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Recapping a rough night in StarkVegas (Wednesday Show Thread)

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the Wednesday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. Today, Matt, Ryan, and Drew will break down Kentucky’s sloppy road win over Mississippi State, which included the students chanting “overrated” while losing by seven and 52 fouls. Tune in for that and probably a lot of random stuff.

Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.

Listen to Kentucky Sports Radio


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Morning After Leftovers: Fox was the hero, Wenyen the MVP, and Mississippi State fans are probably still chanting “overrated”

Morning After Leftovers: Fox was the hero, Wenyen the MVP, and Mississippi State fans are probably still chanting “overrated”

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

A few hours of sleep later and I’m ready to chalk Kentucky’s somewhat infuriating 88-81 win over Mississippi State up as a road test passed. Yes, the game was hard to watch thanks to the absurd number of fouls and man, Kentucky looked bad during some stretches, but the team found a way to win by seven despite Malik Monk playing his worst game as a Cat, Isaiah Briscoe struggling, and Bam Adebayo being in foul trouble most of the first half. Let’s go over some leftovers before moving on with our Wednesdays.

1. Malik’s technical for pulling up on the rim reminded Calipari of Karl Towns vs. LSU in 2015

Calipari famously lit into Karl Towns after Karl chinned up on the rim while Kentucky was up 8 points at LSU in 2015. The Tigers took that momentum and scored 16 straight points, prompting Cal to do a mock fist pump on the sidelines. When asked, Cal said he was similarly frustrated with Malik last night.

“Again, we go into the AAU mode. When you’re playing all freshmen and sophomores, there’s a point in the game that they just think it’s like, ‘OK, watch this.’ You’re never going to be that team if that’s what your mindset is. I told them at halftime: ‘I’m taking you out.’ And I did. Not just him, I told the whole team.”

“I know we’re winning some close games where teams are coming at us and we’re finishing, but when you get a team down – (Monk) hung on the rim when we were up 18. Why would you do that? ‘There was a guy …’ No, no, there was no one near you. You chinned up. He had to call the tech. But it wasn’t just him.”

Personally, I thought that technical was pretty bogus, but if it gives Calipari a chance to make a point, it was worth it.

2. Oddly, Malik had one of the best shootarounds of the year yesterday

Monk didn’t play great, finishing with only 14 points on 5-14 shooting from the floor and five turnovers, which Calipari said was surprising because he looked great before the game.

“Malik didn’t really help us – well, he made some free throws down the stretch. But that was not one of his better games. And I’ll say this: He had a great shootaround today, maybe one of the better shootarounds I’ve seen, and that’s really unusual.”

3. With Monk struggling, De’Aaron Fox took over

De’Aaron finished with 21 points and basically took over the game late in the second half, scoring nine straight points when Kentucky was only up five with less than four minutes to go; however, as happy as Calipari was with Fox’s late game heroics, he’d like to see De’Aaron make his free throws (last night, he missed four).

“I just said, ‘You know what? Malik’s not playing as well as he’s played. He’s struggling.’ And Malik Monk struggles and has five turnovers, but he gets 14 points in a game he really struggled. So we just said, ‘Here you go, De’Aaron, go do your thing.’ Now, De’Aaron’s got to make free throws. Can’t have your point guard going 1 for 2 or 0 for 2. Just can’t have it. That guy’s gotta make free throws.”

4. ICYMI, here are the highlights

5. Suddenly the four spot didn’t look so bad

Wenyen Gabriel was the MVP of the night, building on a 16-rebound performance vs. Auburn with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists, and a steal. Gabriel was a perfect 5-5 from the floor, including 3-3 from behind the arc. Look at ya, Wenyen! Derek Willis also stepped up his game, scoring 13 first half points, which also included three three-pointers. The four spot has flummoxed Kentucky all season, but last night, it was one of the strongest on the floor. That alone is extremely encouraging. Right, Cal?

“I’m proud of him,” Cal said of Wenyen. “I really am. And we all know: If he and Derek do what they did and Malik will give us – then all of a sudden …”

There’s your silver lining.

6. I can’t get over the Mississippi State fans chanting “overrated” while down seven

Look, judging by their chant sheet, which criticized Bam Adebayo for not taking any threes this season, we should have known Mississippi State students aren’t exactly basketball experts; however, chanting “overrated” at a team while you’re down seven is just embarrassing for us all.

7. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Mississippi State students were STILL chanting it after the game was over:


And yes, Vanderbilt did the same thing last week. While losing. At Malik Monk, who then drained free throws to seal the game. I’m all for the SEC being better at basketball, but can we help the fans be better, too?

8. Shoutout to Dominique Hawkins for hitting a huge, huge three

Dom only made two shots last night, but one of them came at a crucial point, pushing Kentucky’s lead from four to seven with 8:56 left. Hawkins’ three not only brought a 13-0 Mississippi State run to an end, it silenced an increasingly boisterous crowd at The Hump.

9. No one was more disturbed by the scuffle between Briscoe, Fox, and Quinndary than this little guy

Quinndary Weatherspoon shoved De’Aaron Fox after a foul, which Isaiah Briscoe took major offense to, leading to a bit of a scuffle and a double-technical. It was a tense moment, but no one was more worried than this little Bulldogs fan behind the basket:


It’s almost as though the kid saw Bam Adebayo approaching and knew what could happen. Bam’s a bad, bad man.

10. Calipari’s timeline for peaking went from one month to two after last night

On Saturday, Calipari said his team is one month away from where they need to be to make a postseason run; after last night’s scare, he bumped that timeline to two months.

“I thought we were a month away,” Calipari lamented. “We may be two months away.”

Is he concerned at all about that?

“Well then you’re basically saying their will is stronger than my will,” Cal said, smiling. “You know me pretty well.”

BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: This Team Fouls A Lot But Is That a Bad Thing?



The last few games have been absolutely brutal to watch because the refs are making it very hard for any kind of game rhythm or pace to get developed.  Refs have a very hard job.  Anybody who thinks that is an easy job is a moron.  But because rule changes or more highly emphasized rules have changed the college game over the last few years, I think refs who have been in the game for 25+ years are still struggling to adjust.  So in some games you see players allowed to battle in the post and in some you see every touch causing a whistle.

Now, with that said, UK is fouling a lot.  In fact, Cal’s last 3 teams have been his highest fouling teams.  This team is going along those same lines, averaging over 19 fouls per game.

But here is the weird thing: FOULING A LOT DOESN’T MEAN A BAD THING.  Look at the UK teams who have committed over 750 fouls in a season, with those in bold making the Final 4.

1991-92: 837 fouls (36 games) *Elite 8
1996-97: 802 fouls (40 games) *Runner-Up
1992-93: 776 fouls (34 games) *Final Four
1974-75: 767 fouls (31 games) *Runner-Up
1993-94: 762 fouls (34 games) *2nd Round
1947-48: 764 fouls (39 games) *National Champion
1979-80: 755 fouls (35 games) *Sweet 16

4 of the top 7 fouling teams in UK history made the Final Four.  And some might argue that is simply because they played more games, but that is in fact false.  Only 2 of these teams played 39 or 40 games, and the 4 of the 7 played 35 or less.  Every Calipari team except the NIT team has played 36 or more games and none of them made the list.  But this team might be the exception.  Here is where they stand now:

CURRENT: 348 fouls in 18 games (19.33 fouls per game)

At that current pace, UK would commit this many fouls depending on the total games played:

36 games: 696 fouls
37 games: 715 fouls
38 games: 734 fouls
39 games: 754 fouls
40 games: 773 fouls

So, here is the question: do the fouls worry you?  There have been instances, especially in SEC play, where fouls have put the Cats in some tough spots.  But it also hasn’t cost them any games.  But the SEC opponents stink and in an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game it could be a rough spot for a Fox, Monk, or Bam to go out early.  It will be interesting to see as the season goes on if the Cats cut down on the fouls a little or if it ends up costing them any conference games.

Kentucky won an unwatchable basketball game in Starkville

Kentucky won an unwatchable basketball game in Starkville


Your University of Kentucky Wildcats went into “Starkvegas,” as the court’s end zone read, and escaped with an 88-81 win over a young and improving Mississippi State team. The game gave us the emergence of a new dual-threat at the four position for the Cats and further proved De’Aaron Fox can score at will when he takes it to the rack. Fox made up for what UK missed from Isaiah Briscoe and Malik Monk, who each had off-nights.

The real story, however, was the whistle frequency and the referees’ stamp on the game. I thought the officiating at Vanderbilt was the worst we’d see this year, but Tuesday night raised the bar for horribly officiated games. TV Teddy inserted himself into the action and gave the casual basketball fan an unwatchable product. Even the announcers were bashing the action during the broadcast. It was horrendous both ways and ruined the entire flow of the game.


Most Valuable Player: Wenyen Gabriel

Has Wenyen Gabriel turned the corner? For months we wondered if Gabriel would figure it out in his freshman season, but now he has played two consecutive outstanding games of basketball.

On Tuesday night he followed up his 16-rebound performance from Saturday with 13 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting from the field, eight rebounds, three blocks, two assists and a steal. Maybe most impressive from his stat line: he hit all three of his three-point tries and now has more threes in the last two games than he did all season before last Saturday.

Gabriel is looking damn good these days and he could be the key come March if his progression and improved play continues.

De’Aaron Fox was the closer, Cats’ leading scorer.

If not for Gabriel playing his best, KSR’s imaginary MVP trophy would’ve gone to De’Aaron Fox, who led Kentucky in scoring with 21 points. Fox made his share of mistakes, but he also made the plays with the game on the line. Mississippi State simply couldn’t guard him down the stretch when he took it at the rim and his and-one to extend the lead to eight with a minute to go was the final nail in the coffin.

John Calipari said, “I love how De’Aaron Fox finished the game… But he’s gotta make free throws.”

Fox was 5-for-9 from the line and 0-for-3 from deep.

Derek Willis also played well.

With Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis fighting each other for minutes, they each landed punches in that fight by playing two good games Tuesday night. Willis was 5-for-6 from the field and matched Gabriel’s three-pointers with three of his own. Those two combined for 10-of-11 shooting from the field and six of the team’s seven threes in the game.

At a position that has been the weakest link throughout most of this season, Gabriel and Willis shined in Starkville. If Calipari can get more of the same from them, look out.

Ice cold night for Isaiah Briscoe and Malik Monk.

Briscoe and Monk were a combined 9-for-28 from the field in an uncharacteristically poor night offensively for the Cats’ leading and third-leading scorers. Monk was especially bad; he committed a career-high five turnovers and lived in Calipari’s doghouse through most of the night.

UK’s defense is a real concern right now.

Is the defense getting worse? It seems that way. The guards are getting torched a little more often than we can live with. It may be that they’re too aggressive, but they’re giving up too many buckets off the dribble and I don’t like it.

Bam gets called for touching someone.

Poor guy can’t block out without drawing a whistle. Go back to the 12:47 mark in the first half and tell me that’s a foul.


Too many turnovers.

Kentucky turned the ball over 16 times against the Bulldogs, well above its season average of 10 turnovers per game. Mississippi State scored 23 points off those turnovers.


Figure it out, SEC. Want people to watch SEC basketball? Hire competent officials that don’t control the game by blowing the whistle every 45 seconds.

The “OVER-RATED” chant was quite comical.

For the second time in a week, opposing fans chanted “OVER-RATED” at Kentucky while being down in a game their team would go on to lose. It’s not a complicated chant, yet Vanderbilt and Mississippi State’s home crowds butchered it.

Sean Farnham said on the broadcast, “I’m not a very big fan of chanting ‘overrated’ while you’re losing a game.”

Who is? That’s not how it works.

Calipari compared Malik Monk’s technical to Karl-Anthony Towns’ technical against LSU.

On his postgame radio appearance, Cal said Monk’s technical for hanging on the rim was just like Towns’ in 2015. He said both dunks could’ve been the play that buried the other team, but they pulled up on the rim and gave the momentum right back.

Twitter really disagreed with the technical on Monk, but Cal agreed with the call.

“He pulled up and there was nobody around him,” he told Tom Leach.

Kentucky shot 50 percent from the field for a sixth straight game.

According to the @KentuckyMBB Twitter account, Kentucky hasn’t done that since the 1983-84 season.



Cheese and rice that was brutal to watch.

Wendy’s KSR Top 10 Tweets of the Day


Wendy’s new Spicy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich features our iconic Spicy Chicken, topped with a one of kind Sriracha Jack Cheese, thick-cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, creamy Sriracha aioli, spring mix, and red onion, all served on a toasted Sriracha-infused bakery-style bun.

You can be a part of Wendy’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day. Now. On to the tweets:


#10 Jared Estep

Boogie was my fave even back then.


#9 Pierce Larkin

I would watch any show that featured the Calipari family.


#8 Adam Smith

Well that explains a whole lot.


#7 Patrick Butcher



#6 Not Larry

Let’s be honest, he would never play for the Cats.


#5 Trey Huntsman

The three ball will always haunt them.


#4 Begly

They can get anything done.


#3 TheSkinny81

No one ever said they were intelligent.


#2 ben rueve

That’s taking it too far.

#1 John Fraulenhoffer

Now that’s more accurate.



HIGHLIGHTS: Watch only the good parts of tonight’s win over Mississippi State

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch only the good parts of tonight’s win over Mississippi State

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 9.16.00 PM

If you haven’t watched the game yet, I suggest you save yourself a lot of time and frustration and just watch this highlight reel from KyWildcatsTV. All of the good parts and none of the bad parts!

Get ready to rant on tonight’s postgame show

Between the officiating, the turnovers, and all of the scuffling that went on, there’s plenty to talk about on tonight’s postgame show. Tune in to 630 WLAP or your streaming devices to hear Matt break down Kentucky’s nerve-wracking win in Starkville. Chime in with your thoughts by calling 1-800-444-8484 or 502-571-8484.

Tune in to 630 WLAP in Lexington or 840 WHAS in Louisville to listen.

Wenyen Gabriel silenced his critics again tonight

Wenyen Gabriel silenced his critics again tonight


Tonight’s game was not pretty, but one bright spot was the hustle and effort from Wenyen Gabriel. For the second game in a row, Wenyen looked like a different player, coming up just short of a double-double with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Wenyen also had three blocks, two assists, one steal, and was a perfect 3-3 from the three-point line. Against Auburn on Saturday, Wenyen had 6 points and a team-high 16 rebounds, making his improvement in the past two games undeniable.

“It was kind of a follow-up to last game,” Wenyen said afterwards. “Just had to keep my confidence up.”

“Now, Wenyen is starting to get it,” Calipari said afterwards, praising the freshman for trying to shed his bad habits (even if he still goes for the ball with one hand sometimes, Cal’s biggest pet peeve).

“I’m really pleased for him. He’s the greatest kid,” Cal added on his radio show. “Here’s what he’s doing now, he’s more confident shooting the ball. He shot one right in front of me and I was saying, get back, but he shot it and made it.”

Keep it up, Wenyen.

The Matt Jones Podcast: E60 Doug Gottlieb


Doug Gottlieb returns to The Matt Jones Podcast to take an extensive look into the 2016-17 college basketball season.  Matt and Doug discuss this year’s Kentucky team, who will contend for the National Championship and…

—  What’s wrong with Duke?

—  The team Kentucky doesn’t want to play (again).

—  Why you don’t need to have a rim protector to win a National Title.

—  How the SEC got so bad and the teams that can help the the conference become relevant on the national stage once again.

—  A big change Gottlieb would make to college basketball that will blow your mind.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes, streaming on Podbayor via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

52 fouls were called tonight; 144 in the last three games

52 fouls were called tonight; 144 in the last three games


If there’s one disturbing trend in the past few weeks, it’s the number of fouls called by SEC officials. Between the two teams, 52 fouls were called tonight, 24 on Kentucky and 28 on Mississippi State, slowing the game down to a crawl and making it practically unwatchable. Four players fouled out: Isaac Humphries, Quinndary Weatherspoon, Schnider Herard, and Xavian Stapleton. In the past three games, a whopping 144 fouls have been called, which is absolutely absurd.

A double-technical was called on Isaiah Briscoe and Quinndary Weatherspoon for this exchange after a foul on De’Aaron Fox:

Please fix this, SEC.

De’Aaron Fox: “I hope no Kentucky fan would tell Malik [Monk] to stop shooting”


Malik Monk did not have a great night to say the least, going 5-14 from the floor (0-3 from three) for 14 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 turnovers. It was a frustrating night for the freshman phenom, who tried to do too much on a night when his shots just weren’t falling. Afterwards, De’Aaron Fox said that even though it wasn’t Malik’s night, you can’t tell him to stop shooting, because more often than not, they’ll go in.

“I tell him keep shooting,” Fox said of Monk. “I hope no Kentucky fan would tell Malik to stop shooting. I definitely won’t. He’s a scorer and the shots will start falling.”

Fox took over the game at the end, finishing with a team-high 21 points. As he said, tonight, he was the one with the hot hand in the second half.

“Whoever has the hot hand is the one who does it. Malik has done it. Isaiah has done it. Tonight was my night.”

Keep shooting, Malik.

Kentucky survives a tough test in Starkville, beats the Bulldogs 88-81

Kentucky survives a tough test in Starkville, beats the Bulldogs 88-81


It’s hard to believe that at one point in the second half, Kentucky led this game by 18. Thanks to horrible officiating and some baffling decisions by the Cats on both sides of the ball, this one was a lot closer than we all wished it would be; however, Kentucky pulled away at the end, beating Mississippi State by a final score of 88-81.

De’Aaron Fox led the way with 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, and while Monk was the next highest scorer with 14 points, he also had five turnovers in easily his worst game as a Cat. For the second game in a row, Wenyen Gabriel looked like the MVP, coming just shy of a double double with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists and 1 steal.

The game was ugly, and everyone will be talking about the scuffle between the two sides following a foul on De’Aaron Fox. I’ll have footage of that in just a minute, but for now, just be thankful we escaped Starkville with a win.


Kentucky up 12 after ugly first half

Kentucky up 12 after ugly first half


SEC officiating continues to ruin games in 2017 with another hideous, stop-and-go first half down in Starkville. There were 25 fouls called in the first 20 minutes, yet Kentucky still found away to score almost 50 points through all the nonsense and foul trouble.

The Cats currently lead, 46-34, at the break.



UK vs. Mississippi State LIVE BLOG

Live Blog UK vs. Mississippi State LIVE BLOG