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Basketball Season Coverage

Morning Rapid Fire: Quick Hitters About Last Night’s Loss

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The KSR office is running on fumes today after the world’s longest basketball game kept us up way past our bedtime and the post-game obligations kept us up way later than that. But the coffee’s hot and the takes are hotter, so let’s get right to them in this speed round of morning takeaways from the game.

 

Jarred Vanderbilt: Finally, the speculation is over! Vanderbilt entered the game with more energy and excitement than Ryan Lemond at a t-shirt giveaway, but once he settled down and got those nerves under control, dude looked good. He’s going to need some time before he’s caught up, but we got a little taste of what he can become when he’s ready, and he is just what the team needs.

Officiating: No comment, per company policy.

Hamidou Diallo: The hell is he doing? Between that idiotic foul and forgetting he has teammates whenever he has the ball, Diallo was South Carolina’s second best player last night. It’s too bad Kentucky doesn’t have another guard right now because Diallo needs to take a seat until he can get himself under control. Archie Goodwin thinks he’s too selfish.

Diallo’s Foul: South Carolina outscored Kentucky by 22 points after Diallo committed the foul, which he then denied to Calipari on the bench, like we didn’t all see it.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: Worst game since the haircut.

Quade Green: Come back soon.

20 years: It has been 20 years since Kentucky committed that many fouls (32) in a non-overtime game. Three Wildcats fouled out and three others had four.

Chris Silva: South Carolina’s sophomore forward was as good as advertised and more. He should really consider the NBA this spring because I don’t have any interest in seeing him in a UK-South Carolina game again. What he did to poor Wenyen was just wrong.

What the f*** are you doing: Cal seemed to be mad at someone when the TV camera went in for a close-up in the second half.

Nick Richards: Richards had his second best game in the scoring column; unfortunately, his missed dunk overshadows his five made baskets.

Free throws: No team deserves to win when it hits only 23 of 36 at the stripe. To make matters worse, South Carolina’s big guy with the funny hair hit four in a row when he hasn’t hit four in a row in his entire life.

Three-point shooting: I can’t remember sweating out the streak so far into a game. Luckily, Knox hit a three-pointer to keep it alive; on the contrary, Knox was the only player to hit a three-pointer and he went 1-for-8 from beyond the arc. This team is in desperate need of a steady outside shot.

Florida: Saturday is a must-win game now. It was a need-to-win game until last night; now a Kentucky victory is a must. UK can’t drop any home games from here on out and it’ll need to steal a couple of road wins, too.


© Jim Dedmon | USATSI

6 Notes from UK’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Loss

© Jim Dedmon | USATSI

Kentucky was without Quade Green for the third straight game on a night the whistle wouldn’t stop blowing, but there is no excuse for their 76-68 loss to South Carolina.

The Cats led the Gamecocks by 14 points with 11:34 left, but after a dumb foul by Hamidou Diallo, they absolutely fell apart. The weaknesses we’ve seen in spurts became Kentucky’s defining characteristics in the final minutes: no defense, no rebounding, poor free throw shooting, and even poorer decision making. It’s late and we’re all angry, so let’s go over it and call it a night.

Jarred Vanderbilt made his debut

On any other night, Vanderbilt’s first game back would be the leading story. The versatile freshman forward made his much-anticipated debut at the 13:09 mark, and after he worked off the nerves, showed just how important he could be to this squad. Vanderbilt’s passing, effort, and rebounding were a breath of fresh air on a night Kentucky was once again without Quade Green. He finished with six points, five rebounds, three assists, and one block in 14 minutes. Not bad for his first game action since last April. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save Kentucky from itself.

All of the fouls

Tonight’s game took almost two and a half hours thanks to the 59 fouls called throughout; Kentucky accounted for 32 of those, the most in a non-overtime game since January 14, 1997 per Corey Price. Between the two teams, 64 free throws were taken, the most in any SEC game this season. Three Kentucky players fouled out and three players played with four fouls in the crucial closing minutes.

Again, no excuse. The difference in the game? South Carolina hit 73.7% (14-19) of their free throws in the second half, whereas Kentucky only hit 42.9% (6-14). Can’t win close games when you’re doing that.

Hamidou Diallo was the most frustrating of all

More often than not, the reason the Gamecocks were at the line late was a stupid decision on Kentucky’s part. The most egregious error of all came from Hamidou Diallo, who was whistled for an intentional foul when UK was up 14 with 11:29 left. From there, South Carolina went on a 12-3 run. As you might imagine, Calipari came back to that moment a few times in his postgame remarks.

“We got up 14, had the ball. PJ [Washington] throws a cross court pass — not what we were trying to do. That’s not what we called. Hami fouls intentionally. ‘I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it.’ You pulled the guy’s shirt out of his pants. ‘I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it.’ You pulled the guy’s shirt out of his pants. So don’t say that. You did it.”

Hami didn’t do himself any favors talking back to Calipari on his way to the bench, either. Both Kevin Knox and Calipari said certain guys were “doing their own thing” tonight, and it’s not hard to figure out who they’re talking about. From ball-hogging to bad decisions, Hamibout to be in the dog house.

Kentucky had no answer for Chris Silva

South Carolina’s big man abused Kentucky on the inside tonight, putting up 27 points and 8 rebounds in 35 minutes. As Calipari said, Silva manhandled everyone who tried to go against him, putting poor Wenyen Gabriel on a poster in the first half.

While Nick Richards played better tonight, putting up 12 points, Kentucky still lacks a dominant big man down low, which makes guys like Silva their kryptonite.

This team needs Quade back

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was able to man the ship for two games, but tonight, it was painfully clear this team needs Quade Green back soon. Running point in back-to-back games finally caught up with Shai, who scored only six points and committed six turnovers, five in the first half. The team’s best defender, Shai was a step slow tonight and got pressured into bad decisions by South Carolina’s swarming defense; however, as Calipari said afterwards, blowing a 14-point lead in the second half didn’t happen just because Quade was out.

“Basically, we played the whole game without a point guard,” Cal said. “But we had our chances to win anyways. That wasn’t it. There were balls we should have had rebounds. I’ve never seen so many dumb fouls. Grab a guy and pull his shirt out? Excuse me? Do you think this is lacrosse?”

Yeah, he’s really pissed about that foul.

Where do we go from here?

To borrow a line from Freddie Maggard, what does this all mean? Hopefully, tonight’s loss will be a wake up call for several players, most notably Hamidou Diallo. If you’re looking for silver linings, it showed us what Jarred Vanderbilt can bring to the table. Above all, it should serve as a much-needed reminder that this team is not above freshman mistakes; however, in a year in which no one is that good in college basketball, I don’t need to remind you of another dismal loss that happened at South Carolina almost four years ago. It’s still January, so I’m not closing the book just yet.

Also, Calipari’s never allowed to make a half-court shot ever again.


Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Calipari, Knox discuss Jarred Vanderbilt’s debut

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven’t heard, Jarred Vanderbilt made his long-awaited debut Tuesday night against South Carolina. He was a little rusty in his return to basketball, which was to be expected, but we got a glimpse at his potential and he looked potentially awesome.

After the game, Coach Cal told reporters, “He was pretty good for the first time out. We’re trying to figure out what we’re doing. We haven’t really scrimmaged with him in. We’ve done some halfcourt stuff, but I thought he was pretty good for the first time out.”

Kevin Knox was a little more complimentary of Vanderbilt and his first game; he said, “Jarred’s a great ball-handler. He has a good feel for the game and good passing skills, so he can definitely help us handling the ball sometimes. When Shai got in foul trouble and we needed another point guard, Jarred stepped up and I thought he did a good job. It was his first game back, so once he gets the feel for it and gets the plays down, he’ll be a great addition to the team.”

Leave your postgame Jarred Vanderbilt assessments below…


Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Big Problem: Kentucky’s backcourt did nothing

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was great in his first two games as Quade Green’s fill-in. His third game, not so much.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s night in South Carolina was one of his worst to date. He had as many turnovers as he did points (six) and was called for three offensive fouls while trying to do too much on his own. Kevin Knox said the Gamecocks really did their research and did a great job of collapsing around Gilgeous-Alexander when he tried to drive, which rattled him and forced him into mistakes.

Then there is Kentucky’s only other available guard, Hamidou Diallo, who was equally bad, if not worse. Diallo went 1-for-5 from the field, missed three of his six free throw attempts, took selfish shots (per usual), and committed a senseless intentional foul which really upset Calipari and sparked a South Carolina run.

Together, Diallo and Gilgeous-Alexander combined for zero assists and eight turnovers in the game.

Calipari said afterward, “A lot of the game (we didn’t have a point guard), and when we played with one, he wasn’t very good either. So, basically, we played the whole game without a point guard.”

Get well soon, Quade.


In UK Debut, Jarred Vanderbilt Proves He’s The Player Kentucky Needed

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Jarred Vanderbilt is the catalyst John Calipari’s 2018 Kentucky Wildcats have been looking for.  He did not post an extravagant stat line.  He did not dominate the game in any one particular way.  That’s what makes him perfect for this team.

Vanderbilt’s surprise debut at South Carolina began with a flurry of frantic play all over the court.  A wild missed four-footer barely hit the rim.  An interior pass was thrown ten times too strong.  He picked up a quick foul.  He did everything you expect a kid to do in the first two minutes of his first college game.

Once Vanderbilt shook off the jitters, he plugged holes in UK’s sinking life-boat.

Without Quade Green for the third straight game, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finally found himself on the bench in foul trouble.  Hamidou Diallo was sitting right next to him on the bench, leaving Brad Calipari as the only guard available.  Vanderbilt was prepared to fill the hole.

The 6’9″ small forward seamlessly turned into a point forward.  The operator of the offense found Calipari for an open three.  He turned an offensive rebound into an assist, an And One to Sacha Killeya-Jones.  Even if the possession did not end in points, it ended with a good look that Vanderbilt created in the midst a choppy, physical game that had zero offensive flow.  That was just while he was running point in the half-court.

On the other end of the court Vanderbilt played exceptional help defense, recovering in time to deny Chris Silva a dunk.  If he cleaned the defensive glass, he was leading the Kentucky fast break.  Once while running the floor, he turned one sloppy transition pass into a bucket for a teammate. Against South Carolina’s zone defense, he picked it apart from the middle with a finesse UK fans had not seen in 2018.

We’ve seen all of Vanderbilt’s teammates do all of those things to become a 14-win team, but as the final score indicated, putting a consistent product on the floor is a problem for this team.  Vando can solve that problem by picking up the slack.

Kentucky’s newest player finished his first game with 6 points (2-5 FG), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a block, 2 turnovers and a +7, second only to Sacha Killeya-Jones.

Vanderbilt did a little bit of everything that everybody else couldn’t do tonight.  The only problem is that he only did it in 14 minutes.  Out of playing shape, Vanderbilt scored Kentucky’s final field goal with 6:33 to play, but Calipari could not keep the gassed athlete on the court much longer.

The UK debut of Jarred Vanderbilt ended sourly but provided plenty of promise.  Is it unfair to extrapolate a debut into exceptionally high expectations?  Of course; just ask Morakinyo Williams.

What makes Vanderbilt different than others is how he will help this team.  He does not need to score to be an impact player.  Tonight he proved he can do all of the little things to make sure Kentucky is clicking whenever they take the court.


It was going so well and then…

It was going so well and then…

… Nick Richards missed a dunk.

It was the turning point in the game. It wasn’t the only reason Kentucky lost (that’s a long list) but you can point to that exact moment in the game as to when the wheels fell all the way off.

If Richards finishes the dunk, Kentucky goes up seven and silences a rowdy Colonial Life Arena eager for a comeback. Or if Kevin Knox’s three-pointer hadn’t rimmed out before Richards’ rebound, even better.

But instead, South Carolina took the ball the other way with all of the momentum behind them, and Chris Silva scored through contact for a bucket plus a foul. He hit the ensuing free throw to complete a major five-point swing in a matter of seconds. What should’ve been a 67-60 score, was 65-63.

Kentucky didn’t score another basket after the miss.


Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Squanders 14-Point Lead to Lose at South Carolina

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky got into the driver’s seat for an SEC road win, but missed opportunities sent the Cats back to Lexington with a 76-68 loss.

The Cats made the most out of an ugly game by building up a 14-point lead with 11:34 to play.  For the final eleven-plus minutes, Kentucky did a whole lot of fouling and not a lot of scoring.  The Cats closed the game by scoring just 11 more points.  They weren’t making shots and they weren’t much better at the free throw line either, knocking down just 3-8 form the charity stripe in the final four minutes.

Despite their faults down the stretch, UK had a chance to take an eight-point lead with just over four minutes to play.  Kevin Knox’s three-pointer bounced off the rim, right into Nick Richards’ hands, but he missed the dunk.  South Carolina turned that into an And One for a six-point swing to take games’  momentum for good.

Short-handed and in foul trouble (59 total fouls were called), Kentucky had an opportunity to win it, but the young Cats made too mistakes down the stretch to capitalize with a road win.


At The Half: Kentucky 37, South Carolina 34

At The Half: Kentucky 37, South Carolina 34

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Hello, Jarred Vanderbilt.

 


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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.