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@chuckgeveden

Former Players under Cal have made $1.2 billion

@chuckgeveden

@chuckgeveden

This was an interesting graphic that was displayed during yesterday’s win over Auburn. In Calipari’s career, his players have made $1.2 billion. His current Kentucky players on NBA rosters are making $172 million combined just this season. As the graphic mentions, his $1.2 billion combined is worth more than the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise. ESPN continues to give the Cats more recruiting tools to use. We are looking at you Mo Bamba.


RECAP: 9 Takeaways from Kentucky’s frustrating but ultimately fun win over Auburn

RECAP: 9 Takeaways from Kentucky’s frustrating but ultimately fun win over Auburn

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Mark Zerof | USA Today

There are games we’re going to remember from this season, and there are games we probably won’t; aside from a few highlights, today’s was the latter. After holding a comfortable 12-point lead at halftime, Kentucky sleepwalked through the first twelve minutes of the second half, letting Auburn cut the lead to four. Thankfully, the offense woke up and went to work, putting Auburn away by a final score of 92-72. Malik Monk led the way with 24 points and six assists, but you could argue the night really belonged to Wenyen Gabriel, who turned in a career-high 16 rebounds. In fact, that’s where we’ll start tonight’s recap.

1. Wenyen Gabriel came to play

Admit it: before tonight’s game, you wondered why John Calipari was letting Wenyen Gabriel start. The freshman forward showed us all why early on, hitting two threes, grabbing five rebounds, and blocking two shots in the first seven minutes. He finished with a career-high 16 rebounds, 6 points, 2 blocks, and 1 steal in 29 minutes. If you believe in the plus/minus efficiency numbers, Kentucky was +28 with Wenyen in this afternoon.

“Woo! Wow,” John Calipari said of Gabriel’s performance afterwards. “I told him, you’re a double-double if you just make a free throw. Just make some free throws and you’re a double-double.” (Wenyen missed all four.)

“It felt good,” Wenyen said of seeing his threes fall early. “It kind of felt like I am going back to how I was, how I was playing in high school. My confidence is coming back and I’m about to start playing more aggressive.”

Wenyen’s story was mentioned a lot on ESPN’s broadcast, so if you haven’t yet, check out my profile of him from last month. The more attention it gets, the better.

2. Kentucky’s defense wasn’t great, but the offense compensated

Until the last five minutes of the game, Kentucky’s defense was hot garbage. Auburn got the best of Kentucky in points in the paint (38-36) and second chance points (14-10), which showed Calipari this team’s got a long ways to go.

“They have got to get better,” Cal said. “At the end of the day, if we’re going to be anything, it will be because we’re a terrific defensive team. We’re not there yet. We’re just not.”

With the score close, Kentucky went on a 14-4 run, thanks in part to some thrilling plays by Malik Monk. Thankfully, the defense followed suit, not allowing Auburn to score a single point in the final 4:28 of the game.

3. Did you see these plays by Malik Monk? 

This dunk will be on SportsCenter’s Top 10 tonight:

This circus shot may be too:

He topped off his big night with a photobomb, ala the 2014-15 team:

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Speaking of Monk…

4. The threes were falling

Kentucky made 11-19 threes today, eight in the first half, for a season-high 57.9%. After a 1-9 three-point performance vs. Vandy, that was certainly nice to see. Monk had four of those threes, followed by Isaiah Briscoe and Gabriel with two a piece and De’Aaron Fox, Mychal Mulder, and Dominique Hawkins with one each.

5. Mychal Mulder had a good night

Mulder finished with 12 points, one shy of his career high, thanks in part to Calipari utilizing his four-guard lineup. Cal said he put Mulder in because he was frustrated that his bigs couldn’t stay in front of Auburn.

“I thought Mychal played well. That’s as good as Mychal has played. And it’s good, because we need that, like in this kind of game,” Cal said. “Understand, every team is doing the same thing to us. This is not hard. If you can’t move your feet and stay in front of everybody, either I have to play a zone or you can’t play. It’s, you know, that’s why I want Mychal, we went small lineup. Let Mychal try to stay in front then.”

6. “I don’t enjoy coaching the way I did today”

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If you couldn’t tell from him pacing the sideline and screaming/yodeling at his players, Cal was not happy with his team for most of this game. Afterwards, he lamented that he basically had to hold his team’s hand throughout the game, calling out plays on each possession.

“I had to fight them the whole game. I don’t enjoy coaching the way I coached today. I should be a cheerleader. Obviously they are not ready for that. And what bothered me in the second half, as they made their run, I had to make a call every time down the floor. That’s not how you want to coach. You’re not going to be that team, if you have to — and if I have to do that, I will. But at some point, this team’s got to be empowered, and they are just — they are not ready.”

7. So. Many. Fouls.

For the second game in a row, it was hard for either team to get in a flow because of all the fouls that were called. Fifty-one fouls were called tonight, 31 on Auburn, 18 on Kentucky. Between this game and the last one at Vandy, 92 fouls have been called, which is absolutely absurd.

“Fouls are errors,” Bruce Pearl said. “We fouled them 31 times.”

Unfortunately, Kentucky didn’t capitalize enough on Auburn’s errors, making only 53% (17-32) of its free throws, an uncharacteristically bad mark. Calipari joked afterwards the poor free throw shooting was contagious.

“It’s contagious. We were in there arguing who missed the first couple. I said, first of all, Isaiah Briscoe said it was Wenyen. I said it wasn’t Wenyen. Someone missed before Wenyen, and I think it was Bam, and then Bam was saying it was somebody else. But what happens is you see a guy miss, and now you’re going to the line saying, ‘Geez, I can’t miss.'”

De’Aaron Fox fouled out with seven minutes left, and if you’re one for silver linings, the fact that Kentucky won by 20 with him on the bench for that long is a good one.

8. “We’re a month away”

We’re less than two months away from the SEC Tournament, which is good, because Calipari estimated his squad is a month away from what they need to be to make a postseason run.

“I still think we’re a month away to be what we need this thing to be if we’re going to be one of those teams at the end because we’re not there right now,” Cal said.

For all of the faults Calipari found in his squad today, he said he was encouraged by their chatter after the game in the locker room.

“These kids are trying. I love the chatter in the locker room. They were talking and you know, when kids are excited, they chatter. So you had just everybody in there talking and it was — then they talk louder and I’m in my office and I can hear them in there. That’s what I want to hear. I want to hear that at dinner. You know, it means they care about one another. They like each other. There’s some emotion between them.”

9. All in all, it’s been a pretty nice Saturday

Kentucky’s defense was bad and De’Aaron Fox was on the bench the last seven minutes, but they still won by 20. The football team got arguably their most explosive commitment of the Stoops era in Lynn Bowden, who announced his commitment on our pregame show. Add in a Duke loss (even if it was to Louisville) that included Grayson Allen getting smacked in the face and that’s a pretty nice little Saturday. Do your best to go enjoy the rest of it.


UK Athletics

Fox Fouled Out with Seven Minutes to Play: How UK Responded

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

The pace of the game was slowed to the speed of smell.  The only thing keeping fans on either side awake were the referees’ whistles.  Then, things got scary.

With 7:24 left in the game, De’Aaron Fox picked up his fifth foul.  Despite his protests, Fox’s block was legitimate.  Kentucky’s lead was cut to just eight and they were forced to finish without their starting point guard, who accounted for 13 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

The Cats were ready to respond.

We had to pick up the energy because we lost a very important player,” Bam Adebayo said after the game.  “The team came together and we played even harder because we had to make up for the what we were losing defensively and offensively.”

A lot of that energy can be attributed to Mychal Mulder.  Entering the game shortly after Fox fouled out, Mulder had 9 points, an assist and a rebound in the final six minutes.

“In that time of the game, it is just time to win,” Mychal Mulder said after the game.  “We lose De’Aaron to five fouls and that is something that we are going to have to deal with once in awhile. But, you know, we still have a lot of guys and guards who create plays and finish at the rim and play hard defense. So, you know, it was winning time from there on out and we just tried to push the lead as much as we could.”

Once Fox was finished, a.k.a. winning time, Kentucky outscored Auburn 19-7.  Auburn’s last field goal was a three-pointer with 4:28 remaining.  They didn’t score another point before the final horn.

 


Enjoy these highlights from the win

Enjoy these highlights from the win

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Bored on a Saturday night? Why don’t you take a second to watch all the highlights from the Cats’ 20-point win today, courtesy of our friends at Kentucky Wildcats TV.


Bruce Pearl had some really nice things to say about Calipari

Bruce Pearl had some really nice things to say about Calipari

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After taking a 20-point L to John Calipari’s sixth-ranked Wildcats, Bruce Pearl was asked to discuss his relationship with Calipari, which goes back to their Tennessee-Memphis rivalry of a decade ago.

Pearl had some really nice things to say about Cal, which I will share with you below at this time:

For a long, long time, one of the greatest jobs in the history of college basketball is what John Calipari did at UMass. I’ve said it for a long time. I grew up in Boston and I went to Boston College. I was there and I left when I was 22 years old. I know what UMass basketball was, I know what he made it, and I know what it has been since he left. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for that.

When he went to Memphis, he was at a place, and it’s hard to believe this, I was at the big school. I was at Tennessee and Memphis was a small school in the corner. They hated Tennessee, and that was the beginning of John and I having a bit of a rivalry. I’d like to think that the things he doesn’t like about me are some of the things I don’t like about him, but I have great respect for him. I always have. When you have respect for a coach like that, and I do, you have to challenge John. I want him to have to prepare to play Auburn. I want him to be pissed off that we beat them last year. They weren’t a great team and we made some shots and made some plays. It was a tough place to play and it matters if you can beat John Calipari at Kentucky. You do want to earn the respect of them here because you respect him.”

In response to that, Calipari said (jokingly I assume), “They beat us last year?!”

Cal then went on to say, “You’re competing in a league. You’re trying to do your best and you’re going against guys, but I have no problem with Bruce. He’s doing a good job.”


Jan 14, 2017; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Edrice Bam Adebayo (3) dunks the ball against Auburn Tigers guard Mustapha Heron (5) in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Auburn 92-72. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Bam Adebayo put ol’ boy on a poster

BAM!

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Prayers up for Auburn’s Mustapha Heron after he got caught on the wrong end of a Bam Slam. Heron came over to help inside and that is one life decision I am sure he would like to take back.

Watch as he finds himself on a new poster:


Mark Zerof | USA Today

Mulder and Gabriel with big games at the right time

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Mark Zerof | USA Today

With over half the regular season games in the rearview mirror, it is time for someone, anyone, to step up and join De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe and Bam Adebayo as a regular contributor. This team is still one steady player away and someone needs to elevate their game in this final half of the season.

Today, Wenyen Gabriel and Mychal Mulder each played their best games of the season (and I guess you could say in their careers) to make their case for more playing time moving forward. Gabriel hit two three-pointers and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds with two blocks in his career-high 29 minutes; while Mulder scored 12 points for his first time in double figures since late November.

John Calipari was very complimentary of both players, although he told Gabriel it would’ve been a double-double if he would hit his free throws. When asked about the other aspects of Gabriel’s game today, Cal said, “Whew, Wow!”

Hopefully we’ll see more of the same from both guys in the games to come.


Did anyone notice this kid during the game?

Did anyone notice this kid during the game?

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Sliding into your DMs like…


LIVE: John Calipari’s postgame comments

cal-press

Tune in to the live stream below to hear everything John Calipari has to say about today’s win.


Mark Zerof | USA Today

Cats win, 92-72

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Kentucky got its revenge for last year’s loss at Auburn with a big win Saturday in Rupp Arena. Auburn did give the Cats more than most expected Bruce Pearl’s club would, but it still wasn’t enough for an upset as Kentucky went on to win big, 92-72.

Check out the stats from the game and then join us for postgame chatter throughout the rest of the night.

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HALF: Kentucky 51, Auburn 39

HALF: Kentucky 51, Auburn 39

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Go Wenyen!


Ten Things You Need to Know About Auburn

Ten Things You Need to Know About Auburn

What happened the last time these two met, via Matthew Stevens of the Montgomery Advertiser.

What happened the last time these two met, via Matthew Stevens of the Montgomery Advertiser.

1. Auburn hasn’t won at Rupp Since 1988

The top-ranked Cats got a combined 35 points from Rex Chapman and Winston Bennett, but still fell to the Tigers 53-52. The Cats avenged the loss a month later at Auburn.  I’m sure Rex will share a memory or two from his time against the Tigers in today’s pregame show.

Since 1993, only two games at Rupp Arena have been decided by less than ten points: an 81-73 win in 2005 and a 73-64 win in Billy G’s final season.  Kentucky has a 26-2 record vs. Auburn at Rupp Arena.

2. Bruce Pearl at Rupp

Even though I’ve already mentioned Auburn’s record at Rupp and Pearl’s record vs. Calipari, it’d be an injustice if I didn’t mention the BBQ game.

Pearl was suspended for a handful of SEC games in 2011 following the discovery of NCAA violations at Tennessee.  Pearl had recruits at his house for a BBQ, most notably future Ohio State Buckeye Aaron Craft, which broke NCAA rules.  Tennessee would fire him at the end of the season, but they let him return while the NCAA finished their investigation.  His first game back was at Rupp.  There was a guy with an apron and a chef’s hat in the front row of the student section.  The crowd chanted “Bar-be-cue,” angering Coach Cal, who demanded the students stop.  Still, it was one of the funniest games I’ve ever attended.  The Cats cruised to a 73-61 victory.

3. They’ll Slide into Your DMs Huddle

Stay woke.

4. Thanks for the Help with Diallo

Recruited by UConn for years, many believed the New York native would become a husky.  Luckily, Auburn was there to show Diallo just how far the program has fallen.  During Diallo’s official visit, he saw UConn lose to Auburn by three in overtime.  Fifteen days later Diallo made the smart decision and committed to Kentucky.

5. They have their own Hamidou Diallo

Once of Bruce Pearl’s best recruits didn’t have to wait until next year to play.  6’11” five-star center Austin Wiley, the son of a former Auburn football player and No. 19 player in the 2017 class, graduated early and began playing with the Tigers in January.  Through five games Wiley averages 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in just 15 minutes of action.

6. They have plenty of Toilet Paper

Toomer’s Corner was TP’d after the win over Kentucky last year.  It most recently received the toilet paper treatment after Alabama lost to Clemson in the National Championship.

 7. The Century Mark

Kentucky, the second-highest scoring team in the country, has scored more than 100 points in five games this season, the most since the ’96 team.  Auburn dropped a c-note just once in a 117-72 win over Coastal Carolina.  The Tigers have scored more than 70 points in all but two games this season.

8. 22.5 isn’t Enough

The opening line of 22.5 points was rather large, but apparently not large enough for many bettors.  UK is now a 24-point favorite; one bookie has them up to 24.5.

9. Cats and Tigers by the Numbers

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10. Must Stop Mustapha

Auburn’s greatest offensive threat is Mustapha Heron.  A Top 25 recruit in the Class of 2016, Heron has not disappointed in his first season.  He currently averages 16. 2 points per game (8th in the SEC) and 6.4 rebounds (11th in the SEC) while shooting 42.9 percent from the floor and 41.4 percent from outside.

The only way Auburn can beat Kentucky is if Heron gets hot.  If the Cats contain him early, it will be a blowout before you can blink.


Another Day, Another Grayson Allen Trip

Getty Image

Getty Image

Trippie Longstocking is back at it again.  A year ago against Louisville was his most blatant trip, knocking down Ray Spalding in the open floor at Cameron Indoor.  This one against Quentin Snider is a bit more subtle.

In return, he got smacked in the face.

Allen simply can’t stop, won’t stop.


Pregame Scouting: Auburn Tigers

Pregame Scouting: Auburn Tigers

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Before last season’s loss to the Auburn Tigers, the Kentucky Wildcats had won 18 straight match ups. Last season, Tyler Ulis put up  near triple double numbers (17 points, 10 rebounds, 8 rebounds), but it was in a losing effort as only two other Cats scored more than 8 points.

This year, Bruce Pearl brings an 11-5 Auburn team to Rupp Arena missing their second leading scorer, Danjel Purifoy, who injured his ankle a few games back. Today will be the second straight game that Purifoy has missed because of his ankle.

The Wildcats are 91-18 all time against the Tigers and are looking to extend that lead even further today. Let’s take a look at the projected starting lineup for Bruce Pearl’ squad:


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#5 Mustapha Heron, Freshman Guard, 6’5″

Mutapha Heron is one of four freshman starters for the Auburn Tigers this year. He was a big time commitment for Bruce Pearl, ranked as the 25th best prospect in the Class of 2016. He is the first consensus five star prospect in Auburn basketball history. So far this season, he’s lived up to the hype for the Tigers.

Heron is leading the team in scoring and rebounding, at 16.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He’s a knock down shooter at 41.4% from 3-point land and almost 80% from the free throw line. With Purifoy out for today’s game, even more of the offensive load will fall on the shoulders of Heron.

At 6’5″, Heron is taller than all three guards that start for the Cats. He’ll most likely draw a defensive assignment from Isaiah Briscoe. If you read these match up posts before every game, you know how much I stress than Coach Cal likes to move Briscoe onto the bigger scoring guards from the opposing team, such as Justin Jackson from UNC, Miles Bridges from MSU, and Matthew Fisher-Davis from Vandy.

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#1 Jared Harper, Freshman Guard, 5’10”

Jared Harper, another freshman starter from Bruce Pearl’s really talented recruiting class, was a top 100 prospect in the Class of 2016. Harper has out-performed his ranking so far this year, starting all but one game so far for the Tigers. He’s the true point guard for Auburn and does a good job of scoring as well.

Harper is putting up solid numbers in his freshman campaign, averaging 13.5 points, a team-leading 3.1 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. He’s a solid on-ball defender too, and his quickness creates issues for opposing guards. He leads the team with 1.7 steals per game.

The freshman is not the typical guard that starts right out of high school. He’s 5’10” and 165 pounds, which is similar size to Tyler Ulis. De’Aaron Fox will match up with Harper in this one. I know Harper has been able to handle the opponents the Tigers have played this season, but Fox will be the fastest and most talented guard he has defended this season.

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#50 Austin Wiley, Freshman Center, 6’11”

Austin Wiley has only been with the team since the middle of December, but he was the highest rated recruit in Pearl’s recruiting class. Ranked as a consensus five-star and top-20 prospect, Wiley committed to Auburn over the likes of Kansas and Duke, among others.

He played in his first game after having only practiced two days with the Tigers, and he’s getting better in each of the seven games he’s played this year. He’s averaging 7.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, along with 1.3 blocks. Wiley’s size will draw fouls, but his percentage from the stripe is very poor, shooting only 46.4%.

Wiley is a good offensive rebounder, and actually has more offensive boards than defensive boards on the season. Bam Adebayo will have his work cut out for him, as Wiley will be one of the few guys that he shouldn’t be able to muscle around easily all year. Wiley’ inexperience will lend to Bam’s success in the post in today’s game.

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#23 TJ Lang, Junior Forward, 6’7″

TJ Lang is the only non-freshman starter for this Auburn Tiger team. He started almost every game last season, so his experience is huge on the court for Bruce Pearl. Last year in the game versus the Cats, Lang finished with 6 points and 2 rebounds in 32 minutes.

With the fresh batch of prospects brought to Auburn this year, Lang has seen his production diminish during his junior season. He’s putting up 4.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. He shoots 34.7% from the 3-point line, and just over 65% from the charity stripe.

TJ Lang is the verbal leader on the court for the Tigers and without Purifoy, he may be asked to take on some more of the offensive responsibilities. The junior has a reputation of a lock-down defender, and will probably try to shut down Malik Monk’s scoring for the Cats. 

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#24 Anfernee McLemore, Freshman Forward, 6’7″

Anfernee McLemore is starting in place of the injured Danjel Purifoy, and last game was only his first start of his young career. He was a four-star prospect out of Sylvester, Georgia, and he was the 12th best player in the state. He’ll play the 4-position for the Tigers today.

McLemore is averaging 3.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest. He won’t be a huge statistical factor in today’s game, but the same can be expected of any normal back up in the country. McLemore is a good defender though, and has the most blocks of any current starter.

McLemore will play the four position for the Tigers today, drawing a matchup with the Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis position for the Cats. This is a game where I really think Gabriel can have a coming out party, as he won’t be oversized for one of the first time this season.


Auburn’s losses this season have come to Purdue, Boston College, Georgia, Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss. Their best win is over Oklahoma in an early season tournament. Oklahoma had some key guys out with injury, but still a good win for Bruce Pearl’s squad. Look for the Cats to try to push the pace, per usual, and try to get the Auburn freshmen off of their game. I think De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo should both have big games today against fellow members of the class of 2016. Bruce Pearl is a really good coach though, so don’t be surprised if Auburn comes out with a strong game plan to try to slow down the Cats’ transition offense.

Go Cats. Beat Tigers.

@BrettBibbinsKSR


Badet photo by AP, Bowden photo by .

Saturday’s Top 10: A WILD Football Friday, Bowden’s Announcement and a Matchup with Auburn

Badet photo by AP, Bowden photo by .

Badet photo by AP; Bowden photo by R. Michael Semple, Tribune Chronicle.

Normally gamedays begin by discussing the game, but today is different.  Yesterday I woke up to Ryan Lemond’s laugh.  The roster news didn’t end there.  We might even receive more football roster news before the day is done.  Here’s what happened and what could happen before the day is done.

1. Jeff Badet to Graduate, Transfer

Kentucky’s leading wide receiver is leaving the program.  Badet caught 31 passes for 670 yards and 4 touchdowns.  At 21.6 yards per catch, he led the SEC in yards per catch and was sixth in the nation.  What’s most problematic: Kentucky’s two fastest players on the 2016 team, Boom and Badet, left with a year of eligibility remaining.

It stinks, but it makes sense.  Badet was recruited into an Air Raid offense.  He struggled with injuries until his talents were finally validated this year, but in a run-first offense.  Even as Kentucky’s greatest homerun threat, getting 10 caches in a game is improbable.  The most any receiver had in a single game this season was when Badet caught seven passes against Miss. State.

It stinks, but it makes sense, and we wish him the best.

Moving forward, Kentucky has plenty of receivers ready to fill his spot.  Tavin Richardson, Jabari Greenwood and Kayaune Ross have adequate experience on the outside, and Garrett Johnson can be a speedy deep ball threat (just ask UofL).  Also, the highest-ranked recruit in the 2017 class, Javonte Richardson, plays his position.

2. UK Announces Seven Mid-Year Signees

Fifteen minutes after breaking the Badet news, Kentucky announced the addition of seven early enrollees: QBs Danny Clark and Walker Wood, WR Clevan Thomas, RB Bryant Koback, OLB Jamin Davis, and DBs Cedrick Dort and Lonnie Johnson.  Of the seven, JUCO safety Lonnie Johnson is the only one guaranteed to play immediately, filling the holes left by Blake McClain and J.D. Harmon.

Jamin Davis is Freddie’ favorite, but mine is Bryant Koback.  Koback’s play is reminiscent of Benny Snell’s.  He doesn’t run over people like Snell, but he plays with a low pad level, carrying his momentum forward whenever he’s hit.

Koback could have attained some HUGE offers, but was injured in just the fifth game of the season.  Prior to the injury, Koback rushed for 1,096 yards on 93 carries (11.78 yards per carry) and 21 touchdowns in just four games (more than 5 scores per game).  His highlights are not too shabby.

You can see highlights from of all seven early enrollees here.

3. Lynn Bowden Announcement

Before the craziness of yesterday, I planned on leading off with Bowden’s announcement.  Even with a home basketball game, the potential addition of Bowden is the biggest news of the day.  He’s that good.

I’ve ranted and raved about Bowden before, but you can’t say enough about Youngstown’s finest.  The No. 5 athlete in the nation is a program-changing player.  Just like Boom Williams, Bowden has the potential to bust open a big play on any given snap.  Bowden is set to choose between Penn State, West Virginia and the Cats.  If Ohio State stays away, Bowden will be in blue next fall.

Bowden said he’ll announce “around 1:45ish.”  Don’t wait around on your computer for the announcement like last Saturday.  Just download the KSR app (Google Play and iTunes), turn your notifications on and I’ll let the sound of Ryan Lemond’s laughter bring you joyful news.

4. Bruce Pearl Returns to Rupp

The former head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers is in his third season at Auburn.  This year the Tigers are 11-5, but I’m more focused on the coach than the players.  Pearl has a 2-7 record against John Calipari.  He’s never won at Rupp Arena, but the Tigers enter with a one-game winning streak over the Cats after last year’s win at Auburn Arena.

Even though he’s been a Tiger for three years now, this is still the first thing that comes to mind every time I hear Pearl’s name.

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Getty Image

5. Quick-Hitters on Today’s Game

  • It tips-off at 4:00 on ESPN with Tom Hart, Kaylee Hartung and Kara Lawson Barling on the call.
  • The KSR Pregame Show begins at 1:30 on 630 WLAP.
  • Auburn is led by Mustapha Heron, a fourth team preseason All-SEC selection. Heron averages 16.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
  • Auburn has two signature wins. They beat Oklahoma by four and defeated UConn by three in overtime.

More on the Tigers later today.

6. Go Behind-the-Scenes for Today’s Game

Drew Franklin is busting out the Snapchat machine to take you behind-the-scenes for today’s game at Rupp Arena.  From watching warm-ups on the floor to the City BBQ nachos, Drew will show you what it’s like to cover a Kentucky basketball game for KSR.  Take a pic of the pic below or add him at drew_franklin.

7. Watch Bamba Play Ayton After UK

After you watch your Kentucky Wildcats, grab a meal, then head back to your TV to see the two best post players in the country face off at 8:00 on ESPN.  DeAndre Ayton, the No. 1 player in the nation, is committed to Arizona.  Mohamed Bamba, the No. 3 player in America, first entered Cal’s radar after dominating Ayton in the first event of this year’s EYBL.  The 247 Composite gives UK and Duke a 50/50 shot at landing Bamba.

The Cats are also recruiting Bamba’s teammate, Cameron Reddish.  The No. 4 player in the 2018 class, John Calipari watched the Westtown teammates play on Wednesday.

8. Today’s Sports Schedule

With the NFL Playoffs beginning at 4:35, it’s a front-loaded college basketball schedule.

  • Noon: Trippers vs. Strippers on ESPN
  • Noon: UGA at No. 23 Florida on ESPN2
  • Noon: UConn at Georgetown on Fox
  • 2:00: No. 9 Florida State at No. 11 North Carolina on ESPN
  • 2:00: Oklahoma State at No. Kansas on ESPN2
  • 2:00: No. 15 Xavier at No. 12 Butler on FS1
  • 4:00: No. 10 West Virginia at Texas on ESPN2
  • 4:30: No. 1 Baylor at No. 25 Kansas State on ESPNU
  • 4:35: Seahawks at Falcons on Fox
  • 8:15: Texas an Patriots on CBS
  • 10:00: No. 21 St. Mary’s at No. 5 Gonzaga on ESPN2

9. You Need to start Watching Taboo

This week FX debuted Tom Hardy’s new show Taboo.  I will not geek, but let’s just say I’m glad I used my DVR.

Without providing spoilers, I’ll set the scene.  It’s London in 1814.  Many thought Hardy’s character was dead, but he returns from Africa for his father’s funeral.  His inheritance causes a split between Hardy and the East India Company.  Hardy’s badassery and the wonderfully created setting will make this show one of the best this year.  Hurry up and start it before you get too far behind.

10. Ali’s 75th Birthday Celebration Begins Today

Muhammad Ali would have turned 75 this upcoming Tuesday.  The Center bearing his name will host a four-day celebration beginning today.  There will be a service project with Ali Center staffers, a new Ali Art Tribute exhibit and free film screenings in the auditorium.  Today’s lineup features a documentary I’m ashamed I’ve yet to see, When We Were Kings. Ali Bomaye!

10:00 a.m.: Ali Rap
11:00 a.m.: When We Were Kings
1:00 p.m.: The Trials of Muhammad Ali
3:00 p.m.: Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World

Unfortunately, it will not be as star-studded as his 50th birthday celebration.

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