By Nick Roush on ©December 15th, 2018 @ 3:00pm
Kentucky will host Utah at Rupp Arena for just the second time since 1976. Even though the two programs have not frequented each other’s home arenas, they share quite a history.
Between 1993 and their last meeting in 2005, Kentucky played Utah six times in the NCAA Tournament. All six times Kentucky ended the Utes’ season.
Utah’s best three-season stretch in program history coincided with one of the best three-season stretches in the history of Kentucky basketball. Rick Pitino’s Cats romped Utah 101-70 in the 1996 Sweet 16 on their way to a National Title. Ron Mercer scored 21 points in the 1997 West Regional Final to lead UK to a 13-point victory over Utah to advance to the Final Four.
After Majerus lost Keith Van Horn, nobody expected Utah to make their greatest run yet. The only thing standing in-between Utah and a National Championship was (once again) Kentucky. Led by Doleac and Andre Miller, Utah had a ten-point lead at halftime. No team had ever come from behind more than eight points at half to win a National Championship, until Tubby Smith’s Comeback Cats took the court.
The two teams resumed the series in the fall of 1999 in a preseason NIT game at Rupp Arena. The Cats squeaked by with a 56-48 win. Four years later Keith Bogans’ squad upended Utah by 20 in the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
The last meeting between the two teams was one of the most eventful. The sixth-seeded Utes brought future No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut to the Sweet 16 in Austin. The 7-footer recorded his 26th double-double of the season, but was hounded all afternoon by Chuck Hayes. Things got chippy from time-to-time. Ramel Bradley even got in the mix, despite a one-foot height disadvantage. Kentucky ultimately conquered the giant 62-52.
A win over Utah this afternoon at Rupp Arena would improve Kentucky’s overall series record to 10-2. Kentucky’s only losses to Utah were in the 1976 UKIT Championship and the 1947 NIT Championship.
We’re two and a half hours from tip-off between Kentucky and Utah, which means it’s time for the KSR Pregame Show.
Matt Jones and the KSR crew are live in the Lexington studios to get you ready for tonight’s game, so turn that radio dial to 630 WLAP or listen online via iHeart Radio.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©December 15th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
Good afternoon, folks. De’Aaron Fox scored 25 points and the Phoenix Suns don’t know how to read. Let’s talk NBA.
- Before we get into the BBNBA chit-chat, let’s quickly talk about what happened with Trevor Ariza and the Washington Wizards on Friday. It was reported that a trade was being executed that would send Ariza from the Suns back to the Wizards, where he spent two years of his career playing alongside John Wall. The Wizards would send Kelly Oubre to the Grizzlies and Austin Rivers to the Suns, but the deal was killed at the last minute. Why? Because the teams were confused over which “Brooks” was also being added into the trade. Some teams thought that Memphis was dealing Dillon Brooks, while others thought they were including MarShon Brooks. It’s all quite hilarious, really, and you can read ESPN’s report that more thoroughly explains everything here.
- If the trade does eventually follow through, I really like Ariza going back to Washington. Ariza was a part of the Houston Rockets team last season that took the Warriors to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. Without him, the Rockets have been struggling and his services could be much better used in literally any place not named Phoenix. A solid 3-and-D player is perfect next to Wall. Ariza can float along the perimeter and wait for Wall to kick out for open threes and he would bring a much-needed defensive presence (and hopefully some energy) to the Wiz. I hope this happens.
- *Update* Not even an hour after I finished writing up this post, the trade became official. Ariza to the Wizards.
Wizards are trading Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre to the Suns, league sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/GmbeUXzZT3
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 15, 2018
Knicks – 126 @ Hornets – 124 (OT)
- Kevin Knox played a season-high 42 minutes in the Knicks overtime victory over the Charlotte Hornets. He dropped in 20 points on 7-15 shooting to go along with three boards and three assists. His teammate Enes Kanter only played in 23 minutes, but still added 15 points and eight rebounds on 6-10 shooting from the field.
- For the Hornets, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Malik Monk scored two and nine points respectively as they witnessed a 20-point lead crumble at the hands of Knicks point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay finished with 34 points to lead a short-handed Knicks team to the win. Also for New York, Lexington Catholic product Luke Kornet scored 13 points with three made three-pointers in 24 minutes.
Thunder – 98 @ Nuggets – 109
- The Thunder’s Wildcat trio of Hamidou Diallo, Nerlens Noel, and Patrick Patterson was unproductive in their loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday. Diallo and Noel both didn’t score a single point – although Noel did pull down five rebounds – nor did they play more than 10 minutes each. Patterson hit a three and pulled down two rebounds in only five minutes of action.
- For the Nuggets, Jamal Murray and Trey Lyles had to be productive in order to give their team a chance. Murray scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds *coughs* with five turnovers *coughs* on 8-15 shooting. He was also 0-4 from three and is now 11-43 (25.6 percent) from deep over his last 10 games. In only one of those 10 games has Murray shot above 50 percent on his three-point attempts. He’s in a bit of a shooting slump right now, but the Nuggets are also 8-2 in their last 10 games, so the good news is the team is still effective despite his shooting woes. Lyles added nine points, six rebounds, and three assists on 4-10 shooting in 30 minutes. Lyles has now played 30 or more minutes in two of his last three games due to Paul Millsap’s absence. Lyles hadn’t played over 30 minutes in any game prior this season.
- Murray also got into a tiny scuffle with Thunder guard Russell Westbrook over what appeared to be absolutely nothing. Murray has a history of egging on the opponent – as does Westbrook – and this ultimately amounted to nothing, but it sure does spice up a game a bit.
Russell Westbrook vs…….. the entire Nuggets roster?! pic.twitter.com/OyZoehwp9k
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 15, 2018
Warriors – 130 @ Kings – 125
- The Kings lost a close one to the defending champs despite De’Aaron Fox leading the BBNBA in scoring with 25 points. He also contributed six rebounds, nine assists, and two steals but couldn’t slow down a 17-2 Warriors run in the final three minutes that put the Kings away for good. That’s the issue with young teams, finishing close games against superior opponents. The Kings head coach reiterated that after the loss.
- ”They just got us with their experience at the end,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. ”We struggled to finish some shots once a lot of their switching happened. They made some plays but we made some mistakes and they made us pay.”
- Willie Cauley-Stein was right behind Fox, pouring in 22 points on 7-11 shooting while also grabbing 11 rebounds for his 10th double-double this season.
- Hassan Whiteside returned to the Miami Heat for Friday’s game after missing the previous four due to personal reasons. Turns out, he was welcoming the birth of his child, so I can put the tin foil hat away regarding all of my Whiteside conspiracy theories. However, Bam Adebayo did play more minutes (26) than Whiteside (21) despite losing the starting spot, plus, his team got the win. Adebayo scored four points on 2-2 shooting but also recorded nine rebounds, five assists, and two blocks.
- Check out the rest of the stats below, including the lines of John Wall and Eric Bledsoe.
|De'Aaron Fox (SAC)||125-130 L vs. GSW||25||9-19 (1-4)||6||9||2||0||4||-7||34|
|Willie Cauley-Stein (SAC)||125-130 L vs. GSW||22||7-11 (0-0)||11||3||0||1||0||-17||33|
|Kevin Knox (NYK)||126-124 OT W @ CHA||20||7-15 (3-6)||3||3||1||1||0||-9||42|
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||109-98 W vs. OKC||19||8-15 (0-4)||9||1||0||0||5||+4||33|
|John Wall (WAS)||118-125 L @ BKN||17||7-16 (1-7)||1||13||1||0||2||-5||35|
|Eric Bledsoe (MIL)||114-102 W @ CLE||16||6-19 (1-8)||5||6||0||1||3||+8||30|
|Enes Kanter (NYK)||126-124 OT W @ CHA||15||6-10 (0-1)||8||1||0||0||2||-15||23|
|Malik Monk (CHA)||124-126 OT L vs. NYK||9||3-4 (2-3)||2||5||0||0||3||-7||11|
|Trey Lyles (DEN)||109-98 W vs. OKC||9||4-10 (0-4)||6||3||0||2||3||+3||30|
|Bam Adebayo (MIA)||100-97 W @ MEM||4||2-2 (0-0)||9||5||0||2||2||+5||26|
|Patrick Patterson (OKC)||98-109 L @ DEN||3||1-3 (1-2)||2||0||0||0||0||-1||5|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA)||124-126 OT L vs. NYK||2||1-6 (0-1)||4||2||0||0||1||+5||15|
|Hamidou Diallo (OKC)||98-109 L @ DEN||0||0-1 (0-0)||0||0||0||0||1||-5||3|
|Nerlens Noel (OKC)||98-109 L @ DEN||0||0-1 (0-0)||5||0||0||1||0||-7||10|
|Skal Labissiere (SAC)||125-130 L vs. GSW||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Alex Poythress (ATL)||108-129 L @ BOS||DNP-Ankle||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|DeMarcus Cousins (GSW)||130-125 W @ SAC||DNP-Achilles||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)||109-98 W vs. OKC||DNP-Foot||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE NBA
5:00 (NBATV-Mexico City): Jazz @ Magic (Briscoe)
7:00: Lakers (Rondo-out) @ Hornets (Kidd-Gilchrist, Monk)
7:00: Celtics @ Pistons
8:00: Rockets (Knight) @ Grizzlies
8:30: Bulls @ Spurs
9:00: Clippers (Gilgeous-Alexander) @ Thunder (Diallo, Noel, Patterson)
9:00: Timberwolves (Towns) @ Suns (Booker-questionable)
Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan
Since Eddie Gran’s arrival, the South Florida area has become a very fertile recruiting ground for the Kentucky football program. The last couple of recruiting classes we’ve seen Gran sign multiple prospects from Fort Lauderdale Chaminade-Madonna high school. The Lions are a powerhouse in the Sunshine State, but this year he made the trip to a different prep football stalwart.
The Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs won the state title this year in the 5A division and for the majority of that season they were led by an undersized quarterback. Nik Scalzo is clearly under six feet, but on the gridiron he brings a style of play and competitiveness that will be very contagious to his teammates and the fan base.
With any undersized quarterback, creativity needs to be a big part of their skillset. You need to play within the offense, but at times you must be able to create something out of nothing. Unlike most quarterbacks at the college level, Nik Scalzo is not going to be able to just consistently sit in the pocket. He must be a maestro at creating throwing lanes and he flashed in this regard at the high school level.
These are the plays that get you excited because of the agility and the ability to deliver the ball with accuracy on the move. In college, Nik Scalzo is going to have to make a lot of unorthodox throws to be successful. He’s shown this skill repeatedly against top notch high school competition.
Accuracy is going to be very vital to Scalzo’s success at the next level. Due to not being a dynamic athlete or having the biggest arm in the world, it’s even more important. In his senior season, the gunslinger had a completion percentage over 60 and consistently was able to move the chains for his offense.
On this pass, Nik Scalzo takes a step up in the pocket, and even without perfect footwork, he delivers the rock on time and target. Scalzo must consistently make the right decisions and be a step ahead of the defense. Mastering the playbook and being able to read defenses and coverages will determine just how successful of a quarterback he can be in the FBS.
It’s hard to watch the tape and not come away with wanting to compare Nik Scalzo to Johnny Manziel, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. He fits that mold as a short quarterback who moves around in the pocket to make throws. Scalzo doesn’t have the athletic ability of Manziel or Murray and will have to prove he has anywhere close to the arm strength, accuracy, moxie, and football smarts of Mayfield.
What the young quarterback does have is a natural playmaking ability. The short quarterback is thicker in the legs than you would think and that makes him a difficult player to wrap up at all times. You add that in with his shiftiness and ability to deliver the ball from that different arm angles and that makes him an intriguing prospect.
Scheme wise what UK is running does not seem like a great fit for Scalzo, but we’ve seen this coaching staff show the ability to adjust their playing style to their personnel. If the quarterback prospect is to succeed in college, he’ll need to be in a wide open offense that spreads the field to create a ton of throwing lanes that his unorthodox style can take advantage of.
It will be awhile until we see Nik Scalzo get any playing time and we really haven’t seen a quarterback like him since Mark Stoops arrived. The only other player they’ve had similar to him is Walker Wood and we’ve only seen him in one spring game. Scalzo has some obvious tools that can be used, but a lot of his potential success at the college level will be dependent on a specific scheme and a great knowledge of that scheme. However, he’s the type of player that could be an absolute terror to game plan for due to his playing style. He plays a fearless and reckless brand of football that is very dangerous to go against when a quarterback is playing with confidence.
After the ugly and heartbreaking loss to Seton Hall last weekend at Madison Square Garden, UK returns to the hardwood at Rupp Arena for another non-conference home game. This time they will be taking on a power conference team for the first time not on a neutral floor.
ESPN2 will be in the house for the 5:00pm tip today with friend of KSR Tom Hart and the legend Jimmy Dykes on the call. There are seats available for purchase with the Wildcats facing off against Utah for the first time since the Sweet 16 in 2005. After the brutal loss, today is good time to get healthy for John Calipari’s squad before huge games against North Carolina to end the month of December.
Nuts and Bolts
A very long time ago, Utah established itself as a force on the hardwood. The Utes won their only national championship in 1944 and were led by two head coaches that won over 300 games from 1927-71. This was a program that was one of the best on the west coast and they had a established a true winning tradition. After a few up and down years, Rick Majerus took over in 1990-91 and gave the Utes their third coach to reach 300-plus wins.
The sweater wearing head coach known for his funny jokes won 323 games at Utah and over 500 in his career. He was considered one of the best strategists in all of college basketball. Under his watch, Utah went to four Sweet 16s and were one win away from the national title in 1998, but you know what happened on that night in San Antonio.
After a bit of a rough run without Majerus, Utah tuned to New Jersey Nets assistant Larry Krystkowiak. The former NBA power forward and Montana head coach quickly brought the Utes to prominence in the Pac-12. The former head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks had two losing seasons to start off in Salt Lake City, but it’s been very strong since. The Utes have made either the NIT or NCAA Tournament each of the last five seasons highlighted by a Sweet 16 appearance in 2015.
Today will be the 12th meeting between the two programs with Kentucky owning a 9-2 series lead. UK has won seven in a row in the series including six games in the NCAA Tournament from 1993-2005. The Utes just could not avoid the Big Blue for about a decade. Rick Majerus, Keith Van Horn, Michael Doleac, Andre Miller, and Andrew Bogut all could never beat the Wildcats.
Out in the desert, Kentucky is currently a 14.5 point favorite with a total of 146.5. That’s a projected final score of 80.5-66. On the season, UK is 3-6 against the spread while Utah is 2-6. The Utes are 0-3 against the spread as an underdog this season.
The leading scorer for the Utes is found in the backcourt in senior Sedrick Barefield. The Corona, California native started his career at SMU before making to the move to Salt Lake City and this season he’s putting up 14 points per outing. The point guard is heavily involved in the team’s offense and is a very effective three-point shooter.
The Utes are very thin in the backcourt after Barefield and it’s not hard to tell. The only other guard to receive at least 20 minutes per game is Parker Van Dyke. The Utah native is a very good three-point threat, but he’s eighth on the team in scoring. There’s not much there on the perimeter.
On the wing, freshman Both Gach is fourth on the team in minutes and has been an effective floor spacer. Larry Krystkowiak has been fishing for answers this season with nine different players receiving starts in eight games.
After impressing as a true freshman, Donnie Tillman has emerged into a primary playmaker for the Utes. The 6-foot-7 and 225-pound big is the only other player outside of Sedrick Barefield to average double-digits this season. He leads the squad in rebounding and is a really solid overall player.
The Utes play a handful of bigs, but freshman Riley Battin may be the most dangerous. The stretch four from California is knocking in treys at a .400 clip and provides the offense some much needed spacing.
Overall, the Utes are fishing for answers in the paint. There is not a rim protector on the roster and offensively Utah has a lot of different pieces to use.
Keys to Victory
- On the defensive end of the floor, Utah has really struggled all season long. This should be a get right game for UK’s offense. Look for the Wildcats to get Reid Travis and P.J. Washington going early in the paint. After that, Ashton Hagans must be aggressive on offense to create some open looks for UK’s shooters from three.
- The Utes have been a good three-point shooting team to start the season and the only way they stay in this game is if they get hot from deep. We all know the Wildcats have struggled to defend on the perimeter and that three-point defense will be challenged once again.
- The Utes rank 349th in the country in steal percentage and they’ve been one of the worst defenses in Division I in forcing turnovers. Due to this, Kentucky should be getting some extra possessions and scoring should come much easier. Keep an eye on whether UK is being sloppy with the ball or not. If they turn it over at a high rate its likely going to be due to self-inflicted wounds.
By KSR on ©December 15th, 2018 @ 11:30am
Have you been struggling to find that perfect gift this holiday season? You’re in luck! KSBar and Grille gift cards are now available online. You can purchase them in $25, $50, $75, and $100 increments. Plus, you will receive $5 free for every $25 you purchase!
Simply head to ShopKSR.com, select your gift card amount, enter the address and payment info, and your special gift is on the way.
You can finish all your holiday shopping right now with these KSBar gift cards! Cards must be ordered by December 18th to arrive in time for Christmas. Tell your family and friends.
By Nick Roush on ©December 15th, 2018 @ 11:00am
The state of Texas hosted a matchup between two of the nation’s top guards Friday night. Junior R.J. Hampton won the head-to-head matchup with UK signee Tyrese Maxey.
The senior started the game hot, scoring his team’s first eight points, but Hampton changed the game in the third quarter. The No. 5 player in the 2020 class scored 16 third quarter points to give Little Elm a lead it would not relinquish. Maxey’s South Garland fell 80-66.
Hampton finished with 31 points, his seventh 30+ point game of the early season, and ten rebounds. Maxey scored 21 points in a losing effort. The battle produced quite a few highlights.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 15, 2018
You can watch a complete replay on Facebook. If you prefer more highlights, Jaden McDaniels did this last night:
— SLAM HS Hoops (@SLAM_HS) December 15, 2018
It’s been a rough week for the Kentucky basketball team.
Last Saturday the Wildcats lost an up-and-down overtime thriller to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden. The problems magnified in that performance seemed minuscule when point guard Quade Green announced on Wednesday that he’s leaving the team. Now the backcourt is missing its most-experienced player and top three-point shooter.
Adversity is striking this team much quicker than anticipated. Today we’ll find out if it forces them to rise to the occasion, or will they resort back to bad habits against an average PAC-12 foe?
John Calipari has talked about tweaking UK’s offense multiple times this week. Along with a new backcourt rotation, today could be the beginning of UK’s turnaround, or another early-season slog at Rupp Arena. The action begins at 5:00 on ESPN2.
Despite last Saturday’s loss, the Wildcats are 14.5-point favorites over the 4-4 Utes.
Prepare on the KSR Pregame Show
Before the Cats tip-off at Rupp Arena, listen to the KSR crew preview the matchup between the Cats and the Utes. All of the action begins on 630 WLAP or online at 2:30.
$15 Student Tickets Available
Don’t have tickets to this afternoon’s game? No problem. Beginning at 3:30, the Rupp Arena box office will be selling unclaimed student tickets for only $15. Bring cash and watch from Rupp’s lower level. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
How to Watch and Listen
Friend of the program, Tom Hart, will be on the call for ESPN2 with Jimmy Dykes. If you’re stuck on the road and can’t watch, there are multiple ways to listen to The Voice of the Wildcats.
- AM: 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP
- FM: 98.1 WBUL
- Satellite: XM-190 and Sirius-94
- Online: iHeart Radio
1993 Final Four Reunion
This weekend is the 25th anniversary celebration of the 1993 Final Four team. During halftime members of Pitino’s first Final Four team will be honored at half-court. It’s a wonderful time to take a trip down memory lane. Even if you weren’t around to remember, the Maui Invitational created an excellent KSR inside joke.
Win $5,000 in The KSBar Hammer Bowl Challenge
The beginning of bowl season this afternoon also marks your first chance to enter KSBar’s $5,000 Hammer Bowl Challenge. Arrive at the bar before kickoff, predict the game and the person closest to the final score will be a finalist for the grand prize. It’s that simple. Here’s who’s on tap today:
- 1:30: Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette in the Cure Bowl on CBSSN
- 2:00: Utah State vs. North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl on ESPN
- 3:30: Arizona State vs. #21 Fresno State in the Vegas Bowl on ABC
- 5:30: Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan in the Camellia Bowl on ESPN
- 9:00: Middle Tennessee vs. App. State in the New Orleans Bowl on ESPN
On top of the bowl games, we also have our first Saturday of NFL football. The Jets host the Texans at 4:30, followed by the Browns at the Broncos at 8:20. Each game will be on the NFL Network.
UK Hoops Returns to Memorial
The Kentucky women’s basketball team is back in action to start a five-game home stand at Memorial Coliseum. If you want to watch the Cats take on the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State, admission is free for every fan who brings a toy to donate. Tip-off is set for 1:00 pm.
Benny to the NFL
As expected, Benny Snell’s time at the University of Kentucky is coming to an end. The running back announced yesterday he will play one more game as a Kentucky Wildcat. “I want to go out like I came in, with my brothers,” Snell said.
Kentucky is hosting about ten official visitors on campus for the final big football recruiting weekend before signing day. Four-star cornerback Jammie Robinson’s mother appears to be enjoying her time with Matt House.
Another uncommitted four-star recruit, wide receiver Devonta Lee (pictured right), is much bigger than I thought. He’s only a high school senior, yet he’s built like an SEC linebacker. Sheesh.
College Basketball on TV
Kentucky does not interfere with a pair of marquee matchups that bookend the Saturday slate.
- Noon: #17 Villanova at #1 Kansas on ESPN
- Noon: #3 Tennessee at Memphis on ESPN2
- 1:30: Notre Dame vs. Purdue on CBS
- 3:45: Butler vs. #25 Indiana on CBS
- 6:00: #20 Arizona State at Georgia on the SEC Network
- 7:00: #4 Gonzaga at #12 North Carolina on ESPN2
- 8:30: Cincinnati at #18 Miss. State on SEC Network
Tony Vanetti’s rivalry with Shannon the Dude made its way into an OVW cage. Before the 49-year old’s match, the live TV feed was disrupted. The only available evidence shows Vanetti absolutely taking it to Adam Revolver. The old man’s still got it. If I were Shannon, I’d be worried.
— Daniel Spencer (@DanielSpencer) December 15, 2018
Today Rupp will be packed with thousands of basketball fans. Yesterday it was packed with hundreds of graduates. Completing that journey is not easy. To all those who finally made that walk, Congrats! You made it. You’re in good company.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 15th, 2018 @ 8:47am
Last week, Top Chef introduced its contestants to Kentucky with a trip to Churchill Downs and a Kentucky Derby party-themed challenge. This week, the chefs visited another recognizable Kentucky landmark, Maker’s Mark, where they tried their hand at some of the Bluegrass’ most famous dishes. To the recap!
Quickfire: Feed Pregnant Gail
First things first: Gail Simmons is super pregnant so she can’t be a judge this season; however, she’s still making the chefs cook for her, which I admire. This week’s Quickfire Challenge is to make Gail a dish to satisfy her pregnancy cravings, which include red meat, spicy food, Middle Eastern food, Asian food, and lots of pasta. Predictably, most people make steak and David’s ribeye with corn wins out after his ingredients are flown up to New York and Gail and her friend make the dish themselves. I get that Gail can’t fly because she’s in her third trimester, but this seemed like a lot of work for a Quickfire. Anyways, David gets immunity and Gail gets to eat.
Elimination Challenge: Burgoo, hoecakes, mutton, oh my!
After the Quickfire, Padma informs the chefs that they’re going to Maker’s Mark, which everyone freaks out about because bourbon. On the way to Loretto, Kentucky girl Sara brags about her piece in Garden & Gun (who wouldn’t?) and Eddie looks stressed out, which is a harbinger of things to come. Once at Maker’s, Rob Samuels leads them on a tour, where they get to hand dip bottles off the line, not at the dipping station at the gift shop like the rest of us plebeians.
After the tour, they meet Newman Miller, Executive Chef of Star Hill Provisions and Chef-In-Residence at Maker’s Mark, who treats them to a feast of Kentucky’s most iconic dishes: burgoo, catfish, mutton, benedictine spread, frog legs, banana croquettes, spoonbread, soup beans, hoecakes, etc. Just as everyone is getting full and happy off the food and booze, here comes Padma with a butcher’s block. Party’s over, y’all!
If you didn’t see this coming, the Elimination Challenge is for the chefs to put their own spin on Kentucky classics. The 14 chefs are divided into teams of two, with each responsible for a dish for a family-style meal for 48 guests. Each team gets $1,500 to spend on ingredients and two and a half hours to prep and cook. The chef with the best dish from the winning team gets $10,000, while the chef with the worst dish from the losing team goes home.
Naturally, Kentucky girl Sara is feeling some pressure because if she can’t get Kentucky dishes right, that would be totally embarrassing; unfortunately, that anxiety causes her to come off as super cocky, prompting Nini to get a little snippy. I’m rooting for Sara, but listening to her go on and on about how she could nail each dish was pretty annoying. You go, Nini.
At Whole Foods, the drama begins. Eddie spends $500 on lamb instead of the $250 the team budgeted for it, which forces the rest of the Black Team to sacrifice ingredients for their dishes to come out under $1,500. By the time they get it sorted out, there are multiple carts full of discarded items. As Kelsey says, shoutout to the people who have to restock all that.
Back at Maker’s Mark, it is HOT outside, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a little bit of glee from watching people not from the South deal with heat and humidity. Combine that with the Black Team having to make do with limited ingredients (THANKS, EDDIE) and you’ve got a cranky bunch. Brian struggles to figure out how to operate a pressure cooker or a food processor, which I’d argue that, as a chef, he should probably know how to do. Not only does Natalie not have enough lemons to make a good lemon curd pie (THANKS EDDIE), the heat has melted it into a gross, pudding-like blob.
While the chefs scramble to finish, Padma, Tom, the judges, and guests relax on the lawn at Maker’s Mark. The Black Team brings their food out first and the judges seem to like Eddie’s lamb, which Tom notes is the only thing that was properly seasoned. Probably because he spent so much on it the other chefs couldn’t afford seasonings? Justin hoecakes are a hit, as is Eric’s banana desert, which Greg Davis, the random Maker’s Mark Ambassador at the tables, literally giggled over. (Correction: I’ve since learned that Davis is the former master distiller at Maker’s, but now works at Jim Beam, so he’s not just a random Maker’s Ambassador. Cheers, Greg!) Meanwhile, Pablo’s burgoo was greasy, Brandon’s chicken and dumplings were “an atrocity,” and Natalie’s lemon curd pie was bland. THANKS EDDIE.
It’s immediately clear that the Red Team’s going to win. Tom says Nini’s New Orleans inspired spoonbread with shrimp étouffée sauce “should be a new Kentucky thing” and writer and bourbon critic Fred Minnick says Sara’s burnt cabbage with soup beans and country ham chow “tastes like Kentucky to me.” Well done, Sara. When random Maker’s Mark Ambassador Greg finds out Sara is from Paducah, he exclaims, “No wonder I liked it so much!” International food and travel editor Nilou Motamed said David’s lamb with black BBQ sauce tasted like a “bourbon on a plate,” which I believe is a good thing.
Anyways, the Red Team wins and the Black Team loses, which sends Eddie into a spiral of shame. He admits to the judges that he spent too much on his lamb, forcing everyone to sacrifice on their dishes. Because the judges liked his lamb so much, he’s safe. Natalie, last week’s winner, is going home for her bland lemon curd blob. From winner to loser in just one week! This is a harsh world, this Top Chef.
Nini ends up winning the $10,000 for her spoonbread étouffée. Sorry, Kentucky girl Sara. At least you’ve got that Garden & Gun writeup.
My Old Kentucky Home Takes
— Once again, the Bluegrass State looks beautiful on camera, Maker’s Mark especially. I’ve always joked that, of all the distilleries, Maker’s feels most like Bourbon Disneyland, and one of the chefs, Michelle, agrees, saying as they walk onto the grounds, “It smells like malt and yeast and sweet corn. It feels like we’re in a bourbon fairytale.”
— Speaking of Michelle, did you catch her saying her grandmother was a shaman for the most violent tribe in Mexico? That revelation came out while the chefs were planting vegetables on the plots of land Tom assigned to them outside their mansion. Nobody mess with Michelle.
— Speaking of that mansion, shoutout to BlueKel on Twitter for finding it on Zillow. The six-bed, ten-bath, 20,000-square foot house is nestled on 21 acres in Prospect and is called “The Avish” (you know a house is fancy if it has its own name). In April, it sold for $2.7 million. I wonder what the owners could get for it now that it’s being featured on Top Chef.
Next week: Christmas at the mansion featuring Eric Ripert! Nini says she’s gonna murder someone. Oh, how fun!
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 14th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
I’ll never forget hearing a story back in the summer of 2016 about an incoming freshman that must have had a few screws loose. It was the only explanation for his actions on the practice field, in the weight room, and while studying film.
“There’s one new running back on the team, this kid is crazy,” one individual within the Kentucky football program told me at the time. “We tease him for it, but something feels off. He’s just different.”
He’d break tackles and yell at the upperclassmen for not being able to take him down. He’d sprint an additional thirty yards after the play had been blown dead. Even with multiple defenders snagging and yanking at him, he’d keep trekking.
He took practice “too seriously.”
All young players want to make a name for themselves, make a dent in the rotation from the minute they first put on a uniform. No one wants to sit the bench, and they especially don’t want to hear the phrases “it’s a process” or “your time will come.” Whether they actually admit it or not, they want that time to be right now.
Snell didn’t accept the waiting game, even with a talented stable of running backs ahead of him on the depth chart in Boom Williams, Jojo Kemp, Mikel Horton, and Sihiem King. He understood they all wanted (and deserved) touches, he just set out to prove he wanted it more.
During post-practice media sessions, Benny Snell was always one of the first names brought up when the inevitable “instant-impact freshmen” question would arise. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, and various players mentioned him by name on numerous occasions.
“He’s really trying to make a move (up the depth chart),” Gran said in August of 2016, praising Snell’s work ethic not only on the field, but while studying the playbook and watching film.
Just three games into his college football career, the legend of Benny Snell Jr. was born.
On just 17 touches, the Kentucky freshman accumulated 136 yards and four touchdowns to help give Kentucky their first victory of the season. He became just the fifth player in program history to finish with four scores in a single game, tying the all-time record.
“I was finally glad I got my opportunity, so I just made the most of it. It was amazing. Amazing,” Snell said after his record-setting performance. “As soon as I got my chance, you know I just tried to go as hard as I could.”
It was just the first of many records we’d see Snell shatter over the course of his three-year career at Kentucky.
He’d go on to break the all-time touchdown record at Kentucky with 46 total scores, single-season scoring record with 116 points (2017), and single-season touchdown record with 19 (2017). He has also added 18 career 100-yard games, which is tied for school record.
This season, the Kentucky star running back became just the second player in SEC history to rush for at least 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first three season. Only Herschel Walker has accomplished that feat. He is also tied for third in SEC history in career rushing touchdowns, behind just Tim Tebow (57) and Walker (49).
With 3,729 career yards, Snell needs just 107 in the Citrus Bowl to break Sonny Collins’ all-time rushing record at Kentucky. He’s had that record circled since he first arrived on campus.
Today, that “crazy” freshman announced he would be suiting up in a Kentucky uniform one last time, making the decision to put his name in the NFL Draft. It was expected (and encouraged), as we’ve been preparing for this moment since he started shattering records his freshman season.
But I’ll be damned if my heart didn’t sink watching his announcement video.
— Mr SNELL YA LATER?? (@benny_snell) December 14, 2018
Numbers and records aside, Snell brought something else to the table in his time at Kentucky that couldn’t be counted in any boxscore.
When Mark Stoops first signed on to coach at Kentucky back in 2012, he promised to bring a winning culture to Lexington. He had coaches, players, recruits, and fans shouting “Why not Kentucky?” at the top of their lungs.
Stoops laid the winning foundation down with superb coaching, recruiting, and developing, and Snell took it a step further by breaking the national barrier. As a no-name three-star prospect with a chip on his shoulder the size of a mountain, Snell was a product of the “us against the world” mentality. The national media took it and ran with it, using the Wildcat junior in countless features aired and published week after week.
For the average college football viewer, Kentucky quickly became a fan-favorite, and Snell was the anchor of it all. He had all the entertaining interviews, head-turning quotes, and that contagious smile fans couldn’t help but fall for.
Benny Snell was the final product of that “Why not Kentucky?” mindset. He helped make Kentucky football “cool” again, all while watching the wins stack higher and higher.
With Snell in the backfield, the Wildcats managed to win 23 of 36 games and reach bowl eligibility in three consecutive seasons. He could help make it 24 on January 1 with Kentucky’s first bowl victory since 2009.
In each of those 36 games, it didn’t matter if everyone in the stadium knew Benny was going to get the ball, fans just knew he could make something happen with it. He could have three defenders make contact with him at the line of scrimmage, you just knew he was going to find a way to get the first down. At the goal line, you just knew he would find his way into the end zone, regardless of the scenario.
With the ball in Benny’s hands, the Big Blue Nation felt Kentucky had a chance to win the game, no matter the opponent. That’s a mindset we haven’t seen in decades.
And as heartbreaking as it may be, that journey is coming to a close here in a little over two weeks.
Kentucky fans have one more opportunity to watch Benny Snell in a Kentucky uniform. One more time to see the hurdles, the stiff arms, and the touchdowns. One more time to see him (somehow) find the television cameras in the middle of a game.
You’ll likely even witness one final broken record, and it’ll be the biggest of all. Already considered the greatest running back in Kentucky football history, he’ll have the official rushing record in his back pocket to erase any doubt.
We already knew it would be the last time we’d see Josh Allen, Mike Edwards, CJ Conrad, Bunchy Stallings, and the rest of the Kentucky seniors in blue and white. That in itself is tough.
Now that we know we only have one more opportunity to see Benny Snell suit up as a Kentucky Wildcat? The pressure is on for the Big Blue Nation to return the favor.
For all the blood, sweat, and tears we’ve seen this special group of football players put in over the last three to four years, the favor must be returned by painting Camping World Stadium Kentucky blue on New Year’s Day.
If anyone deserves to go out with a bang, it’s Benny and his Cats.
The one and only Big Mick is a meaty masterpiece in its own right. Composed of two quarter-pound patties* of never-fresh, frozen, mostly beef raised close to the processing plant. Only McDowell’s has the frosted beef and processed cheese to give you a major reason for the afternoon trip to the secret bathroom only you and Debra know about on the 9th floor that is under construction.
You can be a part of McDowell’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.
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#10 Benny Snell Jr’s Mouthpiece
Greatest Duo in UK Football history
— Benny Snell Jr's Mouthpiece (@SnellMouthpiece) December 14, 2018
Name a better duo, I’ll wait.
Get the statue started .
— josh (@Wildcatk_23) December 14, 2018
#8 jerry noble
Practicing for vanetti I see?
— jerry noble (@jdnoble18) December 14, 2018
yeah, that’s it.
— H (@troopersmom21) December 14, 2018
Looks like it was fun!
#6 brett drury
— brett drury (@bdrury25) December 14, 2018
#5 Michael Parrish
— Michael Parrish (@UncleJohn718) December 14, 2018
@KySportsRadio it’s becoming a bigger story then it was supposed to I guess but is Drew going to go through with the Lynn Bowden neck tattoo
— HitEmWithTheHein (@JoeyAckerman1) December 14, 2018
Come on, Drew!!!!
#3 Arnold Brown
@KySportsRadio How about a cow update?
— Arnold Brown (@abro57) December 14, 2018
We need to know!!!
#2 Tricia Payne
— Tricia Payne (@tricia_payne) December 14, 2018
This place looks awesome!
#1 Karen Guess Eversole
— Karen Guess Eversole (@KyKatMomKaren) December 14, 2018
Yeah he will!
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 14th, 2018 @ 10:15pm
With the exception of a few seconds late in the first half on Saturday, Kentucky fans haven’t seen Jemarl Baker in live game action since he arrived on campus.
With his knee fully recovered, the redshirt freshman sharpshooter is excited to show the Big Blue Nation what he’s capable of.
“I feel good,” Baker told the media this afternoon. “I feel really good. Going through treatment, rehab and all those things, I feel good. I feel back to 100 percent. I’m just glad to be with the team.”
When asked about Baker’s availability, head coach John Calipari said he’ll have an opportunity tomorrow afternoon against Utah.
“He’s got a better chance,” he said. “Down to nine guys, but he should get an opportunity.”
How much does Baker expect to play?
“As much as (Coach Cal) wants me to play,” he said today. “I’ve been feeling really good. I’ve been practicing full time these last couple weeks and I’ve been feeling good, so just do whatever it takes to win.”
Though he’s a superb three-point shooter, Calipari believes Baker will be able to score in a variety of ways for the Wildcats.
“He should be able to score the ball for this team, which is something that we need,” he said. “He’s not just a three-point shooter. He can make 3s, but he’s more of a scorer.”
The message from Calipari to Baker was simple: just play your role and let the plays come to you when you get in the game.
“I told him, the other stuff, make really simple plays,” he said. “Don’t try and create and go crazy. Just score the ball. Figure out where you can score. If you can’t, make an easy play. Let these other guys do what they do. You do what you do.”
CoachCal.com released a practice report this afternoon, where we got to see plenty of footage of Baker playing well in practice:
A healthy Jemarl Baker is trying to carve out a spot in Kentucky's rotation.
— CoachCal.com (@CoachCalDotCom) December 14, 2018
We’ll find out more tomorrow afternoon when the Cats take on Utah at Rupp Arena.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 14th, 2018 @ 9:45pm
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may be thriving with the Los Angeles Clippers right now, but did you know he was almost part of a draft-day trade that would have had him teaming up with another former Wildcat star?
According to Bob Young of The Athletic, the Phoenix Suns had a trade in place for Gilgeous-Alexander, but upper-management overruled it at the last minute in favor of another deal.
The move would have been for the No. 16 pick and another future selection. Instead, they opted to trade the rights to Zhaire Smith and a future pick for Mikal Bridges.
It’s worth noting that the Suns wouldn’t be in this fix if Robert Sarver, the club’s managing partner, had not reportedly overruled his then-general manager, Ryan McDonough, on draft night.
McDonough reportedly planned to package the club’s pick from Milwaukee and a player taken with the 16th pick to move up and draft Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a point guard from Kentucky.
When Philadelphia offered the rights to Mikal Bridges for the rights to Zhaire Smith and Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick, Sarver pushed for that deal. So the Suns moved up six spots to add their fourth young wing player.
Devin Booker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the same team? That’d be one heck of a way to make up some ground with the BBN after cutting ties with Tyler Ulis.
Instead, SGA has started in 19 of 28 games for the Clippers, leading the team to the fourth-best record in the west at 17-11.
Meanwhile, the Suns are stuck with no answer at the point guard position and four wing players. Oops.
By Nick Roush on ©December 14th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
After a week of finals, the Kentucky football team got back to work to prepare for the Citrus Bowl.
The Cats are slowly breaking into Penn State preparation. The team is still pitting the first teamers against each other to focus on personal improvements, while slipping in some Penn State scheme from time to time. It’s not so different than what they faced earlier this season against Mississippi State (probably because MSU is coached by PSU’s former offensive coordinator, Joe Moorhead).
Stoops revealed Clevan Thomas has been working on the defensive side of the ball throughout his redshirt season. He shed a little light on how underclassmen can break through during Citrus Bowl prep, how they’ve adapted their preparation throughout the year and much more.