For me, there is no better driving music than Mumford & Sons. The English folk rock band burst on to the national scene two years ago when they stole the show at the Grammys with their upbeat yet soulful indie folk tunes, which manage to bridge even the most diverse music fans. Since then, they’ve grown so much in popularity that hearing them on the radio, once an unexpected thrill, is now routine. They’re a staple in my road trip playlist, and there’s nothing better than getting in your car on a beautiful warm day, putting the windows down, and speeding through the Kentucky countryside (Tennessee will never compare). Lucky for me, they’re also Nashville residents when they’re not on tour or back in England, so every now and then they have a surprise show or end up playing at the oddest of places, facts I feel I should be telling you while wearing a pair of Willie Cauley-Stein’s hipster glasses.
Anyhow, happy birthday to Marcus Mumford, the lead singer of Mumford & Sons. He turns 26 today, and will assuredly spend the day with his beautiful wife, actress Carey Mulligan*, for whom he wrote my favorite Mumford & Sons song, “Lover of the Light.” Enjoy the video below, starring the fantastic Idris Elba:
*Fun fact: Mulligan and Mumford were childhood pen pals. How adorable.
Let’s get down to some news and views, shall we?
– If you’re like me, then you spent the day basking in the afterglow of Kentucky’s biggest win of the season. I had forgotten what it was like to be so excited after a win that all you want to do is watch “SportsCenter” to see the highlights. That feeling carried over on Wednesday, as fans and media members across the country relived the dominant performance of Nerlens Noel, who took Marshall Henderson’s coming out party and sent it into the stands with a thunderous block. Nerlens’ play was the talk of college basketball on Wednesday, with Chad Ford predicting the Cavaliers would take him first in the draft if they get the number one pick, and PTI debating whether or not he would break Anthony Davis’ single season block record of 186 (Kornheiser said no, Wilbon said yes). Nerlens breaking Anthony’s record seemed unlikely until recently, but over the past six games, he has blocked 46 shots, which puts him two blocks ahead of Anthony’s pace. Can the Cats play enough games for Nerlens to break it or will it matter at this rate? I can’t wait to find out.
Here’s one more gif from Deadspin of Nerlens blocking Murphy Holloway’s dunk:
No wonder Holloway called him the best shot blocker he’s ever played against after the game.
– One more thing I thought about on the way home was the evolution of Kyle Wiltjer. Until a few games ago, Wiltjer was a quiet three-point shooter that occasionally made a goofy YouTube video with his teammates. And he seemed content with that. Until John Calipari called him out for his complacence after the Vandy game to the media, which lit a fire under Witljer that has been burning ever since. Kyle realized that in order to have the impact on this team that it needs, he had to diversify his offense. Kyle Tucker had a great stat that shows how much Kyle has changed his game: in the first 15 games, 58.9% of Kyle’s made field goals were threes. In the last five games, 74.6% of Kyle’s made field goals were twos.
Better yet, he has become this team’s leader, orchestrating the offense and leading by example. His dunk on Tuesday night was still makes me smile, and I can’t wait to watch the replay to see him respond to Cal’s challenge to “talk back” to Marshall Henderson.
– Speaking of Henderson… Report: Court docs show Henderson tested positive for cocaine. (I see you lake hairing and caring with your scuba sleeve, Jon Hood.)
– None of the progress the Cats made matters if they can’t follow up with a good win in College Station. In his postgame presser, Cal played down the implications of Kentucky’s win, reminding everyone what happened the last time the Cats played well on the road–they negated it with a disappointing loss to Alabama. To best way to get off the NCAA Tournament bubble is a big win Saturday against Texas A&M at College Station. This time around, hopefully the Cats will be better prepared for Elston Turner, who scorched them for 40 a few weeks ago at Rupp. Texas A&M lost four straight after that and needed overtime to beat Mississippi State on Wednesday, which means that if the Cats can’t pull off a win, then…well, we’ll deal with that if it happens.
– A week from now, we’ll officially have a new class of football Cats. Signing Day is six days away with several chips left to fall. Mark Stoops and his staff spent time with Jason Hatcher at Trinity High School Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to convince him to come to Kentucky over USC, who visited him at his house the night before. Hatcher’s mother told Rivals that her son had recommitted to USC, but from Wednesday afternoon’s meeting, it seems that may not be the case. It’s going to be an interesting week in BBN to say the least.
– On a football side note, how about Vanderbilt’s James Franklin calling Nick Saban “Nicky Satan” during a high school banquet? I like Franklin a lot, but I have a feeling he will pay for that dearly the next time the two meet.
– Memphis area UK fans, rejoice! Tayshaun Prince is now a Grizzly, thanks to a 3-way trade between the Pistons, the Grizzlies, and the Toronto Raptors. Hopefully that means Tayshaun will have a better chance to make a run at another title, or if not, he can go visit the ducks at the Peabody Hotel.
– Last Friday we heard all about Julius Randle’s big visit to NC State, where they painted murals, baked cakes and chanted his name ad nauseum. USA Today’s Jason Jordan reports that Julius’ mom, aka She Who Loves The Red Velvet Cake, said that while NC State may be #1 in excitement, Kentucky is still #1 in red velvet cake. And wins. And NBA players. And chances to win another National Championship.
– On that note, 2013 commit Dakari Johnson will be in the house on February 23rd when the Cats host Missouri for the ESPN College GameDay game. Make yourself at home, big fella.
Get some rest, because Matt welcomes “The Round Mound of Touchdown,” Jared Lorenzen in studio in the morning to talk about the excitement surrounding the football program and everything else under the Kentucky sun. See you soon.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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