By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 19th, 2019 @ 6:35pm
Enes Kanter has been making the media rounds over the past few months to discuss his contentious relationship with the Turkish government and how they’re trying to arrest him for his criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Tonight, Enes will be on the The Daily Show to talk with Trevor Noah about the situation, and his new run with the Portland Trail Blazers. He shared these pictures from the set earlier today:
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) February 19, 2019
Enes is a character, so you know this will be fun. Watch it tonight after the game at 11 p.m. ET on Comedy Central or set your DVR.
We’re two and a half hours from tipoff of Kentucky vs. Missouri, which means it’s time for the KSR Pregame Show.
Matt, Ryan, and Drew are live at KSBar and Grille 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 ©February 19th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
Another day, another Kentucky player named to a “Player of the Year” award list.
Not long after it was announced that star freshman Rhyne Howard was honored with her SEC-record seventh Freshman of the Week Award, fellow lady Wildcat Taylor Murray has been named a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award list.
Murray, who leads Kentucky in total steals at 82 on the season, ranks top 10 nationally in steals with 3.3 thefts per game. Standing at a mere 5-foot-6, Murray is typically one of the shorter players on the court, but always dangerous to poke a ball away. She is one of the most tenacious and lockdown defenders in the entire country, showing little fear when she’s hooked into the ball handler’s jersey.
The senior guard already has more steals through 24 games played this season than she did in 32 games last year. In fact, she surpassed her total from last season in just 19 games through her final year at Kentucky. Murray is also on pace to become just the fourth player in program history to lead the Wildcats in steals all four seasons and six more steals will place her in the top-five all-time among Kentucky players.
Joining Murray on the list is another member of the SEC, Teaira McCowan, who plays for Mississippi State and won the award last season.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 19th, 2019 @ 5:04pm
Well, here’s some interesting news for your Tuesday evening. Rivals’ Chase Parham is reporting that Ole Miss linebackers coach Jon Sumrall has accepted a job on Kentucky’s defensive coaching staff.
Sumrall has been on Ole Miss’ staff for just over a year, before which he worked at Troy and Tulane as the assistant head coach working with linebackers and specials teams. During his tenure, Troy’s defense led the Sun Belt conference and the NCAA in multiple defensive categories, including red zone defense (0.614). Troy’s defense also ranked second nationally in tackles for loss per game, seventh in rushing defense, and eleventh in scoring defense. Sumrall played middle linebacker at Kentucky from 2002-04.
Is Sumrall going to be defensive coordinator or will he merely be taking over at inside linebackers for Matt House or outside linebackers so Brad White can move up? Stay tuned…
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 19th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
Another day, another accolade for PJ Washington. Yesterday, PJ was named SEC Player of the Week for his performances vs. LSU and Tennessee, and today, he was named Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week.
Last week, PJ averaged 21.5 points per game. On Saturday vs. No. 1 Tennessee, he had a game-high 23 points along with five rebounds, two steals, and an assist, shooting 75 percent from the floor (9-12). He’s scored 20 or more points in four straight games, the first Kentucky player to do so since Malik Monk in 2016. Over the last eight games, he is averaging 21.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals per game, while shooting 54.4 percent and 50.0 percent from behind the arc.
PJ is the fifth Kentucky player to win the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week award and the first since Kevin Knox on January 31, 2018 following his monster performance vs. West Virginia. Malik Monk (2016-17), Julius Randle (2013-14) and Doron Lamb (2010-11) have also brought home the honor.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 19th, 2019 @ 3:00pm
What if I told you Kentucky could be in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament, playing its first and second round games in Columbus, followed by the regional in Louisville, and their toughest competition to get to the Final Four would be Virginia, Purdue, and Iowa State?
That’s pretty much a dream scenario, right? It’s the one Joe Lunardi laid out in his latest Bracketology, which still has Kentucky as a two-seed to Virginia’s one-seed, but with that path, who cares?
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm also has Virginia and Kentucky as the top two seeds in the South, but with Houston as the three-seed and Iowa the four-seed:
Despite Saturday’s results, Lunardi and Palm still have Tennessee as a No. 1 seed, along with Duke, Virginia, and Gonzaga. The other twos? Michigan, Michigan State, and North Carolina.
I know we want a one-seed — and Kentucky’s chances of landing one are looking better and better — but is it worth it if we can be the two-seed in Louisville with a team like Virginia or Gonzaga as the one-seed?
By Zack Geoghegan on ©February 19th, 2019 @ 2:30pm
Rhyne Howard is already breaking records and her freshman season at Kentucky hasn’t even finished conference play yet. Howard set an SEC record by winning her seventh Freshman of the Week award, passing Missouri Tigers guard Sophie Cunningham, who won the award six times in the 2015-16 season.
Howard was honored with the award after she led the Wildcats to a win over Arkansas in which she hit the game-winning shot with a little over one second left. Howard led Kentucky in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks against the Razorbacks by posting 18 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a block in 35 minutes. It was her fifth double-double of the season.
Howard becomes the first Kentucky player – man or woman – to win the award seven times in one season.
In addition to breaking the record, Howard is also listed on multiple “player of the year” award lists, most notably being named to the Cheryl Miller Award Top 10 Watch List, given out to the best small forward in the country.
Howard currently ranks first in school history with the most three-pointers made by a freshman and is third in most points scored by a freshman.
If you’d like to witness the greatness that is Rhyne Howard for yourself, the Wildcats will visit the South Carolina Gamecocks on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network.
1. The two players that Kentucky will be focusing the scouting report on for Missouri are Jordan Geist and Jeremiah Tilmon. Geist is a 6’2″, 180 senior who has really broken out this year, nearly doubling his scoring and improving most others. He’s the Tigers’ leading scorer at 14.2 points per game, to go along with 4.7 rebounds, a team-leading 3.1 assists, and one steal per game. Geist shoots 36.1% from three on the season. The senior plays with a lot of hustle and a bit of an edge to him. Sometimes that edge is a bit much, as he was T’ed up against the Cats last season for getting into it with Jarred Vanderbilt. In the frontcourt, Tilmon is the best big on the squad, standing at 6’10” and 252 pounds. The sophomore is averaging 10.9 points, a team-leading 5.7 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per contest. Tilmon won’t venture away from the paint a ton on offense, having attempted just one three in two seasons at Missouri, but he’s definitely improving as a mid-range threat. He’s shooting 71.4% from the free throw line, a massive improvement on his 52.6% from the charity stripe last season.
2. Despite what Coach Cal tried to build up to the media over the past few days to entice his players to not overlook Missouri, the Tigers’ woes this season are pretty easy to locate. Teetering on the verge of a losing record overall, and sporting a 3-9 SEC record, Missouri may be a team that has packed it in for the year. The Tigers are last in the SEC in scoring (295th in the country), last in the SEC in assists (324th in the country), and last in the SEC in assist to turnover ratio (330th in the country) with the second-most turnovers in the conference. Without a dominant post presence outside of Tilmon, they’ve struggled on the boards too, ranking 12th in the SEC in rebounding. The bright spot for the Tigers is that they can stroke from beyond the three-point arc, ranking third in SEC in three-point percentage and and fifth in total threes made. Although, they do struggle when scoring from anywhere but the three-ball, ranking 12th in overall shooting percentage in the SEC, 13th in field goals made, and 13th in free throws made.
3. Part of the blame for the struggles for Missouri is that the Tigers have caught the injury bug with some key players this season. Most notably, returning sophomore Jontay Porter’s season ended before it even began. The Tigers had a closed-door scrimmage in the preseason against Southern Illinois on October 21st, just 16 days before the first game of the regular season, which ended with Porter tearing both his ACL and MCL. Porter was going to be one of the best players in the Southeastern Conference this season, after choosing to pull out of the NBA Draft. After averaging nearly 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks, while shooting over 36% from three last season, Porter’s 6’11” and 240 pound body was NBA ready, but he chose to stay at Missouri. On top of the loss of Porter, the Tigers’ second-best scorer, Mark Smith, missed six straight games in SEC play due to an ankle injury. Smith just returned from that injury this past Saturday, but was clearly not back to 100%, playing just 14 minutes off the bench. Missouri needs Smith back healthy ASAP if they hope to make any sort of run in the SEC Tournament to try to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
4. When Missouri started the season 3-3, Head Coach Cuonzo Martin was still tinkering with how to play without their stud big-man. The Tigers got hot to finish out their non-conference schedule, winning all six of their games in the month of December to begin SEC play with a 9-3 record. Unfortunately for Missouri, starting conference play meant that the winning ways were coming to a close in a hurry. The Tigers lost six of their first seven games against teams from the Southeastern Conference, with the sole win coming at Texas A&M. Missouri certainly plays better at home than outside of Mizzou Arena, but the improvement hasn’t lead to a big change in the win column. Now sitting at just 12-12 on the season, the Tigers have all but burst their own bubble and chances of making the NCAA Tournament.
5. Of all the teams in the Southeastern Conference, Kentucky has played Missouri the least amount, with just twelve total meetings between the two schools in the all-time series. The Cats lead the series 11-1 overall and they’re 7-1 in the John Calipari era. The only loss in the series for Kentucky actually came just over a year ago, as the Tigers held the Cats to just 31% shooting from the field and 2 of 20 from three in Columbia to get the 69-60 victory. Kentucky would later avenge that loss, as three weeks later, the Cats torched the Tigers for a 21-point win in Rupp Arena. Outside of last season’s loss, Kentucky has dominated since Cal took over at UK. The average margin of victory in the Calipari era is over 20 points per Wildcat win over the Tigers. The games at Mizzou Arena have been a tad closer, with UK’s three wins coming by an average of 10 points. Stemming from that point, the spread for tonight’s game, as of late last night, was UK -11. In reality, the Cats should be able to cover that with ease if they play anywhere remotely close to the level they played against Tennessee on Saturday.
Go Cats. Beat Tigers.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 19th, 2019 @ 1:15pm
Good afternoon, BBN! Welcome back to another edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes.
With this weekend being so massive Kentucky’s class of 2019 with five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. making the trip to Lexington for the highly-anticipated UK/UT matchup, the main focus of this post will be to walk through the visit, see where things stand now, and break down the finalists.
Let’s dive right in.
Keion Brooks Jr.
Forward | 6-8 | 185 lbs.
Fort Wayne, IN | North Side
AAU: Spiece Indy Heat
|ESPN||No. 30 | 9 PF||Top247||No. 16 | 5 SF|
|Rivals||No. 35 | 13 PF||247 Comp.||No. 22 | 6 SF|
Late Friday evening, word leaked out that 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. would be making a surprise trip down to Lexington to see Kentucky take on No. 1 Tennessee.
Getting a top prospect on campus is always helpful, but given the timing of Brooks’ recruitment and his desire to make a decision sooner rather than later, this news was absolutely massive for Kentucky’s chances. We’ve heard of visits go poorly in the past (specifically with Brooks’ La Lumiere teammate, Isaiah Stewart), but that’s a rarity, especially at Kentucky. This visit continued to prove that as the case.
Once they got Brooks on campus, sources tell KSR the Kentucky basketball staff absolutely knocked it out of the park and really shook things up at the top of his leaderboard. In fact, I have flipped my prediction from Indiana to Kentucky.
Covering the game for KSR, I was able to see Brooks behind the bench and keep tabs on his reactions to the gameplay, crowd, etc., and it seemed like he had a genuinely good time. Interestingly enough, the individual with Brooks (haven’t confirmed who this was, as neither of his parents made the trip) was standing up, clapping and cheering during some of the biggest moments of the game. The narrative has been that those around the five-star forward are pulling at his heartstrings to play at home, so if those closest to him are starting to back off that a bit, that’s certainly good news.
As for his parents, though they have been open to the recruiting process and obviously wouldn’t force their son to make any particular decision, they have been big fans of IU’s “hometown hero” pitch for quite some time and ultimately hoped Brooks Jr. would end up playing in Bloomington so they could attend every game with their tight-knit family and friends. It’s a common theme for top prospects.
While that has been the case for a while, I’m told the novelty of that go-to pitch is wearing off at a fast rate given the poor state of the program and how fans are reacting to it. Just taking a quick stroll through social media searching for keywords such as “Archie Miller,” “Indiana basketball,” or “#IUBB,” you’ll find a plethora of fans with a ‘sky is falling’ mentality, begging the school to fire the second-year head coach and clean house.
Here is just one gem I stumbled across:
If I were them, I’d ask for a release of scholarship. Their parents should demand it. They will waste time at IU. They will play on another dumpster fire ? next year. pic.twitter.com/9005SDir5C
— Grizz Wright (@WrightGrizz) February 10, 2019
Indiana has lost ten of their last 11 games (13-12 on the year) with a current Big Ten record of 4-10 (No. 12 overall out of 14), including a 21-point loss at Minnesota while Kentucky was trouncing No. 1 Tennessee. With the dumpster fire of a season that is currently taking place and fans jumping off the bandwagon faster than they hopped on to start the Archie Miller era, I have heard whispers that the entire situation is rubbing the Brooks family the wrong way and it has opened their mind even more to Brooks attending school elsewhere.
Indiana insider Sam Story went as far as to say he was told “all is bad around the program” and he “no longer (has) any realistic reason to believe” Indiana will land Brooks Jr.
– I no longer have any realistic reason to believe #IUBB is landing KB Jr.
– The texts that came through last night and this morning from people of importance regarding IU's leadership were… interesting.
– "All is bad around the program."
– Me = Sad. Pissed.
— Sam Story (@Samueltstory) February 17, 2019
It’s the perfect storm of Indiana drowning in mediocrity and Kentucky looking like the national powerhouse they were advertised as being before the year started.
As far as the visit situation is concerned, Brooks’ visit to Lexington exceeded all expectations, and the following morning news leaked out that the five-star forward would be cancelling his unofficial visit to East Lansing on Sunday. There were whispers that the cancellation was weather related, which I can confirm is not the case. There were also rumors that it was because he was ready to pull the trigger on a commitment to Kentucky, which is also (unfortunately) not the case.
The cancellation, though still great news for Kentucky (Brooks now had the entire weekend to soak in his trip and think about how much he enjoyed it instead of juggling trips to two different locations), had more to do with the logistics of everything and the turnaround just being too much for the 6-foot-8 top-30 prospect. Kentucky’s game against No. 1 Tennessee tipped off at 8:00 p.m. and concluded well after 10, while Michigan State tipped off against Ohio State the following day at 1:00 p.m. The trip could have been made, but he wouldn’t have been able to get as much out of his time at MSU as he had hoped for.
Back to Kentucky’s side.
After the visit, Brooks caught up with Brian Snow of 247 Sports to break down everything from his time in Lexington.
“It was crazy,” he said. “I’ve never been to a game where it was that loud. The atmosphere was really lit, and I loved how Coach (John) Calipari could control the crowd.”
With this being his first visit to Lexington for an actual game, Brooks said he was amazed at the Rupp Arena game day experience.
“It was different because it was my first time witnessing a game at Rupp Arena,” he said. “I didn’t know how seriously Big Blue Nation took the games. Also, I got to see what it is like for a game day at Rupp Arena, so that was a good thing.”
In that same interview, Brooks said he was hoping to make a few more trips before making a final decision. As of today, he’s taking the process “day by day” so he can cover all the bases and make an informed decision when the time comes.
And if you ask his dad, it appears that decision is getting close:
It’s not over but getting close! Recruiting doesn’t start until the parents and player start asking all the hard questions. #noFluff
— Keion Brooks (@keion_brooks) February 18, 2019
While we’re keeping tabs on Brooks Sr.’s Twitter account, he also posted the following image of his son’s Senior Night yesterday and all of his friends and family that came out to support him.
Notice anything interesting?
Taking a quick glance at Brooks’ Crystal Ball over on 247 Sports, Kentucky has received all five of the five-star forward’s most recent predictions, including one from one of the most connected insiders in the game, Andrew Slater of The Devils Den.
And with that, Kentucky has officially matched Indiana for the No. 1 spot for Brooks with 38 percent of total predictions.
This thing isn’t over yet, but you’re going to have a hard time convincing me Brooks isn’t going to end up at Kentucky at this point.
I have been told that the decision could really come at any time, with the earliest being late this week and the latest being the end of February.
Brooks goes on Spring Break next week, so he’ll be able to sit down with his parents and break everything down from this Friday through the following Sunday. That seems to be the sweet spot for our next major update, whether it be more scheduled visits, an official announcement date, or a final decision being made.
Other frontcourt options
If things continue to trend Kentucky’s direction for Brooks and he ends up committing in the near future, it actually makes things interesting for the UK coaching staff in terms of closing out the rest of the class.
While the frontcourt options looked bleak for a while, adding Brooks may actually force Kentucky’s hand (not a bad thing, Brooks is one heck of a talent the UK staff would love to have) to be a bit selective to close things out for 2019. While Brooks has the ability to play either the three or four, he tends to thrive more in transition and roaming/slashing on the perimeter than focusing his efforts as a true four. But with Kahlil Whitney, a true wing, also committed and looking to sign with Kentucky in May, it’s important to address how the rotation will play out.
As of today, Kentucky is expected to return Immanuel Quickley, Nick Richards, EJ Montgomery, and Jemarl Baker as key rotation players. PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson will almost certainly enter the draft, Reid Travis will graduate, and Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans are the two toss-ups. While both Herro and Hagans aren’t seen in many top mock drafts for 2019, I’m told both are still leaning more toward entering the draft, especially if they get hot to close out the season and the Cats make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Hagans came to Kentucky hoping to be a one-and-done (he has said this), and Herro would like to make the jump if he feels he’s ready, as well.
Beyond those four (and the potential addition of Brooks), that would leave a rotation of:
Tyrese Maxey/Jemarl Baker
Kahlil Whitney/Keion Brooks Jr.
EJ Montgomery/(Matthew Hurt or Jaden McDaniels?)
Nick Richards/(Isaiah Todd?)
(Dontaie Allen is ahead of schedule in his rehab, but the option to redshirt his first year at Kentucky remains on the table. If he can get healthy, he’ll get minutes.)
Isaiah Todd and N’Faly Dante are the two big men that have been rumored reclassification candidates, with sources telling KSR Todd is very serious about making the jump and will likely do it if he can get all of his academics in order this summer. Todd and Kentucky have mutual interest for the 6-foot-10 forward joining the class of 2019, while I’m told UK would prefer Dante for the class of 2020 (unless other options fall through for this upcoming group).
Jaden McDaniels and Matthew Hurt are Kentucky’s top two remaining targets in the class, with McDaniels being seen as the more likely option as of today. There are rumblings that Kansas still maintains a slight lead with Hurt, though I’m told the family may be nervous about the school’s involvement with the major FBI/NCAA scandals sweeping the nation. We’re still a long way to go from hearing anything major on either prospect, making it interesting to see where Kentucky makes their move with the reclassification prospects. Do you make the jump on one of them and risk losing out on your prized prospects for 2019? Or do you wait out on the top targets and miss out on all options if things go south?
We’ll find out eventually, but the first domino to fall will be Brooks.
By KSR on ©February 19th, 2019 @ 12:45pm
We know the Big Blue Nation will be invading Nashville for the SEC Tournament. Now is the time to plan the rest of your trip outside of cheering on the ‘Cats.
Make plans now to experience the Kentucky Takeover at Marathon Music Works on March 15th. The Kentucky Takeover is a showcase of Kentucky-proper musicians and a celebration of the heritage of their commonwealth. This will be THE place to be for all Kentuckians coming in from the Beloved Bluegrass and neighboring states. We guarantee you will leave this experience with a sense of pride and a pure excitement for the future of Kentucky music.
Tickets go on sale on Thursday, February 21st at 10am CST.
Fresh off the statement win over Tennessee this past weekend, the Wildcats will hit the road to play a familiar foe. It’s been a rough second season in Columbia for Cuonzo Martin, but the Tigers do have some young talent on the roster. The Tigers are out of the running for an NCAA Tournament bid, but they’ll be looking to play spoiler as they continue to get their young players reps.
Kentucky has performed very well all season on the road and that is shown by their 6-1 record in true road games. After two monstrous home games against the other SEC championship contenders, a potential hangover game could be looming for the Wildcats in the late night tip. Can UK avoid a slip up?
Nuts and Bolts
Following a short playing career in the NBA, Cuonzo Martin returned to his alma mater to serve in an assistant role under both Gene Keady and Matt Painter at Purdue. After a successful three-year head coaching run at Missouri State that included a regular season Missouri Valley Conference title and two postseason appearances, Tennessee came calling following the dismissal of Bruce Pearl.
Martin was in Knoxville for three seasons and collected 63 wins with a Sweet 16 appearance and a top-10 KenPom finish in 2014. However, he was never fully embraced by the Rocky Top faithful and made the move to Berkeley to run the Cal program. There he would have a similar run as the one at Tennessee that included 62 wins and once NCAA Tournament appearance. After three years, he was on the move again.
Martin took the head coaching position at Mizzou prior to the 2017-2018 season and immediately made a splash. The Tigers landed the services of Michael Porter Jr. and his brother Jontay. They were immediately considered an SEC contender. However, injuries plagued the team all year and the Tigers would bow out in the Round of 64.
In year two it has been a total rebuild that is clearly shown in Mizzou’s 12-12 overall record. The Tigers were hit with a blow in the preseason when Jontay Porter was ruled out for the season. The young team has gotten exposed in SEC play and now they are playing for the future. This year, the shorthanded Tigers live and die by the three-point shot. They have struggled to find consistency at point guard and their bigs have been unable to protect the paint. It’s been another long season for this program. This has been an unfortunate regular occurrence for the Tigers since joining the SEC.
This will be the 13th meeting between the two programs with Kentucky leading the all-time series by a count of 11-1. Since joining the SEC, Mizzou is 1-7 against Kentucky with the last five losses occurring by double-digits. Overall, Cuonzo Martin is 2-5 against Kentucky during his head coaching career.
Out in the desert, Kentucky is an 11.5 point favorite with a total of 135. That’s a projected final score around 73-62. On the season, Kentucky is 14-10-1 against the spread while Missouri is 9-12-3. In SEC play, Mizzou is 4-7-1 against the number while UK is 7-4-1. UK is 5-1-1 against the spread in true road games this season. Mizzou is 3-2-1 against the number as a home dog this season.
Last year graduate transfer Kassius Robertson did a lot for the Tigers. The former Canisius guard logged a ton of minutes and was Mizzou’s go-to-guy when Michael Porter Jr. was ruled out of the lineup. His departure has unexpectedly set Mizzou back this season. This was not something many were anticipating.
Mizzou has used multiple players to fill the point guard spot and it’s been a roller coaster to say the least. In SEC play, the Tigers rank 14th in turnover percentage and 11th in assist rate. Mizzou is coughing the rock up on nearly a quarter of their possessions and that has made this one of the most inefficient offenses in the SEC.
The main weapon in the backcourt is senior Jordan Geist and the former junior college guard is giving this program everything he has. The guard starred at Ranger College playing for Billy Gillispie before making the switch to Division I. In 2018-2019, he’s having a career year in his third season in Columbia. Geist leads the team in minutes, three-pointers made, and free throws attempted. He’s putting up over 14 points per game to go along with 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He won’t back down from the moment.
Playing alongside Geist in the backcourt is true freshman Javon Pickett and the rookie from the Chicago area was a top-300 recruit out of high school. He’s the program’s future at the two-spot, but this has been a year full of growing pains. The rookie is shooting under 40 percent from the field and has more turnovers than assists.
On the wing, former UK recruiting target and Illinois transfer Mark Smith has been this team’s outside specialist. The Illinois native has been an excellent floor spacer for the Tigers shown by having 104 shots from three and only 54 from two-point range. The Tigers were without Smith for six games in SEC play and that desperately costed UM. The wing ranks 20th in the nation in three-point shooting percentage (.471) and will need to be on the floor for Mizzou to have a fighting chance.
Off the bench, two more freshmen are used for the Tigers. Xavier Pinson and Torrence Watson have combined to attempt over 130 three-pointers and have played a lot this season. Pinson might actually be Mizzou’s best option at point while Watson is an energy player at this stage of his career.
Mizzou has a gutsy senior surrounded by a bunch of young pieces who are cutting their teeth in power conference basketball. It’s no surprise to see this team going through obvious growing pains this season.
In October, sophomore Jontay Porter was lost for the season after tearing both his ACL and MCL in a scrimmage. It totally changed the outlook for this year’s team and made Mizzou play without a potential lottery pick and All-SEC performer. With it, Mizzou put a lot more pressure on sophomore five-man Jeremiah Tilmon.
The 6-foot-10 and 252-pound sophomore is a large body and a key cog to Mizzou’s post offense. The East St. Louis native is shooting 57.1 percent from the field on his way to 10.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. On the defensive end, however, he has struggled to protect the paint. Foul trouble has been an issue for Tilmon his entire career and he’s fouled out of eight games this season. He just cannot stay on the floor.
Next to Tilmon, Kevin Puryear has stepped into a starting role for the loss of Jontay Porter. The undersized big provides Mizzou with solid rebounding but not much else. Off the bench, Reed Nikko has been used a lot due to Tilmon’s foul trouble issues and he brings size to the lineup (6-foot-10, 250 pounds).
Keys to Victory
- Kentucky will enter Mizzou Arena the much more talented and accomplished team. The Tigers are well on their way to a losing season while the Wildcats are playing for a one-seed. From the jump, Kentucky must bring the juice. Mizzou is a wounded team who could be taken out early with a fast start. Facing a team that can get hot from three, you don’t want to let this kind of underdog hang around.
- On the defensive end, Mizzou struggles to protect the paint. Opponents are shooting 51 percent from two-point range against the Tigers and they have no shot blockers to contest action at the basket. It should be a great opportunity for UK’s bigs. For Reid Travis, this could be a game where he could get multiple buckets on the block and leads the team in scoring.
- One way for Kentucky to get out to a healthy early lead would be to force some turnovers. Mizzou has major point guard issues and they’ve been turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Ashton Hagans could have a big day forcing havoc on defense and creating fast break opportunities for UK’s offense.
- Both Kentucky and Mizzou’s offense prefer to play at a slower pace. So this could be a low scoring affair. Don’t be surprised if UK limits their seventh conference foe to 55 points or less.
Back in 2012, things were looking up in the Show Me State when Mizzou announced they were leaving the Big XII for the SEC. The fans, as expected, seemed pretty excited and that joy was not just present in gridiron expectations. The Tigers were fresh off a 30-5 season in 2012 with a Big XII tournament championship. Expectations were very high with the Tigers having “faith in Haith”.
Well, Mizzou’s basketball run in the league has been about as ugly as that song and music video. The Tigers are are 41-79 in SEC play since joining the conference with only two NCAA Tournament appearances and zero tournament wins. Mizzou is on their third head coach since realignment and just can’t seem to get out of their own way on the hardwood.
Here’s to hoping this once proud program can return to respectability in basketball.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 19th, 2019 @ 11:00am
After missing his trip to Lexington this past weekend, 2020 five-star shooting Brandon “BJ” Boston is set to make up for it by visiting Kentucky this weekend.
|B.J. Boston (2020)
Shooting Guard | 6-7 | 183 lbs.
Norcross, GA | Norcross HS
AAU: Athletes of Tomorrow (AOT)
|ESPN||No. 15 | 4 SF||Top247||No. 12 | 3 SG|
|Rivals||No. 8 | 2 SF||247 Comp.||No. 10 | 3 SG|
According to Evan Daniels of 247 Sports (via his father), Boston will be in town for Kentucky’s matchup with Auburn on Saturday.
Top 10 wing Brandon Boston (https://t.co/eSZ53QtoRg) will take an unofficial visit to Kentucky this week, per his father.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) February 19, 2019
Boston, a 6-foot-7 wing out of Norcross, Georgia, is considered a consensus top-15 prospect in the class of 2020. He currently holds scholarship offers from schools such as Duke, Kansas, Florida, Auburn, and Ohio State, among 28 total schools.
All four of his Crystal Ball picks on 247 Sports favor the Blue Devils, including two from recruiting insiders Jerry Meyer and Andrew Slater.
Kentucky has not offered a scholarship, though one is expected to come soon.
Playing for the AOT Running Rebels on the Nike circuit, Boston is teammates with 2020 five-star guard and Kentucky target Sharife Cooper. Though it is not confirmed as of yet, Cooper is also expected to join Boston in Lexington this weekend.
Take a look at Boston’s most recent highlights below:
Good morning, friends, and welcome to the Tuesday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. Tune in as the gang gets you ready for tonight’s game vs. Missouri in Columbia, which doesn’t tip until 9 p.m. ET. Pass the coffee…
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (859) 300-3264.
|Ashland||WCMI||93.3 FM T||LIVE|
|Bowling Green||WKCT||930 AM||LIVE|
|Bowling Green||WKCT||104.1 FM T||LIVE|
|Elizabethtown||WIEL||106.1 FM T||LIVE|
|Grayson||WGOH||100.9 FM T||LIVE|
|Hopkinsville||WHOP||95.3 FM T||LIVE|
|Lancaster||WZXI||1280 AM||5-7 PM|
|Lancaster/Stanford||WZXI||95.5 FM T||5-7 PM|
|Leitchfield||WMTL||870 AM||10A-12N CST|
|London||WFTG||106.9 FM T||LIVE|
|Madisonville||WFMW||94.9 FM T||LIVE|
|McKee-Booneville||Peoples Rural Telephone||Cable TV Channel 209||LIVE|
|Morganfield||WUCO||98.5 FM T||LIVE|
|Paducah||WPAD||99.5 FM T||LIVE|
|Pikeville||WLSI||95.9 FM T||LIVE|
|Prestonsburg||WPRT||104.5 FM T||LIVE|
|Whitesburg||WTCW||95.1 FM T||LIVE|
|Whitley City||WHAY||98.3 FM||LIVE|
|Williamson, WV||WBTH||1400 AM||LIVE|
|Williamson, WV||WBTH||102.5 FM T||LIVE|
|50 Radio Affiliates|
1 TV/Cable Affiliate
*Affiliates subject to change without notice
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