Basketball Season Coverage
By Maggie Davis on ©February 17th, 2019 @ 10:30am
If you missed last night’s post-game show (hey, an 8 p.m. tip is pretty late!), don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Matt’s KSR Postgame Show is now available on podcast. Listen here to get all of the reactions from Kentucky’s big win over No. 1 Tennessee, including your calls.
Cats by 17.
By Sam Gormley on ©February 17th, 2019 @ 10:00am
Wow. Quite possibly the only word I can use to describe last night’s performance. Kentucky opened up the second half on a 14-0 en route to an 86-69 win over #1 Tennessee. Now for the stories to start your Sunday morning:
PJ Washington continues to roll
As Jay Bilas said during the second half, PJ Washington has flipped a switch over the last ten or so games and has been playing better than anyone in the country.
The UK sophomore finished with 23 points on 9/11 shooting while also pulling down 5 rebounds. Washington paced the Cats in the first few minutes of the game by scoring their first 7 points. Much of this team’s success over the past month and a half has been due to the emergence of the player that we all thought Washington could be.
If he keeps this up, and helps lead Kentucky to a deep run in March, he very easily could be looking at getting himself in to being a lottery pick; something that he desperately wants and it shows.
Herro on the Glass
One of the more surprising stats from the victory was Tyler Herro’s rebounding total. The Wisconsin native finished the game with a career high 13 rebounds which was 5 higher than the next highest total on either team.
While this is not something he will need to do every game, just showing that he has the ability to do so is something that should scare teams across the nation.
The stat was also impressive for this point:
Tyler Herro now has the most rebounds by a Kentucky freshman against an opponent ranked #1 in the AP Poll (12)
— Corey Price (@coreyp08) February 17, 2019
And it gets better:
Tyler Herro is the first Kentucky player to have at least 15 points and 13 rebounds against an opponent ranked #1 in the AP Poll
— Corey Price (@coreyp08) February 17, 2019
Ashton Hagans returns to form
For about the last five or so games, Ashton Hagans has not been the same player that he was since the Utah game. Last night, he got back on the right track with an excellent performance. Although only having two steals, Hagans finished with 9 points and 7 assists and more importantly only 1 turnover.
Everyone of Cal’s elite teams have had good point guards. When the point guard struggles, the team usually will as well. Hagans is extremely important to the success of this team come March and if he turns in similar performances to last night, we could be in for a fun ride.
Student becomes Legend after hitting half court shot on Gameday
One of the more popular College Gameday segments is when they give a student a chance to hit a half court shot for a chance to win X amount of money.
Kentucky has never had a student hit the shot… until yesterday.
“LETS F***ING GO!!!” pic.twitter.com/aRC94xGX3s
— KY Clips™? (@KY_Clips) February 16, 2019
Yeah, the language is maybe a little NSFW, but hey, if I just won $19,000 I’d probably act the same way and I am sure you would too.
Multiple Former Cats return to Rupp
With it being the NBA All Star break, multiple former Cats made their way to Rupp Arena to take in the big game. Players like Alex Poythress, Isaac Humphries, Kevin Knox, and Wenyen Gabriel all were in attendance and served as the honorary “Y.”
Knox was interviewed during the game and spoke about how Cal “put him out of his comfort zone,” which in turn helped make him a top 10 pick.
Hamidou Diallo wins NBA Slam Dunk Contest
One player that was not in Lexington for last night’s game was Hamidou Diallo. The former Cat was competing in the popular NBA Slam Dunk contest that saw him take home the top prize!
The dunk that everyone is talking about is this one… it still leaves me speechless.
Hami did THAT ? pic.twitter.com/69t49M061y
— KY Clips™? (@KY_Clips) February 17, 2019
Here is the champ:
Your 2019 Slam Dunk Contest Champ ?pic.twitter.com/hytXrfO7oZ
— KY Clips™? (@KY_Clips) February 17, 2019
Hope you enjoy your Sunday. It is definitely a GREAT day to be Wildcat!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 17th, 2019 @ 12:00am
There are wins and then there are WINS. We knew No. 1 Tennessee coming to town would inspire Kentucky’s best effort and an electric atmosphere at Rupp Arena, but I’m not sure any of us expected a 17-point thumping. On the taped up shoulders of PJ Washington, Kentucky soared to an 86-69 win over Tennessee tonight, the biggest win over a No. 1 ranked team in program history.
The victory not only proved that Kentucky is a legitimate national title contender, it reestablished a pecking order in the SEC that had gone a bit awry. That “Orange is the new Blue” narrative ESPN’s been pushing? PJ Washington swatted it to the rafters along with Tennessee’s 19-game winning streak.
Let’s talk about it because, if you’re a Kentucky fan, there’s nothing more you’d rather do.
PJ Washington led the way
We knew from the first half of last year’s game in Knoxville that PJ Washington was capable of shutting down Grant Williams. Cramps robbed PJ of the second half of that game, but tonight, he was a machine, scoring 23 points off 9-12 from the floor and anchoring Kentucky’s offense. Last year, Williams admitted that PJ got into his head, and PJ did it again tonight, having his way with Tennessee’s bigs. When the ball was in his hands, PJ could not be stopped, and spurred his teammates to do the same.
One more thing PJ swatted to the rafters: the narrative that Kentucky players who aren’t one-and-dones are failures. PJ was projected to be a first-round pick last year, but by returning to school and working on his game, he’s inching into lottery territory. As Calipari constantly says, when PJ plays like this, he’s among the best in the country.
Reid did what he came here to do
Last year, Calipari complained that Tennessee’s players pushed his guys around, but tonight, the roles were reversed. The Cats owned the middle with 36 points in the paint to Tennessee’s 20 and winning the rebounding battle 39 to 26 in large part because of Reid Travis. Reid finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds, a stat line that doesn’t begin to describe his impact on the game. This is the game Reid was brought here for, and because of him, Kentucky was the most physical team on the floor. After the game, Cal said Reid battled so hard he had to get an IV in the locker room.
“The difference maker in the game for us was Travis,” Calipari said. “Now his numbers, 11 and 8, and you can say what you want, but he was a beast against another beast. Like it negated that. You’re not going to dominate us.”
Ashton Hagans bounced back
Kentucky’s dominance in the post was crucial tonight, but the matchup of the game was Jordan Bone vs. Ashton Hagans. The freshman busted out of his slump in a big way, finishing with nine points, seven assists, and only one turnover in 36 minutes. January Ashton is back, and as a result, the Cats fired on all cylinders, moving the ball crisply and controlling the tempo while holding the Vols to 28 percent from three.
“Ashton today played like he had been playing,” Cal said, telling reporters how he had the team look at tape of Hagans’ performance vs. North Carolina to remind them how great he can be. “For two games he went downhill and then it affected us the last game. And in this game he came back.”
Tyler Herro was fantastic
If you had to guess which player finished tonight’s game with a double-double, would you guess Tyler Herro? Probably not, but Herro was fantastic tonight, scoring 15 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Herro’s still struggling a bit with his shot at Rupp, hitting only 3-11 from the floor, but continues to do all the other things to help his team win, such as skying for rebounds and diving after balls. He played so well I’ll forgive his first missed free throw since the North Carolina game.
Welcome back, Keldon Johnson
For Kentucky to beat Tennessee, they needed a huge game from Keldon Johnson; the freshman delivered in thrilling fashion, doing his best Tayshaun Prince impression with three big threes in the first half. It hasn’t been an easy month for Keldon, but he proved he’s worthy of the spotlight, finishing with 19 points. Build on that, Keldon.
Nothing motivates like a loss
Did Kentucky overlook LSU? That seems like a crazy thing to say about the No. 19 team in the country, but with No. 1 Tennessee coming in, John Calipari said a loss to the Tigers was exactly what his team needed to refocus.
“I hit them right after the game with LSU and just said, hey, that was a tough loss, but you know what, we needed it. Because our team is changing, we’re not the defensive team that we have been. We have individuals changing how they were playing when they were successful. We need to get it back. We need to go back to what we were, and you know what, sometimes you got to get knocked in the head to know that. So the loss to LSU probably helped us win this game.”
If you had to choose between wins over LSU or Tennessee, which would you pick? Thought so.
All is right in the world again
It’s not every day that Kentucky hosts the No. 1 team in the country. The last time it happened was 2007, an 86-77 loss to North Carolina. The Cats’ last win over a No. 1 team? 2011 vs. Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament. So, today was big. From College GameDay in Memorial Coliseum to a late tip in Rupp, the lead up to the top five showdown with Tennessee was exhilarating, but exhausting.
That’s why it was so great that the Cats came out and stomped the Vols, the exclamation mark the fan base has been begging for. On nights like tonight, Kentucky Basketball can’t be beat, a stroke of reassurance as we head into the final stretch of the season.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 16th, 2019 @ 11:45pm
Kentucky head coach John Calipari is about to make history.
With a blowout victory over Tennessee this evening, Calipari is now just one win away from tying legendary UK head coach Joe B. Hall in the record book.
Sitting at 21-4 on the year, Calipari is now 296-68 over the course of his Kentucky career, meaning a victory over Missouri on Tuesday would tie him with Hall (UK career record of 297-100) for No. 2 on the all-time wins list.
Former Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp holds the school record with 876 career victories.
Overall, the Kentucky head coach now possesses a 741-208 on-court record all-time as a head coach, moving him to No. 40 (tied) in college basketball history in terms of total wins.
Oddly enough, the coach he has tied at 741 wins is former Temple head coach John Chaney, the individual who once threatened to kill Calipari at a press conference in 1994.
To take it a step further, Wednesday was actually the 25-year anniversary of the Chaney-Calipari fight. Funny how things work out.
In other Calipari coaching statistics:
- Kentucky is now 57-28 against AP ranked competition under Calipari
- Calipari is 5-4 in his career vs. the No. 1 team, 2-2 while at Kentucky.
- UK is 48-12 in bounce-back games under Calipari, including 4-0 this season.
The Kentucky head coach has a major opportunity to tie the big record on Tuesday and then break it at home against Auburn next Saturday.
By Maggie Davis on ©February 16th, 2019 @ 11:35pm
What a night for Tyler Herro. The freshman guard was solid from start to finish and was steady across the board. Yes, he finished with 15 points, but his biggest contribution came from the sheer energy he brought to the court. His defense was consistently strong throughout his 32 minutes of action.
While “hustle” typically can’t be fully represented on a stat line, it can definitely be seen in a player’s rebounding numbers. Herro finished with an astonishing 13 rebounds, good for a career-high for Herro and a game-high for the team.
“I’m happy for Tyler – this is a big game for Tyler,” Calipari said after the game. “Forget about baskets made and all that – it was a big game. He got 13 rebounds.”
That magic number 13 was Herro’s best performance of the season by far. His previous record was nine boards, which came against Duke way back in November. On the season, Herro’s averaging around four rebounds per game, but Coach Cal said effort made the difference Saturday night.
“If you don’t attempt to rebound, you’re not going to get the rebound,” Calipari said. “How about that? We’re charting attempts to get guys to go make an effort to go get them.”
According to Calipari, the Kentucky staff keeps track of how many rebounds (offensive and defensive) each player attempts, in addition to how many they actually pull in per game. Sometimes in the past, they’ve seen players’ attempts go down as their point totals go up, specifically citing PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson. But Calipari seemed happy with Herro’s “attempt percentage” tonight.
“He was fighting for balls. It was a good effort.”
The best part? It looked like Herro was having an absolute ball. Notorious for embracing the villain role on the road, Herro found a way to be himself inside Rupp Arena. He only drained one three-point bucket, but, as per usual, it came at a big moment. He was trash talking the other team, clapping in their faces and diving on the floor. He finished 8-9 from the free-throw line, his first miss since the North Carolina game on Dec. 22, and he was genuinely upset about it after the game. After making 30 straight free throws, that one will bug him. But it didn’t take away from the joy of this win.
At one point in the game, he literally skipped to the bench. By the end of the game, he was having so much fun, he basically ran to the free-throw line with a big grin plastered on his face. He beat the rest of the court there by several seconds, just waiting for his chance to clinch his first double-double as a Wildcat.
Beating the No. 1 team in the nation is incredibly fun, and Tyler Herro showed it.
With Kentucky up big on Tennessee late in the game, the eRupption Zone broke out into an “Over-Rated” chant directed toward the top-ranked Vols. The taunt did not last long, though, because John Calipari was quick to shut everyone up. He immediately turned toward the crowd and yelled, “NO!” and it faded away almost instantly.
Here’s a clip:
— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) February 17, 2019
After the game, Cal raved about Tennessee, saying the Vols are deserving of the No. 1 ranking, but couldn’t make shots Saturday night. He said, “I know how good Tennessee is and that’s why I told our fans, enough of the ‘they’re overrated.’ They’re not overrated. Probably underrated.”
By Nick Roush on ©February 16th, 2019 @ 11:15pm
Kentucky’s victory over Tennessee was incredible. Relive the glorious 86-69 beatdown with highlights from KyWildcatsTV.
Kentucky completed dominated the Volunteers in the second half to earn a victory over the No. 1 team in America for the first time since the Cats ended Ohio State’s season in the 2011 Sweet 16.
P.J. Washington opened the game by scoring the Cats’ first seven points. Keldon Johnson hit four* three-pointers in a row (his foot was on the line for the first) to help UK build up a six-point halftime lead.
Kentucky sprinted out of the halftime locker room, opening the second half on a 14-0 run in the first three minutes to take a 20-point lead. 24,467 UK fans, the third-most in Rupp Arena history, made sure that lead was never in question.
The Vols showed a little life. After scoring just five points in the first seven minutes of the second half, Tennessee found a spark by switching to a 1-2-2 press and a 2-3 zone. The change of pace forced fast UK shots and ignited a 13-0 Tennessee run in only two minutes of of action. In spite of the run, Kentucky never lost a double-digit lead.
P.J. Washington finished with 23 points, the seventh time in eight games P.J. has scored 20 points or more. Keldon Johnson scored 19 points, Ashton Hagans dealt out seven assists and Tyler Herro grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds.
After falling to LSU in a heartbreaker, the 86-69 win over top-ranked Tennessee is exactly what the doctor prescribed.
Kentucky leads top-ranked Tennessee through 20 minutes of basketball in Rupp Arena. PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson have done most of the scoring for the Cats; they’ve combined for 26 of Kentucky’s 37 points with 13 apiece. Tyler Herro is the leading rebounder with four so far. Go Cats.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 16th, 2019 @ 7:45pm
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By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 16th, 2019 @ 7:30pm
Looking for a last-minute basketball fix before No. 5 Kentucky takes on No. 1 Tennessee? Look no further.
Yesterday afternoon, Kentucky head coach John Calipari, forward Keldon Johnson, and forward EJ Montgomery talked to the media to break down all things Tennessee and close the door on LSU.
Calipari discussed Tennessee’s physicality and overall talent:
Keldon Johnson talked about moving on from LSU and how excited he is to take on the Volunteers:
EJ Montgomery talked about the toughness of the Tennessee frontcourt and why working against PJ Washington and Reid Travis every day in practice has helped him prepare for tonight:
Keldon Johnson on matchup with No. 1 Tennessee: “That’s what we’re here for. We came to Kentucky to play big games.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 16th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
The time has finally come. Starting one hour from right now, your No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats will take on the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers, just the 11th top-five regular season matchup in SEC history.
Kentucky is coming off a brutal loss at the buzzer to No. 19 LSU. Tennessee hasn’t lost a game since November 23. Both teams are expected to compete for a national title during the NCAA Tournament.
Lexington is buzzing. ESPN College GameDay is in town. Rupp Arena is sold out. Fans have been waiting outside to get in since this morning.
This is what Kentucky basketball is all about. And if you ask Kentucky forward Keldon Johnson, this is exactly why he decided to come to UK in the first place.
“That’s what we’re here for,” he said. “We came to Kentucky to play big games and I think everybody’s prepared, everybody’s been in the gym working, learned from our last game and I think if we come and do what we do I think we’ll be fine.”
As for Kentucky forward EJ Montgomery, he knew this team was going to come in and fight no matter what happened on Tuesday night. With the loss, though, he knows they’ll have just have that much more intensity when the ball is tipped on the big stage tonight.
“I think we were going to come in motivated regardless. But, losing that game just has us with more fire to win the next one.”
For Johnson, he knows his team has turned the page on LSU and is completely focused on taking down the dreaded Volunteers this evening. Practice has shown as much.
“We had a great practice yesterday,” he said. “We all came in focused, a lot of energy, ready to play and you can just tell on everybody’s faces that everybody was still locked in and they’re ready for the game.”
After dominating on the defensive end of the floor for weeks, things have slipped a bit over the course of the last few games. Johnson said that the key to winning tonight is revamping their defensive efforts and locking in.
If they do that, he likes his team’s chances. If not, he knows things probably aren’t going to end well.
“We just start with defense,” he said. “That’s with any game we play, not just nationally televised games or any of the games we play. It starts with defense, on the defensive end. When we lock in and play on the defensive end, we’re a pretty good team. When we don’t do that so much, not many good things happen.”
Kentucky head coach John Calipari knows what’s at stake here. He understands the magnitude of this matchup and how much he’ll learn about his team tonight, no matter what happens.
In his own words, this Tennessee team is physical, polished, well-coached, and possess a will to win that you don’t find with many teams.
“They’re good,” he said. “They’re not going to beat themselves. They’re physical. They fight for second and third opportunities to rebound. We’re struggling with rebound attempts right now. They are going three and four jumps at a ball. If you don’t block out they’re jumping over your back. … They’re good. They deserve to be the No. 1 team, and they deserve to have the winning streak they have.”
Calipari said if Kentucky wants a chance to win this game, they have to execute on both ends of the floor and fight on every possession. If not, this thing could get ugly fast.
“They’ve got a deep team, and their guard play, the way they shoot and the things that they do – they’re not winning with one guy or two guys, they’re winning because of how they’re playing. The biggest thing is, because they lead the country in assists – their assist-to-turnover ratio – they’re not going to beat themselves. They’re going to create great opportunities and they shoot the ball well. You better play a good game. That’s what I tell you. You better play good. Better not be any tentativeness. Just let it go and go play.”
We’ll find out here shortly what this team is made of.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 16th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
With the NCAA going away from the RPI rankings and moving forward with the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) to determine the selections and seedings when March Madness rolls around, while they may seem a bit off from time to time, it’s definitely important to keep the updated results in mind.
And that’s why it’s impressive that even following Kentucky’s home loss on Tuesday night to the LSU Tigers, the NET ratings list the Wildcats at No. 6 overall, good for the second-best 2-seed overall.
The NET ranking system will incorporate game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin (capping at 10 points per game), and net offensive and defensive efficiency.
The top of the list? Gonzaga (No. 1), Duke (No. 2), Virginia (No. 3), Tennessee (No. 4), Houston (No. 5), Kentucky (No. 6), Michigan State (No. 7), and Michigan (No. 8).
If this were to hold true through Selection Sunday, the seeding and location would be…
- (1) Gonzaga – (2) Michigan in the West
- (1) Duke – (2) Michigan State in the East
- (1) Virginia – (2) Kentucky in the Midwest
- (1) Tennessee – (2) Houston in the South
Here is the entire top 25:
Do you guys think this is fair? Too high? Too low?
And more importantly, what would a win over Tennessee tonight do to Kentucky’s position in the rankings next week?