Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox may take home the most SEC weekly awards, but there’s →
Basketball Season Coverage
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 10th, 2017 @ 10:34pm
On a night where Kentucky’s youth could easily have lost them the game, Isaiah Briscoe was a savior. The sophomore guard had a career-high 23 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and only 1 turnover in tonight’s win over Vanderbilt, but more importantly, he showed poise down the stretch, putting the Cats on his back on drive to the basket after drive to the basket. We’ll get to Briscoe’s heroics in a minute, but first, a funny moment from tonight’s postgame press conference. Briscoe — who can put his head down and drive to the basket with the best of them — was asked if he ever loses sight of the rim when he’s driving the lane in traffic.
Reporter: “When you’re driving through traffic, do you lose sight of the rim?”
Briscoe: “No, I know where the rim’s at. It’s been in the same spot for 20 years.”
LOL. In all seriousness, Briscoe was fantastic, and without him, Kentucky would probably have lost. Calipari admitted as much…even if he couldn’t help but nitpick.
“He has played well but he had 7 rebounds. He did more — 5 assists, 1 turn(over) — there were a couple plays, again, he’s 10-18 and I’m on him when he took two jumpers and he should have driven the ball, but I want him to just play. He’s not the issue. He gets it and he knows.”
“I just left him in. And he was good. The only thing I told him was, you saw when he was bringing the ball up — he’s played point, but he’s not — you can’t get into a walk it up game with a team like this. You have to always keep them on their heels,” Cal said, lamenting about how Briscoe was bringing the ball up too slowly with Fox out. “He was kind of jogging it up. Then I called him and said, listen, you jog it up one more time, I’m putting them in with two fouls because we can’t play this way. And then he started playing on
“He’s fast. And how about how he guarded the ball? He just went up and — he has a will to win. All the stuff he needed to work on, he has. From his free throw shooting to his three to his handle, his assist to turnover ratio is ridiculous. So, I’m proud of him.”
We all are.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 10th, 2017 @ 10:04pm
Vanderbilt fans are supposed to be smart, right? Well, not when it comes to basketball. Kentucky was up by two with 17 seconds left in tonight’s game, which Vandy’s student section interpreted as the perfect time to chant “OVERRATED” at the Cats. While losing. While Malik Monk was at the line to push the lead to four:
Monk nailed those free throws, of course, and two more later in the game to make the final score 87-81. Vanderbilt didn’t score again, which prompted the large percentage of Kentucky fans in Memorial Gym to chant “Go Big Blue.” While winning. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 10th, 2017 @ 9:55pm
To say Kentucky got into foul trouble early on tonight is the understatement of the century. Four of Kentucky’s five guards had two or more fouls in the first half, and Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox picked up two each in the first four minutes of the game. John Calipari told reporters that normally, he’s happy keeping players with two fouls on the bench for the remainder of the first half, but he didn’t like the feel of today’s game, so he put two players back in — Fox and Monk.
“I played two guys with two fouls. If I coached a thousand games, I’ve done that a handful of times. Normally, I would not — you’re out. But I did not like the feel of the game. I didn’t like their energy, I didn’t like — I said, look, we gotta make sure we’re in this. And we went up five, which was pretty good.”
In what seems to sum up Calipari’s feelings on the game in whole, he said that although he was ultimately happy with the outcome, he wasn’t happy with how those players played with two fouls. In fact…
“No, I was mad at how they handled playing with one foul. The kid fouled before he fouled him, and I’m yelling the whole time, don’t foul! Give him space, play him, don’t body him, and he goes up and tries to steal a ball and then goes inside — Malik did the same thing. Wenyen broke down, okay. I keep saying, it’s not a touchdown, it’s two points. In eight seconds, we’ll get another two and it’s even. Don’t foul. Wenyen broke down, why would you foul? Let the guy shoot the layup, it’s two points.”
Better to learn from a win than a loss, right?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 10th, 2017 @ 9:10pm
Well that was certainly an ugly basketball game to watch. It came down to the end, but Kentucky won what was basically a free-throw shooting contest in Nashville tonight, beating Vanderbilt 87-81. Forty-three fouls were called and 56 free throws taken.
Isaiah Briscoe led the way with a career-high 23 points off 10-18 shooting, along with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. De’Aaron Fox was right behind him with 22 points and 5 rebounds. In between whistles, Briscoe and Fox were basically Kentucky’s offense in the second half, attributing for 29 of Kentucky’s points in the second half. Malik Monk had a quiet night, but came through in the clutch, getting a crucial layup and hitting four foul shots in the final twenty seconds.
Stay tuned for a live stream of Cal’s comments….
For only the fourth time this season, Kentucky is rocking their true blue road uniforms. Many despise them, but the Cats are 3-1 and average 85.25 points per game in the checkerboards. Malik Monk also did this:
Let’s run it back, shall we?
The term “Memorial Magic” is thrown around a lot when Kentucky travels to Nashville. Even when Kentucky is great, nothing ever comes easy on the road at Vanderbilt. There have been a few upsets, most notably UK’s 101-86 loss as the nation’s No. 1 team in 1993, but I want to focus on the times when Kentucky won in unusual fashion.
The most recent memory is from 2013. With just a three-point lead and under 30 seconds to play, the Cats were killing the shot clock, looking for a bucket just before the buzzer. Nerlens Noel got one, but did he make it? It happens so fast in the video, you can hardly tell.
Unfortunately the video doesn’t show irate Kevin Stallings. Noel’s shot stood and the Cats won 60-58.
Arguably the most unbelievable of any buzzer-beater in the history of the school was Nazr Mohammad’s finish during Tubby Smith’s first season. I still don’t know how the ball went in and I don’t think Nazr does either.
Hopefully there’s no need for any buzzer-beaters tonight.
In a letter littered with semicolons, Vanderbilt first-year head coach Bryce Drew welcomed students back to campus from winter break by asking them to come to tonight’s game against Kentucky, then to “celebrate responsibly” by staying off the court.
Vandy is 8-7 entering tonight’s game, coming off a loss at Alabama. Good luck with that court storming, Bryce.
Last season, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Vanderbilt Commodores played each other twice in what probably are the two most dissimilar games between the same teams in history.
The first game was dominated by the Wildcats as Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Alex Poythress led Kentucky to a 19-point victory and combined for 55 of the Cats’ 76 points. On top of that was the solid defense from UK, holding Vandy to only 57 points, including no player scoring more than 13 points.
Game number two was about the polar opposite. Vandy beat Kentucky 74-62, and had four starters score in double figures. Meanwhile for the Cats, Coach Cal only had four players score period. That’s not a typo. There was 1 bench point scored in total between the two teams for the entire game, and it came from Commodore Riley LaChance.
Let’s move on to tonight’s game which should hopefully shape up to be more like the first of last year’s match ups, rather than the second. Head Coach Bryce Drew is in his first year as Vanderbilt’s head coach, coming off a long stint at his alma mater Valpo. However, under Drew’s tutiledge, the Commodores have struggled with a bit of a transition year of a roster of only 10 guys.
Here’s the projected starting lineup for the 8-7 Vanderbilt Commodores:
#5 Matthew Fisher-Davis, Junior Guard, 6’5″
Matthew Fisher-Davis is pretty much the definition of a consistent scorer for Vanderbilt and has been for two plus years. His freshman year he led the SEC in made threes, and was the SEC leader in three point percentage his sophomore season. Last year he scored a team-high 20 points in Vandy’s win over UK.
This season, Fisher-Davis is the leading the team in scoring and ranks 6th in the SEC. He’s averaging 16.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game through 15 games this year. He’s shooting right up there with the best shooters in the conference, making just four deep balls less than the SEC leader, Malik Monk, on the season. He’s shooting 42.1% from 3 and 82.9% from the free throw line.
Fisher-Davis falls right in line of the really good SEC players with hyphenated names (MKG, WCS, KAT, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dorian Finney-Smith, etc.). He plays the 3 spot for the Commodores and like Coach Cal has done with most scorers at that position this season, I could see Isaiah Briscoe getting the defensive nod tonight.
#3 Luke Kornet, Senior Center, 7’1″
Luke Kornet, who was named to the All-SEC Defensive team last season, has a bit of Anthony Davis in him. The resemblance to Davis is the transformation he went through in his senior of high school. Kornet grew 7 inches during his senior year, and then 2 more inches in his first year at Vanderbilt. Also, Kornet was 4th in the country in blocked shots last season.
This season, Kornet is putting up really solid numbers at 12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. He’s fourth in the SEC in shot blocking this year, but even more impressive is his ability to step away from the basket and knock down jumpers at his size. Kornet is shooting 32.7% from behind the arc this season, to go along with an 82.9% clip from the charity stripe.
The senior had two solid games agains the Cats last year, and his pure height could cause issues for Bam Adebayo defensively this year. While Bam has the clear athletic advantage in this matchup, he will still be giving up 4 inches to Kornet which could allow for the Commodores to try to shoot over the top of Adebayo. On the other side of the ball, while Kornet may be an above-average rim protector, I doubt he’s ever seen a guy with the strength and athleticism that Bam will bring to the post. For sure an intriguing match up in tonight’s game.
#11 Jeff Roberson, Junior Forward, 6’6″
The way that Jeff Roberson plays almost reminds me of the way Chuck Hayes used to play for the Cats back in the day. Hayes was severely undersized for the position he played but he was extremely successful regardless. Roberson will play the 4 position tonight for the Commodores at only 6’6″. He had 16 points and 8 rebounds in the win over the Cats last season.
Roberson usually isn’t going to blow you away with any one facet of his game, but he does so many little things well. At only 6’6″, he leads the team in rebounding at 7.2 per game, to go along with 9.7 points and 2.1 assists. Outside of blue collar work down low, Roberson can hit a jumper when called upon and has knocked down 17 threes this season.
He’ll probably end up being matched against the Wenyen Gabriel/Derek Willis pair on defense. The Cats will take a 3 inch advantage with either of those guys on the floor. However, both of them will have to really put an emphasis on boxing Roberson out so that he stays off the offensive glass.
#13 Riley LaChance, Junior Guard, 6’2″
After a really successful and promising freshman season, Riley LaChance hit a rough sophomore slump last year. Every facet of his game struggled and his stats showed with pretty noticeable decreases. However, LaChance is back to his old shooting ways in his junior season, proving that he can knock down the trey with the best shooters in the country.
LaChance is averaging 9.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and a team-leading 4.2 assists so far this season. He’s shooting an incredible 58.2% from 3-point range, which would be good for the best percentage in the country (LaChance doesn’t qualify for the list because he doesn’t shoot enough threes. One must make 2.5 threes per game to be eligible for the list, and LaChance is 5 makes short at this point in the season). Regardless of the list, he’s 32-55 on the year which is incredible, and he’s also shooting 88.9% from the free throw line.
LaChance’s ability to knock down a shot from virtually anywhere on the court will be one of the defensive keys for the Wildcat defense. I think Coach Cal probably puts De’Aaron Fox on the junior to start the game, with a mix of Briscoe here and there depending on how his shooting night is going. I think the struggle for Vandy is finding one of UK’s guards that LaChance can stick with on the defensive end.
#1 Payton Willis, Freshman Guard, 6’4″
Payton Willis has earned the starting nod in most of the games this season for Coach Bryce Drew. The true freshman was the 4th best player out of the state of Arkansas last year. Something tells me he didn’t hear any public outcry when he committed to play outside of Arkansas, but hey that’s just one guy’s opinion.
Willis has stepped into a starting role as a freshman quite nicely for not being as highly touted as most other starting freshmen around the country. He’s putting up 7.3 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game at the moment. He’s shooting 39% from downtown, making him just shy of the fourth Commodore starter shooting over 40% from 3.
I see the Cats probably putting Malik Monk on Willis to start the game, just because he is the least offensive threatening of the three starting guards for Vanderbilt. And I guess if I absolutely had to pick one of the UK guards to be the third best defender, I’d probably pick Monk.
As mentioned earlier, Vanderbilt has really struggled in Bryce Drew’s first season. Their record of 8-7 shows that struggle, as their best non-conference win is over Chattanooga. Their losses include some bad ones, such as Bucknell, Dayton, and a 23-point loss to Middle Tennessee State. The Cats should have no issues with Vandy tonight, but you just never know with the funky set up of that court, how the freshmen will handle that unique atmosphere. This year, Coach Cal is allowed to roam the sideline which is different from years in the past. But still, let’s just get with the times and put the benches on the sidelines where they belong. Stepping off my soap box now.
Go Cats. Beat Commodores.
It’s the school in Nashville
Of all the schools in Nashville, it’s one of them. Personally, I prefer a Belmont or Lipscomb, but I can’t hate. I’ll leave that to Freddie Maggard.
It’s Tennessee’s Preeminent Football Powerhouse
After dismantling the Volunteers 35-24 in the 2016 season finale, this is how Vanderbilt fans celebrated.
Vandy students enjoying the victory by having a little fun with the UT fans as they leave…Rocky Top on constant loop. Enjoy and share. pic.twitter.com/fvaetJC1mO
— Danny Smartt (@dsmartt2124) November 28, 2016
After the loss, Tennessee celebrated the “Championship of Life.”
There’s a New Sheriff in Town
Unfortunately, we can no longer mock the many faces of Kevin Stallings. After more than 15 years and a pair of Sweet Sixteens, Stallings left academia to coach Pittsburgh. So far, they’re 12-4 under Stallings and will take on UofL at the Yum! Center tomorrow.
Enter Bryce Drew, the face of Valpo basketball. The coach’s son is remembered by all for his unforgettable NCAA Tournament buzzer-beater against Ole Miss. Following his college career, he bounced around professionally for seven years before joining his father’s Valpo staff. Drew spent a decade in various roles at Valpo before departing for Vanderbilt.
Riley LaChance is still in Town
You probably think LaChance (Spanish for “The Chance”) has been a Commodore since Matt Freijie was in town, but he’s actually just a junior. A career 40 percent three-point shooter, LaChance is en fuego this season, knocking down 58 percent of his shots from behind the arc.
LaChance isn’t the only Commodore knocking down more than 50 percent of his three-pointers. Nolan Cressler comes off the bench and hits 52 percent of his three-point attempts.
Cameron Justice is Not
Kentucky’s 2015 Mr. Basketball decided to transfer from the program after the first semester, playing in just seven of Vandy’s first ten games under Bryce Drew. He will finish his career at IUPUI.
They have a Player Named Phillip McGloin*
This is not a joke. If it was a joke, I’d call him Phillip McCrack or Phillip Magooch. His parents are either evil geniuses or completely oblivious.
Phillip McGloin has played in two games this year, but has not recorded a stat. The junior has 11 career points.
* Apparently the walk-on quit basketball to focus on his studies before the season, but ESPN & more are still giving him stats for this season.
A Seven-Foot Three Point Shooter
Luke Kornet is Vandy’s second-leading scorer, averaging 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He extends the floor, trailing in transition to knock down 33 percent of his threes, with most coming from the top of the key. Yesterday Calipari was asked how you defend a 7-foot three-point shooter. “It’s hard.”
Don’t let the three-point statistic fool you. Kornet still primarily plays in the post. It’ll be interesting to see how Bam Adebayo matches up with Kornet.
Do you think they’ll shoot threes?
If you’ve made it this far and haven’t noticed a trend, I don’t know what to tell you. They shoot threes, and they shoot a lot of them. They make 10 threes a game and lead the SEC in makes (153) and percentage (40.3). On the other side, the Kentucky defense holds opponents to 29.7 percent behind the three-point line. Something’s got to give.
By Nick Roush on ©January 10th, 2017 @ 9:00am
What. A. Game.
In the last year we saw Villanova beat North Carolina on a buzzer-beater, the Cavs erase a 3-1 deficit against the 73-win Warriors, and the Cubs win the World Series in Game 7, in extra innings, on the road, against the Cleveland Indians. Some how, some way, this year’s College Football Playoff rematch between Clemson and Alabama was just as great.
Alabama entered the fourth quarter with a ten-point advantage. Under Nick Saban, they never lost a double-digit lead entering the fourth quarter, until last night. There were THREE touchdowns in the final four and a half minutes. After Clemson took the lead, Bama converted on a fourth down (a la Damien Harris), threw a double pass, then Jalen Hurts scrambled for a 30-yard touchdown. Bama left 2:07 on the clock. Clemson only needed 2:06 to get the win.
It was a late night, ending after 12:30, but well worth the wait. As great as the game was, the side stories were just as good. Bill Walton led the charge.
When Walton started ranting about weed, Jay Bilas didn’t need to say a word.
Of all the talking heads, I don’t think anybody called it quite like Mr. Patrick Towles.
I can't believe it, but I got the Tigers 35-31 tonight.
— Patrick Towles (@patty_ice_8) January 9, 2017
The Crimson Tide lost, but they aren’t the night’s biggest losers, we are. For the next 229 days, we’ll be without college football. TGFKB (Thank God For Kentucky Basketball).
Cats Travel to Nashville
The Vanderbilt Commodores are 10-point underdogs when they host the Kentucky Wildcats tonight at 7:00 on ESPN. Vandy looks different without
Hank Hill Bill Dotreve Kevin Stallings on the bench. Bryce Drew’s squad is 8-7, 2-1 in SEC play. They’ll try to bounce back tonight after receiving their first loss in conference play Saturday at Alabama.
Drew’s Similar Style
The coaches have changed, but Vandy is still a set-heavy team that loves to jack threes. They make them too. Vandy shoots over 40 percent from behind the arc, averaging 10 makes per game.
Here’s what Cal had to say about it during yesterday’s press conference:
“The crazy thing is that I thought I wouldn’t have to watch last year’s Vanderbilt tapes. Why is that?” He asked reporters, who replied that Vandy has a new coach. “Really? That’s what you would think and then I watched my first game tape and they’re running the same stuff that they ran a year ago. So now I had to go back an start watching our game tapes from last year with them. It’s smart. They’re a terrific offensive team with 3-point shooters. That’s how they played, and they’re running almost all of the stuff with adjustments, but it’s mostly the stuff that they ran a year ago.”
Their Gym is Still Stupid
Who’s on their bench is different, but they’re still in the end zones. I despise the setup, but Mychal Mulder said it’s not so bad.
“It’s not crazy, it’s just a further walk to the scorer’s table if you ask me,” Mulder said yesterday. “Interesting way their court is set up, but what’s most important is what goes on between the lines, if you ask me.”
The Last Day Before the Start of Classes
UK’s spring semester begins tomorrow. That means John Calipari will be able to talk about Hamidou Diallo on tomorrow night’s call-in show. Yesterday he had to give a “Who are we talking about?” when asked if any new players were on campus.
This also means we’ll hear from new football players. We have a good guess on about eight midyear junior college transfers and early high school graduates, but we won’t get exact names numbers until after tomorrow.
Still Missing Football?
This will make things worse. If only KY Wildcats TV made this video five, ten, fifteen minutes longer.
Anthony Davis’ Scary Night
The Unibrow was blowing away the Derrick Rose-less New York Knicks. In just 29 minutes he had 40 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks. He was forced to leave the game before the end of the third quarter when he was pushed into the first row of the stands while driving to the basket, seen below.
Fortunately, the x-rays on his hip were negative. He’ll be day-to-day moving forward, returning after the bruise heals.
Trae Young Did THIS with a Basketball
I grew up in the And 1 era and I’ve never seen anything like this.
— OKHoops Report (@OKHoopsReport) January 10, 2017
I know getting Young to Kentucky is a longshot, but he’s so fantastically original I gotta keep sharing this stuff.
UK Baseball Needs a New Organist
UK is hosting tryouts for those who wish to play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” on a regular basis at Kentucky baseball games this spring. Tryouts will take place on January 24th at John Cropp (Softball) Stadium, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Potential organists should bring their own keyboards and will be required to provide the cable hookups.
Submit your application here.
It’s L.I.T. Week at Valley High School, showcasing the Top 20 teams in the city of Louisville. A look at the bracket:
St. X, CAL, Fairdale and Central advance after last night’s first round victories. Today it’s Waggener/Male, Butler/Eastern, DeSales/Valley and Bullitt East/PRP.
Can Matt Out-Deadlift STD?
Shannon the Dude isn’t just talking trash, he’s taking Matt Jones to task.
— Shannon The Dude (@ShannonTheDude) January 10, 2017
Hear Matt respond when KSR begins in one hour.
You don’t need me to tell you how fun this basketball season has been as it reaches its halfway point of the regular season, and you sure don’t need me to tell you how good Kentucky is and how much better it will be in the coming months.
If you have eyeballs and have been watching the games — and I assume both of those apply to you since you’re here reading this — you know this is a special bunch that is loads of fun to watch each and every night.
But sometimes it doesn’t hurt to get some reassurance, so tonight let’s go over some fascinating numbers from the Kentucky Wildcats through 15 games in this potentially special 2016-17 college basketball season.
… years since Kentucky has scored 97 points in three consecutive SEC games.
… years since Kentucky won its first three SEC games by 23 points or more.
… games in which the Wildcats shot 50 percent or better from the field.
… is the highest points-per-game output under John Calipari at Kentucky.
… seconds per possession is the lowest among Power Five conferences this year and the lowest at Kentucky under Calipari by over two seconds.
… is the third-best offensive efficiency rating, according to KenPom, where Kentucky is the No. 1 overall team.
… scoring margin is second-best in college basketball.
… points per game scored on either layups or dunks. How about that for getting to the rack?
… dunks for Bam Adebayo through 15 games puts him on pace to contend with Anthony Davis’ 92 dunks in 2011-12.
… points per game by Malik Monk ranks second among all NCAA freshman and 14th overall. If that number holds, it will be the most by any player in the Calipari era.
… three-pointers per game by Monk is the highest among NCAA freshmen. Monk is five three-pointers behind Jodie Meeks’ record-setting pace in 2008-09 when he hit 117 on the year.
… assists for De’Aaron Fox is well ahead of Tyler Ulis’ pace of a year ago when he set the school’s assist record. Ulis had 85 dimes through 15 games on his way to 246 for the season.
… SEC Freshman of the Week awards for De’Aaron Fox ties the record set by Ben Simmons and Jamal Murray, who had four apiece, last season.
… assists per game puts Fox atop the SEC.
… combined points per game scored by Fox, Monk and Adebayo. John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins scored only 43.1 per contest in 2009-10.
… combined points per game for Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins and Mychal Mulder is the most by a collection of seniors in the Calipari era.
… percent from the foul line for Isaiah Briscoe, up from 46 percent last year.
… percent from outside for Briscoe, up from 13.5 percent last year. He shot 80 percent in Kentucky’s first three conference games by hitting four of his five attempts.
… days until the Final Four!
By Nick Roush on ©January 09th, 2017 @ 9:00pm
In the second half of his second and final season at Kentucky, Mychal Mulder has found a way to consistently contribute in an unusual position: power forward.
John Calipari has tried a four-guard lineup a few times, finding success when Mulder fights. As Malik Monk battled foul trouble against Arkansas, Mulder played nine minutes and knocked down a pair of threes.
“I loved the fact that he fought and didn’t give an inch,” Calipari said today. “He battles. He wasn’t afraid. He makes us different.”
When Mulder entered the game, Kentucky extended their lead. Describing it as a “great opportunity,” Mulder showcased his ability to defend forwards, something he did in junior college.
“In junior college I got to do that a little on that team. I had that kind of experience in the past,” Mulder said. “In my second year I played the four a little bit. We didn’t really have a huge team that year, so I had the opportunity to play the four a little bit and see what I can do down there.”
That experience paid off.
“As a guard trying to guard a big like that — especially that guy, he was a pretty big guy — I was just trying to keep the ball away from him. Try to front him as much as I can, fight for rebounds, fight for position. As long as you’re fighting I think you’ll be fine.”
And as long as Mulder keeps fighting, Calipari will keep playing him as Kentucky’s guard/forward.
Hear everything Mulder and Dominque Hawkins had to say after the jump.