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7 Notes from UK’s Coming of Age Win over the Cards

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

There are days that Rupp Arena just feels special. Today was that kind of day. From Saturday morning on, the area around Rupp buzzed with anxiety, and the crowd was one of the best I can ever remember. It’s been a long, long time since Kentucky fans have had something to really get excited about. With Louisville coming off the best year in their history, the Big Blue Nation was practically rabid for a win, and they got one. Tonight, a young team came into their own in front of 24,396 fans, the ninth-largest crowd in Rupp Arena history. Here’s my take on UK’s 73-66 win over the Cards:

1. Julius Randle only played one half, but he dominated it

Julius Randle came in to this game on a mission. Randle had 17 points in the first half off 7-8 shooting from the field. After balking at the big stage in Dallas and Chapel Hill, Julius was ready this time around, practically calling for the ball on occasion. He had one dunk early in the first half that practically brought the house down, and with the offense centered around him, the Cats looked superb.

Unfortunately, cramping issues sidelined Julius for all but four minutes in the second half. Julius went to the locker room in pain, but returned and tried to go in the game only to take himself out seconds later. After the game, Cal said that the trainers gave Julius three IV bags of fluid to get rid of his cramps, joking that the doctor was “squeezing it in” so he could return. Something tells me Julius will be receiving a large bunch of bananas before the next game.

2. Rupp Arena heard Alex roar

In Julius’ place, Alex Poythress turned in another impressive performance, putting up seven points and pulling down five rebounds. Even more, Alex played with aggression, throwing down a particularly nasty dunk with a roar through Rupp Arena. “Playing without Julius, I thought Alex was unbelievable,” Cal raved. “But he’s been doing it in practice. He’s never been like this.”

3. The guards were brilliant

If you had told me before the game that the Cats would be able to beat Louisville with Julius Randle on the bench, I would have laughed at you. However, UK’s guards stepped up to make that happen. James Young, Aaron Harrison, and Andrew Harrison played beyond their years, especially in the second half. After Russ Smith and Chris Jones lit it up in the first half, Andrew Harrison buckled down and took control in the second, looking as poised as he ever has as a Cat. Under Andrew’s hand, the Cats were able to finish off a top opponent, something they had failed to do thus far.

Now if he could just make his free throws…

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

4. The star of the game was James Young

While Randle’s first half was mighty, James Young was the reason the Cats won. Young started off cold, missing his six first shots, but connected for a big three on number seven. From there, he warmed up, finishing with 18 points and ten rebounds. What I love about James’ performance was that even when he was cold, he was doing things to help the team out, like rebound and hustle. His energy was infectious tonight.

5. “Look like a team. Play like a team. Fight like a team.”

Cal wrote those words on the board in the locker room before the game, and said it was the only game plan he gave to his players. What was the difference between the team that beat Louisville and the team that lost to Michigan State, Baylor, and North Carolina? They played together.

“This team is becoming a good team. We haven’t been all year. Now we’re starting. Why? Because they knew if they didn’t play together, we wouldn’t have a shot.”

James Young said that the Cats were “tired of losing” and fans should expect to see “a lot more” performances like today’s. Cal reminded reporters that “This is the youngest team I’ve ever coached” before adding “I thought we grew up today.”

6. You can’t say enough about the crowd

I could write 1,0000,000 words about today’s crowd. I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of games in Rupp and the crowd today was the best it’s ever been. The eRupption Zone was packed an hour and a half before tip-off, and the students did their part, bringing in some truly hilarious signs. Even before the game started, there was a feeling in the air that Kentucky NEEDED this win, and the crowd did its best to help them get it. Rupp Arena is a special place on nights like tonight, and Cal acknowledged it afterwards, calling the crowd “nuts” for showing up an hour before tip:

“The crowd was great. People are crazy. It was crazy. I mean, it’s nuts. I’m hoping they enjoyed it.”

As James Young said after the game, the crowd “should be like that every time.”

Photo by David Scott

Photo by David Scott

7. Balance has been restored

In true Rick fashion, Pitino refused to do his postgame presser at the podium like everyone else and only took a few questions from reporters outside the locker room. When asked how his team handled the loud crowd, Pitino quipped that the “Referees were affected by it more than my players.” It’s only fitting that the Year of the Cardinal ended with a whine.

It’s good to be back.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

65 responses to “7 Notes from UK’s Coming of Age Win over the Cards”

  1. Got CAL?

    I was very impressed with the why UK competed to win today.

    1. Got CAL?

      the way UK competed for #1^^^

  2. bigblue091812

    I have to agree with Rick that the crowd bothered the refs more than his players. His players still was able to walk and foul and the refs couldn’t see it for the noise.

    1. duh

      HaHa, I love your comeback…Pitino has turned into a classless whiner.

  3. klassact32

    Does anyone know if this game is going to be shown again?

  4. Mark

    Now U of L can go back to playing cup cake teams and get some more wins…. They got beat. Game over!!! James Young and Aaron whooped the guards, we beat them with out Randal for the second half and all Rick could say was we were better in the 3, 4 and 5 positions. The CARDS got beat….. At every position. Good Night, Game over!

  5. Beavis

    Pitino looks like he is dreaming about Karen. Come on Rick, couldn’t you give the press 15 seconds ?

    1. Paul

      Beavis why do you think he is smelling his fingers he still hasn’t washed them since there night on the table.

    2. beavis

      Lol. I believe you are correct. Makes me wonder how I MISSED THAT.

  6. EC

    Poor Ricky Fiftino. His gargantuan ego told him that he could come to Little Brother, recreate what he had at UK, and supplant Kentucky as the pre-eminent basketball program in the state. “Got Pitino?” Nope, and we couldn’t be happier.

    Let’s get #L1C5 trending on Twitter (Louisville1 Cal5)

    1. Cj

      Funny how you talk about Pitino’s ego. I am a fan of neither squad, but there is no bigger ego in college basketball than that of John Calipari’s. And how about CBS doing him another favor earlier today … my God, does he need any more help from CBS or ESPN on the recruiting trail? I cannot imagine any parent entrusting their child to him … no integrity at all.

    2. brain

      What a idiotic statement. Parents trust their kids to Cal because he puts their needs above his needs,makes them better players, makes sure they do well in class, teaches them the value of giving back and ultimately helps them reach their dreams. You’re a real idiot.

    3. EC

      Yeah, Cj, maybe you’re right. Maybe they should trust their sons to a guy who has drunken sex in public and shames his wife and family in the process. Maybe Cal’s kids should be more like Chane Behanan and Kevin Ware who get set up with mighty fine wheels from well-heeled boosters, have such love for their schools that they hock their Final 4 rings on line and are in and out of trouble continually. Yeah, maybe that’s the bar UK should strive for.

      Get a life.

    4. 78Guy

      The dumbest thing in your statement (and that is saying something), is you trying to start off by qualifying you are not a fan of either team. Yah right troll. There are soooo many Oregon fans commenting on KSR on a Saturday night.

    5. Cj

      It should be “an” idiotic statement, not “a” idiotic statement. As soon as some of you write or open your mouths you lose any sense of credibility.

      My point, withiout going into too many particulars, is that Cal is only in it for Cal … he just wants to be able to say he has so many NBA players. He is a great recruiter though … just too shady for me. I made no mention of Pitino – yes, he has had demons as well. From my experience (which is extensive) I would rather have my child coached by him than by Cal. That is not meant to disparage Cal’s coaching, it is only that I would prefer Pitino’s – he is a much better teacher.

    6. Good Point

      You are correct, CJ. Pitino does have to be a better teacher. I just hope he’s teaching everyone on that team not named Montrezl Harrell how to work a desk job.

      Does it make you sad that Russ Smith has absolutely no chance at ever becoming a successful, professional athlete? Looking at him and Jones standing next to WCS was absolute comedy. Maybe Pitino could teach them to jump at a shooter like James Young when they run to close out, so that he would actually have to consider altering his shot to shoot over top of the pint sized defense.

  7. Carlos Danger

    Suck It Pitino you big baby.

  8. formerbeatreporter

    Last 5 years have heard various TV and radio folks pronounce JC’s name – today Greg Anthony went with John “cal-uh-par-ee – as in par in golf. Other says “cal-uh-perry.” Why the problem – seems UK’s sports info department would be on that – speaking of which, could have sworn i say my old friend tony neely in the endzone (while watching on TV) – tony is a former UK SID.

  9. Lol@lilbro

    Why aren’t the trolls here talking about how Jones and Smith made the Olsen twins look silly?

    1. RJ

      They’re too busy jerking each other off over Louisville’s performance in the Fischer Price Bowl, then they’ll be delusionally circle-jerking over how Teddy Bridgewater will be coming back next year because he just loves their program so much, while Teddy is already on his way back to campus to pack his shit and leave for the NFL tomorrow.

    2. Daniel

      From what I saw Jones and Smith couldn’t stop the Harrison Twins from getting in the paint twins combining for 40 points…. TAKE THAT LOSS pans

    3. beavis

      And you think Smith looked good ?

  10. Not So Fast

    Cats played much better today. Especially on defense. Let’s not pronounce them cured yet. Press (including KSR) is really bad to use 1 game to write the course of the entire season. Wait until March and then report back.

    1. Lexington 3

      Really? You don’t want anyone to say anything until March?

    2. UKy524

      @Lex 3: It’s not like that’s such a bad idea. I mean lots of UK fans use 1 game to overhype something. Don’t get me wrong, I rather win 1 game a year and lose every other game as long as the 1 win was against UofL, but this win doesn’t mean all of UK’s problems are going to disappear over night. They have a long ways to go before their legit contenders. My hope is that they will be, but I’m not narrow minded enough to use this win as validation for anything other than bragging rights for the next year.

    3. UKy524


    4. grendel007

      I can sort of agree with that, but the Cats needed a good win and they got one.
      Despite the fact that I think UL was over-ranked they were in the top 10 , they finally beat a ranked team. I am hoping this gives a big boost of confidence.
      Now they just need to go on the road and do it

  11. Chaz

    Finally, it’s over. We won. We beat a better than average UL team and would have won going away if we had hit free throws. So? We have a good team that will get so much better by March and April. Let’s support this team and dominate the SEC. It’s fashionable to trash SEC basketball, but really.. Fl is going to win more than a few games in the NCAA tourney, TN may make some noise ,and there are always those teams just under the national radar just because they are from the south. Cal’s got this, let’s enjoy the season. GO CATS!

    footnote: we won, you didn’t, so be quiet.

  12. Jim

    great win, no way though that a team that shoots ft’s this poorly will go that far in March

    1. UKBlue1!

      They improved the transitional defense and turnovers. I’ll take that. They got 2 1/2 months to get the free throws worked out before the tourney.

    2. Daniel

      they were totally beat at the end of the game.. they were gassed from playing Very very hard in just a tough hard fought game… give them a break and be happy

    3. Daniel

      I mean goodness… can they get a break in this one

  13. Willy

    Great to see this team come together & play as a team, the sky is the limit if they buy into this, everyone wins!!!!

  14. mudcreekmark

    Much better defensive effort today. That is what we have to get great at. You can always have a bad shooting game in the tourney but if you play great defense you can still win the game.

  15. Louisville1Cal5

    Love how UofL fans kept saying “Russ arena” leading up to this game lol Russ has NEVER beat UK at Rupp & now never will. Bet that feels amazing to think of as a UofL fan, & by amazing I mean awful 🙂

    1. RJ

      To be fair, he does play really well in Rupp when he’s playing against a division II team or completely hurting his team by being a ball hog.

  16. Cats!!!

    These young cats are finally getting “it” and boy was it fun to watch. This team is going to be scary when they put it all together. Getting ready to have fun BBN on the ride to #9!!!! GO BIG BLUE!!!!

  17. Linebeard

    Just wondering where all of our fans whining about Cal’s system, one and done players, no heart, won’t play zone, etc.? Everythings great now I guess.

    1. Mark

      I was never whining. I did hear U of L fans tell me that if we go to the NIT this year, they would get rid of Cal. Not going to happen. I have even heard that out of know it all fans that think they know more how to coach this team than the coach. His system works when they buy into it. We just beat the dirty birds with mostly freshman… The team is doing fine. We will make a run this year.

  18. CatsClaws

    Has coach Ricky never heard the phrase…I can’t see you I have something in my ear or is it…I can’t hear you I’ve got something in my eye! CATS!

  19. 2mites

    Now if we were like the indiana hooosheers we give the team rings for this game and decorate our homes on Christmas with the final score on loud speakers.

  20. Cj

    I am not really someone who should be entrusted with a child or even an animal.

  21. Justin

    “Its been a long, long time since Kentucky fans had something to really get excited about”… Yeah, that 2012 National Championship trophy is practically an ancient artifact……… Huh?

  22. Bob

    They must have watched Miracle… great _team_ effort today.

  23. Mr.Jagerbomb

    These boys gonna be fine…Last year a distant memory….. GO BIG BLUE

  24. bigblue091812

    If we get FT shooting up to 68-70% and improve this much over the next 8 games and then the next 8 I love our chances in March. BRAIN, you replied to that perfect, what an idiot. And to talk about Egos, Cal has done more for others in one year than what SLICK RICK has done in his whole life, he thinks 15 seconds has a lasting impact. GO CATS, CAL 5-1 AGAINST SLIME BAG SLICK RICK. No more than 4-5 losses going into NCAA’S is at worse a 2 seed, then all the way to Dallas.

  25. Older Wiser

    Dear Mrs. Tyler Thompson, you truly expose your youth and naivety when you make the statement that today’s crowd at Rupp Arena was “…the best it’s ever been.” Perhaps in your limited exposure to UK basketball… There have been numerous other games in Rupp history that easily would trump today’s atmosphere. Yes, it was a great atmosphere today, but when young people make preposterous statements based on their own limited experiences, it’s laughable and telling. Glad you enjoyed today’s game. Hopefully you will get to see more like it. And as you mature as a fan and a writer, you’ll realize how silly that statement was.

    1. duh

      Absolutely…1990 win over LSU (with Shaq, Jackson etc) was deafening…couldn’t hear a word Cawood said on the radio for several minutes.

    2. forty something

      amen brother. Stupid statement. Good crowd and even great crowd. best ever in Rupp, not even top ten. I have been to many games, LSU, Florida, Arkansas, Villanova, Carolina, etc and many more that you couldn’t hear yourself talk. Never once today did i get that. There was a buzz in the air because of UL and Pitino, but noise was not even close to best ever. Great game by Cats and huge win. Lets hope they continue to improve. Go Cats!!

    3. rock

      whadda ya expect from johnny come latelys whove been fans since way back in the MKG days.

  26. The Yam! Center

    Paying off those bonds, one bushel at a time.
    Yams are up to $20 per bushel. At that rate it won’t take any time at all to pay off those bonds!

  27. TJ

    Mrs.TT did state that it was the best atmosphere SHE had experienced in Rupp, not all time.

    1. forty something

      no, she said it was the best it has ever been, and it wasnt even close!!

    2. TheColoradoWildcat


      You are correct. 40/something is taking one phrase of the sentence out of context; if you take the whole sentence as the context, it really is saying that it was the best atmosphere she had ever experienced in Rupp.

      40/something probably considers him/her self to be a grammar “expert:” I would agree with them as the term “expert” broken down is only saying this: ‘ex’ = ‘a has been,’ and ‘spert’ – ‘a little drip under pressure.’

      GO BIG BLUE!

  28. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

    TT, we need photos of the best signs seen in the stands!

  29. Catcounsel

    Mrs. Tjhompson, a wonderful post for Big Blue Nation to comment on! Today we all saw a GREAT team effort by the Wildcats, and that is why they won this game, with or without Julius Randle. The first ranked team Kentucky has beaten this year, and they were #6 at the time! Keep it coming Kentucky, let’s get ready to destroy the SEC in conference play! GO BIG BLUE!!

  30. Mr. Honest
  31. UKy524

    Oh Ricky P, smelling those unwashed stanky fingers…… Ha. Priceless!!!!! #15Seconds

  32. Ben

    I hope we get another chance to beat Louisville at the Yum! Center, before it’s bankrupted and shuttered thanks to Tom Jurich in the near future.

  33. Reality

    I hear people raving about how well the Wildcats played and how this looked like a totally different team. While they did play with much more life and the rebounding was better, I saw many of the same issues that have hurt this team all year. Defense by the guards was poor, free throw shooting horrible, and there were still times on the defensive end and in transition where they just didn’t make the effort. Luckily, Louisville shot poorly, too, making only 23% of 3s and 64% of FTs. Many of their misses were wide open shot that they normally nail. If a few more shots go down for U of L, we’re all still whining about how bad this team sucks and worrying if we’ll make the NCAA tournament.

  34. Jstylz

    I can’t believe no one has said anything about the new flag in the eRUPPtion zone. That thing is big, sexy and all around amazing! Love the 8 stars on it and how KENTUCKY is spelled across it. Should be the standard flag from here out.

  35. UKfan

    YES! omg I so agree with james young, FINALLY a player says it. Ive been a UK fan my entire life folks but ive always known duke fans to be BETTER than kentuckys when it comes to cheering AT home games ( don’t take out of context uk ), our crowd just sits and watches and ooo’s n ahhhs at a dunk or two or gets a little loud during a good run but yesterday the crowd made my hair stand on end I wish id been at that game they was CRAZY james young quote the crowd “should be like that every time.” and that I agree with totally. Rupp is already a hard place to play can you imagine if 22000 stay that loud the entire 40 minutes

  36. bigblue091812

    Being a lifelong diehard UK fan I’m also a college basketball fan. We’ve lost 3 games on the road to top 20 teams by a total of 14pts. We are 100% better than we were game one with the sky the limit on how much better we can get. If we play like we did today and get to 68-70% on FT’s we’re going to be a tough out come NCAA’s. Now we have a long 11 days until the next game, after the win over LOSERVILLE it will seem like the off season of some of us. But as I mentioned earlier being a college BB fan I’ve seen all top 25 teams play at least once this year and I like our chances in March againt anyone. I hope we get to play UNC, MSU and Baylor again, don’t think we’ll get another shot at LOSERVILLE as they’ll be out in the secound round. GO CATS

  37. Joe Derringer

    cj clearly knows nothing about Calipari. Calipari gets good players because he treats his players like his own children. They learn a lot more than basketball when they come to Kentucky, and Calipari does his best to insure they leave KY a success in every facet of life. To say he cheats is pretty ignorant when you consider that he has never ever been accused of any violations by the NCAA, much less being found guilty, yet ignorant twerps like cj just keep coming out of the wood work. However, Calipari will remain a great coach and cj will remain an ignorant whiner.


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