By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 08th, 2018 @ 5:30pm
The first half between Kentucky and Seton Hall may have set the game of basketball back a century, but both sides apparently hopped in the DeLorean to bring things right back up to speed after the break.
Seton Hall’s Myles Powell hit a jumper with 10:14 remaining in the game, and then followed it up with five of six makes from beyond the arc by the end of regulation. On Kentucky’s side of things, Keldon Johnson drilled a half court heave at the buzzer to send the game to overtime, and then hit another three in the corner to take back the lead with just 44 seconds remaining in overtime. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be enough, as Seton Hall’s Myles Cale drilled an open three on the wing to win with just over nine ticks remaining.
The game didn’t end in Kentucky’s favor, and there’s plenty to be frustrated about as a fan. Even throwing all of the offensive struggles in the first half and defensive mix-ups in the second out the window, the Wildcats had a chance to win it at the end and couldn’t convert.
But for that brief stretch of time where both teams hit clutch shot after clutch shot, the Kentucky players couldn’t help but be wowed by the competitiveness.
“(The best way to describe it is) crazy,” sophomore forward PJ Washington said after the game. “Some shots you don’t expect to go in, and they go in. And you’re just like “wow.” Once our shot went in, we were just ready to go into overtime and come back and win this game.”
As for his shot specifically, Keldon Johnson said he knew he could drill it if he got some open space. He just wishes the highlight led to a victory, not a crushing loss.
“I knew if I got the shot off, I had a pretty good chance of making it,” he said. “That’s just my confidence in myself. When it went in, I was just thinking we needed to go get it in overtime, move on to the next play. We can’t be stuck on the half court shot, we need to focus on overtime and get the win. … It was a big shot, it was pretty big. I mean, it just hurt because we lost.”
When it came down to Powell’s big performance from the perimeter, Washington is proud of the way they guarded him in the first, but he just found a way to hit big shot after big shot after the intermission.
“We played great defense on him in the first half, but in the second he got going a little bit,” Washington said. “He just started making tough, contested shots over us. He played his butt off, they’re a good team. We’ll watch the film and learn from it.”
The Kentucky sophomore forward said the team wanted to make sure Powell didn’t have an opportunity to hit the game-winner in overtime. With a double-team, it allowed Cale to find some space and add a game-winner to his career highlight reel.
“We didn’t want No. 13 to shoot the ball, so we sent two people out on him,” he said. “I kind of hedged over just in case they threw it to the guy next to them. They threw the skip, we closed out, jumped at it, but unfortunately he made the shot. Sometimes they make those, sometimes they don’t. We just need to learn from it and keep pushing on.”
Is the team worried about their performance? Washington said not in the slightest.
“Not at all, we fought this game,” he said. “We got better, obviously from the first game. We played a lot better on the defensive end. As long as we play like we did in the first half (and keep the offensive success from the second half), things are going to be great for us.”
But how, exactly?
“We’ve just got to finish, we’ve just got to make shots,” Washington said. “That’s the biggest thing. We feel like we can play great on the defensive end, but we’ve got to make open shots. We’ve just got to have confidence on both ends of the floor.”
If you’re reading this, you’re probably not very happy right now. Kentucky lost to an unranked Seton Hall team — that Louisville beat by five last week — prompting us all to check our expectations for this squad once again.
John Calipari’s taking a lot of heat tonight, and judging by this picture by his daughter, Megan, he feels just as crappy as us all.
My people ?? pic.twitter.com/KVFv7sBBUz
— Megan Calipari (@MeganteCalipari) December 8, 2018
The look on Ellen’s face reminds me of the look my friends who don’t follow Kentucky give me after the Cats lose.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 08th, 2018 @ 4:27pm
Right now, it’s hard to find silver linings in Kentucky’s loss to Seton Hall aside from a ridiculous shot by Keldon Johnson, but John Calipari said he liked his team’s fight at the end of the second half.
“I like the fact — I told them after the game, we fought. We fought. That was good. I thought we started the second half and we just kind of did what we had been doing, which is letting guys beat us to balls and all that. And all of a sudden, it’s anybody’s ball game. But at the end, I thought the second part of the second half, we fought.”
“All in all, for our kids to fight in a ‘road game’ and give us a chance to win and go to overtime? We made strides. We’re a better team than we were two weeks ago. We just still — I’ve got a lot to figure out offensively. We played such great defense. You’ve gotta get to 40 somehow.”
All season, Calipari has said he’s not worried about Kentucky’s offense because this is one of the best shooting teams he’s ever had. Not today. The Cats were 43.5% from the floor, but only 25% from three. Tyler Herro, one of Kentucky’s best shooters, was ice cold, going 0-6 from three and only 4-13 from the floor.
“We couldn’t get baskets,” Cal said. “Tyler, 0-6. And I hate to tell you, every one of them was wide open. He just didn’t make them today.”
Cal insisted he’s not discouraged with this team, but admitted that the annual process of teaching young guys is draining.
“We’ve got a ways to go. Every year I go through this and it’s painful and aging. Trying to figure out your team. Trying to win games while you’re trying to figure them out. How you finish games and get them to mature quickly? It’s just hard. You know what? I’m going to have to go through it again.”
If you’ve ever wondered what this team would look like on its worst offensive day, this may have been it. If you believe Calipari, that won’t happen too often.
“When you fight and you defend like we did in the first half, you’ll be fine,” Calipari said. “We just missed a lot of shots we couldn’t afford to miss.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 08th, 2018 @ 3:17pm
Drew Franklin is live at Madison Square Garden to bring you John Calipari’s comments after Kentucky’s 84-83 loss to Seton Hall. Tune in below:
LIVE: John Calipari after Kentucky’s overtime loss.
Posted by Kentucky Sports Radio on Saturday, December 8, 2018
Well. That was a bad loss for UK and the head coach is at fault. The Cats lost to Seton Hall 84-83 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, falling to 7-2 on the season.
Here are five takeaways from UK’s loss.
1. The Loss:
There’s not much you can say besides it was a really, really bad loss for UK. There were some positives for the Cats, but there weren’t for John Calipari, who cost Kentucky the win.
It stinks for fans and players. UK’s players fought. PJ was locked in. Keldon wanted it badly. Reid was Reid but obviously him fouling out was huge. Kentucky’s players seemed to have an answer after every wild Seton Hall shot. Yet, because of Calipari, Kentucky is heading back to Lexington with another loss on the road.
There is absolutely no excuse for Calipari not calling a timeout after Hagans’ made free throw to push the UK lead to two. There’s no excuse for Calipari not calling a timeout after Seton Hall’s three with about 10 seconds to play. There’s no excuse for Calipari not calling a timeout after Ashton Hagans patiently brought the ball up the court to setup the offense that there wasn’t time to see.*
There was no excuse for those mistakes. I think most on this website and most in this fan base appreciate Calipari and wouldn’t want anyone else, but today was one of his top three coaching blunders and that’s saying something.
I know the talent is there for Kentucky. We all saw it in the Bahamas. What in the world happened over the course of three months?
3. PJ and Keldon:
The worst part of today’s loss is that PJ finally was engaged and worked his ass off trying to get the win. Keldon, too. I loved seeing that fight from those two and we all know Reid is going to bring it every night. Those three are good enough to make UK a dangerous team, but there has to be some help elsewhere.
I wish Keldon didn’t take so long to get going. That seems to be an issue with several players, but that happens in college basketball, especially with younger players. Maybe this will be a wake-up call to come out and fight from the tip? Regardless, UK wasted a phenomenal performance from PJ and some big time plays late from Keldon.
And dammit, that shot woulda been such a memorable shot.
4. Guard play:
It’s a major issue for Kentucky. I think Kentucky should roll with Ashton Hagans at point moving forward. He’s far from perfect, but he plays hard, he’s good defensively and he will do more good than harm. But besides Hagans, your guess is as good as mine with who steps up for UK. Quade Green is equally as inconsistent as he was last season. I like Quickley but my issues with him as a high school player are still prevalent. He does plenty of nice things but isn’t great at one thing. Tyler Herro has flashes but if he isn’t hitting outside shots he doesn’t do enough of anything else to warrant playing time.
So, until UK finds some dependable guards the play is going to continue to be average.
5. Moving forward:
Today was a huge blow. Momentum will continue to be low. Many fans who were late to buy in will jump off the train. Some fans who were still waiting to buy in won’t support this team at all. It’s just a complete disaster. We thought this UK team would be a top three or five team all season and now they don’t deserve to be in the top 25 in my opinion. UK has struggled against bad teams, have gone to the wire against average teams and was completely embarrassed by the only great team its played all season.
Kentucky’s a complete mess and if Calipari coaches like he did today it won’ t be fixed this season.
UPDATE: It should be clarified that coaches aren’t permitted to call timeouts during live ball situations, i.e. Ashton Hagans bringing up the ball on the last play, only players can. Coaches are allowed to call timeouts before or during inbounds plays, but once the ball is on the court, it’s up to the players.
By Nick Roush on ©December 08th, 2018 @ 3:00pm
Kentucky’s loss to Seton Hall was not good, not good at all. It only gets worse when you check out the box score.
Kentucky lost a rock fight at Madison Square Garden. Seton Hall hit one big shot after another to defeat Kentucky 84-83 in overtime.
We saw the ugliest stretch of basketball all season during the first half. Kentucky went ten minutes without a bucket, while Seton Hall failed to hit a shot for 12 minutes.
The Cats had an early opportunity to run away with the game after halftime, but Seton Hall would not go down quietly. The Pirates went on an 11-0 run to take a four-point lead with 13:06 to play.
Each team came alive down the stretch. Seton Hall’s Myles Powell hit a couple of deep contested threes, including what we thought was the game-winner.
MYLES. POWELL. CLUTCH. pic.twitter.com/8Ou3XaxJFQ
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) December 8, 2018
The 1.1 left on the clock was too much time for Keldon Johnson.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) December 8, 2018
After giving Seton Hall a quick four-point lead to start overtime, the Cats clawed back. Keldon Johnson came up big once again. His corner three-pointed with 43 seconds left in overtime gave UK a one-point lead, but it would not last. The Pirates hit one more big three with ten seconds remaining to win the game.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) December 8, 2018
Kentucky squandered away a chance for another victory. Of all the Kentucky basketball losses, this one will not go away anytime soon.
Well, I’ve seen prettier games in my life. Kentucky leads Seton Hall 31-25 at half, but it was brutal basketball to watch.
Neither team shot over 35% from the floor, which is good for Kentucky’s defense, but the offense just couldn’t get going. PJ Washington leads the way with 11 points after a hot start, followed by Immanuel Quickley with 8, including two threes that gave the Cats some life late in the half.
Hopefully Kentucky remembers how to shoot in the second half.
1. Myles Powell is the Pirates most important player. The junior guard measures in at 6’2″ and 195 pounds and is the only full-time starter that returns for the Pirates from last season. Powell was the Big East Most Improved Player last season, as he averaged 15.5 points per game in a breakout sophomore year. He’s continued that improvement into this year, scoring 22.4 points per game on the season, to go along with, 3.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per contest. As the 19th highest scorer in the entire country, Powell has already had games of scoring 40, 30, 24, and 23 through just 8 games this season. The Trenton, New Jersey native is shooting over 35% from three and nearly 89% from the free throw stripe on the year. If Kentucky wants to avoid letting Seton Hall hang around and trying for a potential upset, the defensive effort of Ashton Hagans on Myles Powell will be the match up to watch.
2. Outside of the debacle that was the Duke game to start the season, Kentucky has not yet played a team that has the size that Seton Hall has. The front-court starters for Head Coach Kevin Willard is similar in size to Kentucky’s, and include 6’10” sophomore Sandro Mamukelashvili, 6’8″ senior Michael Nzei, and 6’6″ sophomore Myles Cale. The difference between most of the teams Kentucky has already played and Seton Hall, is that the Pirates have size coming off the bench as well. Redshirt sophomore and Syracuse transfer, Taurean Thompson is the sixth man and is 6’11” and 215 pounds, junior Romaro Gill is a whopping 7’2″, and freshman Jared Rhoden stands at 6’6″. Kentucky still obviously has the talent, as well as overall size and athleticism advantage, but the Pirates won’t be towered over like some other early season opponents.
3. The Pirates are sitting at an overall record of 5-3 on the season, with a blowout loss at Nebraska, a two-point loss to St. Louis, and most recently, a five-point loss against the dirty birds of Louisville. On the positive side for Seton Hall, they did pick up a win over Miami, which will look good on the end of the year resumé, and they did keep in close with Louisville, who looks to be better than anyone expected so far this season. This Seton Hall team knows that today’s game against a top-10 ranked and blue blood program is a monster chance for both a resumé and a confidence booster in the first half of the season. Outside of today, the Pirates do take on top-25 ranked Maryland later this month, but chances at wins over ranked teams are dwindling.
4. Seton Hall is hoping to continue their very successful string of multiple seasons this year. Coach Willard’s squad has appeared in three straight NCAA Tournaments, for the first time since the early 90s. Last season, they picked up their first tournament win since 2004. If the Pirates achieve a fourth consecutive tourney birth this season, it will be tied for their longest streak in school history. This span of time under Coach Willard has brought Seton Hall success essentially for the first time in nearly 30 years. The Pirates faithful have enjoyed three straight 20-win seasons for the first time since 1991-93 and three straight years of double-digit Big East wins for the first time ever. (Just between you, me, and the fencepost, this success is a big part of the reason Kentucky didn’t play the Hall last season in New York, but played Monmouth instead. The coaching staff didn’t want their extremely young team to take the risk of losing an early season game to a non-power 5 school.)
5. Kentucky and Seton Hall are meeting for just the third time ever this afternoon. The first match up was taken by the Cats in 1981, as all five Kentucky starters scored in double figures in a blow out, 98-74 victory in Rupp Arena. The second game came 7 years later, in the fall of 1988. This time, the game was a part of the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, and the Pirates got the best of the Cats. Kentucky had two players, Chris Mills and Leron Ellis, shoot 35 of their 50 total field goal attempts, and ended up losing 63-60. This was the Cats’ only loss ever in nine games spanning three appearances in the Great Alaska Shootout.
Go Cats. Beat Pirates.
By Aaron Torres on ©December 08th, 2018 @ 10:15am
For the first time in over eight months we enter a Saturday where college basketball takes center stage. No pesky college football. No NBA Playoffs, NFL Draft, WNBA playoffs, skeet-shooting, jai alai. Nothing to steal the spotlight from the greatest game on planet Earth, college basketball.
That’s right, it’s December and it’s college hoops season. And to quote my guy Drew Franklin: Let’s goooooooooooooooooooooo!!
Honestly there is so much good college basketball on Saturday that, to be honest… well, that is the problem. There is… so… much… college… basketball. Where do you even begin?
Thankfully I’m here to answer that question, with your guide to the first Saturday of college hoops season with no football.
No. 9 Kentucky vs. Seton Hall, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
It only seems appropriate to start with the game that is of the most interest to everyone reading this post: Kentucky vs. Seton Hall. The marquee program in college hoops, playing in the marquee arena in all of basketball. What’s better than that?
Not much, and what makes it even better is that for the first time in a long time we should learn something about these Wildcats. Seton Hall almost strikes me as the perfect team for Kentucky to play in this setting; the Pirates are a step up in competition and the first Power 6 program they’ve faced since opening night. Just seeing a Big East caliber opponent should light a little fire under the butts of these Wildcats. But Seton Hall isn’t good enough where they will likely challenge the Wildcats for 40 minutes. If Kentucky can slow down the Pirates best player Myles Powell (who averages 22 points per game) they should be able to win.
Therefore, this game is about getting a win for Kentucky, but also showing improvement against a better opponent. Specifically we all want to see how their perimeter defense holds up, and personally I want to see how P.J. Washington plays. While Washington looked solid for a couple games, he’s averaged just seven points per game in Kentucky’s last three wins.
The Wildcats can beat Monmouth, UNC-Greensboro and maybe even Seton Hall with Washington averaging seven a game. They won’t be able to beat the teams that matter in January, February and March unless he steps his game up though.
No. 10 Michigan State at Florida, 12:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Keep that remote control ready, because Kentucky-Seton Hall isn’t the only intriguing game worth keeping your eye on in the early window. Michigan State-Florida might not be as sexy on paper as it was two months ago, but it holds important intrigue for both teams.
For Florida it’s been an up-and-down start at 5-3 overall, but what better way to get back on track than by knocking off a Top 10 team at home? Michigan State meanwhile is already a solid 7-2 with victories over UCLA and Texas. Why not add a road win over a power school to your resume?
This is one that will be fun to watch on Saturday and could have wide-ranging impact come March.
South Carolina at No. 5 Michigan, 12:00 p.m. FS1
Poor Frank Martin. Since South Carolina made the Final Four two years ago his team has completely fallen off the cliff. And yes, I am very aware that if Frank Martin sees that above sentence my life might potentially be in danger. So if this is my last post at Kentucky Sports Radio, just know how much I appreciate everyone’s support.
But if it isn’t my last post, here’s the reality at South Carolina: Since that Final Four run, just about everything that could go wrong for the Gamecocks has, and it didn’t get better this week when South Carolina lost at Wyoming. That’s a bad loss no matter how you cut it. And it probably doesn’t even help that this isn’t even a particularly good Wyoming team, as they entered the game at 3-5 overall.
So if a 3-5 Wyoming team can get a victory over South Carolina, what could the No. 5 team in America, and one that I believe might be the best team in college basketball do? I’m almost afraid to find out.
Xavier at Cincinnati, 2:00 p.m. ESPN2
This starts a long day of good games on ESPN2 (seriously, if you decide not to change the channel from about 2 p.m. ET to midnight you should be just fine) as bad blood is renewed in one of the nastiest rivalries in college basketball.
The disappointing thing is that there is no Chris Mack in this one, although there is still Mick Cronin on the other sideline.
Which means there’s like a 200 percent chance that if Cincinnati wins this game, Cronin will throw out some kind of sick brag like “There’s no way Indiana, Louisville or Kentucky did what we did today.”
You can count on it.
Louisville at Indiana, 2:30 p.m. FOX
Speaking of Louisville and Indiana, the “Rick Pitino Revenge Tour” – aka the schedule that Louisville put together before firing Pitino – takes a stop in Bloomington this weekend for another brutal game for Chris Mack. The Cards have already survived Michigan State and Seton Hall in the last month. Will they have as much success at Assembly Hall?
On the flip side, I’m excited to see Indiana as well. The Hoosiers have probably played a bit above expectations, especially when you consider their two losses were at Arkansas (when three or four key players weren’t playing) and at Duke. Not to mention that their game at Duke came directly after their loss to Gonzaga – so they didn’t just get Duke, but a pissed off Duke.
Therefore, while I wouldn’t say that Indiana is necessarily “exceeding expectations” right now, they have played better than I personally expected. We’ll see if they can keep it up against a Louisville squad that looks good in their first month under Mack.
Western Kentucky at Arkansas, 3:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
This might just be the sneaky interesting game on Saturday’s schedule, as it pairs up two potential first round NBA Draft picks in Western Kentucky’s Charles Bassey and Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford. The “Bassey Era” in Bowling Green hasn’t quite gone to plan, as Western Kentucky enters this game at just 4-4 and could really use a big win as they get set for Conference USA play.
On the flip side, Arkansas has unquestionably been the surprise of the SEC as they enter this one at 6-1 overall, and were one missed free throw from being undefeated right now. What’s been especially cool is that the Hogs aren’t just about Gafford but have gotten contributions across the board. Freshman Isaiah Joe earned SEC Player of the Week last week and guard Jalen Harris had a 12-assist performance against Colorado State earlier in the week.
Look at this: Daniel Gafford quoting my tweet from last night. Honestly, it's impossible not to root for this kid. Incredibly talented, and the ultimate teammate. Im quickly seeing why Arkansas fans have fallen in love with him (here's the original tweet: https://t.co/LvNIOTiC5p) https://t.co/jiv3hruMto
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) December 6, 2018
That game actually led to a cool moment as well, when following Arkansas’ victory I mentioned how the Hogs are about more than Gafford and are really developing into a nice team. Well apparently Gafford noticed the tweet, and not only responded but referenced it in a press conference later in the week.
So yeah, I hate to brag, but think Daniel Gafford and I just became best friends. And the Torres-Gafford friendship is the bromance of the college hoops season that no one could have seen coming.
Georgetown at Syracuse, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
“It’s an old-school, Big East rivalry and”… blah, blah, blah. You get the point. Can’t lie: I’m an old-school Big East guy and even I’m getting sick of all the nostalgia every time two teams from the old Big East conference get together.
But in terms of the actual regular season, well, this one is important. In a down Big East, the Hoyas are very much a tourney contender – but need a signature out of conference win as they head into league play. On the flip side, with so many big games on their schedule, Syracuse should be fine. But it would still be a little bit less than ideal to drop a third out of conference game before the start of ACC play.
This one will be a tough, hard-nosed game.
Not only because it’s an old-school rivalry. But because it has big implications.
Clemson at No. 22 Mississippi State, 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
This is the first of a double-header in New Jersey and like so many other games, it has big meaning for both teams.
It’s especially important for Mississippi State.
Remember, this was a team that got left out of the NCAA Tournament field last year, largely because of a disappointing out of conference resume. Well, their out of conference resume isn’t all that much more impressive this year. They’ve played a single big-time opponent (Arizona State) and lost.
It’d probably behoove Mississippi State to win this game here. Also, I can’t believe I just used the word “behoove” in a sentence.
No. 12 Wisconsin at Marquette, 5:00 p.m. ET, FOX
This one is basically Xavier-Cincinnati with worse PR. Take two schools that are a short drive from each other, match them up in a once a season affair and what do you have? A rivalry that one local writer this week called “Like the Super Bowl… only five times more important.”
While that one might have a liiiiiitle bit of hyperbole rolled in, it isn’t that exaggerated and this year it should be heightened by the fact that both teams are actually really good. Marquette is 7-2 and coming off a nice win over Kansas State last week, while Wisconsin’s only loss is to Virginia on a neutral court.
Basically, this one will have the feel of a Sweet 16 game, only in December.
And while we’re at it, has anyone else noticed that Wisconsin’s Brad Davison is basically the 2018-2019 version of Marquette coach Steve Woji-however-you-say-his name, when Steve Woji-however-you-say-his-name was a player? You know, the floor-slapping, charge-taking, 5’10 white dude that gets under the skin of every opponent and every opponents fan-base?
If you haven’t seen Davison play, this tweet pretty much sums up his style of play.
Brad Davison trying to cross the street pic.twitter.com/oG0gWgVFTm
— Alec Lower (@AlecLower) November 28, 2018
No. 11 Florida State vs. UConn, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
This is the second half of that double-header in New Jersey, and I can’t lie, this is a pretty big one for my Huskies. If they can somehow win this game, I feel pretty good that they’ll have a resume strong enough to get an at-large bid come Selection Sunday. It’s a long way away, but as they say, it’s never too early to start thinking about March.
On a completely different and random note, this also might be a matchup of the most entertaining coach on the sideline (Dan Hurley) against the most boring (Leonard Hamilton).
Seriously, is Dan Hurley screaming “MOTHERF****ER” after a random, mid-November win against Morehead State doesn’t get you fired up, I don’t know what would.
If Dan Hurley pumping his fist, and screaming "MOTHERF***ER" after a mid-November win against Morehead State doesn't endear him to the UConn fan-base, I don't know what will. Man, do I love this guy pic.twitter.com/HK0LorNz0Y
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) November 9, 2018
New Mexico State at No. 2 Kansas, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Like I told you, if you just leave on ESPN2 all day you should be set, and I can’t lie, this one might be a weeeee bit more entertaining than many of you expect.
The bottom-line is that while Kansas is the No. 2 team in the country, they aren’t exactly playing like it. They’ve had to go to overtime in two of their wins (including last Saturday against Stanford) and trailed at halftime in a few others. They’re ripe for an upset.
While I wouldn’t say the upset will necessarily happen this weekend, this one could be close. For starters, Kansas will be out without forward Udoka Azibuke, but more importantly, New Mexico State is a dangerous mid-major capable of pulling an upset. Incredibly, the Aggies have won their conference in six of the last seven seasons and won’t be intimidated by the atmosphere in Lawrence.
I’m not calling an upset, but this one could be close.
Notre Dame at UCLA, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Ok, ok, so this one isn’t quite as exciting as it was on paper two months ago, but hey, you’ll probably be up anyway, so why not watch?
One, it’s two big brand names, and two, I’m 99.99999 percent Bill Walton is on the call, so you know something crazy will happen.
More importantly, grab a cold one – you have survived the first big Saturday of college hoops season…
With so many more to come!
After a long week of practice. Kentucky hits the road to play their first game away from Rupp Arena since opening up the season against Duke in Indianapolis. Today at high noon, the Wildcats will take the floor at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan to take on Seton Hall out of the Big East. Big Fox will be in town for the broadcast with Gus Johnson, Jim Jackson, and Andy Katz on the call.
It’s been a bit of a rocky start for the Pirates after five wins in eight games to start the year. It’s a full on rebuild year in New Jersey for this program after losing a huge part of the group that led the school to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments. Through one month, this appears to be on a team that will have to scratch and claw to finish over .500.
Nuts and Bolts
One of the original members of the Big East, this private school in Newark, New Jersey has made 12 NCAA Tournaments since 1988 including a national runner-up finish in 1989. The Pirates have had an impressive group of head coaches with Bill Raftery running the show from 1970-81 and P.J. Carlesiemo leading the program to six postseason appearances from 1987-94.
After a mediocre run in the early 2000s, Seton Hall hired Kevin Willard in 2010 and he’s gotten the Pirates back to their winning ways. Under Willard, Seton Hall has made three NCAA Tournaments in eight seasons including a 2016 Big East Tournament title. The former Rick Pitino assistant at Louisville and Iona head coach is now the second winningest coach in program history.
This will be the third ever meeting between Kentucky and Seton Hall with both programs owning one victory. Both previous meetings occurred in the 80s. UK defeated Seton Hall in the UKIT in 1981 and Seton Hall returned the favor at the Great Alaska Shootout in 1988.
Out in the desert, Kentucky is a 6.5 point favorite with a total of 146. That’s a projected score around 77-70. On the year, Kentucky is 3-5 against the spread with four straight unders hitting. Seton Hall is 4-4 against the number with the under going 6-2 t0 start this early season campaign.
Seton Hall has one of the premier scorers in college basketball this season in Myles Powell and he’s has been electric to start the season. The junior from Trenton, New Jersey was named the Most Improved Player in the Big East last season when he averaged 15.5 points per game and he’s built on that strong year this season. Through eight games, Powell is averaging 22.4 points per game on a .454 shooting percentage.
The combo guard has already knocked down 24 three-pointers, is playing nearly 35 minutes per game, and is getting to the free throw line over six times per game. When he gets there he is hitting at a .887 percent clip. He’s a a bucket getter.
Joining him in the starting backcourt is Sacred Heart transfer Quincy McKnight. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard brings a lot of athleticism to the table and is this team’s defensive stopper. On the wing, Myles Cale rolls with the ones and he is this starting unit’s fifth option.
Off the bench, freshman Anthony Nelson backs up both guard spots while Jared Rhoden is the only other wing that sees minutes. This is not a deep group.
Seton Hall is a one-headed monster in the backcourt and if you can stop Myles Powell things can get ugly for the Pirates.
Michael Nzei starts at the four for Seton Hall and the senior is second on the team in scoring and brings some much needed athleticism to the frontcourt. The 6-foot-8, 205-pound big is an important piece to this basketball team, but the five right next to him is the man to know in the frontcourt.
Sandro Mamukelashvili hails from Georgia (the country, not the state) after playing his prep ball at powerhouse Montverde Academy. The sophomore leads the team in rebounding and is very good at protecting the rim. The 6-foot-10 big provides this lineup with some much needed size. He even has show an ability to stretch the floor even though he’s off to a very cold shooting start to begin the season.
The only other big receiving double-digit minutes is sophomore Taurean Thompson. In a limited sample size, the Syracuse transfer has been very ineffective. Seton Hall is very thin in the frontcourt and if Mamukelashvili gets in foul trouble they are in really big trouble despite having some nice size versatility.
Keys to Victory
- Last week, Ashton Hagans stepped up to put the clamps on UNC Greensboro’s Francis Alonso after a very hot start. Today, Kentucky will be going up against another very effective perimeter scorer. Myles Powell can get white hot (40 points in a win over Grand Canyon) and does a great job in scoring in a multitude of ways. If he gets rolling he can carry a team to victory. Kentucky must slow him down. Do that and the Wildcats should cruise to an easy victory.
- Taking care of the basketball has been a struggle for this young UK team and you better believe Seton Hall is going to try and exploit that weakness. UK is turning it over on 21% of their possessions and Willard’s squad is one of the best at forcing takeaways. Seton Hall will use a press, junk zones, and pressure man-to-man to attempt to confuse a young UK backcourt. Kentucky must be careful with the ball and make sure that Seton Hall doesn’t gain a significant possession advantage.
- Seton Hall enters this contest as one of the worst three-point shooting teams in Division I. The Pirates are hitting just .297 percent of their shots from behind the arc on the year. Kentucky’s three-point defense has been a liability this season, but it has begun to improve in recent games. The Cats must contain the dribble drive and not get lost on help defense. Be in your correct spots and it should be another long day for Seton Hall from deep.
By Nick Roush on ©December 08th, 2018 @ 9:00am
After a long week without Kentucky basketball, the Cats return to the hardwood in the Big Apple. Madison Square Garden will host the Cats and the Pirates of Seton Hall at noon in the Citi Hoops Classic on Fox.
Currently 7.5-point favorites over Seton Hall, Kentucky’s key to success runs through Ashton Hagans. UK doesn’t need Hagans to go on a scoring spree (although I wouldn’t mind seeing more windmills). They need Hagans to shut down Myles Powell. The Pirates live and die with Powell. The 6’2″ guard averages a team-high 22.4 points per game on 45.4 percent shooting (35.3 3FG%). If Kentucky can contain Powell, it should be a fun afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
Sophomore Nick Richards has the opportunity to break free from an early season slump with a New York City homecoming. Born in Jamaica, Richards played high school ball in nearby Elizabeth, New Jersey.
This roster of Kentucky Wildcats has won a lot of basketball games at MSG. John Calipari is 4-0 at The Garden, including last year’s victory over Monmouth. Reid Travis won back-to-back games in 2015 to bring an NIT Title back to Stanford. E.J. Montgomery won a high school national championship at MSG.
Prepare on the KSR Pregame Show
Hear Matt, Drew, Shannon and Ryan preview the Cats and the Pirates LIVE from New York City. The shenanigans begin two and a half hours before tip-off at 9:30 am.
How to Watch and Listen
Kentucky will make a rare appearance on Fox, which means fans will get treated to the exciting calls of Gus Johnson. He’ll be joined by Andy Katz and Jim Jackson on the broadcast. 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-191 and Sirius-134
- Online: iHeart Radio
One More Game for Josh Allen
The senior outside linebacker is a projected top five draft pick. Instead of sitting out of the Citrus Bowl, the two-time National Defensive Player of the Year will wear Kentucky blue one more time.
“I am honored to say we have unfinished business,” Allen Tweeted. “My teammates and I plan to bring the Citrus Bowl trophy back to Lexington.”
Mark Stoops did not push him to play. He told him, “Josh, I want you to know that your legacy is set here. Nobody, myself or anybody would judge you any differently if you choose not to play in this game.”
Still, Allen decided to play one more game. To witness Allen in a uniform for the final time, click here to purchase your Citrus Bowl tickets.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) December 8, 2018
Josh Allen isn’t UK’s only All-American. Three Kentucky men’s soccer players were named All-Americans by the United Soccer Coaches. J.J. Williams was selected to the first team, Enrique Facusse was named to the second team and Aimé Mabika made the third team after leading UK to the Elite Eight.
UK Volleyball’s Season Ends
Entering Friday’s Sweet 16 match, the Kentucky volleyball team had not lost since September 7. Their roll could only be slowed by the defending National Champs, who eliminated them in the Elite Eight in 2017.
After an abundance of unforced errors in the first set, the Cats could never completely retake momentum from Nebraska. Kentucky nearly completed comebacks in sets two and three, but late challenges did not go their way. UK’s season ended a 3-0 loss to the Cornhuskers. Despite the untimely NCAA Tournament exit, it was an historic season for the Wildcats, who completed an undefeated SEC season to win back-to-back SEC titles for only the second time in program history.
College Basketball on TV
- Noon: #10 Michigan State at Florida on CBS
- Noon: South Carolina at #5 Michigan on FS1
- 2:00: Xavier at Cincinnati on ESPN2
- 2:30: Louisville at Indiana on Fox
- 3:30: WKU at Arkansas on the SEC Network
- 3:30: Georgetown at Syracuse on ESPN
- 4:00: Clemson vs. #22 Miss. State on ESPN2
- 5:00: #12 Wisconsin at Marquette on Fox
- 5:30: Yale at Duke on ESPN
- 6:00: Boston College at Texas A&M on SEC Network
- 6:30: #11 Florida State at UConn on ESPN2
- 8:30: Dayton at #8 Auburn on SEC Network
- 10:30: Notre Dame at UCLA on ESPN2
The Army-Navy Game
America’s rivalry returns today at 3:00 on CBS. After 14 straight wins in the series, Navy has dropped the last two to Army. The 3-9 Midshipmen are eight-point underdogs against the 9-3 Black Knights, who will be rocking uniforms that honor The Big Red One from WWI.
On the other side, Navy is bringing back the Billy Goat.
Go Army, Beat Navy
Hugh Freeze actually said this with a straight face as Liberty introduced him as their next head coach.
Yeah, this really happened. pic.twitter.com/Z80RP2wHLb
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) December 7, 2018
Good evening, everyone! I hope you all have had a great Friday and are looking forward to the weekend.
With (unfortunately) no Kentucky football game on Saturday, I have decided to update the BBN on some things within the program to hopefully help with your football fix.
We’ll wait a little while for some of the big season developments, but until then, let’s talk about the big orders of business.
I’ll start with the big topic of the day: Josh Allen announcing he would play in the Citrus Bowl to settle “unfinished business” with his teammates.
Sources tell KSR the projected top-five draft selection strongly considered skipping the bowl game, but after bringing in some of the awards and accolades over the last week, decided he wanted to play one last time with his teammates.
There are obvious worries that come with this decision, but I’ve been told there was a conversation between the potential bowl holdouts about giving it one more go that meant a lot to each of them. It’s an extremely tight-knit group of seniors, and they all want to go out with a bang together with a chance to win ten games for the first time since 1977.
Allen was the big one, but there were still decisions to be made with several players.
Beyond Allen, I have been told all other Wildcats are planning on participating. (Yes, that includes Benny Snell)
Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen announces he has "unfinished business," will play with his teammates in the Citrus Bowl. Sources tell KSR all potential bowl holdouts (including Snell) will participate. https://t.co/p6I4c4zzKG
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) December 7, 2018
With this news, Kentucky is expected be at full-strength going into their matchup with No. 12 Penn State on the big stage. The entire team knows that magnitude of this bowl and the historical value that comes with it. Like they decided last offseason during the NFL Draft process, this is their final run with each other and want to make the most of it.
Senior Bowl/East-West Shrine Game
After the bowl is when things get interesting.
I’m told (as of now) Allen will NOT participate in the Senior Bowl, though he will go down to Mobile, AL and be with his other Kentucky teammates during the process. My understanding of the situation is that when it came down to decision time for postseason play, Allen wanted to make sure he participated in a game with a direct impact on the win/loss column and help Kentucky cap off the historic season.
That being said, Mike Edwards, Darius West, and Lonnie Johnson WILL participate in the event, where the expectation is their draft stock will see a solid jump competing against elite competition on national television.
In the East-West Shrine Game, Kentucky representatives Derrick Baity, C.J. Conrad, and Jordan Jones are all also expected to play.
When All-Star game season comes to a close, it’ll be time to turn our focus to…
A few days back, I talked to a few people within the organization about the upcoming NFL Draft and what kind of feedback they have heard from scouts to this point.
And so far, things have been really, really good. It comes as no surprise, but the school is absolutely anticipating a record-breaking draft class.
The initial number of expected draftees I heard was eight, with two players potentially sliding in the late rounds to push that number to ten. That seems to be the sweet spot for the Wildcats at this point.
The Kentucky football staff is expecting eight to ten players from the current group of 2019 draft prospects to land on active NFL rosters next season, sources tell KSR. Eight picks likely.
Kentucky has only had eight players drafted over the last eight years.
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) December 6, 2018
So who might those players be?
For one, Benny Snell is expected to enter the NFL Draft, and it’s a decision the coaching staff has been 100 percent supportive of. Nothing final has been made, and no “official” decision is expected to come until after the bowl. But both sides of the equation understand running backs have a shorter lifespan in the NFL, and he wouldn’t have much to gain by returning to school.
Josh Allen, Mike Edwards, CJ Conrad, Snell, Derrick Baity, Bunchy Stallings, Darius West, Jordan Jones, Lonnie Johnson, and George Asafo-Adjei. At the time of my conversations, those were the ten the coaching staff expected to be on active NFL rosters next season.
When I followed up with another source within the program a bit later about the over/under being set at eight, the response was pretty interesting.
“(Eight) at the very least,” they said.
And it makes sense now, as Mark Stoops dropped a bombshell report this afternoon that he expects 11 or 12 players drafted this spring. He also added the fact that Snell (no surprise) and Logan Stenberg asked for official feedback from the league, two obvious NFL-caliber prospects.
NFL scouts have always been enamored with Chris Westry’s length and feel he could be an excellent project piece with high potential. Could he be the 11th? Does Stenberg surprise folks and enter early to make it 12? Do scouts feel Dorian Baker would translate better as an NFL receiver than he did in college? He certainly has the size.
Those 13 seem to be the core group of draft-eligible guys with shots this offseason. I’d be shocked to see 12 guys go in the first seven rounds, but I absolutely believe they can reach that double-digit number.
That wouldn’t just make history, it would blow past Kentucky draft records out of the water.
Regardless, these next few months are going to be pretty massive for the future of this football program.