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UK Hoops Preview: Kentucky vs. Duke tonight at 7:00

@KentuckyWBB

@KentuckyWBB

The No. 17 Wildcats (9-3) will face No. 15 Duke (11-1) tonight in Durham, North Carolina in UK’s first game since their exhilarating 69-67 victory victory over Washington State nine days ago. The game will also be Kentucky’s last non-conference game of the season. Yesterday, Coach Matthew Mitchell held a press conference to preview tonight’s tough match-up. Here are the three main takeaways.

1. Defense is key

All season, Mitchell has stressed the importance of improving this team’s defense. Tonight will be a huge test for the Cats, as Duke’s offense is incredibly explosive. So far this season, the Blue Devils are averaging 82.2 points per game, while shooting 50 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from behind the three-point line. Their leading scorer, redshirt junior Rebecca Greenwell, is averaging 20.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, while UK’s leading lady, Makayla Epps, is averaging 17.9 points per game.

“They can beat you from the perimeter and can beat you inside. They are really powerful and athletic and big and can rebound,” Mitchell said. “It is going to be a really big test for our defense.”

2. Taylor Murray is still touch-and-go.

The sophomore guard has already missed the last two games due to an injury, and it looks as though she may be sitting this one out as well. The Wildcats will certainly miss Murray, who is averaging 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, against an efficient Duke team, but Mitchell doesn’t want to rush her return.

“It’s a lot harder to win a game without her than it is to win with her, so we certainly hope we can have her available tomorrow night, but we just won’t know until game time” Mitchell said. “We’re not going to do anything that hampers her ability long term.”

3. Yes, UK vs. Duke is a rivalry for the women, too

Although there’s far less hate compared to the men’s teams, the two programs are still very competitive. Tonight’s game marks the sixth straight season for this match-up, with the Blue Devils holding a 3-2 advantage. Last season, Kentucky defeated Duke 71-61 in Rupp Arena. However, the Cats have never won in Durham.

“When we were in the early stages of trying to develop our program, we felt like playing some of the top schools that our men’s team has had great rivalries with could be valuable, and it so happens that Duke has developed a great women’s basketball program as well,” Mitchell said. “The one thing missing in the series so far is us winning at Duke… so we would love to get a win over there.”

Watch out for any intentional tripping… just saying.


The game will be shown live on ACC Network Extra through WatchESPN, and the call will be available on Fox Sports 1580AM and ukathletics.com. Be sure to tune in tonight at 7 p.m. – it’s sure to be an exciting game.


Photo by UK Athletics

UK Hoops Fights for Win over Washington State

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

After a touch-and-go second half, the No. 18 Lady Cats were able to hang on against the Washington State Cougars 69-67. Sophomore point guard Taylor Murray, who did not play in Sunday’s game against Radford, was once again on the bench due to a broken pinky finger. Freshman Jaida Roper started in her place.

In the first quarter, it looked like the Cats would roll right over the Cougars. Kentucky held Washington State to 2-15 from the floor, while UK hit 10-14. The Cats grabbed 11 rebounds compared to the Cougars’ six, and Makenzie Cann was hot from the three-point line, going 3-3 for the quarter. At the end of the first, the Cats led 26-8.

But then something changed. After being up by 20 with 9:30 left in the second quarter, Washington State made their run. UK’s field goal percentage dropped from 71.4 percent in the first to 21.1 percent in the second. WSU’s, on the other hand, jumped from 13.3 percent to 68.8 percent. After an 11-0 run by the Cougars, Kentucky entered the locker room clinging to a two-point lead.

“We came out swinging, then the energy dropped, the effort dropped,” said Makayla Epps after the game. “It happens, we’re kids.”

The third quarter was slightly better for UK, shooting 37.5 percent from the floor and scoring 20 points to Washington’s 16. Still, the Cougars went on another run, this time 9-0, and took the lead for the first time with 3:15 left in the third. By the end of the quarter, however, a technical foul on the WSU bench and a Maci Morris three-pointer gave the Cats a 58-52 lead.

The last ten minutes of the game continued to be a nail-biter. UK consistently held the lead, but Washington State’s freshman guard Alexys Swedlund hit her sixth three-pointer of the day, tying the score 67-67 with 42.1 seconds left in the game.

Then came the free throws.

Evelyn Akhator was up first, going 2-2 from the line. With the Cats leading 69-67, Washington State’s Nike McClure was sent to the line and went 0-2. Maci Morris was next, also missing both shots. The Cougars had the last possession, but Swedlund fired up a long, contested three-pointer that was far from the mark. Kentucky held on.

“I was very concerned about handling the pressure, and sometimes we did and sometimes we didn’t,” Matthew Mitchell said after the game. “But in the end, we won by one more point than necessary.”

Another positive? After the game, Mitchell revealed the team’s first semester GPA: 3.517.

“That shows you they’re serious students,” Mitchell said. “They’re a great team to coach.”


UK Hoops’ next two match-ups come as road games against tough teams: No. 17 Duke on Dec. 29 and Tennessee on Jan. 1. The Cats will be back in Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 5 at 7:00 against the Missouri Tigers.


Photo by UK Athletics

The Freshmen 15: Leah Edmond

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Members of the BBN have heard it time and time again: “Kentucky is just a basketball school.” UK football proved the haters wrong when they beat the Heisman Trophy winner and the rest of the Louisville Cardinals 41-38, and the Cats continue to prove them wrong in sport after sport. This year, volleyball was no exception.

Leah Edmond was a major factor for the Wildcats (23-8) all season. The best part? She’s just a freshman.

The 6-foot-2 outside hitter is no stranger to Kentucky athletics, as she came to UK from right here in Lexington and joins her father Corey Edmond, the UK Football head strength and conditioning coach, on campus.

“After my first visit, I knew this is where I wanted to be,” Edmond told KSR. “I believed this was the place I could be the most successful on and off the court, and I think it has worked out pretty well so far.”

Prep Volleyball named Edmond “The best prospect to ever come out of the Lexington area” based on her “incredible jumping ability and quickness,” and she is the program’s first scholarship player to come out of Lexington. When she first joined the team, UK Volleyball Head Coach Craig Skinner called her “one of the most explosive athletes we have recruited here at Kentucky.”

He wasn’t kidding.

Edmond earned the title of SEC Freshman of the Week eight times and SEC Player of the Week twice. The combination of the two made Edmond the obvious choice for SEC Freshman of the Year, as well as AVCA All-Region Freshman of the Year. Edmond finished second in the conference in kills per set at 4.25, which also made her the No. 3 freshman in the nation in that category. At the end of the season, she was named to the AVCA Division I All-America third team. She was one of just five freshmen in the nation to be named to any of the All-America teams and only the 11th player in UK history with such accolades.

When asked about which award means the most to her, Edmond immediately knew it was being named a Third Team All-American.

“After going to the banquet this weekend, it really hit me hard how big of an honor it really was,” Edmond said. “I was surrounded by national champions and some of the most decorated players in their program’s history. To be considered one of the top players in the country is a huge honor.”

But it wasn’t always easy. The transition from high school to college is difficult for any 18-year-old, but it’s especially challenging for student athletes.

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

“The schedule was hard for me,” said Edmond. In terms of the biggest adjustment, Edmond noted that “being able to balance school and everything that comes with volleyball,” was the toughest, and “lots of studying happened on buses and planes. But by the middle of the season, I got the hang of it, and it became a lot easier.”

These buses and planes took the Cats all the way to Seattle, Washington, where they defeated Colorado State 3-1 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. In the next round, however, UK fell to No. 8 Washington 3-0. Edmond led the team with 11 kills and added three blocks.

So what’s next for this freshman Wildcat?

“An SEC championship and making it farther in the NCAA tournament. Those have been my goals since day one, and I plan on accomplishing them.”

Looks like Kentucky isn’t just a basketball school after all.


Here are the other freshmen who have been highlighted so far:

Kash Daniel 

Benny Snell Jr.

Wenyen Gabriel 


Twitter: @MaggieDavisKSR


Photo by UK Athletics

UK Hoops Defeats Radford Highlanders in Easy Victory

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

After a tough few weeks for the UK Women’s Basketball team, which included overtime losses to both Louisville and Arizona State, UK Hoops is back on track. The Cats redeemed themselves tonight with a 59-36 victory over the Radford University Highlanders.

Although the Cats held a comfortable lead over the Highlanders for most of the game, the loss of sophomore point guard Taylor Murray was noticeable. With just an hour before tip-off, the Kentucky Women’s Basketball twitter account reported that Murray would miss today’s game due to injury. It was later released that Murray is suffering from a broken left pinky. According to UK, she will also likely be out for Wednesday’s game against Washington State.

Murray, who has been averaging 12.7 points per game, was replaced by freshman Jaida Roper in the starting lineup and by Maci Morris as the stand-in point guard. Coming off a career-high 29 points in last Sunday’s game against Arizona State, Morris continued to compete today, scoring seven points and dishing out four assists. Jaida Roper held her own after her first career start, ending the night with two points and four assists. Fellow freshman Paige Poffenberger also got her first big minutes of the season. She excelled on defense, while adding two points and three rebounds. Mackenzie Cann went 3-7 from behind the arc (42.9 percent), and Alyssa Rice finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three assists.

But the two biggest contributors of the day were Evelyn Akhator and Makayla Epps. All season, these two seniors have carried their team. Tonight, they combined for 26 points, 12 rebounds and just two turnovers.

Defensively, Kentucky smothered Radford. Their three leading scorers, Destinee Walker, Jayda Worthy and Janayla White, have all been averaging over ten points per game so far this season. Today however, they were held to six, two and six points, respectively. The Highlanders shot just 26.4 percent from the floor, while the Cats shot 36.9 percent.

UK Hoops will be back in Memorial Coliseum this Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 12:00 noon against Washington State.


Twitter: @MaggieDavisKSR


Photo by UK Athletics

UK Hoops Owned Rupp Arena Today

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Matthew Mitchell said last week “If you’re looking to escape the cold on Sunday, come to the game because Rupp Arena will be on fire!” and he was right.

Despite a heartbreaking 73-71 overtime loss, today’s game was one of the best so far this season – 13,000 fans came out to Rupp to support UK Hoops today.

In the first half, the crowd resembled the usual Sunday afternoon crowd for a Memorial game. But came alive in the second half. The game was full of excitement with 12 ties, seven lead changes and we got a little extra game time. That paired with the pre-game excitement for the Men’s team, plus a new career high 29 points for Maci Morris gave Rupp an electric feeling. When Mackenzie Cann sunk a 3 at the end of the fourth, Rupp got LOUD.

Think I may have lost some of my hearing during the last few minutes of regulation.

Matthew Mitchell complimented the noise level at the post-game press conference and Makayla Epps who grew up a Kentucky fan and has a personal connection with Rupp Arena via her father Anthony Epps, talked about how special it is to play in Rupp.

“It’s one of my favorite places to be,” said Epps.

The Cats take on Radford next Sunday back in Memorial but, I’ll be off for a loooong break back in good ole Georgia eating my weight in fried food for the next two weeks. Happy Holidays, see ya’ll in 2017!


Photo by UK Athletics

Five takeaways from UK’s loss to ASU in Rupp

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Last season, Kentucky traveled to Arizona, where they defeated the favored Sun Devils in overtime. Today, the Cats got a taste of their own medicine as unranked Arizona State were the victorious ones over No. 15 Kentucky, 73-71. Read Maggie’s post about the loss here, but here are five takeaways from today:

Maci Morris balled out

Morris completely obliterated her old career-high of 19 points against Oklahoma, scoring 29 points in today’s loss. Morris went 2-7 from the three, 9-17 from the field and 9-9 from the free throw line. After only scoring two points against Middle Tennessee State, Morris ran all over Arizona State. Usually a three-point shooter, the sophomore drove up the paint and the baseline for a majority of her points tonight.

“I recognized that they weren’t guarding the drive and Taylor and I tried to exploit that,” Morris said after the game.

However, a career high means nothing if it doesn’t come with a win. When asked if the high gave her confidence moving on, Morris said she would’ve rather won that scored 29 points.

Makayla Epps was off, so off, before the fourth quarter 

Epps had a giant goose egg on her stat sheet going into the third period with no points and no assists. The senior was visibly frustrated throughout the entire game as she’s usually the foundation of the Cats’ scoring and ball distributing. Epps did come alive with about four minutes left in the third quarter to hit a jumper from the elbow to tie the game at 40. In the last four minutes of the third, Epps rallied to make six of her 14 points for the day.

ASU out rebounded the heck out of UK

It’s always surprising when the Cats get out rebounded with the amount of talent there is under the basket, but today was one of those days. ASU out rebounded the Cats 41-32, Akhator grabbing 12 and Epps, seven. However, it wasn’t enough to edge the Sun Devils who scored 17 second chance points to the Cats four. Controlling the paint is something the Cats are going to have to do better moving forward.

According to Mitchell the problem lies in their physicality.

“We’re not tough enough pushing back,” head coach Matthew Mitchell said.

Free throws win games, people

Morris herself hit nine free throws today, tying the game up at 54 all regulation, sinking two for the lead in overtime and also cutting the lead to two in overtime. Epps also hit two vital foul shots to put the Cats up 65-63. Missing any of those free throws, makes this an incredibly different game.

The only free throw the Cats did miss however, might have been the game changer. With about 30 seconds on the clock in overtime, Taylor Murray drove to the basket and drew an and-one. The shot tied the game up at 71 all, but Murray missed her foul shot and ASU got the ball back. On ASU’s final possession, they were able to get a shot off just before the shot clock went off. Kentucky had the ball for the last 5.5 seconds with the ball in Epps hands, a play Mitchell regrets and blames himself for.

 They’ve now lost two games in OT they had chances to win in regulation

In Kentucky’s two overtime games, the Cats have held a lead in the fourth period, but fallen in overtime. In today’s game, the Cats led by four going into the fourth quarter and with one minute left in regulation. However, poor defense allowed for ASU to get a shot off and tie the game. In overtime, ASU got up as many as four, Kentucky fighting their way back each time, but a missed shot from a double-teamed Epps at the buzzer iced the ASU victory.


UK Hoops Defeated by Arizona State in Heartbreaking Overtime

UK Hoops Defeated by Arizona State in Heartbreaking Overtime

via UKathletics.com

via UKathletics.com

UK Hoops took over Rupp Arena this afternoon, and the crowd of 13,000 watched as the Wildcats fell to the Arizona State Sun Devils 71-73 in overtime. Kentucky is now 7-3 for the season and 7-1 in Lexington.

Maci Morris stole the show and she was hot from the very beginning. Although the Devils won regulation tip off, senior Evelyn Akhator quickly forced a turnover, and Morris drove to the rim for an easy layup. Both teams struggled offensively for the rest of the quarter. The Cats went 2-8 from the field, while the Devils turned the ball over six times in the first ten minutes. At the end of the quarter, UK led 15-10.

Of these 15 points, seven belonged to Morris. The sophomore guard hit her stride in the second quarter and went into the locker room with 16 points and three assists. Taylor Murray was also a strong contributor for the Cats, adding eight points for the half. One noticeable factor, of lack thereof, was Makayla Epps. The senior, who has been averaging over 19 points per game, ended the half with a stunning zero points, zero assists and four rebounds.

“We put a lot of pressure on Epps,” said Arizona State head coach Charli Thorne. But Morris? “She killed us.”

Despite the uncharacteristic performance by Epps, the Cats ended the half with a 31-24 lead.

But the Devils just wouldn’t go away. Arizona State came out of the locker room roaring, and their 7-2 run cut the Cats’ lead to just two points.

“I did a poor job at halftime, and the start of the second half really hurt us,” said Matthew Mitchell after the game. “It was just a totally different team that came out after halftime.”

Morris scored a career-high 29 points, and Epps finally got on the board with a jumper that tied the game 40-40. Still, Arizona State stayed close, and the Cats were unable to pull away.

With 1:30 left in regulation, Makenzie Cann hit a three to tie the game 59-59. The Cats forced an ASU shot clock violation and got the ball back at halfcourt with 4.2 seconds left. Cann tried another three, but this time the shot fell short.

The Cats were headed to overtime.

Morris continued to do her thing, sinking two free throws at the start of the extra period. Overtime was too close to call – no team led by more than four throughout the extra five minutes. With less than a minute left in OT, Murray recovered a missed Akhator layup, once again tying the game. ASU answered with a jumper of their own, putting them up by two with 5.2 seconds left. Epps had the last touch, but her shot at the buzzer was short, and Kentucky was handed their first home loss of the season.

Morris ended the night with 29 points, three assists and a rebound. Still, a loss is a loss.

“I would have rather won than scored 29 points,” said a disheartened Morris after the game.

“It was a tough loss today, [but] we just have to go to work,” said Mitchell. “Everything that happened today, we’ll just have to look at and try to improve.”

The Cats will be be back in Memorial Coliseum this Sunday, Dec. 18 at 2:00 to face off against Radford.


Twitter: @MaggieDavisKSR


It’s a White Out Tomorrow at Rupp Arena

@KentuckyWBB

@KentuckyWBB

It doesn’t matter that it’s after Labor Day.

Grab your best white UK gear and head to Rupp Arena tomorrow at 1:00 to watch the No.15 Kentucky women’s basketball team take on No. 23 Arizona State.  It’s their only game at Rupp this year and they need your help to pack the house.

Tickets are still available here.  A lower level ticket will get you a free t-shirt.  Students, you don’t even need a ticket. Just bring your student ID and bring the noise.


Photo By UK Athletics

Post-game Notes from UK Hoops Win Over MTSU

Photo By UK Athletics

Photo By UK Athletics

No. 15 UK Hoops bounced back after tough loss to Louisville last Sunday with a 61-48 win over Middle Tennessee tonight. If you missed the game, here’s the rundown:

We saw Jaida Roper tonight

The freshman from Memphis played a total of 18 minutes and scored 7 points tonight. She subbed in for Makayla Epps in the second period, a player who needed some rest after playing the entire Louisville overtime game on Sunday.

“She had her best game of the season, she gave our team confidence,” said Matthew Mitchell.

Roper has been working hard in practice, coming in early and staying late for extra workouts. Mitchell said this game was no surprise and that she has been “building up to this.”

Akhator is back

Akhator got in some foul trouble against Louisville and didn’t play much. But, tonight the senior came back with another double-double. Akhator had 13 points (2 of which came from an impressive left-handed hook) and 12 rebounds in her 30 minutes of playing time. Akhator, Roper and Murray all had to step up when Epps was on the bench in the second period.

“We could’ve panicked then but we didn’t. we were able to go into halftime with the lead,” said Matthew Mitchell about Makayla Epps sitting out.

MTSU came out hot…then fizzled out.

The Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders came out really hot. Senior Ty Petty had 5 3-pointers in the first half alone.  But, when Jaida Roper and the Cats started getting hot, MTSU fizzled out. With only one senior on the team, the young players felt the pressure and got out-rebounded 44-22.

Taylor FREAKIN Murray

Murray has been on a roll! After a season high 21 points on Sunday, she lead the team and scored 16 points and had 7 rebounds tonight. The sophomore guard was electric tonight and gave the team energy especially throughout the second half.

“When someone’s out it’s my job to step up and make sure the team is relaxed,” said Murray.

Get to Rupp on Sunday

UK Hoops takes on Arizona State this Sunday in Rupp Arena at 1pm. If you’re looking for a BBN-related activity before the Men’s team takes on Hofstra – come to this. If you haven’t been to a Women’s game yet – come to this. Last season, UK Hoops got an exciting overtime win over Arizona State so it should be a good game.

In the words of Matthew Mitchell: “If you need a warm place to go on Sunday come to the game because Rupp Arena will be on FIRE!” 

Let’s pack the house on Sunday! Tickets and info can be found here


Photo by UK Athletics

Murray continues to shine, lifts Cats over Blue Raiders

 

 

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Coming off a career 21 points on Sunday at Louisville, Taylor Murray was the saving grace for Kentucky Friday against Middle Tennessee State University.

Trailing after the first period, the N0. 15 Cats came back to roll over the Blue Raiders 61-48 at home.

The first half for the Cats was filled with turnovers, which MTSU had no problem taking advantage of. Turning nine Kentucky turnovers into eight points by the end of the half.

It didn’t help that MTSU got off to a hot-start shooting while the Cats couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn. Halfway through the first period the Cats hadn’t scored a field goal in three minutes and 42 seconds, and were trailing the Blue Raiders 11-7 going into a media timeout, during which head coach Matthew Mitchell must’ve struck a fire under them.

Coming out of the timeout, Murray scored on two back-to-back drives, tying the game up at 13.

However, the little spark was not enough to hoist the Cats over, as they still trailed 18-15 at the end of the period.

Murray stepped up in the second period, taking charge of the game as star senior Makayla Epps sat the entire period with two fouls. Still trailing halfway through the period Murray once again went back-to-back on go-ahead drives to boost the Cats up 27-23 over the Blue Raiders. The two drives also brought the sophomore to 10 points, putting her in double-digits for the fifth time this season.

While Epps was on the bench, freshman guard Jadia Roper earned her first real significant minutes of the season. Roper knocked down shots when they were needed and attacked on defense aggressively. The freshman, according to Mitchell played her best game yet, scoring seven points and grabbing three rebounds.

The Cats were able to go into halftime leading, Murray leading them with 12 points and Roper not too far behind with seven of her own.

Lucky for the Cats, Epps sitting for the entire second period and halftime gave her 25 minutes of rest, sending her out with fresh legs for the second half. And she was ready to go, scoring 11 of her 13 points in the half.

“Her presence is out there, even when she’s sitting on the bench ready to come back in,” MTSU’s head coach Rick Insell said.

From the start of the second, Kentucky ran with the game. Crashing the boards, out rebounding MTSU 44-22 and shooting their tails off, much like MTSU did in the first half.

Overall, Evelyn Akhator churned out yet another double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Maci Morris had an off night with just two points and four turnovers of her own out of the teams 15.  Also, tonight first time Kentucky hasn’t made a three since November 27, 2014. They did however shoot 41 percent from the field.

Kentucky’s next game will be against an unranked, but tough, Arizona State University team at 1 inside Rupp Arena for their annual “Pack the House” game. A total of 22,000 tickets are available for the game and Mitchell wants it to be the largest crowd in women’s college basketball this season. Get you tickets here.

 


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UK Fans of the Day Want A Few Late Night Notes

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We know who is on the call for the TaxSlayer Bowl

The Thanksgiving “turkey” episode on KSR produced some unusual results.  The most unusual was one caller’s disdain for Rod Gilmore.  He’s not gonna be happy during the TaxSlayer Bowl.  Gilmore will be on the call with Mark Jones and Quint Kessenich on ESPN.

Freddie Maggard is NOT Happy with the All-SEC Selections

Jon Toth and Jordan Jones were the only two on the list, and they were just second team selections.  Mike Edwards should’ve been an obvious choice, and you could make arguments for Boom Williams, Benny Snell and Austin MacGinnis.  If you want to see the rage, check his Twitter timeline.  If you want to hear the rage, we’re recording a new Depth Chart Podcast Thursday.

Individual SEC awards will be announced tomorrow and the All-Freshman team will be released Thursday.

A Few Football Recruiting Nuggets

There hasn’t been any significant news since Stoops wrapped up a huge recruiting weekend, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing anything.  The Kentucky coaching staff offered four underclassmen on Monday.  Normally it’s not worth mentioning, but a pair are from Kentucky.

UK offered sophomore Glasgow High School offensive tackle Tanner Bowles and freshman Bowling Green High School running back Vito Tisdale.  You can’t say Kentucky isn’t finding kids early in the process.

Don’t Make the Bull Mad

The University of Louisville was Ridiculous Today

Where to begin?  The biggest side-show university in America produced two more stories that will make you shake your head.

The first is the result of Matt Bevin’s moves to remove the UofL Board of Trustees.  The university has been placed on probation for one year by their accrediting agency.

The second story comes from an interview with Tommy Turtleneck.  City officials have started discussions to restructure UofL’s deal with the Yum Center.  Jurich responded by acting like a 7-year old.  “We can’t have all the money? FINE! I’ll make my own arena!”  If you don’t want my paraphrased version of his remarks, you can find them here.

Rick Pitino’s response:

This Happened on UofL’s Official Recruiting Account

Makayla Epps is SEC Player of the Week

This should not come as a surprise.  In matchups with two top 25 opponents, Epps averaged 26 points, 9.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.5 steals.  It’s her first player of the week award of the season, the third of her career. Epps and the Kentucky women’s basketball team return to action Friday night when they host the Blue Radiers of Middle Tennessee State at Memorial Coliseum.

A UK National Champion is Laid to Rest

Lindle Castle was a member of Adolph Rupp’s 1951 National Championship team before coaching the Clinton County boys basketball team for 19 seasons.  Castle passed away Sunday at 86.  His visitation and funeral services will be held this weekend in the gymnasium that bears his name.  You can find more details here.

A Momentous Occasion

Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of a day that will in infamy.  The number of Pearl Harbor survivors are dwindling, but many are still making the journey to Hawaii to commemorate the infamous occasion.

One survivor, retired U.S. Navy seaman Robert Coles, is traveling nearly 5,000 miles from his home in Maine to return to Pearl Harbor for the first time since the Japanese attack.  He told The Washington Post: “I won’t know them, and they won’t know me, but I’ll be with friends,” Mr. Coles said days before he departed for Honolulu. “They were covering my back just like I was covering their back.”


Photo by UK Athletics

Five things from the Cats overtime loss to the Cards

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

For the first time in five years, No. 7 Louisville tops No. 17 Kentucky, 69-67 in an overtime win in the KFC Yum! Center. While the Cats first top-ten test of the season resulted in a loss, there was still much to learn from today’s matchup:

Mackenzie Cann is ready

For the first time in her Wildcat career, Cann earned her spot in the Wildcats starting lineup. Cann has been getting significant minutes off the bench, playing 38 in the Cats rout over Oklahoma on Thursday where she scored 10 points compared to Alyssa Rice’s 14 minutes and 0 points. Tonight, Cann played every minute of the game, coming out with only 3 points, but did a great job on the defensive end, grabbing four rebounds but staying on her mark.

A little adversity doesn’t scare them

The Cats spent almost all of the game trailing Louisville, not gaining the lead until a Makayla Epps and-one with 3:56 left in the game for a two point lead at 52-50. Kentucky fought to keep their lead, but Louisville came back to tie with four-seconds left. It was Rice however, who gave the Cats a chance to tie the game, stealing the ball and handing it off to Epps, who missed the shot for the win.

Coming into overtime, Kentucky looked gassed, but continued to battle after getting down early, loosing only because Taylor Murray wasn’t able to get a shot off in time.

“We responded to that well,” head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “I though we came back and really battled.”

Josh Allen’s sister is good

Kentucky Football’s own Josh Allen sister, Myisha Hines-Allen, starts for the Cards and is pretty dag-on good. Hines-Allen led the Cards with 26 points in 27 minutes and was crucial in forcing several of the Cats turnovers.

I bet their house was interesting last weekend.

This team doesn’t work without Evelyn Akhator

An off night for Akhator led to an off-night for the Cats. The senior spent quite a bit of time on the bench because of foul trouble, but the time she spent on the court, was not productive. STATS HERE. In order for this team to work, Akhator has to have a solid presence in the middle, rebounding and making the shots down low. Akhator sat out for almost the entirety of OT, coming in only with less than fifteen seconds left to guard the in-bound pass, fouling the recipient before she crossed half-court.

TURNOVERS

Kentucky’s problems started in the first period with six turnovers, a number high for Mitchell’s team. Unfortunately, that trend would stick throughout the rest of the game, coming out with 19 overall. Louisville was able to turn the Cats turnovers into 18 points. If Kentucky had just committed one less turnover, that would’ve been the difference in the game. A good portion of Kentucky’s turnovers came off inbound plays, which Mitchell says are 100% because of coaching.


Photo by UK Athletics

UK Hoops Falls to Louisville

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

For the first time in five years, No. 17 UK Hoops loses to No. 7 Louisville 69-67 in overtime. The Cardinals fanbase showed up in full force and the true road game was a bit rattling for the Cats in the beginning. In the first half the Cats were really out of sync. Mitchell tried a 2-3 zone and it didn’t work – the Cats got severely out-rebounded in the first half. In the post game press conference Mitchell stressed the importance of the rebounding issue and apologized for his mistake.

“That’s on coaching, that’s my mistake.We gotta grow in that area, we are on this zone defensive journey together,” said Mitchell.

But, once Makayla Epps went full on Lebron and took her headband off things got rolling. Epps had her first double-double of the season with 22 points and a career high 16 rebounds. Taylor Murray also had a career high 21 points. Epps stressed the importance of this game last Thursday after a win against Oklahoma saying that she grew up with this rivalry and needed the win. At the end of regulation, Epps fell short on a jumper that could’ve won the game but continued to play her heart out in OT playing the full 45 minutes of game time.

“Makayla Epps is one of the best guard’s in the country,” said Louisville Head Coach Jeff Walz.

Even though UK Hoops didn’t get the win, Matthew Mitchell isn’t worried – he’s ready to get back and correct the mistakes that were made and continue to get better.

“Louisville played hard, but I’m happy to be driving back to Lexington with my team,” said Mitchell.

Next Friday, UK Hoops takes on Middle Tennessee State at Memorial.

 


@KentuckyWBB on Twitter

Why you should go to the UofL and UK women’s game on Sunday

@KentuckyWBB on Twitter

@KentuckyWBB on Twitter

This Sunday at 2 p.m., women’s Hoops will be taking on the birds from down the road in the Yum! Center. The Cats will need all the support you can give them, so get your tickets and come on out, it’ll be a fun time.

To see Louisville get beat on their home court, again

Most of us were unable to get out to Papa John’s last weekend to see the Cats take down the Cards last weekend. But this weekend, you have another chance. Watching Kentucky win on their floor is fun, but seeing them win at Louisville with all the dismayed UofL fans makes victory much sweeter.

Makayla Epps

This girl is an absolute baller and it’s her last meet up with Louisville, so this should be reason enough to come out to the Yum! Center and cheer on the Cats. Epps has given her all to her team over the last four years and her last game against the Dirty Birds is sure to be a good one.

Wearing blue in the Yum! Center is my favorite thing

There’s no better way to rock Kentucky blue than in a place where you’ll get an endless amount of dirty looks for it. Growing up in Louisville, I’ve grown accustomed to the looks, but it never gets any less funny. So put on all the blue you own, get loud and cheer on the Cats at the Yum! Center.

This team thrives when they have great crowd support

If there’s one thing about Memorial Coliseum, the fans love their Cats and will cheer them on to the grave. Many times I’ve heard players at post-game press conferences talk about how much impact the crowd cheering for them has on the game, and they’re going to need even more support when they travel into a rival arena on Sunday. Come cheer them on to a win.

They’re going for their third upset this year

It’s only the first month of the season but the Lady Cats have already managed to upset two opponents so far. In the Kentucky Classic, the No. 19 woman managed to upset No. 12 at the time, Miami 82-66. Thursday night, a No. 17 Kentucky team topped No. 12 Oklahoma, who they also kicked out of the NCAA tournament in the second round last season. If the Cats pull out the win against No. 7 Louisville on their home court, it’ll be redemption for their loss at Colorado earlier this season.

It’s going to actually be a great game

There’s a lot at stake for the Cards right now. Louisville has lost it last two, albeit, to very good opponents (No. 3 South Carolina and No. 5 Maryland). But head coach Jeff Walz seems to think his team doesn’t have the will to win:

There’s also a lot at stake for the Cats. In Kentucky’s one road trip, they were upset by an unranked Colorado. Going on the road to a ranked opponent will be tough, but if they win on Sunday, this will make up for the lost at Colorado and boost their ranking.

 

Get yo tickets for Sunday’s game here for 10 bucks a pop. It’ll be the wisest investment of your holiday season (except bowl tickets, you should get those too).


Friday’s Top 10: State, UCLA, Bowl chatter, and a big UK Hoops win

Friday’s Top 10: State, UCLA, Bowl chatter, and a big UK Hoops win

The Kentucky High School Football State Championships start today in Bowling Green, and on Sunday, my Danville Admirals will take on Christian Academy Centurions from Louisville in the Class 2A Game. Danville’s got a storied football history — 10 state titles over three classifications — but this is the Ads’ first championship game appearance in ten years, and if they win, their first title in thirteen. In his third year as head coach, Clay Clevenger has restored the Danville program to its former glory, and my Admiral pride is nearing its high school levels, which is saying something. My freshmen, junior, and senior years, Danville went to State, and my friends and I were on the sidelines at the old Cardinal Stadium cheering them on. Junior year we made some people blush:

img_2913

Go Ads.

1. The rest of the State Championship schedule for this weekend

Class 1A, Beechwood vs. Hazard, Friday, 12/2, 7:00 p.m. CT
Class 3A, Central vs. Belfry, Saturday, 12/3, 5:00 p.m. CT
Class 6A, Trinity (Louisville) vs. Lafayette, Saturday, 12/3, 8:00 p.m. CT
Class 2A, Christian Academy-Louisville vs. Danville, Sunday, 12/4, 12:30 p.m. CT
Class 4A, Franklin-Simpson vs. Johnson Central, Sunday, 12/4, 3:45 p.m. CT
Class 5A, Bowling Green vs. Pulaski County, Sunday, 12/4, 7:00 p.m. CT

For more info on State, check out part one of Eli Mitchell’s preview from last night. If you can’t make it to Bowling Green, games will also stream live on prepspin.com.

2. The UCLA game is tomorrow

…Which means today will be mostly game prep around these parts, with a little bowl chatter and Louisville trolling sprinkled in for good measure. The line for the game hasn’t been released yet, but I’d imagine it’ll open somewhere around 12 points. We’ll find out later today.

3. John Calipari and select players will address the media after lunch

Check the site around 2:30 p.m. for a live stream and after that for a full recap of Calipari’s remarks. If you missed it yesterday, Calipari bought each player a bottle of hand sanitizer because people have been getting sick, so hopefully “people” means people around campus and not our beloved Wildcats.

4. Shai Alexander balled out on national TV last night

The future Cat had 20 points and almost 10 assists in Hamilton Height’s 72-64 win over Memphis East. Alexander has been a bit of a mystery, so last night was a good opportunity to get to know him, and I like what I see from his highlights, particularly in terms of speed and control:

Plenty more where that came from in Nick’s recap from last night, so click here to get to know one of your future point guards. Alexander plays in the Marshall County Hoop Fest tonight.

5. The TaxSlayer Bowl still appears to be Kentucky’s destination

Larry Vaught went as far to call it a “done deal” last night on Twitter, so do yourself a favor and start looking for tickets and hotel rooms in Jacksonville. We’ll officially know Sunday night, and, of course, we’ll still bring you all the chatter from the interwebs until then.

6. UK Hoops put a hurtin’ on #12 Oklahoma

Matthew Mitchell’s squad looked really, really good in their win over the #12 Sooners last night at Memorial Coliseum, winning 82-68. Makayla Epps had 30 points, her fourth 30-point game of her career, followed by Maci Morris, who had a career-high 19 points and eight rebounds. Some highlights:

UK signee Quade Green was watching:

The ladies play at Louisville on Sunday. Speaking of the Cards, their coach Jeff Walz had a bit of a meltdown in his press conference last night:

Who’s angrier about participation trophies: Walz or the KSR comments section?

7. The Volleyball team opens NCAA Tournament play tonight

Good luck to the UK Volleyball team as they take on Colorado State tonight at 8 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Tonight’s game takes place in Alaska Airlines Arena at University of Washington, and the winner will face either Washington or Texas A&M Corpus-Christi in the second round Saturday night.

8. If you need me, I’ll be watching Tiger

Yesterday, Tiger Woods played his first round of competitive golf in 466 days at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, and looked pretty good considering. Tiger had three birdies before making the turn, but faltered a bit in the home stretch, double-bogeying two of the last three holes to finish tied for 17th at 1 over. Now, it’s only an 18-man field, but still, it was good to see some flashes of the old Tiger. He tees off today at 11:12 a.m. You can watch on the Golf Channel or follow via @GCTigerTracker on Twitter, a must-follow if you’re a Tiger fan.

9. Don’t forget to check out the new episode of The OTT Podcast

Jacob Tamme joined me this week to break down UK’s big win over Louisville and talk all things Danville. He also told us what he’s doing to fill the time as he recovers from season-ending shoulder surgery (spoiler: Everybody, including Jacob, loves Raymond). Come for Jacob’s awesome interview and stay for the music stylings of The Wooks, the bluegrass band that repped KSR while they sang the national anthem before the Austin Peay game.

10. Welcome back, Bobby!

@gmoyers

@gmoyers

I’ll leave you with this picture of Makayla Epps embracing Bobby Flynn, who was back on the sidelines in Memorial last night. Bobby — who’s worked UK games, Lexington Legends games, Keeneland, and everywhere in between for decades — suffered a hard fall back in January, making his return to UK sports last night very, very heartwarming.

KSR’s live from Kennedy’s in Lexington this morning. You’ve still got time to get down there and register for the chance to win tickets to the UCLA game. So, get going!