweak) that has more to do with the nature of this years Kentucky player than anything else. Our young team is suited for tournament basketball. Anyone who has ever been to a conference or NCAA tournament game can attest to the fact that the environment in the building is completely different than that of a game in Rupp Arena, on the road, or even at a neutral site. The arena is packed with multiple teams, diluted with fans of various allegiances (Kentucky fans predominate SEC, but the effect is still there), games are played consecutively, and the winner advances. The entire thing is–dare I say it–very AAU-esque, an advantage for our players not far removed from the loose-style of ball such situations require.
While some teams respond to this environment by heaping insurmountable pressure onto themselves, the opposite has been true of of the Cats. Away from the pressure-cooker of Lexington, in the presence of the choicest, most loyal fans that Big Blue Nation has to offer, this Wildcat team has played as well as they have all year–and it is clear that when they play well, they’re hard to beat. It is not only the players that seem to be having fun. Coach Cal is getting in on the action as well, screaming less and smiling more.
I know what you’re thinking: “Well this is fun and all, but it can’t really mean anything, can it?” After all, a large portion of the fanbase had given up visions (some might say delusions) of grandeur for this season. I’ll leave you with this comparison to the 2011 UCONN squad. After going 9-9 in the Big East, losing 7 of their last 11 games, including 4 of their last 5, the Huskies rattled off 11 straight wins en route to a Big East, and more importantly, National Championship. They finished the season 32-9. Were they battle-tested? Of course they were. So is Kentucky (still top 5 in RPI and SOS).
The team that gets hot at the right time . . . stoke the fire tomorrow Cats.
Few would say that our season has had “flash,” but if you’ve watched the Cats in the postseason, they ARE looking pretty flashy. Winning by double-digits in both of their SEC tournament games, Kentucky’s offense has looked doggone good p.t. (Post-Tweak). So is tomorrow’s game going to be the same old, same old Kentucky/Florida matchup? Hardly.
Kentucky’s playing at a level they haven’t seen all year, and the Gators have had two rough games against SEC foes. Does that guarantee a different result? Not necessarily. But it should make for a substantially better matchup than the 19-point drubbing we saw last time. Not only are the teams themselves playing differently than they were earlier this season, but they’re also so fundamentally different, that tomorrow has the makings of an Ali/Frazier matchup. From ESPN:
The thing about these two teams is that they operate in completely different ways. Until recently, the Wildcats have had too much individual play, while Florida has always focused on the unit. Kentucky has a core of high school All-Americans, while the Gators have greatly improved veterans.
Kentucky basketball is exciting and high-flying when it’s clicking. Florida ball is all about fundamentals, defense and control.
Think Miami Heat versus the San Antonio Spurs.
After two days, Kentucky has a little hotter hand, but Florida’s blue-collar approach hasn’t failed the Gators yet.
So what’s going to come out on top tomorrow, smash or flash? The last two days of the SEC tournament have showed us that there’s maybe not so much separation at the top as we thought. If WCS and Co. have their way, the Gators will have their hands full tomorrow for the tournament championship.
Although, take it from us, Florida, a loss in the SEC tournament finals is not always a bad thing as a guaranteed #1 seed.
Almost as difficult as “Which Harrison had the better suit?”
It may have taken a while for us to get to this point, but the Harrisons, for at least a day, are everything we wanted from them. The duo answered season-long questions in leading Kentucky to a win while making almost no mistakes between them. Other Cats were good today, but Andrew and Aaron were excellent. But with both of them playing to their potential, which one was more responsible for today’s win?
Aaron kept the Cats in front through the first half, hitting threes and flushing easy dunks for 16 points, and finishing the game shooting 70% (57% 3 pt.). He just looked like he never missed, and made scoring look like a breeze. To the casual observer interested primarily in scoring, he’s the easy pick.
Andrew Harrison, meanwhile, scored 12 points on 50% shooting, but was so much more than just scoring. With 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 turnovers, and zero fouls, Andrew was the perfect point guard, and did everything Calipari needed him to do. He nearly set the record for most assists by a Cat in the SEC tournament, and was physical despite getting banged around down low late in the game.
Is there a winner? Probably not. Kentucky needed both guys contributing this way to look good, and have any chance against the Gators tomorrow. Regardless, it’s fun when the question is “Who played best?” Not something we’re used to this season, but at least the twins are leading the team to peaking at the right time.
The Cats may be away, but that doesn’t stop hip-hop artists from taking visits to the decked out Kentucky locker room in their absence.
Christian rapper and Houston native Lecrae stopped by the “NBA player making factory” during a break in his performances at Winter Jam, and saw where fellow Houston guys Andrew and Aaron Harrison get ready for their games.
Something tells me he won’t be sitting with Drake and Jay Z at the Billboard Music Awards, but we’re glad to have him stop by.
SEC Championship, here we come. UK’s 70-58 win over Georgia wasn’t quite as thrilling as last night’s victory over LSU, but it’s the second good game in a row for the Cats, and earns them another shot at #1 Florida. Let’s go over some notes, then go celebrate.
The tweak got a bit streaky, but the Cats recovered
At the beginning of the game, it looked like the good times were rolling again. Kentucky stormed out to a 12-2 lead, and the Big Blue Nation was already making their Saturday night plans. However, with James Young and Willie Cauley-Stein both picking up two fouls early, the team reverted to its bad habits, focusing on perimeter passing instead of penetrating and kicking it back out. You could almost feel the Dome groan as Kentucky went on a long scoring drought, missing their next nine shots. What happened? Cal said they started pouting, hanging their heads, “acting like babies.” However, Aaron Harrison did his best to keep the Cats rolling, scoring 16 points in the first half on his way to 22…
Aaron Harrison came to play
After everyone raved about his brother Andrew yesterday, Aaron wanted some of the spotlight. Aaron had 22 points tonight off 7-10 shooting, and 4-7 from behind the arc. Aaron told reporters afterwards that he was feeling it, and credited his brother and Julius Randle for getting him good looks.
Aaron’s three with about 14 minutes left mirrored Alex Poythress’ three yesterday, and got Kentucky’s offense flowing again. From there, the Cats got rolling and didn’t look back.
Andrew is still sharing
Are we still guessing what the tweak is? Yesterday, Andrew had eight assists. Today, he had nine. With all that sharing, it’s no surprise that the Cats were able to put together two of their best games all season. Andrew also had twelve points, including a three that even got Coach Cal smiling. Julius Randle said Andrew reminded him of the Harrison Twins he played against growing up: “I’ve been playing against them my whole life. That’s who I grew up playing against.” What’s the difference in his play this week? Cal said the Twins have finally taken the weight of the world off their shoulders and are just playing. Aaron agreed, telling reporters his brother is “having fun. He’s more relaxed. He’s just playing basketball.”
It shows. I’ve seen Andrew Harrison smile more in the past two days than the entire season. Even he admits it: “We’re starting to play with a lot more emotion. We’re having fun. You can see us smiling.”
“We’re not the same team”
It’s hard to believe this is the same team that fell on its face in Gainesville a week ago. Back then, Kentucky was only able to put together five good minutes. What a difference a tweak makes. After the game, John Calipari said that this is “not the same team” that struggled so much a few weeks ago:
“We’re not the same team. You’ve seen us now, we’re not the same team we were two, three weeks ago. It took some stuff and tweaking some stuff and making us more physical in practice,because the games are becoming slugfest again.”
They say it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season. We’ll find out soon enough. Tomorrow’s game is much more important for Kentucky than Florida. The Gators are pretty much guaranteed a number one seed right now, and could do what the Cats did back in the 2012 SEC Tournament finals and drop one, especially considering how physical their game was against Tennessee earlier this afternoon. Kentucky could get the ultimate momentum boost with a win over the Gators. Even more, they want it. After the game, Willie Cauley-Stein told reporters that the team’s goal after losing to Florida last week was getting to the SEC Tournament title game so they could get another shot at the Gators. Julius Randle said he wanted Florida to beat Tennessee for the same reason. You think this team has confidence now? Imagine if they can beat the number one team in the country.
For now, let’s enjoy the W:
Cats Win! Cats Win! Tune in to the radio show at 6:45 to join the KSR crew for the post-game show, which should be a lot of fun. If you made the trip to Atlanta, we’re still at Stats, so feel free to come down, hang out, and celebrate the win.
If you’re at home, tune in at 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP, and let your voice be heard at (502) 571-1080 or by commenting below.
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How about that tweak? Man, what a tweak. It’s like the best tweak ever. Problem is, we still don’t know what the tweak is. For a second day in a row, Coach Cal told us that no one has guessed it and he refuses to reveal the secret. He even called the media out for not knowing basketball, saying everyone is looking at each other’s blogs trying to figure it out.
So will we ever know?
Probably not. It’s a great tweak though. Awesome tweak.
Willie Cauley-Stein is ready for another shot at the Florida Gators. He told reporters in the UK locker room that he and his teammates have had eyes on a potential rematch in the SEC title game since the Cats were handed the big loss in Gainesville.
Coach Cal, on the other hand, isn’t ready. He is tired of playing Florida, he says. Cal joked that some players have been at Florida for five or six years (Patric Young) and that the Gators have a special program to keep players around forever.
“I’ve had enough of Florida,” he said.
That’s too bad, because he’s getting them tomorrow at 3:15 in the SEC tourney championship.
Beat the Gators. Let’s go Cats.
AP Photo/John Bazemore
Are we having fun yet?
There were minutes of struggle, but the Cats put together enough solid stretches with excellent 3-point shooting to quiet the upset-minded Georgia Bulldogs, 70-58. Aaron Harrison (leading scorer with 22), Andrew Harrison, and James Young were a combined 18-28, willing the Cats to a win in their second game of the SEC tournament. Dakari Johnson was the only starter not to score in double figures, but shot 50% and pulled in 8 rebounds. Kentucky will play Florida tomorrow afternoon, which looks like a very winnable game after the Gators struggled mightily against Tennessee just a few hours ago.
Julius Randle grabbed 12 points and 11 boards, and tied Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins for most double-doubles in a freshman season.
Congratulations to the Cats, who look to keep the momentum tomorrow. Top 5 seed isn’t out of the question, if they keep this up.