Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

Basketball

Basketball Season Coverage

At The Half: Kentucky 37, South Carolina 34

At The Half: Kentucky 37, South Carolina 34

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Hello, Jarred Vanderbilt.

 


UK vs. South Carolina LIVE BLOG

Want to advertise your product or company on KSR? KSR is now looking for sponsors for the live blog for the remainder of the 2017-18 basketball season. If you’re interested, please email ksrads@kentuckysportsradio.com.

Live Blog UK vs. South Carolina LIVE BLOG
 


Kentucky will play its third game without Quade Green

Kentucky will have to face South Carolina without Quade Green tonight, the third game in a row the freshman point guard has had to miss due to back problems.

According to @KentuckyMBB, Green, Tai Wynyard (back), and Jemarl Baker (knee) stayed in Lexington to “continue getting treatment and stay on top of academics.” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has performed admirably in Green’s absence, running the point and playing 39 minutes in each of the last two games. Hopefully he’s up to the task again tonight.

For what it’s worth, Kentucky’s tweet made no reference to Jarred Vanderbilt, who is reportedly warming up with the team in Columbia. As always, stay tuned…


10 Things To Know About The South Carolina Gamecocks

10 Things To Know About The South Carolina Gamecocks

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky will do battle in South Carolina tonight against a Gamecock team coming off a huge win on the road at Georgia. Frank Martin’s team is now 2-3 in SEC play and 11-6 overall, and looking to grab a second straight resume-building win tonight against your University of Kentucky Wildcats.

But before the ball is tipped in the electric Colonial Life Arena, you need to know these 10 things about the Gamecocks…

 

1. South Carolina has only lost once at home.

Missouri is the only team to take down the Gamecocks on their own court this season. The other losses came at Alabama, Ole Miss and Clemson, and on a neutral site to Illinois State and Temple.

2. South Carolina is undefeated when it scores 70 or more points.

A perfect 10-0 this year when hitting the 70-point mark.

3. The Gamecocks are ranked second in the SEC in scoring defense.

South Carolina’s strength is its defense, which ranks second in the SEC and 33rd nationally, as opponents average just 65.1 points per game. Nine opponents have been held below 65 points so far this season, including Georgia this past Saturday.

4. Chris Silva is the team’s leading scorer.

South Carolina’s best weapon is its sophomore forward, Chris Silva, who is averaging 14.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. His numbers are even better when limited to SEC play as he has scored an average of 17.8 points in the five league games. Contain him and Kentucky will likely escape with a victory.

5. Chris Silva takes a lot of trips to the line.

Many of Silva’s team-leading points come from the charity stripe. He goes to the line over 10 times per game and ranks eighth nationally in free throw attempts.

He is hitting over 75 percent of those attempts this season.

6. They’re going to try to “rough it up.”

Kentucky’s toughness will be challenged tonight. “They’re really physical. They’re going to try to rough us up,” UK assistant coach Kenny Payne said yesterday. “First of all on rebounding, who’s hitting who first? Are they hitting you? Are they attacking you? Are they pushing you under the basket? Well, if that’s happening then they’re going to get offensive rebounds. Second thing is defensively, they’re going to try to take you out of offense. They’re going to try to rough you up off screens. They’re going to try to get up inside of you when you’re handling the ball. They’re going to deny passes. They’re going to play physical.”

Payne noted this could be a tough game for Kevin Knox because he tends to shy away from contact.

7. Louisville’s $100K recruit is on the team.

I wonder if he’ll be on the bench tonight.

8. Frank Martin thinks Kentucky is missing veteran leadership, which is true.

During his Monday press conference, Frank Martin said Kentucky has “go-to guys,” but lacks upperclassmen. He named Isaiah Briscoe and Tyler Ulis as two leaders from Kentucky’s past. He also mentioned “that one guy who got all the offensive rebounds and transferred to Washington,” referring to Marcus Lee, who transferred to California. Same thing.

9. South Carolina has only beaten Kentucky twice during the John Calipari era.

The first one came after the undefeated 2009-10 team took a call from the president prior to the game. (Thanks a lot, Obama.)

Kentucky lost again at South Carolina in 2013-14.

10. Ken Pom predicts the Gamecocks will lose a close one.

It’ll be a 71-68 victory for the Cats, according to Ken Pom’s magical sabermetrics machine. If that prediction holds true, we’ll be more than happy with the outcome.


Pregame Scouting: South Carolina Gamecocks

Pregame Scouting: South Carolina Gamecocks

Over the weekend, the Kentucky Wildcats picked up a second consecutive win as they came out of Nashville with a W over the Commodores from Vanderbilt. It is looking like the Cats will have to pick up another short-handed road win tonight as they travel to Columbia to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks.

After the improbable Final Four run last season, Frank Martin’s Gamecocks have settled back to about where they were last season before the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina is sitting at 11-6 on the season and 2-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Their best win was their most recent, as they won at Georgia, but have dropped games to Illinois State and Temple.

South Carolina recently switched up the starting lineup, putting two new guards in the starting lineup. Let’s take a look at Frank Martin’s projected starters for tonight’s game.


#30 Chris Silva, Junior Forward, 6’9″

Chris Silva returns as a junior this year after starting all 37 games last season for the Gamecocks. The Libreville, Gabon native wasn’t counted on to shoulder the load a ton last season, with Sindarius Thornwell and PJ Dozier leading the team. But now that Thornwell and Dozier have moved on, Silva has stepped into the leading role.

The junior has filled in the hole left by the two leaving forwards from last season’s squad. Silva currently leads the team in points at 14.2, rebounds at 7.9, and blocks at 1.3. He has the ability to step away and hit a jump shot, but has attempted just 10 threes on the season. He’s shooting 76.4% from the free throw line, which is the highest percentage on the team.

Silva plays a bit of a stretch four for the Gamecocks, as he has the ability to run the floor despite his size at 6’9″. His counterpart, PJ Washington, has been playing really well as of late for the Wildcats. The match up between the two players at the power forward position might be one of the more important ones in regards to the effect it will have on the outcome of game.

#21 Maik Kotsar, Sophomore Forward, 6’10”

Maik Kotsar was a full-time starter last season as a true freshman and has continued in that role this season. Similar to Silva, Kotsar was thrust into a bigger role this year after playing second fiddle through the Final Four run last season. Born in Tallinn, Estonia, Kotsar has started every game so far this season for the Gamecocks.

The sophomore is a solid defensive player and is a strong presence in the paint. Averaging 8.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 steals, and .8 blocks per game, Kotsar is the blue-collar player that Frank Martin is looking for in the post. He’s a back to the basket post player, and isn’t a strong shooter from the perimeter. He’s shooting a shockingly low 42.9% from the free throw line on the season, which is somehow an improvement from the 39.6% he shot last season.

Measuring in at 6’10” and 260 pounds, Kotsar’s ability to muscle people around in the paint could cause issues for the likes of a struggling Nick Richards. However, on top of that, the athleticism of both Richards and Sacha Killeya-Jones is superior to Kotsar. The Wildcats need Richards to be more than a ghost on the glass and on defensive end for them to be able to survive in the second half of this season.

#10 Justin Minaya, Freshman Forward, 6’5″

Justin Minaya has started all 17 games this season for Frank Martin, despite being a true freshman. A three star prospect out of Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan in New Jersey, Minaya chose the Gamecocks over Illinois, Boston University, and UNC-Wilmington.

South Carolina is very balanced this season, and Minaya falls right into the fold. He’s currently averaging 8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per contest. He’s a work in progress on the offensive side though, shooting just 38.7% from the field, 37% from three, and 63.9% from the free throw line.

Defensively, Minaya will have to match up with fellow freshman Kevin Knox for Kentucky. Knox is much taller than Minaya and has been working on scoring in the paint rather than the perimeter. Knox’s ability to continue scoring off the bounce and at the rim should be huge for Kentucky tonight.

#15 Wesley Myers, Senior Guard, 6’1″

Wesley Myers is in his first season at South Carolina, using the graduate transfer rule to give Frank Martin some experience in the back court this year. Myers spent last season at Maine and the two seasons before that at Niagara. He was one of the top scorers in the America East Conference last year at 16.9 points per game.

If Myers starts tonight, it will be only his sixth start of the season, so his numbers aren’t exactly huge at the moment. He’s averaging 6.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists on the year. However, starting in the last four games, Myers is averaging 12 points, almost double his average on the year. Myers has made 9 of 27 threes on the year and 62% of his free throws.

Starting at the point guard position, Myers isn’t exactly a pass-first player. With Quade Green nursing a back injury, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be stuck shouldering the load of a ton of minutes and pressure as the only healthy point guard on the team. Gilgeous-Alexander has been incredible in SEC play, and just yesterday was awarded the SEC Freshman of the Week award. Myers is the one that could have his hands full here, as he gives up 5 inches in this match up.

#23 Evan Hinson, Sophomore Guard, 6’4″

Evan Hinson has only played in seven games this season, and just recently was inserted into the starting lineup. The sophomore guard is actually a two-sport athlete for South Carolina, as he plays tight end for the football team, only giving him half a basketball season to play. He played in 12 of the 13 games this season for the Gamecock football team.

Hinson is just now starting to see his minutes increase, but his statistics haven’t shown much improvement. He’s averaging just 3.4 points and 1.4 rebounds through seven games. He’s hit 2 of the 5 threes he’s attempted and 8 of the 11 free throws. Hinson’s game is still relatively unknown as he never played more than 5 minutes in a game last year.

Despite only being 6’4″, Hinson weighs in at 240 pounds, which gives him a 42 pound weight advantage over Kentucky starting shooting guard Hamidou Diallo. Hinson may be able to body Diallo, but Diallo’s speed and athleticism should be an issue for Hinson. Physicality can only work if you can do it without fouling and I’m not sure Hinson can keep Hami in front of him without using his hands and picking up fouls. If Diallo plays this match up correctly, he should be able to eat all night.


Go Cats. Beat Cocks.

@BrettBibbinsKSR


WATCH: John Calipari nails halfcourt shot at shootaround

WATCH: John Calipari nails halfcourt shot at shootaround

How is John Calipari feeling about tonight’s game at South Carolina? Judging by this video I’m about to show you, pretty good.

Calipari made the traditional halfcourt shot at the end of today’s shootaround at Colonial Life Arena, the first one he’s made on a game day during his time at Kentucky.

Current and former players were impressed:

Cats by 90?


Kentucky at West Virginia tip time set

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Cats’ trip to Morgantown on January 27 for the Big 12 SEC Challenge will be a primetime affair. Kentucky just announced that the game will tip off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. 

The Fighting Huggy Bears are ranked sixth in the country, although they will likely fall a bit after last night’s 71-66 loss at home to No. 10 Kansas. West Virginia was up by 16 points in the first half, but couldn’t stop the Jayhawks’ late rally. That’s two losses in a row for the Mountaineers, who also fell at No. 8 Texas Tech 72-71 on Saturday.

All of that being said, they still terrify me. This block by Sagaba Konate could end up being block of the year:

Eek. We better be ready.


GAMEDAY: Kentucky Travels to South Carolina

GAMEDAY: Kentucky Travels to South Carolina

Travis Bell | Sideline Carolina

This isn’t the Final Four Team

Last spring the worst seven-seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament made a run to the Final Four behind the impressive play of Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier.  The good news for Kentucky fans, Dozier and Thornwell ain’t walking through that door.

Frank Martin’s 2018 team is 11-6 (2-3 SEC) without any impressive wins.  In the non-conference schedule they fell to their two best opponents, Virginia Tech and Clemson, by a combined 35 points.  Martin still has Chris Silva, the team’s leading scorer (14.2 ppg) and rebounder (9.2 rpg), but the Gamecocks are still struggling to find other consistent contributors.

Injury Updates

The update is there is no update.  Quade Green still has not practiced and there’s no timetable for his return, although Kenny Payne shared some optimistic comments yesterday. “I think he’s any day now. I don’t even know if he’s going to practice today, but I know he’s getting close.”

As for Jarred Vanderbilt, it’s more of the same.  Payne said, “We’re leaving it up to him.”  That means there’s no end in sight.  Whenever Vanderbilt is ready, we will know when he steps on the court for the first time.

The Last Time UK Played in Columbia

John Calipari was not on the sideline for long.  After Coach Cal lost his mind in Columbia, the Cats turned on the jets and blew past the Gamecocks for an 89-62 win.  Tyler Ulis had 27 points, Jamal Murray had 26 and Marcus Lee caught a lob off the backboard for one of the greatest dunks of the Calipari era.

Kentucky leads the series 51-11 with a 20-7 record in Columbia.  The Cats have won the last four vs. South Carolina.  Coach Cal has only lost at South Carolina twice; John Wall’s undefeated Cats fell to Devan Downey in 2010 and in 2014 Aaron Harrison told us, “it’s going to be a great story.”

TV, Radio, Vegas

TV — A late 9:00 tip-off on ESPN with Joe Tessitore, Sean Farnham and Laura Rutledge on the call.

Radio — KSR Pregame Show on 630 WLAP at 6:30. Hear Leach and Pratt on the UK Sports Network, Sirius-138 and XM-191.

Vegas — Kentucky -2.5

A Poll Jump

The Cats are up to No. 16 in the Coaches’ Poll and 18 in the AP Poll.  Surprisingly, the Cats aren’t the highest-ranked SEC team.  According to the AP, that honor belongs to Auburn at No. 17.

Today’s Tale of the Tape

College Basketball on TV

Time Game Network
7:00 Wisconsin at #3 Purdue ESPN
7:00 #12 Cincinnati at UCF CBSSN
7:00 #20 Clemson at #15 UNC ACC Net
7:00 Louisville at Notre Dame ESPN2
7:00 Georgia at LSU on ESPNU ESPNU
7:00 Vandy at Miss. State SEC
9:00 #4 Oklahoma at K-State ESPNU
9:00 Ole Miss at Texas A&M SEC

Stephen Johnson Joins KSR

The quarterback who led the Kentucky football team to consecutive seven-win seasons will speak publicly today for the first time since the Music City Bowl.  You can’t miss his appearance with Ryan Lemond and Drew Franklin at 11:00 a.m. on Kentucky Sports Radio.


Wenyen Gabriel’s play “an example of what we need every player to do”

Wenyen Gabriel is Kentucky’s hardest worker right now, to the point Kenny Payne says the coaching staff is using him as an example of what the rest of the team needs to do to succeed.

“We just had a staff meeting and I told [John Calipari], [Wenyen’s] energy, his effort, what he’s giving us on the floor, just the fight of it, is an example of what we need every player to do,” Kentucky’s associate head coach said this morning.

Gabriel may only average 6.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, but his energy and effort are a big reason Kentucky’s won some games they probably should have lost. After disappearing in the second half of his freshman season, Gabriel has rediscovered his game, which Payne says makes him the perfect role model for a historically young squad.

“This kid came here with a bunch of expectations and it’s easy to get lost in what you are and who you are as a player. He’s finally getting back to being the player that he is: an energy guy, a tough guy, a rebounding guy. Obviously, we’d like him to make better decisions handling the ball. He has some unforced turnovers at times, but his energy, his fight, his determination to play winning basketball, is really good right now.”

Gabriel’s hustle was a big part of Kentucky’s win at Vanderbilt; Payne said they’re using his film to show the younger guys what they must do to go on the road and win in an ever-improving SEC.

“One of the things we’re trying to do, we’re trying to be a great road team. A team that can go on the road and fight and get a win; that starts with guys like Wenyen. That kind of fight, that kind of determination to fight for a rebound. That kind of determination to block a shot at a pivotal time in the game. Take a charge. Dive on a loose ball.”

“When you’re playing road games, every little situation on the court, every possession matters. We need that from more than Wenyen, but he’s an example of why we show film and why we show players, the younger guys, ‘Look at what he’s done. Look at how he fought to get that offensive rebound and he was outside of the three-point line.'”

Look at how he swatted and saved the ball on this badass play:

From liability to leading by example, Wenyen is proving that hard work pays off.


Former Wildcats speak out on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

@KarlTowns

MLK Day celebrates the birth and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the most prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement, and a man who protested racial discrimination until his assassination in 1968.

Several NBA games are played throughout the day, and as a result, players use these games as a platform to spread awareness to the importance of this day and the impact Dr. King made.

Though he played last night, Karl-Anthony Towns was one of the biggest voices this afternoon:

He even wore special Martin Luther King Jr. basketball shoes for Minnesota’s game last night against the Portland Trail Blazers:

Eric Bledsoe wore his own MLK Day kicks:

DeMarcus Cousins tweeted out this image:

And John Wall:

Anthony Davis is featured on the NBPA #PlayersVoice video, where various NBA players discuss how they would finish the “I Have A Dream” speech in modern society:

Well done, guys.

Go Cats!


UK signee Keldon Johnson scores 21 points on ESPNU, turns heads nationally

Kentucky signee Immanuel Quickley impressed in the Hoophall Classic earlier today, dropping 19 points and five rebounds in a tough loss.

Immediately after, five-star Oak Hill forward and Kentucky signee Keldon Johnson managed to also put on a show, finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds, and three assists on the day. With his team’s victory, No. 2 Oak Hill moves to 25-0 on the year, with Johnson being a massive reason for that.

Though his performance was stellar, the national attention Johnson received after the game was even more impressive. Scrolling through Twitter after the game, countless media members and basketball analysts raved about Johnson’s game, saying his competitiveness and will to win is second to none.

During a halftime interview, Johnson was asked what separates his game from the rest of the nation.

His response? “I’m a dog. I do whatever it takes for my team to win.”

In an interview with Tom Westerholm of MassLive.com, Johnson said things are starting to click for him, and when he gets going, it’s going to be a problem for the rest of the nation.

“I think the sky’s the limit for my game generally, because once I get going, everything gets going,” Johnson said. “My shot, getting to the basket, getting to the free-throw line, getting my teammates involved. Once I get going, it’s really a problem.”

Johnson’s jump shot has always been the biggest knock on his game, but now, he has developed into a consistent threat from both mid-range and beyond the arc. He said if he continues to work on that and build up muscle, he’ll be ready to be a big contributor for the Wildcats next season.

“I hit the mid-range pretty consistently when I shoot it,” Johnson said. “I just think spot-up threes, I really improved on that this year. I’m just working. Keep working hard on my body, and I think I’ll be ready for that.”

Check out his game highlights, and his sit-down interview with ESPN’s Paul Biancardi where he talked about his work ethic and how excited he is to play for John Calipari at Kentucky:

Not enough highlights for you? Check out Johnson’s MVP performance at the Chic-Fil-A Classic two weeks ago:

This kid is going to be good.

Go Big Blue.


SEC Seinfeld Index: January 15

SEC Seinfeld Index: January 15

Before the season began, who would have predicted that Auburn would be on top of the SEC standings and Texas A&M at the bottom? SEC Basketball is a circus this year, so let’s try to make sense of it all with some help from the show about nothing, and in turn, everything, Seinfeld.

First, a look at the current SEC standings:

TEAM CONFERENCE RECORD GAMES BACK OVERALL RECORD
Auburn 4-0 16-1
Kentucky 4-1 0.5 14-3
Florida 4-1 0.5 12-5
Tennessee 3-2 1.5 12-4
Alabama 3-2 1.5 11-6
Ole Miss 3-2 1.5 10-7
Missouri 2-2 2 12-5
LSU 2-2 2 11-5
Arkansas 2-3 2.5 12-5
Georgia 2-3 2.5 11-5
South Carolina 2-3 2.5 11-6
Mississippi State 1-3 3 13-4
Vanderbilt 1-4 3.5 6-11
Texas A&M 0-5 4.5 11-6

 

They’re real and they’re spectacular?

 #17 Auburn (16-1, 4-0)

Last week: Won vs. Ole Miss (85-70); Won at Mississippi State (76-68)

So, I guess Auburn is legit? I didn’t take them seriously in the non-conference because of their weak schedule, but they’re the only undefeated team in SEC play and continue to impress, all without Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley. I see you, Bruce Pearl.

This week: at Alabama, vs. Georgia


Still Masters of their Domain

 #21 Tennessee (12-4, 3-2)

Last week: Won at Vanderbilt (92-84), Won vs. Texas A&M (75-62)

After starting SEC play 0-2, the Vols have won three straight. It feels weird to rank them ahead of Kentucky, but there’s no denying that they exposed all of the Cats’ flaws in Knoxville over a week ago. We’ll find out more when they go on the road this week.

This week: at Missouri, at South Carolina

 #18 Kentucky (14-3, 4-1)

Last week: Won vs. Texas A&M (74-73); Won at Vandy (74-67)

Kentucky was without Quade Green and Tai Wynyard this week but managed to grind out wins over Texas A&M and Vandy despite some critical errors down the stretch. Lots to nitpick, but considering the Cats were shorthanded, you have to be encouraged.

This week: at South Carolina, vs. Florida


Spongeworthy

 Florida (12-5, 4-1)

Last week: Won vs. Mississippi State (71-54), Lost at Ole Miss (78-72)

The Gators’ loss in Oxford snapped a six-game winning streak, but a road loss is forgivable in the SEC these days. How will they respond with two huge games coming up this week?

This week: vs. Arkansas, at #18 Kentucky

 Alabama (11-6, 3-2)

Last week: Won vs. South Carolina (76-62), Won at LSU (74-66)

After back-to-back road losses to Vandy and Georgia, Alabama got back on track, beating South Carolina and LSU. The win at LSU was especially impressive because the Crimson Tide were without starting forward Donta Hall, who is recovering from wrist surgery. Wednesday’s game vs. Auburn is huge.

This week: vs. #17 Auburn, vs. Mississippi State


Yada Yada Yada

Ole Miss (10-7, 3-2)

Last week: Lost at #22 Auburn (85-70); Won vs. Florida (78-72)

Ole Miss’ win over Florida may be reason to sit up and take notice, but I’m waiting to see how they do in back-to-back road games this week before I deem them spongeworthy.

This week: at Texas A&M, at Arkansas

 Arkansas (12-5, 2-3)

Last week: Lost vs. LSU (75-54); Won vs. Missouri (65-63)

Arkansas ended a three-game losing streak with a two-point win over Missouri at home on Saturday, but that’s not enough for me to forget their 21-point loss to LSU on Wednesday.

This week: at Florida, vs. Ole Miss

Missouri (12-5, 2-2)

Last week: Won vs. Georgia (68-56); Lost at Arkansas (65-63)

After losing to Florida and Arkansas by only two points, Missouri is better than their record suggests; however, they have to break their bad habit of starting games slowly.

This week: vs. #21 Tennessee, at Texas A&M

LSU (11-5, 2-2)

Last week: Won at Arkansas (75-54); Lost vs. Alabama (74-66)

Had LSU beaten Alabama at home on Saturday, they would be much higher on this list; however, the Tigers just couldn’t take the next step despite 19 points (including five threes) from Tremont Waters.

This week: vs. Georgia, at Vanderbilt

South Carolina (11-6, 2-3)

Last week: Lost at Alabama (76-62); Won at Georgia (64-57)

South Carolina beat Georgia in Athens despite shooting only 27.1% from the field. That tells me more about Georgia than it does the Gamecocks. We’ll find out more this week.

This week: vs. #18 Kentucky, vs. #21 Tennessee


Shrinkage

Georgia (11-5, 2-3)

Last week: Lost at Missouri (68-56); Lost vs. South Carolina (64-57)

It was a bad week for Georgia, which dropped games to Missouri and South Carolina. Try as he might, Yante Maten can’t do it all, and if the Bulldogs want to keep their postseason hopes alive, they’ll need to pull off some big upsets…such as Auburn on Saturday.

This week: at LSU, at #17 Auburn

 Mississippi State (13-4, 1-3)

Last week: Lost at Florida (71-54); Lost vs. #22 Auburn (76-68)

The Bulldogs started conference play off strong, beating then-#22 Arkansas, but lost their next three. Mississippi State actually led #22 Auburn by 13 early in the second half, but collapsed. They’ll look to get back on track vs. Vandy tomorrow night before a tough trip to Alabama.

This week: vs Vandy, at Alabama


Eh…

Vanderbilt (6-11, 1-4)

Last week: Lost vs. #24 Tennessee (92-84); Lost vs. #21 Kentucky (74-67)

As has been the case all year, Vandy had the chance to upset Kentucky, but choked. In a moment that encapsulated their entire season, senior Riley LaChance missed three free throws in the final minute that could have put the ‘Dores within one. Ouch.

This week: at Mississippi State, vs. LSU


Again with the sweatpants?

 Texas A&M (11-6, 0-5)

Last week: Lost at #21 Kentucky (74-73); Lost at #24 Tennessee (75-62)

At this point, I’m not sure what to think about Texas A&M. The Aggies are clearly capable of being a good team, as they showed vs. Kentucky last Tuesday; however, Saturday’s collapse at Tennessee showed they are still very far from that. With everyone back from injury and suspension, Texas A&M still couldn’t find a way to win, yet another setback for a squad that many picked to win the SEC this season.

This week: vs. Ole Miss, vs. Missouri


Kentucky is a 3 point favorite at South Carolina

Kentucky is a 3 point favorite at South Carolina

Kentucky got us paid as a road favorite at Vanderbilt over the weekend, and the Cats are the favorite again in tomorrow night’s game at South Carolina. The line opened up at -3 out in lovely Las Vegas, according to our friends at VegasInsider.com.

UK has only covered once in SEC play, so be cautious.

Gambling is bad.


5 Notes from an insightful Kenny Payne press conference

By now, we all know what John Calipari thinks of this squad, which is why today’s press conference with Kenny Payne was so refreshing. Kentucky’s associate head coach shared his insights on this group, specifically the big men with whom he works.

Nick Richards is over-thinking everything

Richards’ struggles are well-documented by now. The freshman big man just can’t translate his hard work in practice to games. Payne, the big man guru, said it’s all in Nick’s head right now.

“Nick Richards is a very good basketball player who has made the pivotal mistake that all young players make and all players that struggle make: They begin to process. They begin to think too much. They begin to have self-doubt.”

Payne echoed Kevin Knox’s comments from Saturday that Richards works harder than anybody in practice and Calipari’s comments that they’re willing to keep giving him chances…to an extent.

“You have to be the guy that makes first contact and attack that basketball. Once he gets back to that and reacting and doing that in games, he’s going to be fine. We have not lost any faith in him. We believe in him. We just can’t afford to leave him out there and try to figure it out and he continues to make the same mistakes.”

Jarred Vanderbilt is guarding Kevin Knox in practice to toughen him up

After giving us yet another Jarred Vanderbilt update, Payne said they’re using Vanderbilt in practice to help toughen up Kevin Knox in anticipation of another physical showdown tomorrow night.

“[South Carolina is] going to try to make it hard for guys like Kevin Knox because Kevin has shown a tendency to shy away from contact. Well, every day in practice that’s why we’ve got Jarred Vanderbilt guarding Kevin Knox. Jarred, as much as you can, push him. Bump him. Be as physical as you can with him because when he gets that.”

If you missed Payne’s comments on Vanderbilt, click the link below:

Jarred Vanderbilt Update: “We’re leaving it up to him”

Caliapri’s motto for Sacha Killeya-Jones

We’ve already shared Payne’s comments about Wenyen Gabriel, but he also had plenty of praise for fellow sophomore Sacha Killeya-Jones, who is producing valuable minutes thanks to some valuable advice from Calipari.

“Sacha’s been really, really good. He’s grown up a lot. He’s bringing us unbelievable energy. He’s becoming more secure and not just looking for the ball. Want him to be a jump shot shooter and Coach Cal has a great motto for him. ‘Every time you look for shots, you miss every shot that you look for. Every time you just play within the offense and set great screens and dive, the ball finds you and you put the ball in the basket.’ He has to embrace that more, and the more he does it the more success he’ll have.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been “unbelievable” in Quade Green’s absence

Shai finally won the SEC Freshman of the Week award for his performances last week, which give Payne confidence Kentucky can survive another game without starting point guard Quade Green.

“I think [Quade] has done a good job at the end of games of making big shots and making free throws, but to be honest with you the way Shai (Gilgeous-) Alexander is playing right now, I mean the kid has been unbelievable. He’s been great. He’s been our best player by far. He’s putting unbelievable pressure on the defense. He’s living in the lanes, he’s making free throws, he’s defending, he’s filling up the stat sheet. Can’t argue with that.”

No, you can’t.

“Don’t put me out there with these puppies”

John Calipari has a history of being thrown out of games at South Carolina, leaving Payne to run the show. Payne said he’d rather not be put in charge of “these puppies” should Cal get tossed again.

“Cal told the team after the last game that ‘Kenny coached the team, and we won by 30.’ He gave all the credit to Tyler Ulis. I yelled out to him, I said, ‘Cal, don’t put me out there with puppies. Don’t put me out there with these puppies.’“

How can you not love Kenny Payne?

Transcript after the jump…

(more…)


Kentucky climbs in both college basketball polls this week

Kentucky climbs in both college basketball polls this week

Kentucky is gradually making its way back up the AP college basketball poll, where it was ranked as high as fifth earlier this season.

This week the Cats find themselves at No. 18 in the poll, up three places from the No. 21 ranking of a week ago. They were helped by the fall of Seton Hall, TCU, Miami and Clemson, all of which suffered losses that caused their drop in the poll.

Believe it or not, Auburn — yes, Auburn — is the SEC’s highest ranked team, sitting at No. 17 this week, one spot ahead of the Wildcats.

AP Top 25

RK TEAM RECORD PTS

1

Villanova (63) 16-1

1,623

2

Virginia (1) 16-1

1,527

3

Purdue (1) 17-2

1,411

4

Oklahoma 14-2

1,371

5

Duke 15-2

1,319

6

West Virginia 15-2

1,304

7

Wichita State 15-2

1,283

8

Texas Tech 15-2

1,276

9

Michigan State 16-3

1,062

10

Kansas 14-3

1,032

11

Xavier 16-3

928

12

Cincinnati 15-2

858

13

Gonzaga 16-3

829

14

Arizona 14-4

723

15

North Carolina 14-4

666

16

Arizona State 14-3

639

17

Auburn 16-1

523

18

Kentucky 14-3

487

19

Seton Hall 15-3

455

20

Clemson 15-2

444

21

Tennessee 12-4

358

22

Ohio State 15-4

276

23

Michigan 15-4

233

24

TCU 13-4

196

25

Miami 13-3

143

And in the USA Today Coaches poll, Kentucky moved up four spots to No. 16 in the country. Auburn isn’t as highly regarded in this one, as Bruce Pearl’s Tigers hold a No. 20 ranking.

RK TEAM RECORD PTS

1

Villanova (27) 14-1

770

2

West Virginia (4) 14-1

724

3

Virginia 14-1

693

4

Michigan State 15-2

679

5

Wichita State 13-2

586

6

Duke 13-2

584

7

Purdue 15-2

567

8

Texas Tech 14-1

525

9

Oklahoma 12-2

518

10

Xavier 15-2

505

11

Arizona State 13-2

449

12

Kansas 12-3

426

13

Cincinnati 14-2

350

14

Gonzaga 14-3

325

15

Seton Hall 14-2

304

16

TCU 13-2

285

17

Clemson 14-1

258

18

North Carolina 12-4

230

19

Miami 13-2

219

20

Kentucky 12-3

205

21

Arizona 12-4

174

22

Creighton 13-3

160

23

Tennessee 10-4

138

24

Auburn 14-1

100

25

Notre Dame 13-3

53