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Basketball Season Coverage
By Drew Franklin on ©February 18th, 2017 @ 8:37pm
Just like the first time these two teams met, it was a hard-fought, knock down, drag ’em out, that ended with Kentucky leaving victoriously.
Georgia ran J.J. Frazier off ball screen after ball screen to score 36 points, but his adversary had the last laugh. De’Aaron Fox struggled with foul trouble and often failed to finish at the rim, but when Kentucky needed him most, Fox delivered.
Trailing by two with 1:12 remaining, De’Aaron Fox kissed one off the glass to tie the game. Frazier responded, but Fox didn’t back down. Fox was sent to the free throw line. His first shot drew iron three times before rolling through the rim. From there, Fox was good to go. Fox hit six free throws in the final minute and scored eight of the Cats’ last 11 points to ice the game.
Fox and Malik Monk led the Cats in scoring with 16 apiece, Derek Willis tied a career-high with 12 rebounds and Bam Adebayo finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds. The full box score:
Kentucky averages 12 turnovers per game this season. In the first half they’ve given Georgia the ball nine times.
One other thing worth mentioning: Georgia’s star power forward, Yante Maten, is doubtful to return after suffering a right knee injury in the first half.
We’re inside the one-hour mark before tip-off, so what better time to get your predictions than now. So take a moment, if you will, to write a little ditty about how you think things will play out and what the final score will be.
Can the D stop Frazier? Will Maten dominate the paint? Which Derek Willis will we get? Maybe Gabriel? Can Bam Adebayo stay out of foul trouble? Is Monk still hot?
Let us know how you feel and then come back in about 45 minutes for the live blog.
Let’s go Cats.
By Drew Franklin on ©February 18th, 2017 @ 4:00pm
Following Tuesday night’s win over Tennessee, Rick Barnes said his team’s plan was to limit production from Derek Willis and Wenyen Gabriel at the four position. Willis and Gabriel did not perform in Tennessee’s upset of the Cats in Knoxville, so the Vols set out to shut them down once again, rather than focusing on the tall task of stopping Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo.
“We were willing to let the other players pretty much do what they had done. Adebayo, Fox, Monk do what they do. We just didn’t want that fourth guy to really step in there,” Barnes said after that game.
Barnes isn’t the only person who sees the importance of the four for Kentucky; in fact, anyone with eyeballs knows that can be a make or break position.
Calipari said yesterday he will turn to Mychal Mulder in that spot if Willis and Gabriel aren’t giving him anything, but Willis and Gabriel will each get their time because that is how the team is practicing.
“Instead of trying to put a big team out there that we’re not playing with, let Derek and Wenyen get their time at four. If we want to slip them to three at times I will. And I’m also really working on that first unit of guys. I’m really focused on that unit playing well, especially if that unit’s going to play 25 minutes together in a game. I’ve got to spend 75 percent of my time then working on that unit because they’re going to be out there the most.”
Gabriel noted that he is seeing a lot more of Willis in practice, in part because of the recent reboot, and it is helping his defense.
He said, “We’re starting to go against each other more at practice now. We used to not go against each other as much, but now that we’re still working on this reboot now we’ve been starting to play against each other.”
“It’s part of the competitiveness,” Gabriel explained, when asked why he is getting more of Willis. “It brings out more of our competitive spirit. Going against him, we know that we sub in for each other. Kind of earn your playing time during practice.”
“It motivates me, but I love to see my teammate do good. It was his game (against Tennessee), but I still think that’s my position as well. It’ll be great if we both play good the same game.”
Kentucky will win by six points down in Athens today, if you’re to believe Ken Pomeroy. KenPom’s magical machine of statistics projects a 79-73 road win for the Wildcats.
What’s your score prediction?
Me, I like Cats by… oh, let’s say… somewhere in the by 90 range.
De’Aaron Fox missed the first meeting between Kentucky and Georgia in Rupp Arena earlier this season thanks to a small case of the flu that hit him the morning of the game.
Yesterday, Fox was asked what he remembers about that close overtime game, the only one he has missed all season.
“I probably seen like five minutes total of the game, just because I was sleeping so much,” Fox admitted.
“We didn’t talk too much about it,” he added.” But I seen highlights and I seen like — I think it was the game before that so I kept it on that channel — I saw like the opening two minutes, saw like when it was about to be halftime and then I think I saw Malik’s shot at the end, and then I didn’t see a second of overtime.”
“I couldn’t — it was pretty bad.”
Luckily for Kentucky, Fox is back to full health for the rematch today. Let’s hope Round 2 doesn’t need more late heroics from Malik Monk to get a win.
The first times these two teams met this season, the Kentucky Wildcats could not have had a worse start if they tried. Georgia raced out to a 19-5 lead with 12 minutes to go in the first half, before the Cats started to battle back into the game. It took the Cats until less than a minute left in the first half to tie the score at 29 a piece going into the locker room. The second half saw neither team really take over the game, but Malik Monk sure did. He single-handedly kept Kentucky in this game at the offensive end, finishing with 37 points on 7-11 from beyond the arc. He also hit the game-tying shot with about 8 seconds left in regulation to force the overtime period. The Cats came out in overtime and outscored the Bulldogs 14-5, giving UK the 9 point, hard fought victory.
Since that game, Kentucky has gone 3-1, with the only loss coming in the blowout defeat against Florida in Gainesville. On the other hand, Georgia is 2-2 since the Kentucky loss. Tonight’s game in Athens is big for UK down the road for a few reasons. One being the momentum factor. Kentucky has played noticeably better in the past two wins over Alabama and Tennessee. It would be huge to keep the momentum going through the end of the SEC schedule. The second reason being seeding in the NCAA tourney. While this win just shows up as a road victory on the resumé, a loss would pretty much kill any shot at a 2 seed for the Cats.
In the four games since the loss in Rupp Arena, Georgia coach Mark Fox has tinkered with the lineup slightly. He’s kept four starters the same, in Yante Maten, JJ Frazier, Juwan Parker, and Derek Ogbeide. However, the fifth starting spot has gone to four different players in the past five games. My fifth starter prediction from the first match up was Jordan Harris, so I will stick with him for tonight’s game.
#1 Yante Maten, Junior Forward, 6’8″
Yante Maten returns as the best player from last year’s Georgia Bulldog squad to be one of the best players in the SEC this season. He started every game for Mark Fox last season, on his way to earning Second Team All-SEC. In fact, if you include this season, Maten has started 87 of the 88 games he’s played in a Georgia uniform.
The Junior has been a force for the Dawgs this season. He’s leading the team in points and blocks, as well as second in rebounds. His averages are 19.4 points per game, good for third in the SEC, 7.2 rebounds which ranks sixth in the conference, 1.6 blocks, and 1.6 assists. UK’s weak front court couldn’t handle Maten last season, as he averaged 18 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two games.
In the first game this season, Maten was just as advertised. He finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. This was a game that De’Aaron Fox sat out while he was sick. Kentucky definitely struggled adjusting to their primary ball-handler and primary on-ball defender not playing a second of the game, and it showed. I think Isaiah Briscoe comes out on the bigger Maten to begin the game, if Cal chooses to go away from Wenyen Gabriel guarding Maten.
#30 JJ Frazier, Senior Guard, 5’10”
JJ Frazier was right up there with Yante Maten in the running for best player for Mark Fox last season. He led the team in the scoring, assists, 3-point percentage, and free throw percentage a year ago. He, like Maten, was also tabbed Second Team All-SEC by the coaches.
Frazier is putting up solid numbers in his final collegiate season, leading the team in assists, steals, and free-throw percentage. He’s putting up 16.6 points, 4.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 2 steals per game, which is the third best in the SEC. While his numbers may look good, they are down in comparison to last season, most notably, his shooting from deep. Last season, Frazier shot 39% from 3-point land, and this year that percentage has dropped to 30.6%. His free throw shooting has remained a constant though, hitting 87.4% on the year.
The senior guard will draw the defensive assignment of De’Aaron Fox tonight. Fox will attempt to keep Frazier from having the night he had in the first meeting between these two teams. Frazier finished with 23 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals. If the Cats want to take care of business on the road tonight, they can’t let JJ get hot in front of the home crowd.
#3 Juwan Parker, Junior Guard, 6’4″
Juwan Parker missed all of the 2015-16 season due to off-season surgery to fix an injury to his left Achilles. He actually incurred the injury about halfway through the 2014-15 season, and chose to pursue a medical redshirt the following season. Parker was a part-time starter for Mark Fox at the time of his injury, but he missed about a season and a half of playing time.
This season, it would seem that Parker is feeling 100% and is back to his old playing style. The Junior is averaging 9.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and almost 2 assists. He’s not much of a shooter from downtown, only hitting 8 threes on the season, but he is a solid mid range shooter. His free throw percentage is second on the team at 86.5%.
While Parker’s offensive contributions in the first game in Rupp don’t show much on the stat sheet, his contributions do show in the stat sheet for the defensive side of the floor. Parker had 4 points, an assist, and fouled out while trying to defend Malik Monk. When I said his defensive contributions showed, I was referring to the points column next to Monk’s name. Georgia is going to need a much bigger and more positive contribution if they want a shot at winning tonight’s game.
#34 Derek Ogbeide, Sophomore Forward, 6’8″
Derek Ogbeide was a solid contributor in his freshman campaign for Mark Fox, despite playing less than 20 minutes per game. He finished second on the team in rebounds and blocked shots a season ago. The Atlanta, Georgia native brings some more muscle to the front line for the Bulldogs.
Ogbeide is a consistent player for Mark Fox this year, playing a blue collar role opposite the flashier stats of Yante Maten down low. He’s averaging 7 points, a team-leading 7.3rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per contest. The shots that Ogbeide does take will be high percentage and most likely under the basket. He’s shooting the best percentage from the field on the team at 58.5%.
With Bam Adebayo forced to sit for long stretches with foul trouble, Kentucky interior defense struggled to handle the big fella Ogbeide. A surprise monster contributor, Ogbeide finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks. If Bam has been working on not picking up the silly off the ball fouls, he should be able to win this match up.
#2 Jordan Harris, Freshman Guard, 6’4″
Jordan Harris is the only freshman playing major minutes for the Bulldogs this season. He was ranked as a four-star prospect by most recruiting services coming out of Seminole County High School in Iron City, Georgia. He was also ranked as the third best shooting guard in the state of Georgia for the class of 2016.
Harris picked up the starting role just before SEC play began and has starting 12 of 25 games for the Bulldogs on the season. He’s scoring 5.2 points, dishing out 1.8 assists, and pulling down 1.6 rebounds per game throughout his freshman season. He’s a threat from downtown as well, hitting 47% of his threes on the season.
The freshman actually came off the bench in the last game against the Cats, but he was the fourth biggest contributor to the team in that meeting. Harris finished with 9 points, 2 rebounds, and an assist. Malik Monk will probably guard Harris or whoever is playing that 5th option on offense slot for Rick Fox.
Another road SEC game for the Kentucky Wildcats, another promo going on to get fans in the building. First 1,000 fans get a fee t-shirt tonight because it is always fun when the Super Bowl comes to town. If this game is anything similar to the sell-out that happened when the 2014-15 Karl Towns-led team played at Georgia, then the Cats have a real tough test in front of them with dealing with the crowd and how the team feeds off the intensity coming from the fans. Containing both Yante Maten and JJ Frazier is the main goal for the defense of John Calipari. The reboot goes again tonight, let’s see how it plays out.
Go Cats. Beat Bulldogs.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls from all around the world, good morning and welcome to Kentucky Sports Radio. It’s a big day around the Big Blue Nation. The Cats’ toughest remaining road test is in Athens, Georgia tonight at 6:00 on ESPN. At the conclusion of the game, four Wildcats will try to keep the Taco Bell Skills Challenge Trophy in the family on TNT. Without further adieu, here’s everything happening…
A Strong Start for the BBNBA All-Star Weekend
Friday Night’s Rising Stars Challenge showcased
first and second-year former Kentucky Wildcat stars. With four players on the floor, one was bound to walk away with MVP honors, right? Right. Jamal Murray knocked down nine three-pointers en route to 36 points, 11 assists and an MVP award.
— NBA (@NBA) February 18, 2017
Joining Murray on the victorious World Team, Trey Lyles had 9 points, 2 assists and 1 rebound. For Team USA, Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists while Devin Booker posted 17 points and 6 assists.
Today’s All-Star Weekend Schedule
Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress will do work in the D-League All-Star Game today at 2:30 on NBA TV. Tonight at 8:00 on TNT, Devin Booker, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and John Wall will try to keep the Taco Bell Skills Challenge Trophy in the UK familia. Last year the Big KAT became the first big to win the competition. With four of the eight competitors rocking Kentucky blue, according to my math the chances it stays in-house are 50 percent.
The Unibrow is Watching You
The UK billboard isn’t the only one in New Orleans to feature former Cats. The hometown hero watches over the city like a superhero in this enormous sign from Nike.
The Cats are 7.5-Point Favorites Over Georgia
Don’t trust it. Just stay away. I have a bad feeling J.J. Frazier is going to get stupid and take this thing into overtime. Luckily, I’m no soothsayer, so it’s possible UK’s reboot can run the Dawgs off their homecourt, but I’m not feeling it.
Can the Cats Keep a Lead?
This week’s edition of “Calipari’s Complaints” has focused on the Cats’ inability to maintain a large lead. A coach will never be satisfied until it’s proven in a game, but Cal said at yesterday’s press conference, “The situational work has been good for them.”
“We get leads and (the players) think, ‘OK, it’s my turn to go do my thing.’ Then you turn around and it’s an eight-point game. What just happened? Me thinking they would already know – they don’t know. I was tough yesterday (Thursday). Yesterday was a rough practice.”
Fox’s Hair hasn’t Changed…
…as of yesterday afternoon. These things can change on a dime, but it looks like this is what we’ll see this evening in Athens.
Renovations are Coming to the Joe Craft Center
When the Kentucky basketball practice facility opened ten years ago, it was without a doubt the “Gold Standard in College Basketball.” After spending 300 days a year in it for ten years, there was so much wear and tear, it was time for a change. With new facilities for football, baseball, softball, soccer and pretty much every other sport, it’s once again the basketball team’s turn.
“You knew we had to be in line,” Calipari said. “There’s a line because of us. I didn’t mind being last. We just had to be in line, and they knew it. ”
P.J. Washington is Doing Great Things in Marshall County
The future Kentucky power forward had an okay start to the weekend. Washington had 23 points, 18 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocks in a 19-point win over Hopkinsville. He’s back in action at Marshall County tonight at 6:30 .
A Fight to End All Fights
You could watch World Star fights for seven days straight without seeing anything this crazy. I don’t know what sparked the Henry Clay and Tates Creek girls to throw down, but WOW.
Tonight there was a huge fight at the Henry Clay Tates Creek girl's game.
We'll have more at 11. pic.twitter.com/hD7SeZNkIj
— LEX 18 News (@LEX18News) February 18, 2017
Today’s College Basketball Schedule
- Noon: No. 25 Notre Dame at NC State on ESPN
- Noon: Northern Iowa at Wichita State on ESPN2
- 1:00: No. 3 Kansas at No. 4 Baylor on CBS
- 2:00: No. 15 Florida at Mississippi State on ESPN
- 2:00: Texas Tech at No. 9 West Virginia on ESPN2
- 3:30: LSU at Alabama on SEC Network
- 4:00: Michigan State at No. 16 Purdue on ESPN
- 4:00: No. 17 Florida State at Pitt on ESPN2
- 6:00: The best team that ever played basketball at Georgia on ESPN
- 8:00: No. 5 Arizona at Washington on ESPN2
- 8:15: No. 14 Virginia at No. 10 North Carolina on ESPN
By Drew Franklin on ©February 17th, 2017 @ 6:10pm
We may never know where all of the $4 million in private funds will come from to overhaul the Joe Craft Center locker rooms, but we do know that some of it will come from the family that lives in that fenced-in house across from Idle Hour on Richmond Road.
That’s right: John and Ellen Calipari donated an undisclosed amount of scratch toward the renovation of John’s men’s basketball locker room in the Craft Center.
Earlier today he said, “It’s great for these kids. They’re here, they’re working. They deserve to feel good.”
By Drew Franklin on ©February 17th, 2017 @ 5:00pm
With the Joe Craft Center set to undergo a renovation with a reported $4 million price tag, John Calipari took a moment to explain why the renovation is needed.
“The building is 10 years old,” he said today, during his pre-Georgia press conference. “It was built at a time where everything was kind of cut up. We’re in this building 300 days a year, and it was time.”
“It’s funny, I’m driving through campus and I go by and I see softball, soccer’s new, and football. I see what it looks like from the road – golf – and what we’re doing. I think it’s great – baseball, track. You knew we had to be in line. There’s a line because of us. I didn’t mind being last. We just had to be in line, and they knew it. It’s good that they’re doing it.”
Calipari also explained why the Wildcat Coal Lodge is no longer the gold standard in college basketball. At the time it was built, way back in 2012, the NCAA had strict policies against some of the things Calipari wanted to include.
“The lodge was built the way it was built because the NCAA told us ‘no’ a thousand times,” he said. “Then Taj-Mahals were built and they said, ‘Well, those are fine, though.’ We were told ‘no.’ Believe me, I was in the middle of it. Joe Craft doesn’t want to hear that the lodge isn’t this and that. We built what (the NCAA) allowed us to build.”
He expects they will have to go through that again when renovating the Craft Center and any future modifications to the Lodge, but it is time to polish up the practice facility after a decade of use.
“You’re in this building 300 days. This thing gets a lot of wear and tear. It’s 10 years old, and I think that it’s nice what they’re doing. It’s great for these kids. They’re here, they’re working. They deserve to feel good.”
As predicted here on Kentucky-Sports-Radio-dot-com this morning, Kentucky opened up as a seven-point favorite in tomorrow’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs.
However, according to the good people at VegasInsider.com, the line moved to six within 30 minutes of going live.
Kentucky covered the spread in each of its last two games; will it make it three tomorrow in Athens?