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Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Today on KSR: Virginia and Texas Tech advance to National Championship

Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

If you were like me, you couldn’t really bring yourself to watch most of yesterday’s Final Four games. Sure, I kept up with score and watched what I could, but a sense of depression came across me each time I turned on the game. I saw a game that Kentucky should have been in instead have Auburn lose in heartbreaking fashion to Virginia.

What happened, happened. Yesterday saw Virginia and Texas Tech advance to Monday night’s National Championship game. The Cavaliers scored 6 points in the last 7 seconds to defeat the Tigers 63-62. The last three of which came after Kyle Guy was fouled by Auburn in the final second. You be the judge from the picture above, hard to deny that it was a foul. Although there was a clear missed double dribble call.

In the night cap, the Red Raiders held off a furious comeback from Michigan State to continue their “Cinderella” run through the tournament. Yes, I know they’re not even close to a Cinderella, but when almost every high seed makes it to the Sweet 16, a three seed making it as far as they did is impressive.

For Monday’s championship, we will see a defensive game. Not that anyone cares about my pick, but I will side toward Virginia which probably guarantees a Texas Tech win. Now onto the news you need to know to start your Sunday…

Cats make RJ Hampton’s top four

@CourtsideFilms

Staying on the hardwood, five-star guard RJ Hampton announced his top four teams of Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Memphis.

Hampton is currently a member of the class of 2020, but is still considering possibly reclassifying. I have no basis for this statement, but I think if he reclassifies and Hagans/Quickley come back, he would more likely go towards a Duke/Kansas rather than come to an already loaded backcourt.

Our own Jack Pilgrim has been covering Hampton closely and wrote some insider information on what we could be seeing from him over the next few months. To find that, you can click here.

Nate Sestina has first interview as Cat

The newest Cat, Nate Sestina, had his first true interview as a member of the program with Kyle Tucker and Curtis Burch. In the podcast, Sestina tells the pair about what went through his mind when he got the first phone call from John Calipari.

For more on that interview and the link to listen, click here.

John Pelphrey hired at Tennessee Tech

One of the better news from yesterday was the announcement that former Cat John Pelphrey had been named the new head coach at Tennessee Tech University.

Pelphrey makes the move to the Volunteer State after serving as the Associate Head Coach at Alabama for the past three years. This is his third head coaching job as he previously served as the coach at both South Alabama and Arkansas.

This might be his biggest challenge yet as Tennessee Tech finished dead last in an underrated Ohio Valley Conference this season.

Kentucky Football has third major scrimmage

@UKFootball

With the Spring game just a few days away, the Kentucky Football team had their final main scrimmage before then yesterday afternoon. Our own Nick Roush was in attendance to recap what happened. The biggest takeaway? The defense yet again looks like it has the potential to be good for a second straight year.

For more from the practice, you can click here to read Nick’s recap.

That is the news you need to know for your Sunday. For those that are big wrestling fans, enjoy the festivities today. I am sure both Matt and Shannon will be filling up their social medias with pictures from the event.


Lynn Bowden and DayDay Hawkins volunteer for “Dining with Dignity”

Lynn Bowden and DayDay Hawkins volunteer for “Dining with Dignity”

It started with a haircut, but Lynn Bowden’s decision to “work on his image” has bled into the community. Bowden and defensive lineman Davoan (DayDay) Hawkins spent some time with The Lighthouse Ministries, which is a non-profit, faith-based organization dedicated to reaching the low and moderate-income population of ?Lexington and Fayette County.

The football duo volunteered with the Ministries’ “Dining with Dignity” program, which offers a safe, clean, indoor environment for people in need of a hot meal. A Gospel message is also shared at each meal.

The UK Football Twitter account shared these images:

Earlier this week, we heard about “Specialists visiting Special Kids,” and now this. What these guys do on the football field is great, but what they’re doing in the Lexington community is even better.


The three central questions for Kentucky’s Blue/White game

Kentucky’s annual Blue/White game is officially one week away, which means it’s time to take a closer look at how next year’s football team is shaping up at this point in the season. KSR’s Nick Roush has plenty of football info from every spring practice here, but there’s only so much we can learn from watching limited practices and hearing from the coaches and select players.

Next Friday, on the other hand, will give media members and the BBN a more realistic picture of next year’s season. Here are three of the central questions we should look for answers to during the scrimmage.

How much better is Terry Wilson?

We’ve repeatedly heard about the impressive jump made by Kentucky’s quarterback during the off-season, but just how much better has Wilson gotten as a QB? He’s gotten positive reviews from his coaches so far, with offensive coordinator Eddie Gran saying Wilson still has a “long way to go” but is “definitely making improvements.” The biggest difference?

He just looks more comfortable back there. He’s not moving around and stepping up when you’ve got stuff coming; he’s sitting there,” Gran said. “He’s able to make some plays a little bit quicker and making decisions quicker.”

A quicker trigger could be a massive improvement for Wilson, who often struggled to get the ball out of his hands last season. With a year of growth, experience and practice, Kentucky should see a more confident and decisive Wilson come first kickoff.

What will the offense really look like?

Even with a big jump from Terry Wilson, the offense will have plenty of adjustments to get used to after losing their key contributor, Benny Snell. Kentucky heavily relied on the run game last year, but that probably won’t be the case this season without Snell. Sure, they’ll have A.J. Rose, Chris Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke – who have all reportedly looked solid so far – but the trio has very little real-game experience.

Last season, Snell picked up 1,449 rushing yards. Rose had 442 yards (13 games), Smoke had 45 (two games) and Rodriguez had 43 (three games). This trio will have to pick it up big time this season – watch out for their performances in the Blue/White game.

Lynn Bowden, obviously, will be expected to play a huge role in Kentucky’s offense. A Bowden-Touchdown Terry combination has proven effective already, but how will they do with the added pressure of being the team’s first option? For Wilson, there’s no more relying on a pass-off to Snell or a connection with CJ Conrad. Bowden’s said he’s ready for it, and he’s got the haircut to prove it.

“I’m just working on my image,” Bowden said. “I really didn’t feel like I was presenting myself good for the fans with my hair, so I’m just trying something new.”

Something else new? Most of Kentucky’s upcoming wide receivers. It’s been a fairly inconsistent position during the Stoops era (and beyond), but is this the year the Wildcats find their passing groove?

Josh Ali is the one to watch in that department. He’s earned plenty of screen time during the spring training highlight videos released by UK but, again, can he perform under pressure? Last season, Ali totaled 10 catches for 115 yards. He was the Wildcats’ No. 5 receiver – other than Bowden (who was No. 1 by more than 400 yards), Ali’s the only other one left from that list.

Also keep your eye on redshirt freshman tight end Keaton Upshaw, who has been earning praise so far this spring.

Who takes over on defense?

This one’s really important, as the Cats lost most of their key defensive guys last season. They were, of course, talented on the field – more than a handful of them will likely find their names on an NFL roster in the coming months – but they were also well-versed on how to lead a team off the field. Without outspoken, experienced leaders like Josh Allen and Mike Edwards, other Wildcats will be left in charge of the locker room.

Kash Daniel is a frontrunner for the position, but guys like Boogie Watson and Quinton Bohanna have also earned pre-season praise. In fact, Stoops said he believes the middle of his defensive line is the best he’s ever had at Kentucky, specifically thanks to Bohanna.

There won’t be a Josh Allen-esque player rushing the passers from the outside, but Kentucky will look to fill that void in other ways. The Wildcats survived games last year thanks to stellar defensive performances – will they be able to recreate that magic this year, even with a new defensive coordinator and a defensive roster that looks vastly different from last year’s? As with all of these questions, don’t put all of your eggs in the Blue/White game’s basket, but do expect to learn a lot more about the current state of Kentucky’s new defense.


We’ll get the answers to these questions (and more!) during the scrimmage seven days from now. The team will suit up at 6 p.m. on April 12, and you can get your tickets here.


WATCH: Highlights from Kentucky’s Spring Practice No. 11

In the mood to watch some college football? The Wildcats are here to help.

The team finished their 11th practice of the spring season Friday morning, and the folks with the team’s media department were kind enough to put together this highlight tape.

The UK Football Twitter account posted the 55-second video. Check it out:

Everything looks good on a highlight reel. Kentucky fans will have the chance to check out next season’s team in action one week from today – Friday, April 12 – during UK’s annual Blue/White Game.