The final score doesn’t reflect it, but there were times in this game that it seemed →
Basketball Season Coverage
By Matt Jones on ©January 22nd, 2017 @ 11:00pm
Are we among friends now? Yes, good. Let’s be honest about something. Besides our beloved Kentucky Wildcats, it is beyond clear by now that SEC Basketball sucks. This year may be the worst year for the conference basketball-wise in history and every night seems to produce some result just a bit more embarrassing than the one before. Whether it is the painful non-conference losses, the alleged 2nd best team in the league taking a home loss to below .500 Vanderbilt or the most egregiously horrendous officiating of my lifetime, SEC Basketball has been a royal train wreck all season long. Thankfully for the SEC, Kentucky and more importantly the Big Blue Nation, exist to break the ubiquitous depression of SEC Basketball with actual excitement and top-level play. Without Kentucky, the SEC is the Atlantic 10 (or worse) and without the BBN, the overall average crowd attendance of league games would likely barely hover above that of your favorite 14th Region High School game. The SEC is a basketball wasteland and one would think the league would thank its lucky stars that UK and the BBN still throw a life preserver to its mediocrity.
However, that seems not to be the case. This weekend’s UK victory over South Carolina produced a view good video moments…Derek Willis had a dunk for the ages, SKJ had a reaction that can create 1,000 memes and Brad Calipari pinched Tai Wynyard’s nipple…all moments that bind us as fans. We posted them here on this site and I retweeted various fan postings of the moments from TV in short clips on my Twitter account. UK/SEC was able to get good (as opposed to normal horrendous) publicity and UK fans were able to share the best moments from an otherwise normal 20 point win. However this evening I received the response you see below from Twitter, as the SEC forced Twitter to take down all of my tweets showing any footage from the UK game. As you can see, the SEC claims ownership of all footage and wants to be the only entity to share it in any form online. (“ALL BRAD CALIPARI NIPPLE PINCHES ARE OURS!”) My tweets were removed and it looks as if they are gone to the dustbin of history, ensuring that the fans that consume the product the most cannot see their favorite moments from a big Rupp Arena home win.
It has seemed in recent weeks that the SEC has stepped up enforcement of its alleged copyright over UK games quite a bit. Our show “Hey Kentucky” was told to no longer showcase what we refer to as “B Roll” highlights from UK games on any presentation of our TV show online, even when that footage has been shot by our own photographers at the game. When we reached out to the SEC, they were increasing enforcement across the board, although as far as I have seen, we have been the only entity that has received such notices. Now this is apparently extending into the social media sphere as well, and it looks to be the policy of the league going forward.
I could go on and on about what a shortsighted, stupid policy the SEC’s current strategy is going forward. No one except UK fans cares about SEC basketball footage and to take it away from UK fans online seems ridiculous. The NBA, NFL and all other conferences have allowed social media sharing to go on and have given quotes saying they believe it helps their product. They are correct. That publicity and sharing helps their best plays get seen by more people, which only makes people want to watch the games more. The SEC Basketball powers that be showcase that the same level of competence they have put into fielding competitive basketball programs extends to their media expertise as well by going in the opposite direction. Going forward it looks as if the league is taking one of these two positions. They are either:
1. Beginning a crackdown of all social media sharing of highlights, first by going after media and then fans or
2. Beginning a crackdown of all KSR-affiliated sharing of highlights, first by TV and social media and later everything else as well
The latter scenario seems a little far-fetched, but I can’t completely dismiss it. Since I started the “Hey Kentucky” TV show, the official media partner of UK (JMI) has cut us out of all of their broadcasts and pressured our people with relationships with the company to no longer work with them. I can’t imagine the SEC would care enough to have a similar policy, but as of yet it seems it has only been our highlights that have been cracked down upon. Absent any more evidence, I will assume we are just the most notable media entity and this isn’t selective enforcement based on pettiness. Surely the league would be better than that.
The more likely scenario is the second. The SEC simply is cutting off its nose to spite its face. Under the guise of “protecting copyright”, they are choosing to limit the sharing of their already mediocre product and keep it from the one group of people that actually like it the most, UK fans. Rather than spend energy and resources in promoting and making what is positive about the league (UK) more visible, they would rather make their product value diminish by hiding it and keeping the best moments in as few of their (owned) resources as possible. While this may be legally valid (fair use applies but my guess is there is some addition to our credential application…which functions as a contract of sorts…that allows them to double down on their suspect business decisions with the self-delusion of legal superiority), it is another example of the league having little clue as to how to market its weakest sport in the new modern media age. SEC Basketball somehow finds a way to be the big loser, even when it wins.
Below is the notice we received from Twitter…nice job SEC…you own the Brad Calipari titty twister for all time. Use it wisely.
The following material has been removed from your account in response to the DMCA takedown notice copied at
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Tweet: https://twitter.com/kysportsradio/status/822964904881754113 – Derek creates a Poster! RT @Scott_Charlton: #BBN https://t.co/jzkhYqPWoQ
Tweet: https://twitter.com/kysportsradio/status/822974680684437504 – Brad with the Nipple pinch on Tai RT @BluegrassHunter: @KySportsRadio https://t.co/fxA4VR3hd6
Tweet: https://twitter.com/kysportsradio/status/822965860902047744 – What did you say SKJ? RT @hunnner: @KySportsRadio https://t.co/ZaUCloTM9c
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It is easy to make the argument that out of all Kentucky basketball players, Derek Willis has received the most criticism this season. Starting with his arrest months before the beginning of the season, his struggles on the defensive end of the court and a surprising shooting slump to start the season.
However, over the past five games, Willis and Wenyen Gabriel have both been the saving grace for the Cats. The biggest change for Willis has been his three-point percentage.
According to CoachCal.com, in the first 14 games of the season, Willis shot just 31.8 percent, 14 of 44 from behind the line. The last five? Willis went seven of 12 for 58.3 percent from three.
Both Willis and Gabriel have begun to knock down shots when the Cats need them to, but they have also stepped it up on the other end of the court.
In the Cats’ win over Auburn, Gabriel pulled down 16 rebounds, the most of any player in the Cal era in SEC play. And then against South Carolina last night, Willis led the team with seven rebounds, stepping up when the Cats were getting almost no help from their guards.
Oh, and who can forget about this?
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 22, 2017
It was good enough to earn him a shout out from my pastor in church this morning, gotta love Bullitt County.
ESPN announced yesterday that College Gameday would fittingly be back at Rupp Arena on Saturday for Kentucky and Kansas and afterwards, Seth Greenberg issued the Big Blue Nation a challenge: Show up.
— Seth Greenberg (@SethOnHoops) January 22, 2017
Historically, Kentucky fans show up anytime they are asked to. The proof is in the pudding:
Kentucky vs. Tennessee in 2014
Kentucky vs. Tennessee in 2010
The last time College Gameday was at a Kentucky game was last year when the Cats traveled to Kansas which led to these signs:
So, BBN, its up to you all to fill up Rupp on Saturday.
Last year, as reported in this space, Lexington’s own globally-recognized personal trainer Josh Bowen led a 24-hour fitness-a-thon that raised nearly $22,000 for the extraordinary local charity, Surgery on Sunday (funding 71 surgeries for local working families).
This year, everything’s bigger and better. In this Trumpian era, Bowen has transformed himself into “Buff Gandhi,” a muscle-man with a compassionate agenda. His goal this year is grander: to raise more than $30,000 – and pay for 100 surgeries. And he’s bringing out the big guns to help ramp up the sweating and the money-raising: BBN’s king this week urged his Facebook friends to join in the fun:
If you are like me, and follow all of Coach Cal’s direct orders, click here to sign up, donate to a most worthy cause, and join Buff Gandhi and crew this weekend for an important and fun event.
Still need some convincing? I interview Buff Gandhi below to better understand his motivations, and to provide a preview of Sweat for Surgeries 2.0:
Razorback fan takes ad out of local Arkansas paper in an effort to oust Bret Bielema and Mike Anderson
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 22nd, 2017 @ 5:00pm
In yet another saga of bizarre happenings in the world of SEC sports, this guy from Arkansas wants football coach Bret Bielema and basketball coach Mike Anderson gone, effective immediately.
A die-hard Razorback fan has apparently had enough of the “lack of competitiveness” of Arkansas athletics, and is demanding change… through a local newspaper ad.
He directed all fans to email Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to put a stop to the program’s “never ending spending that permeates throughout the athletics department.”
Arkansas pays Athletic Director Jeff Long, Bielema and Anderson roughly $8 million combined a year.
Check out the ad below:
Oh, Razorbacks… Never change.
Malik Monk’s 27 points last night set the school record for most points scored by a freshman against an SEC opponent ranked in the AP Top 25 pic.twitter.com/PyA4CnTLKq
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 22, 2017
With all of the freshmen that’s played in the John Calipari era, it’s hard to believe that one has never scored 24+ points in a big SEC game. Last night, Malik Monk put his name in the school’s record books again.
This time, it’s for Monk’s 27 points against #24 South Carolina, making him the highest scoring Freshman against a top-25 SEC opponent in school history.
With De’Aaron Fox going out of the game, it definitely changed how the offense operated. Monk credited teammate Isaiah Briscoe for helping him to get his shots, even when it meant sacrificing Briscoe’s opportunities:
“He gave up his scoring abilities to get me the ball. That’s a great leader because he didn’t have to do that. He’s a great teammate.”
What did Monk say about not having De’Aaron Fox on the court?
“The game changed a lot, because he changes the game as soon as he comes in and as soon as he comes out. We had to adjust real fast and hopefully he’s well. Fox is a leader and brings energy. We’ve never had to really play without him, so without him we had to figure out what to do.”
Luckily, Dominique Hawkins was there to pick up the slack, helping Kentucky to stay ahead of South Carolina:
“Dom always steps up. Whenever we need something, that’s who we count on, so he’s great to have on the team.”
There’s a good possibility that Monk could break his own record again, as long as other top SEC teams are nationally ranked.
RECAP: De’Aaron Fox went down with an injury, but Kentucky still beat the nation’s number one defense by 16
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 21st, 2017 @ 10:15pm
The final score doesn’t reflect it, but there were times in this game that it seemed Kentucky was in serious danger. De’Aaron Fox turned his ankle about eight minutes in and had to go to the locker room, only to return in a boot and crutches. Without Fox at the helm, Kentucky had a bit of a go to pieces, letting South Carolina narrow the lead to three. Thankfully, a host of role players stepped up and propelled Kentucky to an 85-69 win over the Gamecocks, which is pretty encouraging when you consider the Cats played without their star point guard for 32 minutes and still beat the most efficient defense in the country by 16.
Let’s break it down, starting with De’Aaron Fox’s injury…
How long will Fox be out?
At first, it didn’t seem like Fox’s injury was too bad. He turned his ankle and went to the bench to switch to high tops, and after coming back in for a moment, went to the locker room. He returned later on crutches wearing a boot, but seemed in good spirits. How long will he be out?
“I think it might’ve been a stinger, I don’t know. But something hit his ankle,” Cal said after the game. “He is in a boot but they said there is no swelling, so I don’t know.”
Hopefully, Fox is back by the Kansas game, because without him, Kentucky looked a bit rudderless. After Briscoe struggled at point, Calipari turned to Dominique Hawkins, who filled in ably, scoring five points and dishing out a game-high seven assists to only two turnovers. With Mychal Mulder also out due to an illness, Dominique more than answered the call.
“Dom was terrific,” Cal said. “Kenny Payne just said, ‘Put Dom at point’ because Dom plays point every day in practice against De’Aaron Fox. Every day. So Dom looked fine. Again, Dom had seven assist and only two turn(overs) and one was late when none of the other guys could get open for him, so he did fine.”
Simply put, Dom was stellar, and if Fox is going to be out for multiple games, Kentucky will need more of that because…
Isaiah Briscoe had zero points
The most surprising stat line of the night belonged to Isaiah Briscoe, who had zero points, SEVEN turnovers, and only four assists. Calipari and Briscoe yelled at each other throughout the game, and when South Carolina narrowed the lead to five at the start of the second half, Calipari called a timeout to yap at Briscoe some more.
“I just told him, ‘You’ve got one minute to get it going or you’re out and I’ll go without you because you’re not doing this.’ ‘I’m okay, I’m okay.’ ‘Alright you’ve got one minute if you’re okay to play then I’m going without you.’ Then I put Dom at point guard and he played like he didn’t have every second on his shoulder. And he started making plays and coming up with balls.”
Cal was clearly frustrated with Briscoe, and came back to his performance later on.
“He had no points today. Come on. He backs into points. He had nothing today. That’s okay. We still won and he was happy as heck in there, but there’s a concern for him. Now it’s like, come on, I know I’m better than this. The kid had seven turnovers. What? Seven turnovers. And he’s not the kind of kid that does that. Not the kind of player.”
Frank Martin agreed that Briscoe running the point made Kentucky more vulnerable.
“With Briscoe, I think what hurt him too was he moved to point guard in the second half and he wasn’t off the ball, where he’s more in attack mode, but he made plays for them,” Martin said. “Seems to me he’s the backbone of that basketball team. He’s the guy that makes everyone go.”
Derek had the dunk of the night
Shoutout to the seniors for their leadership tonight. Like Dom, Derek Willis also stepped up, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds; those may not sound like flashy numbers, but Derek made some crucial plays tonight, including a huge three when South Carolina cut the lead to three in the first half and a massive dunk in the second half that got everyone in the arena on their feet.
Can we get a replay of the bench’s reaction, please?
— Dave Scott (@Finna_Go_HAM) January 22, 2017
Same, Sacha. Same.
Wenyen Gabriel turned in his third straight impressive performance
For the third game in a row, Wenyen looked like a different player, putting up 11 points, five rebounds, two assists, a block, a steal, and no turnovers in 27 minutes. Wenyen was 3-8 from the three-point line, and although his shot fell off in the second half and he had a few “freshmen moments,” he did all the stuff that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet as well. With he and Derek playing this well, the four spot suddenly went from Kentucky’s weakest position to a pretty sound one. Cal agreed.
“I thought that Derek and Wenyen, again, they’re just giving us so much now. 23 points, 12 rebounds at that position. Making threes, making open shots. Rebounding balls. They had 23 points combined, 12 rebounds out of that position.”
Malik and Bam led the team in scoring
It says a lot about Malik Monk that he scored 27 points and I’m just now getting to him in the recap. He and Bam led the team in scoring with 27 and 18 a piece, and Calipari implied that he wants Bam to be more demanding in the post to get more touches from his guards.
“I told Bam after the game, you’re too nice. I said I would strangle a couple of these guys that aren’t throwing you the ball. If I was you, I would. You’re so nice, you don’t say anything. And we’re throwing him the ball, but it’s like it’s forced. It shouldn’t be forced, he’s that good. I even said, is he selfish? They said, no, he’s not selfish. Well, then throw him the ball. And if he’s double teamed he gives it back to you.”
When Bam’s 5-6 from the floor, it’s hard to argue with that.
How about that prediction, Seth Davis?
I don’t like to shove crow down people’s throats, but we have to give Seth Davis a little grief tonight. Yesterday, Davis predicted that Kentucky would lose to South Carolina and only score 61 points. Predictably, Kentucky surpassed that mark with almost thirteen minutes left in the game. Granted, South Carolina wasn’t firing on cylinders. Not only were they without starting guard PJ Dozier, the flu bug apparently was going around, making the nation’s number one defense look even weaker. Yet, it’s also worth pointing out that Kentucky was without De’Aaron Fox for 32 minutes, Mychal Mulder the entire game, got zero points from Briscoe, and still beat the second best team in the league by sixteen. Not a bad night in the least.
Finally, congrats to Mitch Barnhart on the birth of his new grandson
UK’s athletic director welcomed a new grandson into his family tonight, Reece Mitchell Willoughby. This is the second child for Mitch’s daughter Kirby and her husband McKenzie, and big brother Cooper looks especially proud in this picture. In a true sign that he’s a Kentucky fan, Reece was considerate enough to wait until halftime to come into the world. Also, I’m pretty sure that’s the beginning stages of a three goggle.
Kentucky lost De’Aaron Fox to a right ankle injury in the first half and his absence was very noticeable on the offensive end.
After the game, John Calipari said the extent of the injury and Fox’s longterm status are still uncertain.
“He is in a boot but they said there is no swelling, so I don’t know,” were Cal’s exact words.
Say the injury is a significant one (and Lord please don’t let that be the case), don’t get too excited for a Hamidou Diallo sighting. Diallo has impressed in the handful of practices he has been a part of, Cal said, but, “he is not in the mix.”
Get better, De’Aaron — preferably before January 28.
By Drew Franklin on ©January 21st, 2017 @ 8:31pm
I don’t know what that South Carolina player said about Bullitt County, but he learned his lesson the hard way.
Rest in peace.
South Carolina came into Rupp Arena on Saturday with first place in the SEC on the line, only to be given a 16-point loss by your University of Kentucky Wildcats.
Kentucky was without De’Aaron Fox for most of the game, but the offense still managed to score 85 points on KenPom’s No. 1 defense. Malik Monk led the way with 27, followed by Bam Adebayo’s 18.
Fox’s status is TBD.