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Basketball Season Coverage

via UK Athletics

Get your calendars ready! A timeline of Saturday’s activities:

via UK Athletics

Saturday’s agenda is packed for the biggest SEC matchup of the season: No. 1 Tennessee at No. 5 Kentucky. The two teams are set to tip-off at 8 p.m., but there’s plenty of action before then. Here’s how you can pass the time:

9:30 a.m. – Memorial Coliseum doors open for College GameDay. Admission is free! Here’s parking info from our friends at UK Athletics:

11:00 a.m. – College GameDay officially begins at Memorial Coliseum and lasts until noon.

11:00 a.m – KSBar & Grille opens their doors. There will be plenty of food and drink specials (and a surprise or two) before the game.

2:00 p.m. – Kentucky student lineup begins for game seating outside of Rupp Arena.

5:30 p.m. – Kentucky Sports Radio pregame radio show begins.

6:30 p.m. –  Rupp Arena doors open to the public.

8:00 p.m. – Tip-off.

KSBar & Grille will also remain open after the game… And yes, it will be more fun if the Cats win.


And here’s how you can watch and/or listen to all of the action:

TV: ESPN. The game will be commentated by Jay Bilas, Dan Shulman and Maria Taylor.

Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington. You can also stream it online at UKAthletics.com.


Kentucky opens as the favorite over Tennessee

The line is out for tomorrow’s game and Kentucky opened as a three-point favorite over the No. 1 team in college basketball. The total on the game is 146.5.

Kentucky’s seven-game streak of covering the spread was snapped in Starkville last Saturday with a push, then came an overall loss as a nine-point favorite in Tuesday night’s game against LSU. Will the Cats get back to their covering ways tomorrow night? If they do, we’re in for a fun evening.

Good luck to everyone.


Calipari Believes UK Needed to “Get Rocked” by LSU

Immediately after Tuesday’s home loss to LSU, John Calipari was disappointed in the outcome.  Two hours later he sent his players a different message.

It’s tough losing, but we needed this,” he told his team in a text message.

“People were moving in the wrong direction and not listening to what we were saying.  I said it’s not only our team.  We went from the best defensive team in the country to giving up layups.  How does this happen?  To giving up baskets, to not rebounding — We’re playing a half, and in the second half not playing.  How does that happen?

“Most of it’s mental and most of it becomes what I talked about eight, nine days ago: there becomes an arrogance when you’re winning.  We kind of got away from what makes us good, including individual players.  Hopefully that’s a great lesson going into this game.  I hate losing, but if you need to get rocked, then so be it.”

Kentucky looked like one of the most dominant teams in the country in the first half at Mississippi State and in the second half at Florida.  Even though they were far from perfect for significant portions of those games, Kentucky was still good enough to win.  That didn’t cut it against a good LSU team.

“I saw it coming,” Calipari said at Friday’s press conference.  “I think you almost have to get knocked in the mouth and take a loss.”

After taking an eight-point lead into the halftime locker room, LSU knocked Kentucky in the mouth to start the second half.  Despite that setback, he believes his team can turn it around after fighting for a win in the final minutes.

“There is a lot of growth left in us and a lot of it’s a confidence that if you’re going to be one of the last teams standing, you have a confidence. I loved how we finished the game against LSU. We finished with confidence.  You can’t only be confident when you’re desperate.  You gotta play that way and young teams, it takes time.”

To beat the No. 1 team in America, Calipari’s players must respond to LSU’s punch with urgency and confidence for 40 minutes.


LIVE: John Calipari previews Tennessee

John Calipari is about to meet with reporters to preview tomorrow’s big game vs. Tennessee. Watch live courtesy of KyWildcatsTV, or check the site shortly after for a full recap:


All four ESPN experts pick Tennessee to beat Kentucky

All four ESPN experts pick Tennessee to beat Kentucky

© Kim Klement | USATSI

Tennessee will come into Rupp Arena as the No. 1 team in the country tomorrow night, and if you listen to ESPN’s panel of experts, they’ll leave with a win. All four of ESPN’s college basketball writers picked the Vols to beat Kentucky in their predictions for the weekend:

“Give me Tennessee on the road,” Jeff Borzello writes. “I think the Volunteers will pose too many issues for Kentucky with Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, as PJ Washington can guard only one of them. I also think Tennessee offers a little bit more from the perimeter — which could be the difference in a game where both teams prefer to live in the paint.”

“I suspect, however, that LSU just showed the blueprint for how to score points against UK at Rupp,” adds John Gasaway. “Basically, the cheat code here is normal shooting (which against Kentucky is outstanding) plus zero turnovers and an offensive board on one in every three shots you miss. The Vols are eminently capable of checking all of those boxes.”

That’s cool. I like this team better when people pick against them. Read the rest of the predictions at the link below.

[ESPN]


SEC lobbying for replay on game-ending situations after no-call in Kentucky/LSU game

After officials missed LSU’s basket interference on the game-winning tip-in and were unable to review it per NCAA rules, the SEC is doing its part to make sure it doesn’t happen again. According to Kyle Tucker, the SEC will lobby for instant replay in game-ending situations, such as goaltending and basket interference; in fact, they’ve already talked to the NCAA about it.

As John Calipari said on Tuesday night, it looks like Kentucky being screwed over is going to lead to another rule change.

“It’s another one — do you remember we lost in the Final Four when there was a goal, a shot clock violation and they said it was not reviewable and then they changed the rule to say, why would you want to lose a game on a shot clock violation and it’s easy to go check? Well, this one easy to go check, too. Just go check it. Why would you not — why would that not be reviewable? So we’re like Wilt Chamberlain; we change rules. I don’t know.”

[The Athletic]


There’s an LSU t-shirt commemorating “The Tip”

There’s an LSU t-shirt commemorating “The Tip”

Look at LSU taking a page out of Indiana’s book. Breaking T is selling a t-shirt commemorating “The Tip,” aka Kavall Bigby-Williams’ controversial tip-in at the end of the Kentucky/LSU game. You know, the one that should have been called basket interference but the refs weren’t allowed to review it on replay, so LSU won.

“The shot missed, but the tip was good! Sorry Lexington,” the item’s description reads.

Here, Breaking T, let me fix that for you:

Knocking off No. 5 Kentucky in Rupp is definitely something to be proud of, but to make a t-shirt about a basket that should have been waved off? C’mon, Tigers. At least Christian Watford’s shot was legal.

H/t John Clay


Lessons learned from last year’s games vs. Tennessee

Lessons learned from last year’s games vs. Tennessee

One of Tennessee’s biggest strengths is experience. With a plethora of upperclassmen, this Volunteers squad is practically a carbon copy of the one Kentucky faced three times last season, but with another year of growth and maturity.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what happened in those three games to determine Kentucky’s best strategy for Saturday.

January 6: No. 23 Tennessee 76, No. 17 Kentucky 65 (Knoxville)

Several Kentucky players were battling the flu, PJ Washington went down with cramps, and the refs were terrible. Excuses aside, the Cats got whipped, with Kevin Knox turning in one of the worst games of his Kentucky career.

KEY FACTOR: PJ Washington exiting the game with cramps. Before going to the locker room with 12 minutes left, PJ had 13 points and was winning his matchup with Grant Williams. Once PJ was out, Williams took over, scoring 16 of his 18 points in the second half. Afterwards, Williams admitted that PJ was in his head.

“He shut me down in the first half,” Williams said. “I’ll give it to him. He was in my head a little bit. I think the cramps hurt their team a lot. Just the fact they were playing with so much confidence when he was in the game.”

QUOTES: “They out toughed us,” Caliapri said. “They just threw us around. It was embarrassing. As soon as we had PJ out of the game, we had no shot of winning…When PJ went down, they saw a wounded animal and went right at them. We were literally standing with cheerleaders on a bunch of shots. ”


February 6: No. 15 Tennessee 61, No. 24 Kentucky 59 (Lexington)

Costly turnovers by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander resulted in a clutch three by Lamont Turner with 26 seconds left and the game-winning dunk by Admiral Schofield with four seconds left, the latter a cruel twist of the knife in what was an epic collapse by Kentucky.

KEY FACTOR: There were plenty of reasons Kentucky lost — Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, and Hamidou Diallo didn’t play well — but what people will remember most is Calipari’s decision NOT to call a timeout to set up a play in the final seconds. As a result, chaos ensued and the Cats took an L at Rupp.

QUOTES: “I make mistakes at the end and cost them the game,” Calipari said. “But I should have called a timeout. I don’t ever like to in those situations, but this is a different team. This team is too young. They’re just too young to know that what’s there and if they get in trouble just call a timeout.”


March 11: Kentucky 77, No. 13 Tennessee 72 (SEC Championship, St. Louis)

Unlike his last meeting with the Vols, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander shined, finishing with 29 points and SEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Similarly, Kevin Knox played much better, turning in 18 points, including three threes. Kentucky led by as many as 17 in the first half, but Admiral Schofield brought Tennessee back into it, leading a 15-3 run to bring the Vols within five at half. From there, it was a back and forth battle, but Shai’s free throws with 2.4 seconds left clinched the victory.

KEY FACTOR: Shai. After costing the Cats in the last game vs. Tennessee, Shai took over this time around, hitting clutch bucket after clutch bucket to drag Kentucky to the win.

Also big: three-point shooting. Kentucky was 7-16 (43.8 percent) from behind the arc vs. 3-14 (21.4 percent) in Rupp a month prior. And any discussion of this game is incomplete without the clip of Sacha Killeya-Jones’ dunk:

QUOTES: “I think right now he’s playing his best basketball because he’s one of our leaders,” Kevin Knox said of Shai. He knows he’s getting better with the decision-making. Late in the game, he made some huge plays, knocked down some free throws, and found people. He’s also doing it on the defensive end. He’s really good defensively, and he’s playing really well right now.”


So, what lessons did we learn from last season about this Tennessee team?

  • PJ is capable of shutting Grant Williams down
  • Can’t get bullied in the post (paging Reid Travis)
  • Call the timeout if you need to, Cal
  • Hit threes
  • Strong guard play is key
  • Random dunks by big men off the bench are good omens

We got this.