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Basketball Season Coverage

Kevin Knox Makes Naismith Trophy Watch List

Kevin Knox is one of 30 finalists to make the cut for the late-season watch list for the Naismith Trophy, given each year to college basketball’s best player.

The small forward has scored more than 20 points in six games this season and is averaging 15 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.  The freshman is also a finalist for the Julius Erving Award and the Lute Olson Award’s All-American Team.

Kentucky will face two other finalists this week, Auburn’s Bryce Brown and Alabama’s Colin Sexton.  The list will be cut ten on February 28 and the winner will be announced during the Final Four.


Kentucky Launches New Facebook Series “Inside the Madness: University of Kentucky Basketball”

Kentucky Launches New Facebook Series “Inside the Madness: University of Kentucky Basketball”

The University of Kentucky announced a new documentary series that will provide an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at John Calipari’s program.

“Inside the Madness: University of Kentucky Basketball” is a 10-episode series produced by the creators of Showtime’s “A Season With.”  The series debuts this Saturday, with a new episode following each week through March 31.

It’s the third time Calipari has opened his doors to television cameras at UK.  The “One and Not Done” 30 for 30 was an overwhelming success.  However, you couldn’t say the same about ESPN’s “All-Access” series from the 2012-13 preseason, a season many fans would like to forget.  By the looks of the trailer, this series could be the best yet.

“What you see in the beginning of the year is not what you’re going to see at the end.”

John Calipari had this to say about the show:

We get approached all the time to do all-access shows. The one question I always have is, what is our why? Why are we doing this? What I liked about this it’s about showing the type of kids we have here and the family atmosphere we’ve created. The great thing is the crew can do that while being of no distraction to our team and our goals. They’re around, but they’re a fly on the wall. We get to open the doors to our team in a way we’ve never done before while I coach my team and these kids learn.

To see each week’s episode, subscribe to the Facebook page.  You can also find the complete schedule and more information on the show from UK Athletics.


GAMEDAY: Kentucky Faces Tall Task at Auburn

GAMEDAY: Kentucky Faces Tall Task at Auburn

Andy Lyons | Getty Images 

Road Dogs

Ending the first three-game losing streak of the John Calipari era will not be easy.  Kentucky tips-off at Auburn tonight at 9:00 as 8.5-point underdogs.  The Tigers sit atop the SEC standings and at No. 10 in the AP Poll.

Bruce Pearl has hosted John Calipari only once at Auburn — Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray’s squad fell 75-70 — but Cal owns a 5-12 series lead vs. Pearl and Kentucky has a 30-14 advantage in the plains.  Even though the Cats are fighting an uphill battle, they can easily pull off the upset because…

Kentucky had a Players Only Meeting

The cliched moment of truth many fans have been waiting for finally happened, kinda, sorta, in a way.  It wasn’t the kind of meeting you’re probably envisioning.  Quade Green said the team simply had a heart-to-heart on the bus ride home from Texas A&M.

“My aspect, I think I’ve done a poor job [of leading],” Quade said. “Poor job trying to get the team together. Ever since we lost to Texas A&M, as a team we talked together so we’ve been on the same page ever since. Ever since that loss talking on the bus ride, we’ve been on the same page now.”

Will Bryce Brown be Back? 

Probably.  The Tigers’ leading scorer (16.6 ppg, 5th in the SEC) missed Saturday’s game at Georgia with a shoulder strain, but returned to practice on Monday in a non-contact capacity.  Pearl said if Brown was good to go 100 percent on Tuesday, he’d play against UK.  There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be healthy enough to play in arguably Auburn’s biggest game of the year.

Crossover Night on ESPN

Kentucky’s primetime 9:00 tip-off highlights ESPN2’s Crossover coverage.  All night they are mixing up their broadcast combos with professional and collegiate announcers.  Kentucky will be treated to the stylings of Adam Amin, P.J. Carlesimo, Dan Dakich and Laura Rutledge.

If you’d rather just listen to Tom Leach and Mike Pratt, you can find them on the UK Sports Network, or Sirius-138 and XM-190.

Here’s a look at the full lineup for ESPN’s Crossover Night:

  • 7:00; ESPN2; Virginia Tech at Duke; Mark Jones, Hubie Brown, Jay Bilas, Allison Williams
  • 8:00; ESPN; Clippers at Celtics; Ryan Ruocco, Dick Vitale, Mark Jackson, Lisa Salters
  • 10:30; ESPN; Warriors at TrailBlazers; Dave Pasch, Bill Walton, Doris Burke, Cassidy Hubbarth

It’s a White Out

For the second straight game, Kentucky is on the road, playing in the middle of a white out.  Of course.

Today’s Tale of the Tape

White is Gold

That was the call on NBC when Shaun White finished a beautiful gold medal performance in the men’s halfpipe.

How did White celebrate?  “Mountain Dews baby.”


Hamidou Diallo takes ownership of “roller coaster” season

In many ways, Hamidou Diallo has become the poster child of Kentucky’s struggles. Like Kentucky, he showed glimpses of greatness early on, but has reverted to bad habits. In the past four games, he’s averaged only 5.75 points (2.9 if you take out the second half vs. Texas A&M) and looks less like a dynamic playmaker and more like a bull in a china shop, flailing at the basket and arguing with his coach and teammates when things don’t go his way. Today, Hami acknowledged his recent struggles and vowed to do better, especially on defense.

It’s been a roller coaster for me. It’s been up and down and I’ve still been trying to identify myself within this team. I haven’t been playing well, have been playing terrible on defense and I just need to pick it up. I need to pick it up to a different level of play for myself and for this team.”

After watching him vs. Texas A&M, it was really good to see Hami take ownership of his poor play, which he told reporters was glaring on film.

“It looks terrible on the film, to be honest. We all look terrible, including myself, and it’s just things we’re going to have to get better at. We see it on the film now and now it’s all about correcting it.”

Kenny Payne told reporters that this team isn’t capable of making up for their scoring droughts, a statement Hami wholeheartedly agreed with.

“Yeah, 100 percent. We’ve seen it multiple times. We’re not good enough to let any team just come out and score a bunch of baskets on us, hit a bunch of shots and think that we’re going to be able to play our way back every game. We’re just not that good.”

That’s a frank statement I doubt anybody would argue with, as is this next one.

“Me, myself, I have to do a much better job on defense and a much better job on offense.”


Does Kentucky follow the latest trend of college basketball?

College basketball has been incredibly weird this season.

We’ve seen more top ten and top 25 losses in the history of the sport, with blue blood programs Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, and Kansas combining for 26 losses on the year. Just last weekend, eight top 25 teams lost to unranked or lower-ranked opponents, including three in the top five and six of the top ten.

As a whole, however, college basketball is shattering records, in a good way.

Ken Pomeroy of the Athletic broke down the latest trends of college basketball, and the numbers are mind-boggling. We are seeing an all-time high in free-throw percentage, three-point attempts, two-point percentage, among many other categories.

Shooting continues to improve. For the third consecutive season, free-throw percentage and 3-point attempts are at all-time highs. For the second consecutive season, 2-point percentage is at an all-time high. And 3-point percentage is the highest it’s been since the line was moved to its current location 10 seasons ago.

All of the great shooting has led to teams making a collective 51.0 percent (effective FG) of their attempts, which would break the all-time record of 50.5 set last season.

While these numbers are all positive and show the actual product is improving, the most shocking statistic involves total free throw attempts.

Officials have been the center of controversy, and watching some Kentucky games have been like watching free throw contests, but we’ve actually seen the fewest number of free throws this season since 1974.

The most dramatic change is in the number of free throws being shot. I haven’t heard any discussion of this, but fouls are noticeably down. Like, way down. There have been 18.3 fouls per game compared to 18.9 last season and 19.4 two seasons ago. In 2014, there were 19.2 fouls per game. The resulting free throws that season helped bump up efficiency to a level we won’t reach this season despite much better shooting.

Along the same lines, teams have shot an average of 19.5 free throws per game compared to 22.3 in 2014. This season will have the fewest free throws since 1974, when there were 18.9 attempts per game.

The visual showing the difference is wild.

So where do the Wildcats come into play on this?

Right now, Kentucky’s effective field goal percentage comes out to 50.79%, which is right around the national average. They’re currently shooting 47% total from the field, 51% from two, and 33% from three. Again, right on line with the rest of college basketball.

They are also shooting 69% from the free-throw line on 623 total attempts. UK players have committed 477 total fouls, good for 131st-most in the entire nation and an average of 19 fouls per contest, less than one above the national average.

Kentucky opponents, however, are shooting 68% from the free throw line and have committed 508 total fouls. They’re shooting 41% from the field, 29% from three, and have an EFG% of 47.11%, proving the Cats are impressing on the defensive side of the ball.

All in all, despite this being a “down” year for Kentucky basketball, we’re right on line with the rest of college basketball.

Yes, you read that correctly.

According to the numbers, your Wildcats are actually contributing to a historically great basketball season.

To read KenPom’s entire article breaking down the latest trend of college basketball, head on over here.


NEW: Tubby Smith and 1997-98 National Championship team featured on new Maker’s Mark bottle

NEW: Tubby Smith and 1997-98 National Championship team featured on new Maker’s Mark bottle

 

The 2018 edition of the University of Kentucky Maker’s Mark bottle is officially here.

Here’s an exclusive look at the label for the new Maker’s Mark bottle that will honor the Tubby Smith and the 1997-98 National Championship team.

The label talks about the team’s success and overcoming the odds:

“In his very first season as the University of Kentucky head coach, Tubby Smith took the 1997-98 team all the way to the top. A 78-69 win in the finals over the Utah Utes gave UK its seventh national championship. The Wildcats ended the season with a 35-4 record, despite being one of the only teams ever to win a championship without a First-Team All-American or a future NBA Lottery pick.”

Maker’s Mark has a partnership with Keeneland to produce five University of Kentucky bottles that started back in 2016. The first three honored Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, and the 1996 National Championship squad.

The final bottle of the collection will release in 2019, which will almost certainly celebrate John Calipari and the 2012 National Championship.

What do you guys think?


@AuburnMBB

Kentucky looking to capitalize on size advantage vs. Auburn

@AuburnMBB

Tennessee and Texas A&M exploited Kentucky’s weaknesses inside, but tomorrow night, the Cats will face an Auburn team whose tallest starter is 6’7″. Kenny Payne told reporters he’s hoping that size advantage will inspire a big performance from his big men vs. the Tigers.

“I think our advantages are going to be our length, our athleticism. They are not a tall team. They are basically, it looks like, three or four guards and a forward. Their tallest guy is 6-7, 6-8 that is playing minutes. We have to take advantage of that. That means offensive rebounding, that means stuff around the baskets.”

Someone who can really use his size to his advantage is Nick Richards. For every good play the 6’11” big man gives Kentucky, there’s been a baffling one to offset it, which is proof to Payne that it’s all in his head.

“I just think Nick needs to play confidently. Another way of saying it is get out of your own self’s way. You’re trained. You are walking in the games, playing a good game. So what happens when you step on the court?…What changed in your mind mentally that made you have self-doubt. That’s what the challenge is with him. He’s a good player and he needs to go out there and believe in him the way we do.”

After watching film of Kentucky’s “terrible” performance vs. Texas A&M, Hamidou Diallo stressed that the Cats can’t just rely on their size tomorrow night; to win, they’re going to have to match Auburn’s effort, which hasn’t always been easy for this group.

“They’re not very tall, but they play really hard. So it makes up for itself. They play really hard and we’re just going to have to go out there and compete. With length or without length, we’re going to have to play. They’re going to be there trying to battle us, playing really aggressive and they’re a good team. They’re capable of beating us and I think they’re the best team in the conference right now. So it’s a really big game for us right now and we’re just going to have to come out and try to fight for the whole game. All 40 minutes.”

“We have to be strong,” Payne added. “We have to be the aggressor. We have to go after them. We really have to go out and play desperate basketball and confident basketball, which is really important.”


Watch out, Kentucky had a TEAM MEETING

One of the greatest certainties in sports is the all-important players-only meeting during a losing streak. Sure enough, Quade Green told reporters today that Kentucky’s players had a “talk” on the bus after Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M, their third straight.

“My aspect, I think I’ve done a poor job [of leading],” Quade said. “Poor job trying to get the team together. Ever since we lost to Texas A&M, as a team we talked together so we’ve been on the same page ever since. Ever since that loss talking on the bus ride, we’ve been on the same page now.”

Assuming the team flew out of the airport in College Station, that bus ride only took maybe ten minutes, but those ten minutes were apparently full of REALIZATIONS and HARD TRUTHS.

“We’ve just gotta get back to our winning selves, really. I don’t think anybody on this team really lost three in a row in their previous years of playing basketball. It’s just a hard thing for all of us, even Coach Cal. We’ve gotta come out with some fight.”

It’s only a matter of time before we start hearing the Breakfast Club is back.


Is Wenyen Gabriel the solution to Kentucky’s scoring droughts?

As we are all well aware, Kentucky is 0-8 in games in which they’ve had a five-minute or longer scoring drought; as we are all also well aware, that must stop if the Cats hope to make any kind of noise in March. Assistant head coach Kenny Payne told reporters getting the offense moving is objective number one for tomorrow night’s game at No. 10 Auburn.

“The challenge is, there’s four, five, six-minute stretches in games where we’re not producing, where we go four minutes without a basket, where we got five minutes and they score seven out of eight possessions. We’re not good enough to make that up. We’re just not. We’re a good team, but when you give teams baskets, literally give them baskets, and it’s going to come down to a two, four, six-point game, you look back at the game and those four-minute spurts, those five-minute spurts that have happened multiple times throughout the game were killing you.”

Payne agrees with Calipari that one way Kentucky can get the offense flowing is by getting the ball to Wenyen Gabriel more.

“Wenyen is a good player and he gives us everything he has. When you look over the last four or five games, I think he’s averaging two or three shots. Here’s a kid who can make jump shots for us. We desperately need shooting. He can do that. So we’ve got to get him on the floor and it’s on not Wenyen but the other guys, when he’s open, to get him the ball in the shooting pocket so he can relax and shoot the ball.”

Between Calipari claiming he’s ditching his rotation to these comments about Wenyen, I think there’s a decent chance Wenyen gets the start tomorrow night.


Auburn opens as heavy favorite vs. Kentucky

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images North America

As expected, Kentucky will be the major underdog in Auburn tomorrow night. Vegas has spoken and Auburn opened as a 8.5-point favorite vs. the Cats. In ten minutes, that’s already moved to 9.5.

Will it be double-digits by game time?


Kentucky coaches to players: “Go prove people wrong”

Given Kentucky’s struggles right now, you might think the last thing they need is a road game at No. 10 Auburn; not according to this coaching staff. Today, assistant head coach Kenny Payne said tomorrow’s game is the perfect opportunity to see what this group is made of.

“If you’ve been around Cal long enough, you realize opportunity. This is a great opportunity to go into a hostile environment with a bunch of young players, freshmen and sophomores and go steal one. That’s the game plan. Go take one from them. They’re not going to give it to us. Without a doubt, they’ve been one of the best teams in this conference. They’ve only got two losses in conference. Everything would say we’ve got our hands full; so, go prove people wrong.”

Will losing three in a row be the slap in the face these players need to rise to the challenge? Payne hopes so.

“They’re getting a lesson there are no excuses at Kentucky. There is no, ‘My stomach hurts, I don’t feel good, I’m fighting the flu, I don’t have it tonight.’ There is no, ‘The referee gave me a bad call.’ There is no, ‘I was open and he didn’t pass it to me.’ The end result of all of this is, we brought you here to be winning basketball players, and that’s why you’re here. That’s your DNA or you would not be in this program.”

This staff is well-versed in dealing with freshmen, but after the first three-game losing streak of the Calipari era, Payne said they’re not backing off on holding players accountable for the mistakes, even if it hurts their egos.

“You have to hold these young people accountable. You have to make sure that you love them, that you — and, I hate to say the word — hit them in the face or hit them with reality. That means challenge them. Get after their butts. When you’re not playing hard, when you’re tired, that’s not acceptable, and we’re going to get after you for that…We’re going to challenge you as a freshman to think like a senior.”

Claw back vs. a top ten opponent or shrink further into the shadows? Tomorrow night will tell us a lot.


LIVE: Kenny Payne Previews Match-Up with Auburn

Kenny Payne is giving John Calipari a break.  In a few moments UK’s associate head coach will be at the podium to preview Kentucky’s road trip to Auburn.  Watch it all go down, courtesy of KY Wildcats TV.


Zero Wildcats Crack the First Round of the 2019 NBA Mock Draft

Since John Calipari arrived at Kentucky, Kentucky Sports Radio dot com has shared thousands of mock drafts filled with Kentucky Wildcats, who are usually featured at the top of the lottery.  That was then, this is now.

We live in a world where Kentucky basketball players aren’t the most hyped NBA draft prospects.  In the first 2019 NBA Mock Draft by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, three Duke players sit atop the big board: R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson.  You will not find a Kentucky player until you reach the first pick of the second round.

31. Jarred Vanderbilt
50. Nick Richards

We’ve learned over the years that “expert” opinions and mock drafts don’t directly translate to on-court production.  Plenty will change between now and next year.  This isn’t something that should make you lose any sleep.

However, it’s quite a shock to see little to no hype surrounding Cal’s Cats.  You could understand why the “experts” might not be bullish about UK’s sophomore class, but to not see anyone in featured from UK’s incoming class?  That just doesn’t happen.

For Calipari’s one and done philosophy to be successful, he needs to play with the most talented players in the country.  If Cal only has two second round picks on next year’s team, Kentucky could be in trouble.

[ESPN]


Today on KSR: Fat Tuesday

Layne Murdoch Jr. | Pelicans.com

Mardi Gras and Boogie and The Brow go together better than peas and carrots.  This time last year DeMarcus Cousins used the New Orleans Fat Tuesday parade as his introduction to the fans.  Much has changed in the last year.  Instead of throwing out beads, this year he’s throwing up weights to start his “resurgence.”

In his absence, Davis has changed his setting to “Beast” mode.  He posted 38 points and 10 rebounds in the purple Mardi Gras uniforms.

To all my good Catholic friends, shake out all of the bad tonight while you can.  Here’s to hoping the Kentucky Wildcats abstain from bad basketball this Lenten season.

Coach Cal Previews Auburn

Coach Cal will be back at the podium for a press conference today to talk about tomorrow’s trip to Auburn.  Hopefully it’s as exciting as last night’s call-in show.  He was fired up.  Calipari may say he’s tired, but doesn’t sound too tired to turn this team team around.

Will Bryce Brown be Back? 

Auburn’s leading scorer suffered a shoulder strain last Wednesday against Texas A&M.  He returned to practice yesterday in a non-contact capacity.  Bruce Pearl said Brown will play against UK if he can practice at 100 percent today.  Auburn was able to beat Georgia on Saturday without Brown.

“It was really swollen and sore. He wasn’t able to function as far as mobility,” Pearl said. “He has the mobility now, but we’ll see if he has the stability.”

Isaac Humphries Needs Your Help

The former Kentucky Wildcat launched the Inside-Out Challenge yesterday to combat bullying.  Humphries is encouraging fans to wear their t-shirts inside-out and use the hashtag #MyInsideOut.  The meaning behind it is simple.

“The symbolism behind it is, turning your shirt inside-out shows that you accept people for who they are on the inside,” Humphries said.

To hear more of Humphries’ message and see how he’s spent his first year away from UK, listen to the latest edition of The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast.

Terry Touches Down

The Deep Ball is Back.  Terry Wilson posted this beautiful bomb to Isaiah Epps on Instagram. Don’t Geek.

A post shared by Terry Wilson (@terrytouchdown3) on

Bucknell Bison Buzzer-Beater

I can’t wait to see them do this to Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  Is it March yet?

Super Tuesday TV Schedule

Time Game Network
6:30 Georgetown at Butler CBSSN
7:00 #23 Oklahoma at #7 Texas Tech ESPN
7:00 #13 Kansas at Iowa State ESPN2
7:00 #21 Texas A&M at Mizzou ESPNU
7:00 Arkansas at Ole Miss SEC
9:00 #1 Virginia at Miami ESPN
9:00 #2 Michigan State at Minnesota ESPN2
9:00 South Carolina at #18 Tennessee ESPNU
9:00 SU at Alabama SEC

Duane Wilson, player with partially torn ACL for Texas A&M, announces end of college career

Photo: Leon Bennett/Getty Images

During Kentucky’s loss to Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon, Aggie guard Duane Wilson fell to the ground in tears, and eventually had to be helped off the floor.

Wilson had been playing a few weeks with a partially-torn ACL, and when he grabbed that left knee during the game, it didn’t look good.

Today, the Aggie guard announced that his collegiate career is over.

Aggie guard JJ Caldwell was dismissed from the team and fellow backup guard Jay Jay Chandler was also suspended indefinitely, meaning A&M will be down three scholarship players likely for the remainder of the season.

Wilson’s status became a topic of debate following the injury by both commentators and fans. His toughness was on full display, and it was certainly admirable to see someone put it all on the line for his team. Our Kentucky team has seen some major issues on the effort end, especially as of late, so Wilson’s passion for the game certainly gave John Calipari some pregame speech material going forward.

That being said, playing on a partially torn ACL had to have been horrible for his long-term health, and that only worsened when he suffered the further injury on Saturday. How did team doctors pass him and allow him to risk maximum damage? How did the coaching staff see him struggling and in pain and still let him play? I know college sports are important, especially for a five-year senior like Wilson, but there’s now a chance he walks with significant pain for the rest of his life.

I know Wilson said his “college” career is over and said he’d be back, but there’s now a chance he is never able to make money by playing professionally overseas. Were the few extra games worth it?

What do you guys think? Admirable passion by Wilson or stupidity by the Texas A&M staff?