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By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 24th, 2017 @ 9:00am
Sometimes, the script of life matches the script of a movie. Last night was such a night for Makayla Epps, Evelyn Akhator, and UK Hoops. That’s where we’ll start today’s top 10:
1. A storybook Senior Night
On Epps and Akhator’s Senior Night, the ladies upset #3 Mississippi State in overtime, with Epps scoring the bucket to put the Cats ahead for good. Epps made her father proud in her final game in Memorial Coliseum, putting up 22 points and five assists; Akhator had 27 points and 16 rebounds, and there weren’t many dry eyes in the house when the two came through their hoops and swayed with their teammates to “My Old Kentucky Home”:
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) February 24, 2017
And Epps’ game-winning putback:
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) February 24, 2017
Another view from KSTV:
— KSTV (@KSTV_Sports) February 24, 2017
“The best feeling for me is that Makayla and Evelyn will always have tonight,” Matthew Mitchell said afterwards.
And what a night it was. UK’s win was so big that…
2. Matthew Mitchell celebrated by jumping on a table
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) February 24, 2017
Not only does Mitchell have nice moves, his team has won five straight. They’ll wrap up the regular season Sunday at #7 South Carolina at 2 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU, and is required viewing for any Kentucky fan.
3. What’s the latest on De’Aaron Fox’s knee?
After Ryan “Scoop” Lemond dropped the bomb that Fox’s knee injury may be worse than originally thought, everyone in the Bluegrass wants to know if he’ll be able to suit up tomorrow. Fox fell awkwardly on his knee during the Missouri game and looked to be in considerable pain, but played through it. On Wednesday, John Calipari said Fox’s knee was bruised and that he was getting treatment for it, but Ryan said on yesterday’s radio show that he believes Fox either won’t be able to play or he will be severely limited. Hopefully, we’ll know more when…
4. Calipari addresses the media this afternoon
Cal will meet with reporters some time around 2:30 p.m. this afternoon to preview tomorrow’s game, and, one would think, give us an update on Fox. Ten dollars says he gives us the ole “We’ll see if he can go in practice” line. While Fox’s knee has stolen the headlines, it’s worth pointing out that Briscoe hurt his ankle vs. Missouri as well. No word from Scoop on the severity of that injury.
5. UK is promoting Fox as an All-American candidate
Yesterday, UK released this promo video touting De’Aaron Fox as an All-American candidate, which should remind you just how vital he is to Kentucky’s success. Do us all a favor and send healing vibes to the Joe Craft Center, where hopefully, Fox’s knee is getting the same magic treatment that Jeff Sheppard’s ankle did back in 1998.
6. DeMarcus Cousins got a double double in his first game with the Pelicans
It’s a shame last night’s Pelicans/Rockets game was only available on NBA League Pass, because otherwise, the ratings would have been through the roof. Anyone who likes basketball wanted to see Boogie’s debut alongside Anthony Davis, and although they didn’t win, there were plenty of promising moments. Boogie finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals and 4 blocks, while Anthony had 29 points and 9 rebounds. Check out Boogie’s highlights below:
7. Meanwhile, with Boogie gone, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere shined
DeMarcus Cousins left a huge hole in the Kings’ frontcourt, but don’t worry too much about how they’ll fill it. Last night, Willie Cauley-Stein scored a career-high 29 points and 10 rebounds while Skal Labissiere also turned in a career-high 12 points in the Kings’ win over the Nuggets.
Boogie to the Pelicans clearly may be Willie’s gain, and, in turn, is Kings’ beat reporters gain. Last night, many on the Sacramento beat got their first real taste of the Willie Cauley-Stein we all know and love with quotes like this:
Willie Cauley-Stein: “I’m a pizza guy. But when you really think about it, what is pizza? It’s just dough, sauce, cheese and dedication."
— Aaron Bruski (@aaronbruski) February 24, 2017
Pizza chains of Sacramento, you have a new spokesman. Speaking of, if you’re coming to Nashville for the SEC Tournament, don’t forget to check out Five Points Pizza! Dough, sauce, cheese, and dedication is their specialty. 🍕
8. There was plenty of last-minute trade deadline chaos
The NBA trade deadline was yesterday and several Cats were part of some last-minute speculation. Nerlens Noel was traded to the Mavericks, which makes sense given Philly’s stockpile of bigs, but unfortunately, the Mavs are even worse than the 76ers. Terrence Jones was waived by the Pelicans, but he’s played well enough this season that he’ll probably get picked up by another team pretty soon. The Suns tried to find a new home for Brandon Knight, but failed. Hang in there, B-Knight.
9. Shannon Spake is getting her own car in “Cars 3”
— Shannon Spake (@ShannonSpake) February 24, 2017
Shoutout to one of our favorites, Shannon Spake, who announced last night that she’ll have her own car in the next installment of the Cars series, which drops this summer. Spake is now with Fox, where she covers NASCAR, along with college football and basketball. Shannon’s been great to me over the years, and now, she’ll be a hero amongst my nephews.
10. Finally, check out this marriage proposal at Bellarmine last night
— Bellarmine Athletics (@BUKnights) February 23, 2017
Bellarmine’s Destony Curry got the surprise of her life last night when her boyfriend popped out of the Knights mascot costume and proposed during her Senior Night ceremony. Of course, she said yes. Congrats, you crazy kids.
Radio in an hour….
No. 22 Kentucky pulled out a massive upset tonight, taking down No. 3 Mississippi State 78-75 on an emotional Senior Night. The Cats are now 20-8 on the season and third in the SEC and an electric night in Memorial proved that they are a real contender this year. Check out Savannah’s post to read more about tonight’s overtime win.
The seniors took over the second half.
Kentucky went into the third quarter trailing 31-30 and Makayla Epps had decided she had enough. Epps came out and had an 8-0 run to give the Cats a 38-30 lead. This gave Kentucky some much needed momentum after they had a rough time getting their offense moving in the first half. For only having four points in the first half, Epps came out and rolled out 18 more in the second half for 22 points total.
Akhator, was also a victim of a weird first half. Only scoring five points in the first half, she went to work in the second and scored 22 points to give her 27 totally points and 17 rebounds. A ridiculous stat line, but one that is not unusual for the senior. She took advantage of MSU getting in early foul trouble to work her way into the paint and be a huge factor in Kentucky winning tonight.
Head coach Matthew Mitchell was elated for the seniors tonight.
“The best feeling for us is that Makayla and Evelyn will always have tonight. And now that they have it, you can’t take that away from them,” Mitchell said after the game.
Free throws matter
If you follow me on Twitter then you’ve seen me preach this over and over again while watching our guys play. But free throws were what kept the Cats in this game. Mississippi State was making stupid foul after stupid foul and Kentucky took advantage. They shot 71% from the charity stripe, making 20 of 28 free throws.
Memorial was lit
“That atmosphere out there felt amazing, it felt like one of the Rupp Arenas game,” Epps said. And it did have that feeling. 5,224 fans showed up to cheer on Epps and Akhator tonight and it was one of the best atmospheres I’ve experienced in Memorial.
Memorial is turnt pic.twitter.com/YrytjMwNAT
— Haley Simpson (@haleysimpKSR) February 24, 2017
And they did it. No. 22 Cats knock of No. 3 MSU 78-75 on senior night. pic.twitter.com/0w6xdpGSPb
— Haley Simpson (@haleysimpKSR) February 24, 2017
This is the Cats biggest win of the season
It’s no secret that Kentucky has struggled this season. They’ve lost all but one matchup against top 25 teams this season and have lost both of their games that went into overtime. Tonight, they knocked off the No. 3 team in the nation and the top team in the SEC. The Cats also played one of the most complete games they’ve played all season with things flowing on both ends, hitting the shots that mattered and forcing turnovers one after another.
This was big going into the SEC tournament
Next week I will be traveling to Greenville, South Carolina to watch the Cats compete in the SEC Tournament. This win seals Kentucky at three seed so they will receive a one day bye and will play on Thursday. That is huge because the Cats will need all the rest they can get going into March.
Also, this video from the locker room is awesome.
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) February 24, 2017
I didn’t wake up today thinking I’d see Matthew Mitchell standing on a table, but ya never know.
UK Hoops WON against Mississippi State tonight, 78-75. And ya’ll, WHAT A GAME.
A win. In overtime. On senior night. Against the third ranked team. What more could you ask for? It was an emotional senior night win for Makayla Epps, Evelyn Akhator and Matthew Mitchell after the turmoil of the beginning of the season.
“Makayla and Evelyn will always have tonight. To have that moment with them, it’s one we’ll probably never forget,” said Matthew Mitchell
The Cats struggled in the beginning, Mississippi State went on a 8-0 run in the first quarter. The Cats were shooting 1 of 6 while the Bulldogs were 4 of 5. But the Cats were able to get something going with the help of Maci Morris who had seven points in the first quarter. The second quarter was all back and forth and all Epps and Akhator, MSU led 31-30.
Epps and Akhator both went off in the second half and after too much back and forth for my liking, we ended up in overtime. Mackenzie Cann missed a huge three with eight seconds left in overtime but, Epps saved the day with two points. With one second left, Maci Morris went to the free throw line and I’ll admit, I was too scared to watch. I’m told she made both though from those who could stomach the pressure to watch on press row. Memorial was already loud but man, when that second shot went in and then the buzzer went off shortly after – IT GOT LOUD.
Epps had 22 points, Akhator had her 15th double-double with 27 points and 16 rebounds. The two seniors scored 59 of the Cats’ 78 points. These seniors are special ya’ll, and the environment in Memorial was truly a testament to them. I counted about six Makayla Epps fatheads and five Akhator ones. Even I couldn’t help but get a little emotional during their senior night ceremony (but no, I didn’t cry).
“People counted us down and out when we went through that turmoil. I took that on the chin. We knew we had to play today. It’s a crazy feeling to win,” said Epps.
Well, that’s all from Memorial for this season. UK Hoops plays one last game against South Caroline on Sunday at 2 , and then it’s off to the tournament we go!
With the game tied, Makayla Epps hustled to grab Mackenzie Cann’s missed three-pointer and put it back through the rim. The made bucket with eight seconds left in overtime gave Epps a win in her final game at Memorial Coliseum.
Epps and senior Evelyn Akhator combined to score 27 of UK’s final 29 points. More coverage is on the way.
By Nick Roush on ©February 23rd, 2017 @ 7:15pm
For the final time Evelyn Akhator and Makayla Epps took the Memorial Coliseum court . Matthew Mitchell’s Senior duo received the send-off they deserve. First, Akahtor’s introduction:
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) February 23, 2017
Things may have gotten a little dusty for Epps’ entrance.
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) February 23, 2017
When the two teams finally left the benches for tip-off, Epps kissed the UK-logo at center-court, just like her father. See the full video from the KSR Facebook page after the jump.
By Drew Franklin on ©February 23rd, 2017 @ 6:30pm
We’re moments away from Makayla Epps’ Senior Night in Memorial Coliseum and there is a story on the internet that you HAVE TO read before that one tips off.
The story of Epps, in her own words, just went up over on The Players’ Tribune, where several famous athletes have penned their own pieces.
Epps is the next in line to do so, sharing how she went from Anthony Epps’ daughter to Louisville commit to Kentucky Wildcat, and how playing for Kentucky was/is so special, beyond basketball.
Here, have an excerpt:
All my life people have been asking me about playing in my father’s shadow. I never saw it as a negative thing. If anything, I felt the opposite. I watched my father strive to succeed while he was playing, and it inspired me to play the game the way he did.
And I liked the bar being set high for me. It motivated me to bring my best to the court every game. I told myself that by the end of high school, when people in Marion thought of the name Epps, they were going to be thinking of me first.
Seriously, read it: Kentucky Woman by Makayla Epps
By Haley Simpson on ©February 23rd, 2017 @ 5:30pm
Four years ago, Makayla Epps was the daughter of a former Kentucky basketball player who happened to be a four-star recruit out of Marion High School in Lebanon, Kentucky.
Now, Epps is projected by DraftSite.com to go as the 13th WNBA pick to the San Antonio Stars. Just before teammate Evelyn Akhator is projected to go 14th to the New York Liberty. She’s the leader of a Kentucky team that was in shambles last April and had to have tryouts to fill two spots on the roster. She never gave up and kept fighting for a team, and state, that she loves.
Epps wears 25 on her jersey, the same number her father did in his tenure at Kentucky, but has managed to make it her own and become the face of Kentucky Women’s Basketball. But regardless of how good your dad is, if he’s a Kentucky basketball player, it’s going to be hard to separate yourself from that.
So how did she do it? How did the daughter of a player for one of the most successful basketball programs in history step out of her fathers shadow?
She didn’t leave
When Matthew Mitchell lost all of his coaching staff, the departure of seven players and two commitments Epps could have flown the coup, but she didn’t. The senior stayed and fought for her team to be a competitor this season against all odds. Many players went to more dominant programs, Alexis Jennings went to South Carolina and Batouly Camara went to UCONN, and Epps could have done just the same. Thankfully, she chose to stay and back the team she had spent the last three years building.
“I had people asking me, ‘are you leaving, are you leaving’ and I said nah, I can’t leave the blue and white. I’m glad I stuck it out,” Epps said before the beginning of the season.
She’s a stone cold leader
Epps is this team’s Tyler Ulis. Each and every girl on the squad looks up to Epps and trusts her to lead them through thick and thin, and it’s apparent on the court. She’s the most vocal person on the court, always telling her teammates where they need to be on the court and calling out the plays. If someone misses a beat, Epps is right there telling them what they need to better the next time around – almost as if she’s an extension of the coaching staff. As a senior, Epps is on the floor more than anyone else on the team, averaging just over 35 minutes per game, and spends the entire time doing her best to help her team exceed.
“I’ve played more games for Kentucky than any other player on this team. I know the game, I know what it takes to win games, I know what it takes to compete in the SEC, and I know what it takes to be the top dog, ranked in the country type. I’m just being more vocal, my teammates respect me, I respect all my teammates. So when I say something, they stop and really listen,” Epps said.
She’s scored almost twice as many points as her dad
Anthony Epps may have helped the Cats score a national title in 1996, but in his four years from 1993-1997 he scored 881 points. Placing Epps at 75th on the all time scorers list for Kentucky Basketball history. His daughter, has almost doubled that having scored 1,664 career points for 5th best in program history. This season, Epps leads the team in points per game, averaging almost two more points than the next highest scorer at 16.9 ppg. Akhator has the second best average with 14.9 ppg. In fact, Epps has led the team in scoring each year since her sophomore year. In her sophomore year she averaged 14.9 ppg and her junior year she averaged 17 ppg.
It doesn’t take a national championship trophy to leave a mark at Kentucky. Fans have grown to love Epps, some even waited in lines reaching outside the Memorial Coliseum on Sunday to get her autograph. She’s a homegrown Kentuckian who has made her state proud. The farthest Epps has ever taken a team in the Sweet 16 but she will be remembered as one of the greatest women to ever wear the blue and white.
By Haley Simpson on ©February 19th, 2017 @ 8:00pm
After four years, Makayla Epps’ time in a Wildcat uniform is coming to an end. The seniors last home game will be on Thursday, senior night, but a good amount of the 6,600 fans that showed up for today’s game against Florida waited to get a chance to thank Epps for her commitment to the Cats.
According to the lovely Jen Smith of the Herald Leader, the line for autographs went all the way down the ramp and through the doors onto Euclid Avenue.
— Clay Bollinger (@ClayBollinger) February 19, 2017
One fan was even lucky enough to get her picture made with Epps inside the Joe Craft Center:
— Ehsan El-Amin (@BoogymanSmoove) February 19, 2017
The last four years have been a fun ride, I’ll have more on that later this week, but don’t miss out on your last chance to send Epps out in style on Thursday. Get your tickets for senior night against Mississippi State at 7 here.
The BatCats came from behind but could not trump North Carolina’s offense early as the Tar Heels won 5-4 to sweep Kentucky. Logan Salow pitched five scoreless innings in relief and Riley Mahan clubbed a two-run home run, but North Carolina held off the Cats to complete the three game sweep.
Logan Warmoth got the offense started early for the Tar Heels. With one out in the first, Warmoth took Justin Lewis deep for the first home run of the series. Lewis struggled early and often in his first start of the season. The sophomore allowed a two-run bomb from Tyler Lynn in the second inning. Through two innings, UK was already trailing 3-0 to the #13 Tar Heels.
Much like yesterday, the Cats answered back. Connor Heady doubled home Troy Squires to get UK on the board in the top of the third. With two outs, Mahan pulled a fastball from Luca Dalatri into the trees in right field. Mahan’s seventh career home run tied the game at three.
Lewis came back out in the third and could not find a groove. Salow entered the game with no outs and two on after Lewis balked in a run. Salow allowed one inherited runner to score before shutting the door in the third. Lewis allowed five runs in two innings while allowing three walks and four hits.
Kentucky LHP Logan Salow gets Kyle Datres to fly out to end the 5th. UNC holds a 5-4 lead. pic.twitter.com/dOsW2mA2hx
— Hudson Belinsky (@hudsonbelinsky) February 19, 2017
Kentucky would get one of those runs back in the top of the fourth when Squires grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Marcus Carson. Salow would come back out and dominant for four more innings. The senior threw five shutout innings in relief, allowing only six baserunners and striking out two. UK struggled to find any offense with Salow on the mound. Dalatri settled down following the third and fourth innings. In his first career start, Dalatri went seven innings and struck out five. The Cats had reached base in every inning until the 7th when Daltri shut down UK for the first time.
Once again, UK had an opportunity to win in the 9th when trailing by one. Josh Hiatt picked up his third consecutive save as he shut down the Cats in order in the 9th.
Kentucky’s bullpen was excellent this weekend. With no starter going further than five innings, the bullpen needed to have a big weekend. UNC scored a combined one earned run (three runs total) on UK relievers. Logan Salow had five scoreless innings today to keep UK in the game.
Tristan Pompey collected his first hits of the season. The athletic outfielder had several hard hit balls that fell into a shift in the first two games of the series. Pompey went 2/4 today with a pair of singles.
— Hudson Belinsky (@hudsonbelinsky) February 19, 2017
The Cats held close but couldn’t find a win. The three losses this weekend were by a combined four runs. In each game, UK had the tying run at the plate in the 9th inning but couldn’t put together a late rally. It’s a tough way to open the season, but there are positives from this weekend. The bullpen exceeded expectations and we saw that the offense doesn’t back down when they get behind.
The Cats are back at it on Wednesday. UK will play three games in Virginia starting with a 3 ET first pitch at Liberty.
In case you missed today’s UK Hoops win over Florida, here are five leftovers from the victory.
Despite the final score, it was a fairly even matchup
The two teams really competed in the first half, with Kentucky building a lead and then Florida answering with a run. Although the Cats were able to pull away in the second half, a lot of the game’s statistics were extremely similar between the two teams. Kentucky shot 46 percent from the field, while Florida shot 45 percent. UK ended with 30 total rebounds, and UF ended with 28. Additionally, both teams scored 32 points in the paint.
Second chance points were key
One clear exception to the previous statement is second chance points. Kentucky finished with 25 such points, compared to Florida’s five.
Another uneven factor in the game were turnovers. Florida committed 23, while the Cats gave up just 15. This led UK to outscore the Gators 24-10 on points off turnovers.
“We just turned the ball over too much,” said Florida head coach Amanda Butler. “We had a lot of unforced turnovers [and] too many possessions where we just flat threw it out of bounds.”
UK outscored UF from the bench
While Kentucky has struggled with getting more players actively involved in their rotation all season, this game was a unique one in that Florida had the same issue. Excluding players who entered the game with less than one minute remaining, Kentucky played eight women, while Florida played seven. In terms of bench points, the Cats had 13, while Florida had zero. Jessica Hardin, Paige Poffenberger, Makenzie Cann and Jaida Roper all entered the game off the bench and scored at least two points.
Hardin returned to action after a 12 game absence due to concussion protocol. In her first game since Dec. 29, she drained a three-point basket immediately after checking into the game late in the fourth quarter.
“I was hoping to get her in a little bit earlier, but we didn’t handle the second quarter great,” Mitchell said of Hardin. “She took so much time off for her concussion, but, man, it didn’t affect her shooting. I still believe she could play a vital role in the post season.”
Taylor Murray was a major factor… even if the points column doesn’t show it
Although the sophomore point guard ended the game with just four points, she played a big part in the Cats’ win.
“11 assists and one turnover? That’s incredible,” Mitchell said. “She is playing some fantastic team basketball. She just ignites us.”
Next up… senior night
This Thursday, this team will play its last game in Memorial Coliseum. With two such strong seniors – Akhator and Epps – it’s sure to be an emotional night.
After the game, Mitchell praised Epps for the progress she has made not only as a basketball player, but also as a person throughout her time at Kentucky.
“I’m really proud of the work she’s done as a person. She’s made some changes that are going to benefit her for the rest of her life,” said Mitchell. “We’re going to work our heads off to see if we can send her and Evelyn off with a victory.”
After a close first half, the Kentucky Wildcats were able to finally pull away from Florida, defeating the Gators 67-48 in front of a packed Memorial Coliseum. The win was made even more special as it was UK’s annual Play4Kay Pink Game benefitting the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Both teams and every coach sported pink in the matchup.
Although Kentucky defeated the Gators by double digits, it didn’t always look so easy. While UK led by ten during the second quarter, Florida would just not go away. Throughout the first half, the Gators chipped away at the lead, ending the half trailing by just four: 27-31.
In the first half, the Cats relied heavily on senior Evelyn Akhator, who finished the half with 10 points. Taylor Murray, despite only scoring two points in the first 20 minutes, got it done for the Cats in other ways, specifically by dishing out seven of the team’s eight first half assists.
But it was the third quarter that really propelled Kentucky ahead of the Gators. While Florida went just 4-9 from the field, the Cats hit 7-15, outscoring the Gators 19-10 during the period.
“We really worked hard to not be frustrated at halftime,” Matthew Mitchell said. “They really locked in and did a great job in the second half.”
By the final quarter, Kentucky had found their stride. The lead continued to grow, and Akhator continued to shine, ending the night with 19 points and nine rebounds. Maci Morris also performed well, finishing with 15 points, while Makayla Epps added 14 points.
Kentucky is now 19-8 on the season, including 10-4 in the SEC. The Cats’ final home game of the season will be on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 against Mississippi State.
Zach Reks went 4/4 and Kole Cottam drove in three runs for Kentucky in a 6-5 loss to North Carolina. UK trailed 6-1 headed to the 7th before the offense woke up with three runs in the 7th and one in the 8th. It was a little too late as UNC took game two of the series.
UK jumped out to an early 1-0 in the first as Kole Cottam doubled to score Reks. The lead would be short lived as the Tar Heels used a Kyle Datres RBI single to tie the game at one. Logue was able to wiggle out of multiple jams throughout his 4.1 innings on Saturday. The senior stranded six runners in the first four innings, but the Tar Heels began to knock him around in the fifth. Logue allowed single runs in the fourth and the fifth as he exited allowing three runs in 4.1 innings on six hits and four walks and five strikeouts.
— Michael Lananna (@mlananna) February 18, 2017
As Kentucky’s offense struggled to bring in runs, UNC jumped on their biggest opportunity in the sixth. Leading 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, UNC batted around and scored three runs against four different UK pitchers. Alec Maley hit a pair of batters and Mark Doerries and Austin Keen combined for three walks as UNC stretched their lead to five. Brad Schaenzer got the final out and left the bases loaded for UNC.
Kentucky found their fight in the 7th as Reks singled and Riley Mahan and Tristan Pompey walked. Cottam roped his second RBI double of the game to score Reks and Mahan. Pompey was thrown out at the plate but the Cats trimmed the lead to 6-3. Marcus Carson knocked Cottam home with an RBI double of his own with two outs.
Zach Pop came in and held the UNC offense down. The Top 100 MLB Prospect held the Tar Heels scoreless for 1.2 innings before Logan Salow got the final out of the eighth. In the top of the eighth, UK used an RBI groundout by Mahan to get one more back before the ninth.
From Zach Pop pic.twitter.com/ChirViwDXG
— Michael Lananna (@mlananna) February 18, 2017
For the second consecutive day, Josh Hiatt came in and shut the door for the Tar Heels in the ninth. UK got a man on first but Hiatt ended the game with a strikeout.
Reks continued to hit well. The second year left fielder has seven hits in the first two games with one walk. Having a guy like that at the top of your lineup can truly change how an opposing team pitches to you.
Evan White missed today’s game. White was out with a hip issue that is supposedly minor. Nick Mingione held him out today due to caution.
Plenty of new faces. We saw a lot of new guys come out of the bullpen today. Pop, Salow, and Logue are all guys that started last year. Keen, Maley, and Doerries made their debuts today.
Game three is tomorrow at 1 ET. Justin Lewis is set to go for UK.
Despite multi-hit games from Zach Reks and Evan White, Kentucky dropped the opening game of the 2017 season 3-1 at North Carolina. Reks and White combined for five of the Cats’ seven hits as All-American and Team USA pitcher J.B Bukauskas struck out ten over six scoreless innings for the Tarheels.
In the top of the first, Reks led off the game with a single to center on the first pitch thrown by Bukauskas. With one away, White found the outfield grass to put runners at first and second. Bukauskas was able navigate out of the jam in the top of the first by inducing an easy groundout and flyout.
— Hudson Belinsky (@hudsonbelinsky) February 17, 2017
Sean Hjelle made his first career start in a UK uniform. The 6’11” sophomore struggled early when the #13 Tarheels came up in the first. UNC used three first inning singles, including an RBI knock by Zack Gahagan, to test Hjelle early. Hjelle allowed two more runs over the course of five innings. The Minnesota-native allowed 11 hits and struck out two in the longest outing of his collegiate career.
UNC added a runs in the third and fourth to extend their lead to 3-0. Bukauskas did not allow another hit after the second inning on his way to a dominant performance. Hjelle left the game in the sixth and was relieved by newcomer Colton Cleary. Combined with Brad Schaenzer, Cleary and the bullpen allowed only one hit in three innings of scoreless baseball.
The offense could never recoup after the three early runs. Reks drove in Luke Heyer in the top of the ninth to trim the lead to 3-1, but Josh Hiatt shut the door by striking out Kole Cottam to end the game.
Mingione drops game one. It was a tough start to the Nick Mingione era at Kentucky. The new head coach will look for his first career win as a head coach tomorrow at UNC.
Reks and White shined. It’s important to have your stars shine early in the season. Reks went 3/4 with an RBI and the All-American White was 2/4 with the team’s lone double. White collected both his hits against his Team USA teammate Bukauskas.
Bukauskas was phenomenal. The #6 overall prospect for the MLB Draft this season struck out ten in six innings for the Tarheels. The junior righty can touch the mid to upper 90s on his fastball. As UK saw today, he also can use his changeup and slider effectively.
— Michael Lananna (@mlananna) February 17, 2017
There was little consistency in the lineup. Outside of White and Reks, the Cats went 2/26 with no extra base hits on Friday. Bukauskas, Rodney Hutchison, and Hiatt combined to strikeout 15 Cats.
Game Two Tomorrow- The Cats have a shot to even the series tomorrow at 2 ET. Zach Logue will take the bump for the BatCats against Jason Morgan and UNC on WatchESPN. Follow along on Twitter for update @TreyHuntsmanKSR.
UK Hoops traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas tonight and beat the Razorbacks 69-62.
In the first half the Cats hit six three pointers pointers but, other than that the first half was a little lack luster for UK. They only shot 29% from the field. According to the @KentuckyWBB Twitter account, Matthew Mitchell pushed the team to play harder in the second half.
At halftime UK led 31-20 but then Taylor Murray got called for a flagrant and Arkansas took off. The Razorbacks went on a 7-0 run in the third and a 9-0 run in the fourth. With just five minutes to go UK Hoops led 55-53. With three minutes left, Epps hit a huge three, Akhator got aggressive and Murray made a game changing lay up. Ball Game.
Murray led the team with 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Senior Evelyn Akhator had her 14th double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds so yeah, she’s really GOOD.
UK Hoops returns home to Memorial this Sunday to take on Florida at 1pm.
All-Star Weekend Begins Tomorrow
Nine former Wildcats will be in New Orleans to participate in a variety of events designed to showcase the best the NBA has to offer. Here’s where you’ll find them:
- Rising Stars Challenge (Friday, 9 p.m.): Karl Towns, Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, Trey Lyles
- D-League All-Star Game (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.): Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress
- Skills Challenge (Saturday, 8 p.m.): Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Devin Booker
- All-Star Game (Sunday, 8 p.m.): Anthony Davis (starter), DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall
All of the events will air on TNT except the D-League All-Star game, which can be seen on NBA TV.
The Cubes is Cal’s Newest Podcast Guest
Most know him as the Dallas Mavericks’ owner; others as the guy who invests in small businesses on ABC’s Shark Tank. Now see Mark Cuban in a different light as John Calipari’s podcast guest. The Cal Cast is available on iTunes and anywhere you can get podcasts.
Watch Lynn Bowden Dunk
It’s almost too much fun to see the crazy things the future football star can do. Here’s what happens when he messes around with a basketball in an empty gym.
We get up 🦍 pic.twitter.com/YCQeSffMXw
— Lynn Bowden (@H_Huncho) February 15, 2017
That boy’s good.
Shots Fired at Courtney Love
Blake Bone is quite the comedian. The wide receiver did some deep diving to clown on Kentucky’s middle linebacker, Courtney Love.
— Blake Bone (@_KingOVO) February 15, 2017
Love’s response was simple: “2011 State Champs .” Still, Bone wins this round. I just wish players would bring back the shoulder pads that are three times too large. Love looks more like a Ninja Turtle than a linebacker with those nine-inch pads.
P.J. Washington is Excited to be in the Bluegrass
The future Wildcat will play at Marshall County High School Friday night at 7:30 and Saturday evening at 6:30.
Can't wait to play in Kentucky this weekend 🙏🏾🔵⚪️BBN
— PJ Washington (@pjwashington_25) February 15, 2017
As a KSR blogger, it’s my job to encourage you to watch Washington play. As a fan of good basketball, I implore you to see Washington play in person before he comes to UK. He is without a doubt my favorite player in this class and will leave Kentucky as one of my favorite players in the Calipari era.
To make this simple: he’s a younger version of Draymond Green. A 6’8″ smack-talking power forward that rebounds like a traditional post on the defensive end, Washington is much more dynamic on the offensive end. Playing for the sixth-ranked team in the nation, he leads Findlay Prep in assists and three-pointers made, shooting at a 35 percent clip from behind the arc. According to Ben Roberts, in one game this season both Findlay Prep point guards had to sit out of the first half for disciplinary reasons, so Washington ran the point.
Please, jump on the P.J. Washington bandwagon before it gets too crowded.
I Want to Hate Oregon’s Jerseys, but I Can’t
The concept of glow-in-the-dark jerseys is the most idiotic thing in human history. They have no utility. The only time the players might notice them is during pregame introductions, that’s it. Still, as a child of the 90’s I’m obligated to appreciate the tackiness. Not only was any and everything glow-in-the-dark cool, cartoon college sweatshirts were a fad I was sad to see disappear. Donald Duck on the chest is the best thing Oregon uniforms feature. See what you think by turning the channel to ESPN.
A Walk-Off in Westwood
The UK softball team suffered a loss to the No. 5 UCLA Bruins in the first leg of last night’s doubleheader, but they returned with a vengeance for the second game. In the top of the 11th inning, Jenny Schaper took one into deep left centerfield.
Here’s how Jenny Schaper’s home run looked deep into the LA night to give UK the win over #5 UCLA. pic.twitter.com/9ZqXxKawof
— UK Softball (@UKsoftball) February 16, 2017
The 2-1 win was sealed with a 6-5-3 double play in the bottom of the 11th. The 22nd-ranked Wildcats have three more games before they return to Lexington: UC-Davis and Oregon tomorrow night, and Saturday against Cal State Northridge.
The season begins for the Kentucky baseball team this weekend in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The BatCats will take on the Tar Heels Friday at 3:00, Saturday at 2:00 and Sunday at 1:00. Follow @TreyHuntsmanKSR for updates throughout Nick Mingione’s first weekend as UK’s head coach.
Did Mitch Make It?
Mitch Barnhart hit the road to Fayetteville with UK Hoops. He isn’t going just to be a cheerleader. During today’s pregame shoot-around, he got in on the action. Unfortunately, this photograph doesn’t show his form, nor if the bucket fell through the net.
Based on the trajectory and Barnhart’s eagerness, I’m going to say yes, yes it went in.