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6 Side Effects of the Pursuit of Perfection

Don’t get me wrong: I am enjoying the hell out of this season. Starting with the tournament last year, the Kentucky fan base has been on the ride of our lives. An unexpected postseason run, players coming back, the Bahamas trip, and being #1 every single week has the BBN spoiled rotten, and through the Louisville game, it seemed like life couldn’t be better for Kentucky fans; however, as the wins continue to accumulate, I’d argue the mood has shifted a little bit. After a few close calls and routine routs, the remainder of conference play stretches before us with the SEC Tournament far off in the distance as a glittering reminder of when shit gets real.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed I’ve developed some new patterns. Side effects of the run, if you will. Read along and see if you recognize any of them.

1. The anxiety of being undefeated

40-0 is like the last brownie on the plate in the break room. No matter how much you try to avoid it or pretend you’re not thinking about it, it dominates your thoughts. Yes, Kentucky almost lost to Ole Miss and Texas A&M and oh my God, did it humble us. For like a day. Be real: you’re still thinking about it. I’m still thinking about it. As much as they deny it, I can guarantee you the players are still thinking about it.

The dream of going undefeated lingers over the Commonwealth like a high, wispy cloud; for now, it’s up there, not really bothering anyone yet, but as the season goes on and the Cats keep winning, it will grow and grow, until the point that when we reach the tournament, it’s this angry storm cloud that sends out bolts of anxiety every few hours. If UK is still undefeated come tournament time, this isn’t going to be like last season; there will be no unexpected outbursts of joy when we “upset” Wichita State. Beating Louisville will not just be the cherry on top. Each game will be torture, full of held breaths, high blood pressure, and quiet fist pumps until the very end, when we either cry (happy or sad) or just combust from the sheer stress of it all.

2. The nonstop internal debate: Who will beat us?

Whenever the topic of going undefeated comes up, I find myself going through the schedule to figure out who’s going to beat us. Let’s do it together this time:

  • at Missouri: Another game in a hostile road environ—whatever, we beat them by 49 two weeks ago, we will roll
  • Alabama: A team that could really catch us off gua—whatever, we beat them by 22 in Tuscaloosa, we will roll
  • Georgia: They’re ranked 27th in KenPom, could be a really tough–It’s in Rupp, not worried
  • at Florida: Always tough to play Florida at Florida–but they keep losing!
  • at LSU: Lost to them last year on the road–okay, mildly concerned about this one
  • South Carolina: Kept Kentucky on the ropes for a bit–LOL, whatever. We roll
  • at Tennessee: Could be a tough road game…if Tennessee was actually good
  • Auburn: Bruce Pearl! …ain’t gonna beat us on the night we retire Tony Delk’s jersey
  • at Mississippi State: Hostile road env–haha, no way. 
  • Arkansas: Qualls is a legit, they beat us twice last year. …slightly concerned about this one, but not really since it’s in Rupp
  • at Georgia: Legit team in a hostile road environment…has me mildly concerned about this one as well.  
  • Florida: Florida always plays us hard and Billy Donovan is a great coa—pfft, like we’re going to lose on Sam Malone, Brian Long, and Tod Lanter’s senior night
  • SEC Tournament: You never know what will happen! Look at the 2012 SEC Championship. Please, like we’re going to lose what will basically be three straight home games
  • NCAA Tournament: Anything can happen. Look at 2010. Too close to destiny, they will not lose.

3. Nitpicking/Finding things to worry about

With each win, Kentucky fans have less and less to complain about, which can be very disorienting for a fan base that thrives on criticism. Therefore, topics like how much playing time Derek Willis, our 11th man, gets dominate the conversation. People who don’t vote for Kentucky in the AP or Coaches’ polls become targets and for possibly the first time ever, we find ways to be angry at computerized rankings like the RPI. (How do they rank Kansas over Kentucky?! That computer is drunk.) Jerry Tipton is so desperate for something to criticize that he’s picking on little, lovable Ryan Lemond.

The thing they don’t tell you about being perfect is that sometimes, it’s kind of boring.

4. Ennui of the SEC slate

Maybe it’s because we started the season in such a world-crushing manner, beating Kansas so soundly that the BBN collapsed in a collective ball of giggles on the living room floor. Maybe it’s because we survived the emotionally-draining annual thumping of Louisville. Maybe it’s because otherwise horrible SEC teams turn it on and try to hack the ever-living pulp out of Kentucky and still can’t beat us. Whatever the reason, UK’s recent games have been, well, kind of boring. I hate to say it, but the lack of legit competition is making the SEC slate drag on. Aside from maaaaybe Florida at Florida or Arkansas, there aren’t very many “sexy” games coming up.

I’d ask “Is it March 13 yet,” but that defeats my next point…

5. Worrying you’re not in the moment enough

We make fun of Calipari for running some phrases in the ground, but if there’s one phrase we’ve parroted since March, it’s been “cherish this.” Because it’s true. Seasons like this don’t just grow on trees, and odds are a good number of these players will be gone after this season. I’m constantly worried I’m not “in the moment” enough this year. Cherishing wins like Kansas, UCLA, North Carolina, and Louisville were easy, but cherishing a win over, say, South Carolina, is a little less glamorous. “Remember that sick bounce pass from Tyler Ulis to Devin Booker? Man. That was beautiful.

By tournament time, I may just need to strap a GoPro to my head to capture it all.

6. Waiting for the other shoe to drop

Maybe it’s just the world we live in or maybe I’m just a cynic, but I’m a firm believer in “the other shoe.” Things just can’t go well all of the time. That’s not reality. So, in a season made of sunshine, brotherhood, and Devin Booker smiles, I’ve found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. Can you blame me? I’m a Kentucky fan. I’ve seen some things.

Maybe Alex Poythress’ injury was the other shoe and now we’re in the clear. Maybe me writing this article is the other shoe and the Cats will lose the next game just because. God, I hope that’s not the case. If so, it’s been nice knowing you all.


TIMBER!!!! Tai Wynyard commits to Kentucky

TIMBER!!!! Tai Wynyard commits to Kentucky

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That didn’t take long. According to Evan Daniels, New Zealand forward Tai Wynyard has committed to Kentucky. The 6’9″ 265 lbs. Wynyard visited Kentucky two weeks ago and obviously liked what he saw, picking the Cats over Villanova and Texas this afternoon.

In case you forgot, Wynyard is best known around here for being the son of two world champion wood choppers. He’s expected to be part of Kentucky’s 2016 class.

Wynyard played a few games with the New Zealand national team this summer, which means his dance at Big Blue Madness has to be the Haka, right?

Welcome to the fam, Tai.


Nine notes on 19-0

Nine notes on 19-0

aaron-southcarolina

Sorry, college basketball: Kentucky’s still undefeated. The Cats put on a defensive clinic in Columbia today, beating South Carolina 58-43. Kentucky is now 19-0, matching the 2009-2010 team for the best start in the Calipari era. Let’s break it down.

It was all about the defense

As it has been all season, the secret to UK’s success today was its defense. The Cats smothered the Gamecocks, holding them to 22.6% shooting for the game and a ridiculous 17.3% in the second half. South Carolina only made four field goals in the second half. Four. To put it in ever better perspective, Kentucky had more blocks and steals (17) than South Carolina had field goals (12), the eighth time that’s happened this season.

“What makes it so effective is their bigs. When you drive into the lane, you can’t see,” Sindarius Thornwell said of Kentucky’s defense. “It’s tough shooting it over top of them. When you’re jumping, all you see is their hands.”

Can we get that stitched on a pillow, please?

As you can imagine, Frank Martin wasn’t pleased.

From watching the telecast, it seemed Martin wasn’t pleased with ANYTHING his team did this afternoon. I mean, look at this guy:

Odds he was actually saying “fun” instead of the other f-word?

After spending twenty minutes in child’s pose after the game, Martin calmed down and had nothing but compliments for John Calipari and the Cats in his postgame remarks. “Sometimes the bear gets you and sometimes you get the bear. Today, the bear got us,” Martin said of his team’s performance. And that defense? “Phew, phew” was Martin’s response.

“Their little breakdowns that they had last year? They don’t have them anymore,” Martin said of this year’s team. “I respect the heck out of John Calipari. I’ve heard people say he can’t coach. What a joke.”

Devin Booker warmed back up

Booker only scored six points vs. Vanderbilt on Tuesday, prompting Cal to joke that one night he’s shooting the lights out, and the next he’s making airballs, but he bounced back this afternoon, leading the team in scoring with 18 points, including two threes. That meant he got to break out the three shotgun twice:

Does the gesture bother the coaches? “They haven’t said anything to me about it, they joke around with me about it. I guess it’s just something I do now.”

It’s something the entire BBN does now.

Frank Martin’s reaction to Devin Booker was priceless

“Wooooo! Woooooo,” Martin said when asked about Booker. “And we have to play them again?? God, he’s good.”

Martin made the excellent point that because Kentucky is loaded and has veterans to shoulder a lot of the pressure, Booker can just go out there and play. “The burden of being great is not on his shoulders,” Martin said.

I’m really going to miss him when he goes pro.

Aaron and Tyler played great, too

It was a strong game for Kentucky’s guards in general. Aaron Harrison scored 13 points, but his defense was most impressive to me this afternoon. Aaron had four rebounds, three steals and even a block, and told Mike Pratt he fed off a rowdy South Carolina crowd. “Oh yeah, we enjoy all that,” Aaron said of South Carolina’s jeers. “We love the boos.”

Tyler Ulis was equally impressive, putting up six points, three rebounds, one steal, and six assists. A lot of those were to Devin Booker, and judging by how easily and naturally the two find each other on the court now, it’s like Kentucky has another set of twins. Ulis’ strong performance helped offset a rough outing for Andrew Harrison, who only had four points; however, as you would expect, Calipari praised Andrew for rallying late in the game after a shaky start. “He’s a sophomore. A sophomore. People forget. So much better than last year. Not even close.”

What does Cal tell Andrew when he gets into a slump? “Play with more energy, man. Be more active.” Cal compared Andrew to Derrick Rose in terms of how he internalizes things, and the clearest example of that was in the first half when a South Carolina fan yelled “You blew the National Championship” at Andrew, causing him to look up and frown. Thankfully, Andrew was able to shake it off and make a difference in the second half on the defensive end.

Aside from Marcus Lee, it was not a great day for UK’s bigs

Marcus Lee played well yet again, turning in a career-high four blocks in only thirteen minutes. Meanwhile, the rest of Kentucky’s bigs struggled. South Carolina actually outrebounded Kentucky by 12. Karl Towns really didn’t play well, putting up only two points, one rebound, and two blocks in twelve minutes. Too many times, Karl got beat on defense, and after the game, Cal said the game was just too physical for him. “I love Karl like he’s my son, but I killed him today,” Cal said. “We still had some guys that struggled in the physicalness at the game. It’s a great lesson for them.”

Willie made UK basketball history today

While he only scored two points, Willie did cement himself in UK basketball history this afternoon. Wille had two steals, which makes him the first player in UK basketball history with 200 blocks and 100 steals. Not too shabby.

South Carolina fans 0, Sam Malone 1

Near the end of the game, South Carolina students were so upset they resorted to mocking Sam Malone on the bench, yelling at him to take off his headband because he would never get in. Sam’s response? He pointed to the scoreboard. Even better: after the game was over, UK fans chanted “Just like football,” which I’m sure Steve Spurrier just loved.

Trap game? Nah.

After Kentucky lost in Columbia last season and showed vulnerability at Texas A&M, many had today circled as a trap game. Hell, ESPN even sent Dickie V to South Carolina for a noon tip. How often does that happen? Gamecock fans were desperate for the upset, and in the first few minutes of the game, admit it, we were all a little nervous; however, as they have so many times this season, the Cats stood tall and played to their strengths, making it almost impossible for South Carolina to score.

Last year, Aaron Harrison famously said that he believed his team could still be a great story, which rang a bit hollow in the wake of the worst loss of the season. That line will live on in UK lore, and Devin Booker was asked about it after today’s game. “This is just the beginning for us,” Booker said.

19-0’s a pretty great start.


Funkhouser’s 2015 Royal Rumble Pool Contest

Funkhouser’s 2015 Royal Rumble Pool Contest

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Alright, ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for what that you all have been waiting for: The Royal Rumble Pool Contest.  For years, my friends and I have been doing this contest as a supplement to the Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View.  There are usually 10 of us who get together during the evening and participate in the contest.  Before the match, we each put $5-10 into the pot that goes to the winner.  Because there are 10 of us, we each draw three entrant numbers from 1-30 out of a hat, that correspond to entrants in the Royal Rumble match.  Whatever wrestler comes out as the number we drew, becomes our wrestler.  If the number we drew wins the Royal Rumble, we win the money in the pot.  Also: the person who drew the entrant with the most eliminations on the night gets their money back as a consolation prize.

See Last Year’s Contest

Last year, I brought this contest to Funkhouser, opening the contest to anyone who wanted to sign up.  We had 86 people sign up and everyone seemingly had an enjoyable time following the best PPV of the year.  CNewt24 won the grand prize, a Filsinger Games Legend of Wrestling set.  Glensboro Icon picked the wrestler with the most eliminations, winning a mini set from Filsinger Games that included Macho Man Randy Savage and Daniel Bryan.  This year, we are going to do the same contest once again, while upping the prizes just a little bit.

The Prizes for This Year’s Contest:

Grand Prize:  Mini WWF White Intercontinental Title Belt (with cloth WWF zipper bag)

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Most Eliminations Winner: A number of classic looking Wrestling Posters, including one signed by Ring of Honor Roster circa 2011 from the Louisville, KY show they ran that year (poster is not from the Louisville show, but the roster from that show signed a different poster). All posters made by Joel Allen of Suplex Media.   An example of the posters below:

rohposterphoenix

Here’s how this will work:

1. If you want to participate, leave a comment in the comment section below with A) who you think is going to win the Royal Rumble.  Also, write B) how many eliminations you think will be the most eliminations by a single wrestler.

2. I will randomly assign entrant numbers to the contestants, using a random number generator.  So, the first 30 people to sign up, will be listed as 1-30 in random order.  If we have more than 30 people, I will do a second list again randomized 1-30.  Also, if we have more than 30 people participate, and two people end up with the same entrant #, then I will go to who you picked as the Rumble Winner, then # of eliminations in your comments for the tie-breakers.

3. Watch the Royal Rumble Match, and cheer on your Superstar!

4. If your number wins the Royal Rumble, you win the prize.  The person who has the entrant with the most eliminations will win the second place prize.

To help with your picks, here are the confirmed entrants so far for the 2015 Royal Rumble:

  • Roman Reigns
  • Daniel Bryan
  • United States Champion Rusev
  • Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett
  • Bray Wyatt
  • Dean Ambrose
  • Goldust
  • Stardust
  • Big Show
  • Kane
  • The Miz
  • Damien Mizdow
  • R-Truth
  • Dolph Ziggler
  • Ryback
  • Fandango
  • Luke Harper

I will contact, via email, the winner of the 2014 Funkhouser Royal Rumble Pool to get your contact information.  So sign up in the comments below and check back during the Royal Rumble to see what entrant # you drew.  I will update this page during the match as wrestlers enter the match, so if you want to comment on the Rumble during the match, you can continue to do so in the comments.  Happy Rumbling!

Name Entrant Eliminations
1. PRMaddHatter  The Miz
2. CWatts73  R-Truth
3. ukbradstith  Bubba Ray  2
4. Azubuike’s Bicep  Luke Harper
5. CamdenJason  Bray Wyatt  6
6. bhoop33  Erick Rowan*
7. Ethankoo  Boogeyman
8. cmdunc2  Sin Cara
9. DwayneHadley  Zack Ryder
10. UKGootee21  Daniel Bryan  1
11. Lunchbox75  Fandango
12. TM85  Tyson Kidd
13. OverThePylon  Stardust
14. JMK991  DDP
15. James  Rusev  6
16. broncomo  Goldust
17. Walter White  Kofi Kingston
18. CuriousCat  Adam Rose
19. Lueker  Roman Reigns  5.5
20. ThomasJ_Adams  Big E
21. bhamilton  Damien Mizdow
22. jlee816  Jack Swagger
23. Chawkins2  Ryback
24. PattyFlattie  Kane 2
25. Shaffer42  Dean Ambrose  .5
26. rvyoung  Titus O’Neil
27. dereklester32  Bad News Barrett
28. CByrd  Cesaro
29. AmandaLou  Big Show  3
30. Vertrees  Dolph Ziggler  2

*Erick Rowan was not an official entrant, Wyatt doesn’t get an official elimination for him

 

Congratulations to Leuker for winning the 2015 Funkhouser Royal Rumble Pool.   I’ll get in contact with you and get your address to send you your prize.  Because Bray Wyatt and Rusev each had six eliminations, I will send both James and Camden Jason a few posters for the wins.  Thanks for your participation!


Guess that Karl Towns quote!


GIFs From Last Night: Vanderbilt Edition

GIFs From Last Night: Vanderbilt Edition

dominique-hawkins

Last night’s win over Vanderbilt is one we need to put behind us, but not until we relive some of the finer moments in these low resolution, small animations that will loop forever. We call it ‘GIFs From Last Night’ around here and tonight’s edition is ready for your enjoyment.

 

Nice hands, Cal.

cal-vandy

Cal was two steps away from being the third defender in a Kentucky trap surrounding a Vanderbilt player in front of the UK bench. He even ended up with the ball after it was tipped and tried to make the call for the official.

Easy there, Coach.

(Also, perfect ad placement by BHG.)

Dominique Hawkins reloaded the gun.

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Hawkins knocked down a three-pointer early in the game to give the Cats a 7-0 lead. If you look closely at the bottom of the clip, you’ll see him reload the gun, the hand gesture Devin Booker taught everyone in Alabama.

Dakari with the steal and dunk.

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There were too many frames to fit the steal, dunk and celebration in one file, so you’ll have to settle for the dunk. Dakari wasn’t exactly moving at warp speed, but you gotta love the hustle and finish from the big fella.

LOB!

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Ulis to Willie for the two-handed slam.

REPEAT.

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Aaron to Lee for the two-handed slam.

When you realize you’re on TV…

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This UK fan seated behind Darrin Horn and Dave Neal got crazy eyes when he realized he was on live television. But it doesn’t touch this incredibly awkward reaction from a fan in the eRupption Zone when he realized he was in front of the camera.

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Come on, man. That was your moment and you folded. Absolutely crumbled for all to see.


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Eight takeaways from an uncomfortable win over Vandy

I’m glad that one’s over, aren’t you? Vandy came into Rupp and did their best to spoil UK’s unblemished record, but in the end, it wasn’t meant to be. The Cats put away the pesky Commodores 65-57 to move to 18-0. Let’s run through the highlights and get some shuteye.

So much for that “We’re gonna kill Vandy” thing, right?

I think it’s safe to say the BBN was confident coming into this game. Two routs including a big win on the road had everyone flying high again, and really, Vandy did not appear to be a good team coming into the game. Hell, UK was out to a 12-4 lead after the first seven minutes, holding Vandy to 1-6 shooting from the floor and forcing four turnovers, including two shot-clock violations. The way things were going, fans across the Commonwealth were even wondering if they’d be able to catch the last part of “Justified” before heading to bed.

Leave it to Vanderbilt to go and run a good thing. The scrappy little Dores clawed their way back into the game, going on a 9-2 run to make things uncomfortably close for the rest of the game. It’s not that Kentucky played that badly, it’s that Vandy kept capitalizing on every single mistake. “I thought we really defended pretty well, but any time we made a mistake, they made a three,” Cal said on his radio show. “But I liked our energy, I liked our effort.”

“I think that what makes them the best team in the country is they can have guys have off nights,” Kevin Stallings said afterwards. “They can have a poor shooting night. Their margin for error is quite substantial.”

He’s right. None of the freshmen played particularly well, nor did the Harrison Twins or Willie during the first half. Hell, Devin Booker airballed a shot and missed two free throws after going down hard on his elbow, triggering some major flashbacks of Henry Rowengartner falling on his arm and having to quit the Chicago Cubs in the early 90’s.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Riley LaChance is your new SEC villain

With Marshall Henderson off brokering peace in the Middle East and Joakim Noah clogging drains in Chicago, it’s time for a new villain in the SEC. At 6’2″, 194 lbs. and seven years of age, Riley LaChance is that villain. The freshman had 16 points tonight, including three three-pointers, most notably two late in the game that really made us nervous. Add in the fact that his name is Vandy-tastic and pun-worthy and we finally have a fresh reason to hate Vandy for the next four years.

I mean, he even has a mask.

When in doubt, Aaron Harrison was there

They started the game poorly, but the Harrison Twins and Willie scored last 13 points of the game to seal Kentucky’s 18th straight win. It should come as no surprise, but Aaron Harrison was the hero of the game, which is even more impressive when you consider how badly he played in the first half. Aaron had zero points at halftime and when asked what he told the sophomore at halftime, Cal grinned. “That I loved him.” Aaron’s response after the game? “It’s really, really, really tough love, I guess.”

Fortunately, as he often does, Aaron shook it off and stepped up when Kentucky needed him the most, scoring fourteen points in the second half, including some huge, huge threes near the end. “That’s who he is,” Cal said, telling reporters that when Aaron’s on, he’s the best player in the country. “Aaron basically threw dagger after dagger.”

How confident is the team in Aaron Harrison late in the game? “If he’s throwing it up, I’m gonna go shake hands with everybody else,” Marcus Lee said. “I’m thinking about getting popcorn, doing some Terrell Owens celebrations,” Karl Towns said.

Tonight was John Calipari’s 100th home game

And after the win, UK is 96-4 in the Calipari era, the best record among any UK head coach after 100 home games, followed by Adolph Rupp (94-6), Rick Pitino (94-6), Joe B. Hall (88-12), and Tubby Smith (88-12). Cal even got a compliment from Kevin Stallings after the game: “John has got a really good team. He is very, very underrated as a coach, especially as a defensive coach. Their defense is terrific.”

Of course, Stallings turned around and got in a zinger because he’s Kevin Stallings. “I’m kind of entertained because John can’t come in here and talk about his young team tonight because my team’s younger than his.”

Props to Marcus Lee

When Vanderbilt figured out UK’s plan to get it to Dakari Johnson down low in the second half, Marcus Lee was there to pick up the slack. Marcus came in and gave the Cats some much-needed energy, scoring six straight points when Vandy pulled within three. “I thought he was terrific,” Cal said of Marcus.

“We were running out of gas, really, and Marcus is a spark plug,” Aaron Harrison said afterwards, telling reporters that Marcus’ performance reminded him of his game vs. Michigan in the tournament.

Karl Towns had seven blocks

Karl’s still struggling with consistency and tonight wasn’t his best performance, but he did have seven blocks, a single-game high this season. Cal still has faith in the big fella. “Again, by the end of the season, I want Karl to be the best big man in the country,” Cal said. “I want him to be someone that when you watch him, he’s unbelievable in pick and roll.” A ways to go, still.

Karl also had the quote of the night

It’s always a treat when we get to hear from Karl Towns after the game, and he delivered several good one-liners this evening, including this whopper about starting the season 18-0: “It’s really fun. It’s all about winning, I love winning. That’s all I’m about. When you’re winning you’re as high as the clouds can take you and I’m touching the stars. So I’m having a lot of fun right now.” That is so. Karl. Towns.

However, this quote from him is the line of the night: “This ain’t Vegas. It’s Lexington, Kentucky. We don’t go by point spreads, we go by wins and losses.”

Dominique had the Vine of the night

I’ll leave you with this:

The three-shotgun is officially a thing now.


10 leftovers from my trip to Tuscaloosa

10 leftovers from my trip to Tuscaloosa

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We’re finally into conference play, which means I finally get to resume my SEC road trips. For Tuscaloosa, I recruited my husband and one of our best friends to come with me, and on Saturday morning, we fired up the Ford Escape to make the quick 3.5-hour trek down I-65 and I-20. We’ve talked a lot about UK’s 70-48 win already, but here are some leftovers from my first SEC road trip of the season.

1. It felt good to come home with a win

Before Saturday, John Calipari was 0-2 in Tuscaloosa as Kentucky’s coach. My first trip there two years ago resulted in a particularly depressing loss that hinted at the doom to come for Nerlens Noel and Kyle Wiltjer’s team. Two years later, what a 180. Most of the BBN anticipated a tough, physical game, and while the Crimson Tide were certainly hitting their shots, they were no match for a Kentucky team rolling on all cylinders. The first thing I noticed in pregame warmups was how loose the players were; confident, calm, and smiling at every boo and “Go Big Blue” chant alike. I expected Kentucky to win pretty easily, but a 22-point rout definitely made the postgame festivities and 3.5-hour trek home more enjoyable.

2. UK’s 6-0 run to push the lead to 15 in the second half showcased this team’s maturity

The most impressive part of the game for me? Kentucky’s 6-0 run to push the lead to 15 with 11:42 to go in the second half. When Alabama cut it to nine, Coleman Coliseum was ROCKING, and you could just feel the Tide turning (puns!); however, Dakari Johnson and Tyler Ulis stepped up to make score six points on the way to a 16-2 run. Calipari called Dakari’s play the difference in the game. “I thought the game was won by Dakari today,” Cal said. “The game was touch and go, and Dakari just went basket, basket, basket.”

This time last year, Alabama’s run would have spelled disaster for Kentucky. Now, they’re weathering opponents’ best shots and responding with haymakers. “We’re not just trying to play with them,” Willie Cauley-Stein said. “We’re trying to demoralize them.”

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more swaggy quote than that.

3. The BBN never ceases to amaze me

One of the givens in college basketball is Kentucky traveling well. UK always has a presence in enemy territory, something I’ve learned first hand over the past few years; however, the amount of blue that got in to Coleman Coliseum was particularly impressive. “Go Big Blue” chants rang through the small arena throughout the afternoon, and when Alabama fans hit the exits in force with five minutes left, it really started to look like a Kentucky home game. “They’re crazy,” Willie said of the BBN afterwards. “I love them. That’s why it’s so fun playing here.”

4. Small SEC gyms have Rupp beat when it comes to in-game entertainment

Don’t get me wrong, I love Rupp, but the other, smaller SEC gyms across the South have it beat in two areas: scoreboard and in-game activities. Alabama’s Coleman Coliseum has undergone renovations in recent years, and although it’s not as nice as Auburn’s arena, it still has a really nice, center-hung scoreboard. Big Bertha has her charms, but please, if we’re not going to renovate Rupp, can we at least get a new scoreboard?

I also loved all the in-game entertainment. During timeouts, Alabama showed videos featuring the players, held contests, gave away t-shirts, and even had two students don inflatable sumo suits and wrestle at mid-court. It was awesome. Rupp is taking baby steps towards this stuff, most notably with Ryan’s halftime antics, but I’d love to see more.

5. Devin Booker explaining the 3-shotgun motion to Jerry Tipton was priceless

Booker told reporters after the game that he got the three-shotgun motion from Stephen Curry and Clay Thompson from the Golden State Warriors, and a few minutes later, Jerry Tipton asked him to demonstrate it.

So…

1. “First you hold up the three”
2. “Then you just reload it twice. Two times. That’s it.”

Got it, Jerry?

6. This team is best when no one scores over 16 points

The platoon system is all about balance, and all you need to do to see if it’s working is look at the stat sheet. In UK’s best wins this year, no player has scored more than 16 points. The one outlier in this is the UCLA game when Devin scored 19 points, but that was such a rout I won’t even count it. In UK’s close, “clunker” games this season? Booker scored 18 (vs. Texas A&M) and Aaron 26 (vs. Ole Miss). The platoon system clearly makes this team tick, so let’s keep the point column on that stat sheet long and low.

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I was impressed by my GPS rendering of Bryant-Denny Stadium

7. Tuscaloosa is a really underrated college town

When I first went to Tuscaloosa two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I’m not sure why I went in with such low expectations, but both times I’ve gone, I’ve really enjoyed the town. Even in basketball season, football is obviously everywhere, from Bryant-Denny Stadium peeking out at you behind buildings to former players’ jerseys hanging up in every bar/restaurant, and more houndstooth than you can handle. With beautiful brick buildings, an enormous quad, and a perfect mix of good restaurants and college bars, Tuscaloosa is on my list of most underrated college towns in America. I can’t wait to see a football game there one day.

8. Saturday was fight night in Alabama

After I wrapped up my postgame duties, I met my husband and friend at The Houndstooth. I expected to see a lot of the BBN there as well, but the bar was mostly empty and the servers were putting paper over the windows. What the hell? My husband told me there was a big boxing match that night, and because they paid over $2,000 for it on pay-per-view, the staff was covering the windows to avoid people looking in without paying the cover. Okay, whatever. The three of us went elsewhere in search of food and college basketball, and at each place we stopped, there was at least a 45-minute wait.

Just some of the eclectic decor at Baumhowers

Just some of the eclectic decor at Baumhowers

Finally, we settled on Baumhower’s, a restaurant near our hotel that was HAPPENING. Sure enough, as we were eating, all of the TVs in the bar area flipped over to Showtime, cutting off the Kansas/Iowa State game. Who knew Alabamans were so into boxing? Turns out that Tuscaloosa native Deontay Wilder was competing for the heavyweight world title that night. I’m sure he’ll be happy to know that the state of Alabama forgot about football and basketball for a few brief hours that night to cheer him on. In the end, Wilder won, as did every other bar and restaurant in the area.

9. Birmingham craft brews have it going on

Decent craft beer is relatively easy to come by these days, but I was very impressed with a few brews I tried at The Avenue Pub. I’ve been a fan of Good People IPA out of Birmingham for a while now, but I also enjoyed the Trim Tab IPA, also from Birmingham (if you can’t tell, I like my beer hoppy). If you ever find yourself in Tuscaloosa and want something between a college bar (I’m too old to drink out of a plastic cup) and a nice restaurant, try The Avenue Pub. The chicken bites and Thai nachos are excellent.

10. I may have found the ultimate Alabama fan

bamamulletman

The mullet, mustache, and gold chain are impressive enough, but this Bama fan takes the look to another level by not even bothering with a t-shirt underneath his windbreaker. Tank top? No way. This guy is so manly he doesn’t need a layer between himself and the nylon. I bet he could start fires with the friction between the fabric and his nipples. He makes Chuck Norris look like a pansy. When I first spotted him, I was like:

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You do you, sir.


Kentucky cruised past the Crimson Tide, 70-48

Kentucky cruised past the Crimson Tide, 70-48

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Kentucky’s second road test of the SEC schedule is in the books and it was much more enjoyable than its first away game, the double-OT thriller in College Station. Today, the Cats had the battled-tested Alabama Crimson Tide — a team with some size and physicality to potentially compete with UK — but that was not the case once the ball was tipped as Kentucky cruised to victory, 70-48, with a well-rounded performance.

Devin Booker led all scorers with 13 points, followed by Tyler Ulis and Dakari Johnson with 11 apiece. Let’s hit a few more observations from the game then call it a night, shall we?

 

“I thought the game was won by Dakari today.”

Coach Cal had some high praise for Dakari Johnson in the postgame press conference. He credited Dakari with winning the game by taking over in the second half when Alabama tried to claw its way back.

Johnson finished with 11 points, five rebounds and two assists, and an impressive 3-for-4 at the line. He also flashed a little Hakeem “Dream Shake,” although the shot did not go in.

Devin Booker’s hot hand is only getting hotter.

Once again, Booker shot the ball well from deep and it’s gotten to the point where we believe every single shot will go in. Booker was 3-for-6 from downtown today (one of those misses was a prayer to beat the shot clock) and he showed off a new step-back move that will speed up his rising draft stock:

Booker said,“It’s like I’m shooting into the ocean now.”

Dominique Hawkins did not dress.

Fresh off his return to the lineup Tuesday night in Rupp Arena, a statement game for his case for more playing time, Dominique Hawkins sat out against Alabama. The sophomore guard had a minor medical procedure on his back and took in the action from the bench in street clothes.

“He’s fine,” Coach Cal tweeted prior to the game.

The timing couldn’t be worse for Hawkins, coming on the heels of a great game against Mizzou, but he will likely return to the rotation when he’s available again, hopefully next week against Vanderbilt.

Willie Cauley-Stein spotted with an inhaler on the bench.

I believe it’s the first we’ve seen of Willie and what appears to be an asthma inhaler. I guess it could be breath spray, maybe a Pez dispenser, but the safe bet is an asthma inhaler.

The Harrison twins had a good game.

Really, everyone had a good game. With the exception of the short drought to start the second half when Alabama wanted back in, nothing but applause from Big Blue Nation for the boys in blue.

When Kentucky wants to play defense, they’re unbeatable.

The Cats held Alabama to 17 points in the first half and only three points in the final 10 minutes of the first half. Anytime they do that, they can’t lose. Won’t happen. Take it to the bank.

And for those of you keeping score at home, it was the 13th time this season they held an opponent to under 20 in a half.

Was this UK’s most impressive win of the season?

Yeah, Kansas and UCLA were awesome and borderline unbelievable, but going on the road to an SEC environment where Coach Cal hadn’t won and getting the job done like they did, it has to be in the conversation.


10 Things to Know About the Alabama Crimson Tide

10 Things to Know About the Alabama Crimson Tide

On Saturday, I’m packing up my laptop bag and heading south to Alabama for Kentucky’s second SEC road trip of the season. What can the Cats expect from the Crimson Tide? My research yielded these ten things:

1. Anthony Grant is still there, wearing his crisp shirts

The well-starched one is in his sixth season as the Crimson Tide’s head coach and has an 111-75 record. Many thought Grant would get the boot after failing to even get to the NIT last season, but Alabama AD Bill Battle voiced his support for Grant and the direction in which he’s taking the program. So far this season, the Crimson Tide is 12-4 and 2-1 in conference play, and got 7 votes in the latest AP poll.

Obligatory Anthony Grant picture

Would you believe me if I told you that Grant is 48 years old? Me neither, but he is.

2. Levi Randolph is still there too

The SEC means four things: Sunkist, Golden Flake, Joe Dean Jr., and players you can’t believe haven’t graduated yet. Maybe we’re just too accustomed to the one-and-done culture, but it seems like some SEC players have been in the league forever. Levi Randolph is one of them. Randolph is a senior and still has those dreads. He can still dunk, too:

3. They lost to South Carolina by two points on Tuesday

Alabama’s record is 12-4, with their most recent loss coming at South Carolina. Alabama lost by two after a Levi Randolph three at the buzzer didn’t connect.  It was a physical game, with 54 fouls called, 27 for each team. South Carolina was able to win the battle of the boards 33-23, which Anthony Grant said was the reason they ultimately won the game. “The difference in the game was the backboards,” Grant said. “They kept getting the second shot.”

He’s right. The most telling stat of the game? Alabama had FOUR offensive rebounds to South Carolina’s 13. Yikes.

4. However, the loss to Wichita State is still the heartbreaker of the season

After leading the then 11th-ranked Shockers by 11 with six minutes to go, the Crimson Tide absolutely collapsed. Wichita State outscored Alabama 13-1 in the final six minutes to win 53-52. It was incredibly embarrassing.

5. The student section will wear these shirts on Saturday

Alabama calls its student section “Crimson Chaos,” and because Kentucky is everyone’s Super Bowl/T-shirt night/whiteout/sellout, they’ll sport these special shirts on Saturday. The Chaos planned to hold a “cheer practice” tonight to get ready for the game, but canceled it, which is really a shame, because I was hoping to have a KSR spy infiltrate it. After watching Kentucky beat up Missouri, they must have decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

6. Crimson Chaos is also leading a campaign to get Channing Tatum to come to a game

Apparently Tatum is an Alabama native and fan, or at least he was photographed wearing an Alabama sweatshirt a few times. The Chaos has started a campaign to get Tatum to come to the Alabama/Missouri game on February 4. After seeing the trailer for “Magic Mike,” I don’t blame them.

7. Their motto is “94 feet both ways”

Grant says Alabama strives to be aggressive and disruptive on the defensive end, while attacking and efficient on offense. The length of a basketball court is 94 feet. So offense and defense…both ways. Get it? In case you don’t, there’s a a piece of art near their locker room to hammer it home:

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Hopefully I can catch Willie Cauley-Stein’s reaction to that on Saturday. It’s right up his alley.

8. Ricky Tikki Tarrant is second on the team in scoring

His real name is just Ricky Tarrant, but I can’t see that without thinking of Rikki Tikki Tavi from “The Jungle Book.” The junior guard transferred to Alabama from Tulane and sat out last season. This year, he’s Alabama’s 2nd best scorer behind Levi Randolph, averaging 13.3 points per game. He was named SEC Player of the Week on December 29 after scoring a career-high 24 points in the Crimson Tide’s win over UCLA.

9. Remember CM Newton? He has a beard now

The former Alabama basketball coach and Kentucky athletic director is retired now and regularly attends Alabama games. Judging by this picture, he could also play Santa at the local mall if he gets really bored with all that spare time.

10. This is what they do after wins

There will be none of that on Saturday.


GIFs From Last Night: Mizzou Edition

GIFs From Last Night: Mizzou Edition

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Last night was a return to fun basketball for the Wildcats and Big Blue Nation. After two close calls to open the conference schedule, Kentucky returned to form with a 49-point victory over Missouri in Rupp Arena.

The game provided a ton of highlight reel plays and internet-worthy reactions, so many I thought we better dust off the ol’ KSR-gif machine and give it a spin with last night’s tape.

So here ya go, some of the best shots from the Cats’ 86-37 win Tuesday night…

 

“Willie! YESSSS!”

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Every game produces a couple good looks at Calipari, and last night’s was this animated approval of Willie Cauley-Stein’s play. Cal pointed to his big man and shouted, “WILLIE! YES!”

Willie soars for a two-handed jam.

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Dominique Hawkins made this play happen by grabbing an offensive rebound on a missed jumper and kicking it back to a cutting Willie Cauley-Stein. Willie knew what to do with it from there as the Tigers scrambled to get out of his way.

DO NOT go at Karl Towns with that weak action.

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This is one of Karl’s five blocks in the game, one shy of his career-high of six. He leads Kentucky with 39 blocks on the year.

Karl Towns’ fist pump… Wait for it… Wait for it… 

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Karl may be the best at celebrations. He’s been on fire lately.

Dick Vitale was the only man in the building who can get away with this…

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Give her a little space there, Dick. Middle school dance rules. We should be able to walk between you.

Scratch had moves, too.

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Like Ryan Lemond at halftime, Scratch made the most of his national TV time behind the live taping of SportsCenter.

This play sums up Mizzou’s entire night.

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“$%&@ it. Let’s go home.” — No. 44

There’s so much awesomeness in the bench’s reaction to Derek Willis.

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You haven’t seen the last of that one, folks. Get used to it.


New OC Shannon Dawson is a Mark Stoops Kind of Guy

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Since the announcement of Dawson’s hire a month ago, many people have asked me what I thought of Kentucky’s new offensive coordinator.  Simply reading a resume isn’t enough to judge somebody, pausing my opinions until after the interview.  I’m glad I did, because this morning’s introductory press conference was the perfect surprise Slamma Jamma to start off the Spring semester.

There are almost too many reasons to be excited for the hire, but here are a few…

He has an awesome Louisiana accent

He wasn’t shy to start the press conference, letting everyone know that he wants to beat his hometown team, LSU.

He’s a Hal Mumme guy

Dawson got his start in coaching with Mumme in 2002.  It wasn’t easy for the kid who’s father was an administrator at the school.  As Kyle Tucker chronicled, Hal forced him to do the types of jobs that are usually reserved for the managers at the bottom of the pecking order.  At the end of the day, he never gave up, appreciating everything Hal did for him, “He made it tough, which I think he should because you need earn your stripes.  You’ve gotta earn your place.”

The offensive depth chart, including the QBs, is wide open

“We’re going to be wide open,” were his exact words.  He has yet to watch film from last year or really meet the team, other than in passing following a meeting, but has been encouraged by the changes happening at UK.

His father is a motivational speaker

I guess you could say that motivating young people is something he hangs his hat on.  What he’s learned from his father has transformed him into a better coach.  You can’t really detail how exactly it works in a press conference setting, but he did say, “[You] Figure out where their right button is and push it.”

He’s buds with Neal Brown

Neal was actually one of the few people he talked to about the UK job during the interview process.  Friends under the same coaching tree, their discussion was more about the people at UK than the X’s and O’s.  Neal told him, “You’re going to love it.”

He recruits areas where UK gets their best players

At West Virginia, one of his primary areas was in Ohio, UK’s latest gold mine for top talent.  “There’s a lot of carryover between my last job and this job in recruiting areas.  I’m not saying we beat you guys a lot,” he joked.  “But there was a lot of crossover.”

Before WVU, he developed relationships in the South, from Texas to Florida.  An area he emphasized a few times was the Mississippi Junior Colleges, exactly where the Cats found immediate playmakers in Za’Darius Smith and A.J. Stamps.

Dawson’s offense works off of opponents’ defenses

I am not in Mark Stoops’ mind, but if I could guesstimate a reason Dawson got the job, this is it.  He was often asked by the media, “How much are you going to run it?  Is this really going to be an Air Raid? etc.”  To answer all of the questions about his offense, he turned to defense.

1.  You can’t throw it 80-90% of the time against these kind of SEC pass rushers – you can’t keep your QBs healthy.

2.  They were most efficient throwing the ball when running the ball regularly; it kept defenses guessing.

3.  His evolution of the Air Raid offense is different, because defenses are different: bigger, faster and stronger.

Stoops didn’t tell Dawson, “I want you to be physical and run the ball.”  It has been a part of his evolution that was added to his WVU offense three years ago that caused their numbers spike immediately.  He’s a reactor that wants to keep defensive coordinators guessing, something Stoops absolutely HATES to game-plan against.

Simply put, the man oozes swag

Knowing the tumultous history of Kentucky football as a man that grew up with the SEC, he was asked, “Why do you think you can succeed here, now?”

Without flinching, he immediately responded, “Because I think I can succeed anywhere.”

If the mic wasn’t on a stand, he would have dropped it.

 


© Mark Zerof

The Cats gets their swagger back

There they are. There are the Cats we all know and love, beating down teams and swagging all over the place. After two overtime scares, Kentucky went back to the basics tonight, reinstating the platoon system to great effect, routing Missouri 86-37.

Forty-nine points. That’s Kentucky’s biggest margin of victory against an SEC opponent since 2003, when the Cats beat Vanderbilt by 63 points. Missouri’s 37 points are the fewest by an SEC opponent since UK’s 50-36 win over Mississippi State in 1987. Platooning = historical stats, my friends.

Let’s break it down, starting with the unlikely hero…

The platoons are back, and Dominique Hawkins got the start

All week, the Commonwealth has been clamoring for the return of the platoon system. John Calipari told reporters that he decided to go back to the platoons after the Texas A&M game, and two days ago, he told sophomore guard Dominique Hawkins that he was getting the start with the Blue Platoon in place of Trey Lyles.

“He belonged in the game. His energy was great,” Cal said, telling reporters that Dominique won the spot in the platoons because he outplayed Derek Willis in practice. “Right now, Dominique deserved the first opportunity. I told Derek, ‘you better be ready too.'”

Dominique made the most of the opportunity, putting up six points, three assists, two steals, one block and immeasurable hustle in 20 minutes of play; however, he admitted to Mike Pratt that leading up to the game, he was a nervous wreck. “I didn’t sleep. I was so nervous about it,” Hawkins said, telling Pratt that Cal gave him two tasks before the game: provide great energy and pressure the ball. “I feel like if I’m starting, I’ve got to prove to Coach that I can perform and play with my brothers.”

Well, smile, Dominique, you did.

The balance was back

Granted, Missouri is Missouri, aka one of the worst teams in the SEC, but even so, Kentucky looked like a completely different squad than the one that faced Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Whereas those Cats looked lost, slow, and totally out of sync, these Cats looked confident, quick, and in their element. The secret? The platoon system, which gave UK back the balance and energy it so desperately needed in the past two games.

“The platoon got us back to being into each other and celebrating each other,” Cal said. “After those last two games and even the Louisville game, I said the players are better when we platoon.” Ten players played more than 15 minutes tonight. Willie Cauley-Stein was the only player to get more than 21 minutes, and Cal said that’s because he had to yank Marcus Lee for a one-handed rebound.Three players scored in double figures, led by Aaron Harrison with 16.

In order to keep his players engaged, Calipari told each platoon that if they gave up more than six points, he was pulling them. In the first half, that only happened once. “We went in with an idea for each platoon. If you gave up more than six points, you were out,” Cal said. “So we’re trying to challenge them with different things to keep them motivated to play. And it’s really to play defense. We’re a defensive team. That’s what we are.” 

The defense was back

After giving up 86 points to Ole Miss and 64 to Texas A&M, Kentucky held Missouri to 37 points tonight. “Their defense forced us to panic a little bit offensively,” Missouri’s Kim Anderson said afterwards. “We needed to get back that swagger defensively, and I did not accept when a guy did not do his job,” Cal said, noting that the defensive intensity was back because of the platoon system. UK held Missouri to below 20 points in both halves and 27.1% from the field, making the Tigers the ninth opponent UK has held under 30% shooting this season.

“We looked ourselves in the mirror and said that we weren’t playing the way we know how to play,” Karl Towns said. Karl turned in his second career double-double, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and one sweet slow motion fist pump:

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The 2-point baskets were back

Remember that stat about Kentucky being the worst two-point shooting team in the country? Me neither. After tonight, it’s obsolete. Thirty-eight (44%) of Kentucky’s 86 points came off two-point shots, with 28 (33%) of those coming in the paint. The all-important mid-range game was also there thanks to Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, and yes, even Willie Cauley-Stein. Hit those, and you can handle a zone. 

Calipari said he told his players he was taking them out if they didn’t throw the ball to the open man in the post. “We showed tape of Texas A&M where we didn’t throw it to the post and I basically said, ‘if you don’t throw it to the guy when he’s open, you’re coming out,'” Cal said. “So it’s pretty simple. If he’s open, throw it to him.”

Poor Kim Anderson knew what was coming

You had to feel a little bit for Kim Anderson. Not only is his Google Image search dominated by photographs of babies in buckets, his team ran into a buzzsaw today. On Monday, Anderson hinted that he knew a breakout performance by the Cats was coming, and tonight, he admitted as much.

“This is what kind of scared me going in. I knew they were going to really, really come at us,” Anderson said, staring at the stat sheet. “They shot the ball really well. I looked at the stats here, I couldn’t believe it was 48%. I thought it was 88%. I didn’t think they missed.”

“The most impressive thing about Kentucky is they know how to win and they figure out how to win,” Anderson said. “When they get behind they figure out how to get ahead, and obviously that’s good coaching, that’s good players, but it’s an attitude.”

The swag is back

Could tonight have gone any better? Kentucky won by (almost) 50, Duke lost (again), and SportsCenter from Rupp Arena was pretty much a UK infomercial. Sure, Saturday’s game against Alabama in Tuscaloosa will be a much tougher challenge, but for now, let’s just enjoy that fact that order is restored in the world.

“It was nice,” Cal said. “We needed to have a win where we could get our swag back.”


Scouting Mizzou: 10 Facts, Stats and Other Useless Information

Your University of Kentucky Wildcats are 2-0 in the SEC, but it’s been far from an easy start to the second half of the season. UK needed three overtimes to win its first two games of 2015 and a third opponent, Missouri, awaits tomorrow night in Rupp Arena.

Will the Cats continue to disappoint by playing down to the level of the opposition? Or will they return to early season form and send the Tigers home with a blowout?

We won’t know until the ball is tipped, but you can learn a thing or two about Mizzou while you wait in this week’s scouting report…

 

1.) Missouri lost at Auburn over the weekend, sits at 1-1 in SEC play.

The Tigers hope to avoid back-to-back conference losses after suffering a 85-79 defeat at Auburn on Saturday. Starting point guard Keith Shamburger scored a season-best 21 points with five threes in the game, but the home Tigers were too much for the away Tigers.

Missouri opened up SEC play with an overtime win against LSU.

2.) Johnathan Williams III is Mizzou’s star player.

Williams, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, ranks 13th in the conference in scoring at 13.7 points per game. He also leads Missouri in rebounding with seven boards per contest.

Fun Fact: His dad and grandfather share the same name.

3.) They connect on 36.1 percent of their three-point attempts.

Because the only way to beat Kentucky in Rupp is to get unconscious from outside, you should know Mizzou ranks 97th in the country at 36.1 percent from downtown. That’s good enough for fourth in the SEC in percentage and in threes made with 103 on 285 attempts.

Mizzou reached double digits in triples in two games this season. Let’s hope they don’t do it a third time tomorrow night.

4.) Devin Booker’s dad led Mizzou to the 1994 NCAA Elite Eight.

The 1993-94 Tigers earned a one-seed in the NCAA tournament, the same year Melvin Booker was named Big Eight Player of the Year. Booker, the father of Devin Booker, also earned First Team All-American honors.

He shot 41 percent from three-point range as a senior, leading Mizzou to a 14-0 conference record. If you were to look up the school’s all-time rankings, the elder Booker is top ten in both assists and scoring.

5.) Deuce Bello plays for Missouri.

Though he averages only 10 minutes per game, it’s worth noting Deuce Bello is a Tiger. Because I had no idea until right now.

Bello began his college career at Baylor with his best friend, Quincy Miller, then transferred to Mizzou after his sophomore season in 2012-13. You may remember him as that guy who could jump out of the gym from the 2011 class. Kentucky showed some interest but never pushed too hard because nothing mattered once Cal landed Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis.

6.) Montaque Gill-Caesar is on the roster, too.

Another former UK target, Teki Gill-Caesar, also suits up for the Tigers. Gill-Caesar is in his first season in Columbia after a very late reclassification to the 2014 class. The Huntington Prep star waited until last fall to announce he will leave high school early to join Missouri in college basketball. It was only last spring when he was being considered as a potential replacement for the Harrison twins in the Kentucky backcourt, until the Harrisons announced their return for another year.

Gill-Caesar started the first 13 games this season as a true freshman but will not play tomorrow night due to a back injury suffered on January 3 against Lipscomb. He is the team’s second-leading scorer.

7.) Head coach Kim Anderson looked like this in the NBA:

Anderson, a former star at Mizzou, played 21 games for the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA before leaving the game of basketball to pursue a career in porn.

(Some of that is true. Maybe all of it.)

8.) Rob Fulford is an assistant coach.

Fulford coached Andrew Wiggins and several other elite high school prospects at Huntington Prep in West Virginia. I suppose it’s a coincidence he was added to Kim Anderson’s staff a little over a month before Teki Gill-Caesar left Huntington early to play at Mizzou.

9.) Tim Fuller, a former Louisville assistant, is also on Anderson’s staff.

Rick Pitino pulled “Prime Time Tim” away from his job at Nike in 2010 to compete for recruits with Kentucky.

“I know we have a great school down the street, but they’re not going to beat us on guys,” Fuller said, the day he was introduced in Louisville.

Fuller left Louisville after one season to join Frank Haith at Missouri.

10.) Kentucky has never lost to Missouri.

The two sides have met six times throughout history with the Cats walking away victorious every time. UK needed overtime to win the last meeting in Rupp Arena, a 90-83 thriller with College Gameday in town in 2013.

Tomorrow’s win will be Kentucky’s seventh in the series.

Cats.


9 Takeaways from the Golden Globe Awards

9 Takeaways from the Golden Globe Awards

72nd Golden Globes

Man, there’s nothing like awards shows! They truly are the best way to waste the precious seconds, minutes and hours of our rapidly withering lives as we rocket toward death, aren’t they? The 72nd Golden Globe Awards honored the best of the people we watch on screens, and Funkhouser is here this morn to offer a few takeaways from all the festivities we watched from our stupid, boring hovels. Shall we? We shall.

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1. Something weird is going on between the “Movie Fargo” people and the “TV Fargo” people.

I mean, seriously, look at these faces. Do these faces say “Man, we are tickled that an offshoot of our Oscar-nominated film is doing so well”? It looks more like “Glad your cute little TV show about all the stuff we invented is doing so well. Thrillled. Great.”

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2. Prince officially looks like that person in your office who dresses every Halloween as “70’s Guy.”

Almost everything in Prince’s Golden Globes ensemble — afro wig, cane, “groovy” glasses —  is available at your local Halloween Express. Total: $13.75. I mean, c’mon. Look at that picture. Take away the swanky Golden Globes background and this is a thumbnail on the Party City website.

3. If jokes are a barometer of our society, we’re all just accepting that Bill Cosby is a piece of garbage now and there’s not even any argument about it.

Let’s face it, he probably is, but Fey & Poehler’s extended riff on his drugging and alleged sexually assaulting of young ingénues was proof that not even the Hollywood community is trying to help him out anymore. Looks like you’re on your own, Phylicia Rashad!

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4. Salma Hayek is so over Kevin Hart.

During the pre-show, Natalie Morales mentioned the buzz that Kevin Hart may be hosting the Globes at some point. Then Kevin Hart came off like a ferret on speed and Hayek just kept looking at him like what de hell is wronn with you? Pool eet togedder. If tonight’s weird, trying-too-hard performance alongside Hollywood’s Frida Kahlo was any indication, I think it’s safe to say we may have all been relieved of his hosting potential. Hooray! Go see The Wedding Ringer!

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5. Birdman has some traction, y’all. So you better go see it.

Micheal Keaton took home Best Actor in a Comedy and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s super-crazy speech for the Best Screenplay might have intrigued the Academy enough to give him an Oscar – for something – next month. We are all living inside a mirror and this movie couldn’t have been made without the Michael Keaton, Emma Stone and Zart Garyfarakis.

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6. Jane Fonda thinks Don Cheadle was in House of Cards.

Well, more specifically, she thinks Don Cheadle was in ‘House of Carrrrrrs” as she realized her mistake as she was saying it. Too late.

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7. I guess Amazon Prime original programming is a real thing now, and not just something I would never pay attention to that pops up when I go there to watch old episodes of Workaholics?

Okay then.

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8. Katherine Heigl tried to be funny but wasn’t and looked like she was going to cry.

The State of Affairs star — alongside David Duchovny, who looked like he was airlifted straight from near-death by dehydration in the Mojave desert to the Golden Globe Awards — decided to do a bit about if all the Best Actor in a TV Drama nominees were on a dating website or something, and no one laughed, and she just looked defeated. It was awesome.

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9. True Detective got shut out.

But it doesn’t matter because time is flat and the plane we’re on is only one of many where existences are possible and here’s a cut up aluminum can and ethereal space and matter and the universe and your mind can only process certain things. Billy Bob Thornton winning a Golden Globe now is one of those things.