Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Funkhouser last December. But because this is the →
From the Archives: Nine Reasons Why National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the Best Christmas Movie Ever Made
By S.E. Shepherd on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 5:05pm
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Funkhouser last December. But because this is the week everyone spends watching their favorite holiday movies, it seemed like an appropriate time to re-post it. Enjoy!
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s December and just about everyone is in full-blown holiday mode. Since Thanksgiving, television networks have been trotting out their annual line-up of Christmas movies and specials, from classics like Rudolph and The Grinch and Christmas Story, to more recent creations, such as Sofia the First’s Holiday in Enchancia or whatever computer-generated abomination Disney has vomited onto the airwaves this year in their latest effort to sell poorly made toys to kids. With so many holiday-themed movies from which to choose, you might feel overwhelmed when it comes time to decide how to spend your precious viewing time.
Well I’m here to help, folks. And the solution to your problem is simple: The only movie you need to watch is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s the world-champ of Christmas movies, and it’s unlikely that any contender will emerge to challenge its title in our lifetimes. Here’s why.
1. The house-lighting scene.
There isn’t a man alive over the age of 25 who hasn’t imitated this scene at least once when plugging in the Christmas lights (or changing a light bulb or fixing a small appliance).
2. It was the last truly great movie Chevy Chase ever made.
Most of the internet generation knows Chase simply as the weird old guy on Community or the magical hot tub repairman from Hot Tub Time Machine. And that breaks my heart. In reality, Chase is, with the possible exception of Bill Murray, the greatest comedic actor of the last 40 years. And I don’t say that lightly. For my money, I’d put Chase’s five best movies – Vacation, Fletch, Caddyshack, The Three Amigos, and Christmas Vacation – up against any other comedic actor’s top five every day of the week. In his prime, Chase was the king, effortlessly portraying all the greatest comedic leading-man archetypes: the everyman with an edge, the silver-tongued ladies man, the put-upon father, and the fast-talking wiseass.
Sadly, Christmas Vacation represents the last time Chase was at the top of his game. The flick was released in 1989 on the heels of two sequels that weren’t as good as their predecessors (Fletch Lives and Caddyshack II), and it was all down hill from there. Like a great athlete whose body fails him, allowing the game he loves to pass him by, Chase lost a step comedically and was never able to fully recover. With the possible exception of the super-weird and widely panned Nothing But Trouble (which, in my opinion, isn’t as bad as its reputation might lead you to believe, and its faults certainly aren’t due to a lack of effort on Chase’s part) and Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Chase’s star never shone as brightly as it did in Christmas Vacation. That makes it worthy of the top ranking if for no other reason than it’s basically like watching Michael Jordan hit the game-winner over Byron Russell in the 1998 NBA Finals, right before he retired for the second time and then embarrassed himself by playing for the Washington Wizards.
3. Aunt Bethany’s rendition of that beloved Christmas classic, The Star Spangled Banner.
Actually, pretty much anything Aunt Bethany says is the greatest. My personal favorite is when, upon arriving at the Griswold home and seeing all the twinkling lights, she asks, “Is your house on fire, Clark?”
4. The best PG-13 freak-out scene in movie history.
Sure, the language is only slightly NSFW, but has anyone ever made phrases like snake-licking, dirt-eating, dog-kissing, stiff-legged, and spotty-lipped sound filthier than Chevy Chase?
5. Johnny Galecki as Rusty and Juliette Lewis as Audrey.
Of all the actors and actresses who have portrayed the Griswold children, Galecki and Lewis are the best all around combo in the series. Sure, Anthony Michael Hall was the OG Rusty and can’t be topped, and Vegas Vacation’s Marisol Nichols was easily the hottest Audrey of the bunch. But the Galecki-Lewis duo delivers an unbeatable one-two punch. Lewis’ Audrey perfectly captures that weird teenage dichotomy between being too cool for everything while still being secretly excited about the family rituals and traditions that come with the holidays. And Galecki’s Rusty is the perfect straight man to Chase’s Clark, a faithful son who is painfully aware that his father is a bumbling doofus, but who never lets that get in the way of his admiration for his pops.
6. Ellen’s instinctive protection of the Griswold family jewels.
7. Clark’s open contempt for his neighbors.
The holidays are a time for spreading tidings of comfort and joy, but whom among us hasn’t used Christmas and all that comes with it – the decorating, the gift giving, the holiday parties – as a chance to throw some good, old-fashioned shade on an annoying neighbor or a frenemy? Clark Griswold knows what I’m talking about. He lives next door to a couple of judgmental yuppies (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Nicholas Guest), and his barely hidden disdain for their overly sanitized, modern-decored existence is hilarious. Not only does he make their lives a living hell by blinding them with countless strands of Christmas lights and destroying their stereo system by sending frozen ice missiles through their windows, he goes so far as to don a Jason-esque hockey mask and thrust a running chainsaw in their general direction. If that isn’t what Christmas is all about, I don’t know what is.
8. Cousin Eddie.
Randy Quaid appeared as Cousin Eddie in every Vacation movie except European Vacation (he even starred in his own made for TV sequel to Christmas Vacation, 2003’s god-awful Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure). But Christmas Vacation finds Eddie at his loud-mouthed, snot-covered, RV-living best. His cream-colored sweater and black turtleneck Dickie look is so Cousin Eddie it hurts. And he delivers one of the best lines of the entire movie when he informs the yuppie neighbors that he’s standing outside in his mini-robe, emptying the chemical toilet from his RV into their sewage drain because, well, “Sh*tter was full!”
9. The True Meaning of Christmas.
Strip everything else away – Audrey’s brush with frostbite, the flirting with the lingerie saleswoman, the crass relatives, the disastrous holiday dinner, the melted cat, the exploding sewer gas, the kidnapping, the SWAT team raid – and what’s left is a movie that captures the Christmas spirit as well as any holiday-themed movie ever made. For all his faults, the Christmas Vacation version of Clark Griswold is a model father; his only motivation throughout the entire film is to surround himself with family and give everyone the best Christmas possible. As everything else crumbles around him, he realizes the true meaning of Christmas isn’t the “bonuses or gifts or turkeys or trees.” It’s family and spending time with the ones you love. There’s no way a stop-motion reindeer or a taller, skinnier, animated rip-off of Oscar the Grouch could ever deliver that sentiment better than Chevy Chase and his perfectly dimpled chin.
So, if you haven’t already, do yourself and your DVR a favor and delete your recordings of all those other Christmas specials. Make Christmas Vacation the defining movie of your holiday experience. Twenty-four straight hours of it on Christmas Eve isn’t enough. Buy a TV and a DVD player and set up a dedicated viewing station in your house, one that runs Christmas Vacation and nothing but Christmas Vacation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every year from Dec. 1 to Dec. 26. That’s a sure fire recipe for the hap-hap-happiest Christmas ever.
Fourteen seconds in, it was over. When Aaron Harrison’s three swished through the net, UCLA really should have just packed up and gone home, because that’s as close as it ever was.
It’s hard to put what Kentucky did today–what Kentucky has done all season–into words. We knew Kentucky would win this game; it was a horrible matchup for UCLA, no matter what Doug Gottlieb said on the CBS pregame show. But what is so impressive is the manner in which UK is winning. The Cats aren’t just beating teams, they’re curb stomping them. In ancient Rome, people filled the Colosseum to see this kind of carnage. No matter what you pay for tickets to games this season–and the prices for next week’s game will be outrageous, I’m sure–it will never be enough. This is special. This is once in a lifetime.
Let’s go over every glorious detail of the 83-44 romp.
“I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a start to a game like this one.”
That’s what Greg Anthony said at the 12:16 mark when UCLA finally scored. UK sprinted out of the gate like Secretariat, jumping to a 24-0 lead before UCLA finally got a bucket. It was so bad that UK fans gave UCLA a pity cheer. The DJ at the United Center even played Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”
“They took our confidence out of us right at the beginning of the game and they put it to us from then on,” UCLA’s Bryce Alford said. His father was equally at a loss for words. “I haven’t been involved in many halves like that,” Steve Alford lamented. One of the few knocks on the Cats so far this season was their slow starts. Not today. “This game, the way we started, we haven’t always done that,” John Calipari said.
At halftime, UK led 41-7. In a game between two of the most storied programs in college basketball history, that is historic. UK had more blocks than UCLA had points. Karl Towns had more rebounds. Seven is the lowest halftime point total in UCLA history. It’s the fewest points Kentucky has given up in a half since 1983. As Greg Anthony said, UK overwhelmed UCLA physically, mentally, and emotionally.
What shooting woes?
Remember our shooting slump? Remember when the streak was in jeopardy? Yeah, me neither. A few weeks ago, Calipari said this team would be scary once it started hitting 8-10 threes a game. They hit 12 tonight, and everyone not in a blue and white shirt is terrified.
Devin Booker was especially hot, leading the team in scoring with 19, including five threes. Remember his shooting slump? It’s long gone. He shot his way out of it. So did Aaron Harrison, who is becoming king of the neutral site games. When Aaron hit the three to start the game, you knew he was on point, and he turned in 15 points this afternoon. The bigger the stage, the bigger the performance for Aaron.
Everything was clicking
The best part about UK’s domination? Everyone’s eating. So much they’re probably full. Ten players scored, and ten played significant minutes. If Calipari’s hammered one thing into our heads this season, it’s that the platoons are about balance. After the game, he thanked the players and their parents for buying in and sacrificing minutes for each other. “I’m not married to platoons, folks,” Cal said. “I’m doing this because it’s best thing for these players. Will I ever do this again? I doubt it.”
Everyone was clicking. The threes were falling. Willie was hitting mid-range jumpers. Marcus Lee made a free throw! Andrew Harrison has EIGHT assists. Dakari had six! The team had thirteen blocks. “I’ve got no schmoes,” Calipari said. Simple as that.
“I don’t know in my 20 years of coaching at the Division I level if I’ve coached against a better team.”
Those are strong words from Steve Alford, but can you blame him? The BBN has tried really hard to keep expectations in check after last season, but after performances like that, it’s impossible. Cal, who was swagging all over the place today, admitted as much after the game. “That’s our good game right there. That’s as good as we go,” Cal told Alford, who claimed he was probably just being nice.
While we all try to work up the courage to say the “un” word, others are doing it for us. “They continue to play at that level defensively, I’m a firm believer they’ve got a chance to run this thing out,” Alford said. “There’s not a weakness.”
This is the first team in Kentucky history to start the season with 12 straight wins by double digits. Cal said that this season is so much fun that he’s sending players texts about how excited he is about practice. “I’m staying in the moment. I’m enjoying this team.” We all are.
Enjoy this. It doesn’t happen often.
Tomorrow, the Cats will take on fellow blue blood UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic in Chicago. Maybe it’s because there’s been a lot of football news this week or just that UCLA is so terrible, but there hasn’t been a ton of hype around this game. We’ll leave the serious scouting report to Brandon Ramsey tomorrow morning, but until then, here are 10 things to get you ready for the Bruins.
1. John Calipari once called Alford “the best human being I’ve ever been around”
When Alford was hired at New Mexico in 2007, Calipari had nothing but praise for Alford.
“The University of New Mexico just created its first upset before ever playing a game. What a great hire for the Lobos-this guy can really coach. The University, the state, the team and the fans just got someone special. Steve Alford is the best human being I’ve ever been around.”
More proof of their friendship? Calipari agreed to do a home-and-home with UCLA starting next year. He doesn’t do that for just anyone.
2. Two of Steve Alford’s sons play for him
That’s Kory on the left and Bryce on the right. Kory’s older and transferred to UCLA from New Mexico. He doesn’t play often. Bryce is the starting point guard and averages 18 points per game and 6.7 assists.
3. He’s also really good at trick shots
He may need that to score against Kentucky.
4. That North Carolina team we just beat? UCLA lost to them by 22
That’s one of three losses for the Bruins this season. In the Battle 4 Atlantis, they lost to the Tar Heels and Oklahoma, but rallied to beat UAB by 12. Last Saturday, Gonzaga beat them 87-74 in Pauly Pavilion, with Kyle Wiltjer scoring 24 points.
5. Tony Parker is tight with Alex Poythress
Drew told you this earlier in the week, but Parker and Poythress played on the same AAU team growing up. The two are so close that Alex tried to recruit Tony to Kentucky, calling him everyday to talk about the Cats and make sure Tony was watching UK’s games. Even though Parker had an offer from Kentucky, it didn’t work, but the two are still close, and Parker reached out to Alex after his injury last week:
My brother @AlexTheGreat22 you in my prayers bro minor setback for a major comeback keep your head up bruh !!!!!!
— tony parker (@tonyparker32) December 12, 2014
6. Kevon Looney is the only freshman in the country averaging a double-double
Right now, the freshman forward is averaging 13.9 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Looney is the centerpiece of UCLA’s offense, which is averaging 80.8 points per game. Right now, Matt Norlander says Looney is the third best freshman in the country behind Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Indiana’s James Blackmon, Jr. In turn, his NBA stock is rising and one scout told Adam Zagoria that Looney is “the most dominant rebounder in college basketball.”
Hmm. I bet our bigs will have something to say about that.
7. June 10 is Kevon Looney Day in Milwaukee
Looney grew up in Milwaukee and chose UCLA over Duke, which shocked just about everyone. He was a consensus five-star, top 15 recruit. Kentucky never offered.
8. This is the 11th meeting between the two blue bloods
UK leads the series 6-4. The last time we played the Bruins? November 2006 in the Maui Classic. At the time, UCLA was ranked #5 and Kentucky #20, and the Bruins won. That UCLA team had Russell Westbrook on it and went on to lose to Florida in the Final Four. Get ready to see a lot more of the pale blue and gold; the Cats just agreed to a two-game home-and-home series with UCLA starting next season at Pauley Pavilion.
9. Several UCLA players will be taking finals today
Yesterday, Steve Alford said that because it’s finals week, several of his players will be doing proctored exams in the hotel today. “That part doesn’t make it any easier when you’re prepping for the best team in the country,” Alford said. So, if you’re staying in the same hotel as the Bruins, please be quiet and courteous. Just kidding. Be loud.
10. Former Bruin Kris Johnson has the best quote ever about Kentucky fans
Johnson played for UCLA from 1994-1998 and after the Cats beat the Bruins in the 1998 Tournament on their way to the title, he couldn’t help but long to be a part of the Big Blue Nation:
“When you see Kentucky’s fans, you just wonder. You think how wonderful it would be to go to their school. You wish you could trade places for a day, just so you could experience that feeling.”
It’s pretty great, isn’t it?
FUNKHOUSER’S ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS ALBUM 2014
Over the course of the last four days, Funkhouser writers have shared with you their favorite holiday/Christmas songs. The goal for all of these lists has been to provide our loyal Funkhouser readers with a Christmas playlist that they can enjoy and share at Christmas parties or holiday celebrations in the remaining time this season. We wanted to give you a list of music that would break up the monotony of the same 20 songs that get played on the Christmas radio stations. While a few of those songs you normally would hear are here, there are many you may never have heard before.
If you want to go back to see the individual lists from this week, and reasons for selecting each song, click the names of the Funkhouser writers below:
Check out the playlists that we’ve put together for you below, we hope you enjoy them. At the bottom of the page, we have bonus playlists from some of the KSR family who were unable to post their favorites, but we wanted to share them with you.
There are some songs however, that aren’t on Spotify for you to enjoy in the playlist. You can go ahead and blame that one on T. Swift. Anyway, any of the songs that weren’t on Spotify have been placed in a YouTube playlist for your enjoyment.
We were also joined by other KSR family members who were unable to do a post for the website, but sent along their favorite Christmas tunes. Their selections have been placed in the Spotify and YouTube playlists.
Run DMC: Christmas in Hollis: Best Christmas song ever, in the best Christmas movie ever (“Die Hard”)
A John Waters Christmas: various artists. All the songs are so gloriously off-kilter, you can’t pick just one. However, pay close attention to “Happy Birthday Jesus” and “Little Mary Christmas.” For the most jaded and cynical among us.
Dr. Demento Presents The Gretest Christmas Novelty CD of All Time: various artists. Again, for the Christmas iconoclast, but less guilt-inducing than John Waters’ compilation. This is pure Detroit late-night radio madness, with Weird Al, the Mackenzie Brothers, and a bunch of others your grandparents laughed at until their guts hurt. Some annoying songs, but some with real staying power.
“Baby Please Come Home”: U2. This will remind you that Bono actually has a great voice. A classic sung by a classic.
“Silent Night”: Stevie Nicks. You didn’t need reminding that Nicks has an amazing voice. But here’s a reminder anyway.
Shannon The Dude:
Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmas Time
Bing Crosby – Snow
Scott Weiland – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
John Coltrane – My Favorite Things
Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmas Time is Here
Zooey Deschanel – Baby It’s Cold Outside
Mannheim Steamroller – Deck The Halls
Fiona Apple – Frosty The Snowman
Mariah Carey: All I want for Christmas is You
Mariah Carey: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
Michael Buble: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Celine Dion: Don’t Save it All for Christmas Day
Brenda Lee: Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
Andy Williams: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Idina Menzel (duet with Michael Buble): Baby It’s Cold Outside
Johnny Mathis: It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas
Carrie Underwood: Do You Hear What I Hear?
The Eagles: Please Come Home For Christmas
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays – NSYNC
All I Want For Christmas is You – Mariah Carey
Last Christmas – WHAM
Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Death Cab For Cutie
Angels We Have Heard on High – Sufjan Stevens
Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid
Oh Christmas Tree – A Charlie Brown Christmas
War is Over – John Lennon
It’s been about 24 hours since we learned that Shannon Dawson will be UK’s new offensive coordinator, but for many of us, he’s still a mystery. To help us get better acquainted with our new OC, I spent the day getting to know Dawson via Google. Here’s a brief profile, along with some of your frequently asked questions.
Hometown: Clinton, Louisiana
Alma Mater: Wingate, Class of 2001
2013: West Virginia (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
2012: West Virginia (offensive coordinator/receivers)
2011: West Virginia (inside receivers)
2008-10: Stephen F. Austin (offensive coordinator)
2006-07: Millsaps (offensive coordinator)
2005: New Mexico State (graduate assistant/offense)
2004: Southeastern Louisiana (running backs)
2003: Southeastern Louisiana (offensive quality control)
2002: Wingate (wide receivers)
He’s a guy and his name is Shannon?
Yes, and I’m a girl and my name is Tyler. It’s 2014, get over it.
How did he learn the Air Raid?
Dawson coached under Hal Mumme for three seasons at New Mexico State and Southeastern Louisiana, where he learned the Air Raid system, which he took to Millsaps and Stephen F. Austin before joining the West Virginia staff. At Stephen F. Austin, Dawson had the #1 passing offense, the #4 scoring offense, and the #6 total offense in the FCS. In 2011, Dana Holgorsen hired him as the receivers coach at West Virginia, where he eventually became offensive coordinator.
So, he ran his Air Raid at West Virginia?
Not exactly. Dana Holgorsen is also an Air Raid disciple under Mike Leach and Hal Mumme, and has his own version that Dawson helped run. Dawson helped boost the West Virginia offense to ninth nationally in passing (314.6 yards), 11th in total offense (502.1 yards), 38th in scoring (33.2) and 44th in rushing (187.5). The Mountaineers’ run-to-pass ratio this season was 52%/48%. Under Dawson and Holgorsen, quarterback Clint Trickett passed for 3,285 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Between Dawson and Holgorsen, who called the plays?
Great question. West Virginia beat writer Patrick Southern came on the show today to tell us about Dawson and he said Holgorsen called the plays while Dawson read defenses up in the press box. While Dawson undoubtedly had a hand in whatever the offense did, ultimately, the unit was Holgorsen’s.
Dawson was once asked the difference between his philosophy and Holgorsen’s, and he responded “Dana’s a lot more conservative than I am.” For example, at Stephen F. Austin, Dawson’s offense once threw the ball 89 times in one game. UK only threw the ball 29 times vs. Louisville. Shew-wee. Since then, he’s warmed up to the run game enough to implement a balanced attack at West Virginia, and he’ll have a whole stable of running backs to use in his new role. At Kentucky, Dawson will finally have complete control over the offense, and after years of splitting decisions with Holgorsen, I’m sure he’s ready to let loose.
Are we sure he’s not Tony Vanetti’s twin?
He really does look like him, doesn’t he? Especially in this picture:
So, how is he different than Neal Brown?
We’ve heard Dawson’s offense is very similar to Brown’s, but plays will be called even faster. With SEVERAL Air Raid pieces in place, Dawson can jump in with both feet. Some other people have suggested Dawson will use a more vertical passing attack than Brown with a simpler running game.
What about recruiting?
Dawson is considered a good recruiter, and has commitments from two pro-style QBs at West Virigina, one being David Sills, a four-star. Dawson and Holgorsen are obviously very close, so it’s not clear whether or not Dawson will attempt to bring his commitments with him, but that’s something to keep an eye on.
What’s he like off the field?
Apparently, he’s hilarious and cusses a lot, which means he’ll fit right in with the KSR crew.
Anything really random about him?
He favorited this photo on Twitter:
So I guess he likes cats, which is good because he is one now.
Welcome aboard, coach.
Shannon Dawson will soon become Kentucky’s new offensive coordinator and he’s a guy who didn’t pop up on the public’s radar until this week. Therefore he’s unknown to many, if not all UK fans and followers out there.
But don’t you worry, Big Blue Nation. KSR has some interesting facts on Stoops’ new assistant:
— He’s from the Hal Mumme coaching tree, having spent two years under Mumme at Southeastern Louisiana followed by one season at New Mexico State.
— KSR has been told his offense is similar to Neal Brown’s but faster with more shots downfield. “He will play FAST, FAST, FAST,” said one person in the know.
— In 2010, serving as the offensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin, he guided the nation’s No. 1 passing offense (362.2) and No. 4 scoring offense (36.3), ranking No. 6 in total offense (442.9).
— His first offensive coordinator job was at Millsaps College in Mississippi, where his offense averaged more than 35 points a game.
— He played quarterback and wide receiver at Wingate, where he led the team in receiving as a senior with 43 catches for 584 yards and seven touchdowns. He was second on the team as a junior with 31 catches for 410 yards and one touchdown. That same junior season, he completed 45 passes for 549 yards with seven interceptions and two touchdowns as a quarterback.
— He was named “Mr. Silliman Institute” in high school:
If you’re like me, you’ve got better things going on in life than watching UCLA basketball. I think we all have bigger priorities than tuning in to Bruins games out west, with the exception being a couple Battle 4 Atlantis games over Thanksgiving break. (Food coma = ESPN binge.)
But unlike me, you were probably too busy this afternoon to dissect UCLA’s 11 games this season for a post on KentuckySportsRadio.com. What can I say? Wednesdays can be slow for me. I went to Fayette Mall for new socks and drove to Madisonville, too. BIG DAY.
So, below you’ll find a rundown of how UCLA has fared thus far through 2014-15.
(Spoiler: It’s not all that impressive.)
[W] UCLA 113, Montana State 78
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
Somehow, some way, UCLA gave up 78 points to Montana State, the same team that managed to score only 22 points on Kentucky before the third platoon checked in with five minutes left. The Bobcats shot over 47 percent from the field against the Bruins with 10 players getting at least a bucket, including four players in double-figures.
However, UCLA still escaped with a 35-point win, led by 25 points from Norman Powell and another 20 from Kevin Looney in his college basketball debut. Powell and Looney were responsible for 23 of their team’s 26 made free throws.
I can’t fathom Montana State scoring 78 points on anyone.
[W] UCLA 84, Coastal Carolina 71
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
UCLA found itself in a tight one with Coastal Carolina in the first half of the Bruins’ second game of the season, until UCLA pulled away in the second half with a 24-8 run.
Kevin Looney recorded his first career double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Bryce Alford, the coach’s son, added 17 of his own.
Coastal Carolina went on to beat Auburn at Auburn three weeks later.
[W] UCLA 107, Nicholls State 74
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
Nicholls State, UCLA’s third opponent in six days, caught the Bruins on a hot shooting night from outside. UCLA went 11-for-21 from three-point land and eclipsed the 100-point mark for the second time in its first three games.
Baby Alford led all scorers with 28 points and a career-high 13 points. Kevin Looney added another double-double with 12 and 14.
[W] UCLA 77, Long Beach State 63
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
Long Beach State gave UCLA its closest contest of the young season, trailing by only two possessions with three minutes to go. But UCLA buckled down and got the job done with an 11-2 run to close out the game.
All five UCLA starters scored in double-figures, led by 24 from Norman Powell. Kevin Looney added yet another double-double, his third in his first four games, with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bruins scored only four points off the bench, all from guard Noah Allen.
[L] Oklahoma 75, (22) UCLA 65
Imperial Arena, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Now a Top 25 team, UCLA traveled to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis, where it ran into Oklahoma in its first game in paradise. UCLA looked to be in good shape with a 57-49 lead in the second half, that is until Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, a native of the Bahamas, went on a personal 10-0 run to give the Sooners the lead. Oklahoma went on to win, 75-62, with 24 points from Hield.
The Bruins shot 26-of-69 from the field, 4-of-17 from deep, and 9-of-21 at the foul stripe.
Looney recorded another double-double 16 points and 15 rebounds.
[L] (5) North Carolina 78, (22) UCLA 56
Imperial Arena, Paradise Island, Bahamas
UCLA dropped its second game in a row with a loss to fifth-ranked North Carolina (also coming off a loss) thanks to an ugly showing from the Bruins. Steve Alford’s team committed 23 turnovers to only seven assists and missed all but one of their 14 three-point field goal attempts.
Alford said afterward, “Our guard play wasn’t very good, our frontcourt wasn’t very good, and that’s not a very good combination.”
UCLA held a lead at 18-11, but that was as good as it would get for the Bruins in this one.
[W] (22) UCLA 88, UAB 76
Imperial Arena, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Still in the Top 25 and still in the Bahamas, UCLA drew UAB in the seventh-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, meaning the loser of this one would finish dead last at the event.
Things were going great for the Bruins with a 22-point lead with eight minutes left, then UAB made it interesting with a 17-5 run. Luckily for the Californians, they got it together late and held on to the lead for their only victory in the tournament.
Five Bruins scored in double-figures, powered by Isaac Hamilton’s 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting.
[W] UCLA 73, CS Fullerton 45
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
After dropping two games in the Bahamas, UCLA returned home to Westwood to host nearby California State Fullerton and they returned to early season form with a blowout. The Bruins held Fullerton to 24 percent shooting and cruised to a 73-45 victory.
Once again, all five starters reached double-digit scoring and Kevin Looney filled up the box score with another double-double. Tony Parker was one rebound shy of joining Looney.
[W] UCLA 75, San Diego 68
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
UCLA got off to a rough start against San Diego, trailing by two going into the break in Los Angeles. The Bruins were beat on the glass and on the scoreboard through the first 20 minutes, causing Steve Alford to lose his mind in the locker room.
UCLA would respond, however, taking over the lead and stretching it out to nine on two separate occasions. They went on to win by seven in the end, and yes, you guessed it, Kevin Looney had a double-double, his sixth through nine career games.
[W] UCLA 77, UC Riverside 66
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
UCLA came out sluggish once again against UC Riverside, trailing at the half in a second game in a row, this time by eight. But Normal Powell sparked a Bruin rally in the second half with seven straight points and UCLA went on to win by 11.
Tony Parker had a career-high 16 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Looney added a double-double of his own for his Pac-12-leading seventh of the year.
[L] (9) Gonzaga 87, UCLA 74
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
A familiar face lit UCLA up for 24 points in Gonzaga’s 13-point win on UCLA’s home floor last weekend. Kyle Wiltjer was 9-of-13 from the field and 3-of-5 from outside en route to those 24 points, followed by another 20 from his Bulldog teammate Byron Wesley.
The loss was UCLA’s third on the season, snapping a four-game winning streak and an undefeated record at home. It was never close.
[?] (1) Kentucky __ , UCLA __
United Center, Chicago, Illinois
In just a few days, thousands of our closest friends and neighbors will travel to blistering cold Chicago to watch Kentucky play a basketball game. The Cats will meet the Bruins of UCLA in the second contest of the CBS Sports Classic double-header, set for an approximate 2:30 pm tip local time after the opening act. The midafternoon start time is ideal for those in Big Blue Nation looking to enjoy the city — or get oiled up before the tip and afterward in celebration.
Tonight, as we count down the days until #wheelsup, allow me to share some facts and recommend a few activities for your weekend in the Windy City. You have a lot on your plate this week, so leave the research to us in this KSR Travel Guide to Chicago.
The “Windy City” nickname is a reference to politics, not actual wind.
However, it’s really windy in Chicago. I remember walking across a bridge around this time last year and thinking I might die from the violently cold wind hitting my face. It’s uncalled for, really. They should do something about that. Nowhere should be that cold and windy. It’s not healthy.
So be ready for that.
The Sears Tower is now the Willis Tower but it’s still the Sears Tower.
Once the tallest building in the world, Chicago’s Sears Tower is the unofficial logo for the city. It’s name was changed to the Willis Tower in 2009 but the locals will throw you in the river with cinder block shoes if they overhear you call it anything but the Sears Tower.
Spray paint, the zipper, the Ferris wheel and the Twinkie were invented in Chicago.
Chicago was also the birthplace of Playboy magazine. I cannot confirm if its creation and the invention of the zipper are related or a coincidence.
The Chicago River is the only river in the world that flows backwards.
Engineers reversed the flow to protect the city’s water supply and settle increasing sanitation concerns. They did so by forming a human dam with 2,700 volunteers treading water and pushing the current backwards with their hands. Several of the volunteers drowned in the 12-hour reversal process but the city honored their service by engraving their names in the 800-block of the Magnificent Mile sidewalk. (I completely made that up. They probably used canals and lots of math and stuff.)
What To Do
Go to Vincenzo’s Sports Tavern or The Pony before the game.
Vincenzo’s became an unofficial UK bar before the Champions Classic last year and they’re running it back again on Saturday. They will have food and drink specials for Big Blue Nation and a free shuttle to and from the United Center. Vincenzo’s is on West Madison Street, about one mile west of the basketball.
The Pony is the official spot for UK alumni and basketball fans in Chicago. It’s the place to watch the game if you don’t have tickets and they’ll be partying before and after as well. The Pony is farther away from the United Center but I believe they’re offering a bus ride too.
Grab dinner, a drink and possibly something you can’t get rid of in the Viagra Triangle.
The Viagra Triangle is a neighborhood known for its creepy old men wandering around restaurants, bars and clubs looking for a young lass who likes a good credit card limit. Gibson’s is the heart of the area and where I will be dining Friday night before I retreat back to civilization a little further south.
Ask people about Anthony Davis.
Who knows, maybe you’ll find an old teacher or an ex-girlfriend, maybe someone who knew him when was a normal-sized human with glasses. Just ask around and see where it gets you.
The Santa Booze Cruise with all of my idiot friends.
I have a group of 40 boarding the Anita Dee II Saturday night for a three-hour cruise on Lake Michigan. The yacht holds 400 people and we’ll all be wearing Santa hats and making questionable decisions. Tickets are still available if you’re interested.
Let’s go. GET IN THERE.
What Not To Do
Put ketchup on your hot dog.
Asking for ketchup at a hot dog stand is a surefire way to get your ass kicked. It’s a rookie move, a slap to the face of the cooked sausage. You know that guy who pours a liter of Coca-Cola in his bourbon? That’ll be you if you put ketchup on your hot dog. Don’t be that guy.
Fly in or out of O’Hare.
Chances are you’re already locked in to your travel plans at this point, so you’ve either dodged or committed this brutal mistake. O’Hare is universally known as the worst airport in the world during the winter, supported by a Chicago Tribune report saying 42 percent of flights are delayed in winter months. Sure, you might’ve saved $50 bucks on a cheaper flight but you lose it eating three meals at Chili’s Too and tipping the shoeshiner while you wait to find out how long you’ll have to wait for them to tell you when you might get an update on your flight.
Go for a late night stroll through the South Side.
I believe it was Chief Keef who once said, “I’m South Side I’ll pop out, O-Block bring them glocks out, 300 bring them chops out, we shoot up your block now.”
O-Block is a notorious stretch of the South Side, known for being the most dangerous place in the city. If you find yourself there, do something that makes you look really crazy so no one messes with you. Punch yourself in the nose a couple times or bite the head off a pigeon or something. Let them know you’re psychotic and then request the nearest Uber. You don’t want to be around once the glocks come out and the popping out commences.
Go up in the Sears Tower.
Unless you like waiting in lines, a Google search for photos from the Sears Tower is the best way to take in the city’s highest view. The wait is often well over an hour and that is time you can spend doing something else, like not waiting in a line that’s well over an hour. The Signature Room on the 95th Floor of the John Hancock Building is the place to go if you want a good view without the crowd.
… is going to be a blowout. Kentucky should cruise past UCLA and set up a fun evening in Chicago. We’ll have more on the activities and the Bruins throughout the week.
By Drew Franklin on ©December 13th, 2014 @ 4:19pm
North Carolina got a shot at the nation’s unanimous No. 1 team in Rupp Arena today, and though the Heels gave a solid effort, Kentucky is just too damn good. The Cats led the entire game, all the way to the 84-70 final, with improved shooting and that smothering defense. It was the marquee home game on UK’s schedule and it was nothing but fun for Big Blue Nation from start to finish. Never a worry in the building.
What a day, what a dominant basketball team we have in Lexington.
1.) Willie Cauley-Stein is a star.
Fresh off his lengthy profile on Bleacher Report, Willie Cauley-Stein played one hell of a game against North Carolina, similar to the performance he gave us when Texas came to town last weekend. The big man finished with 15 points, six rebounds, two blocks and four steals in 29 minutes of action against the Heels. That effort will undoubtedly move him up a couple of spots on the draft boards, likely up to that top-five range, especially considering there was a busload of NBA scouts in the building and a national audience on CBS.
It hasn’t taken long for Willie to emerge as the star of this group and he’s making his case for early P.O.Y. talk by getting it done on both ends. He’s a thousand times more comfortable with the basketball than he was a year ago and his defense is second to none. For a guy his size to run the floor, play point man on the press and guard all five positions, WOW. He’s going to need a bigger bank account in June, after he carries UK to No. 9 in April, of course.
Coach Cal’s thoughts on his veteran center?
“He was Willie good today.”
Bad form, Coach.
2.) Tyler Ulis needs to be on the floor.
I’ve been hesitant to get anywhere near the Ulis-over-Harrison train, but the little fella is making it pretty difficult to argue against him. He had eight assists and one made three-pointer in 24 minutes, the most time he’s seen in a single game all year.
While I love what Andrew Harrison brings as a leader and as the team’s starting point guard, Ulis is just as capable of running the offense with the ball in his hands, if not a little better. He’s a difference-maker because he can distribute the rock like none other and lock down his man going the other way.
Today Calipari used Ulis and Andrew together and liked what he saw in the backcourt.
“He was tremendous,” Cal said of the freshman. “He and Andrew were good together.”
3.) Kentucky shot 46.7 percent from three-point land; Devin Booker had the hottest hand.
Booker matched Cauley-Stein’s 15 points to lead the Wildcats in scoring on 5-of-8 shooting and a perfect 3-for-3 from deep. Afterward he said, “I’m just sticking to what I do. I haven’t changed anything really, the shot was just going down.”
Kentucky’s shooting was much-improved today after four consecutive games of throwing up bricks. The Cats hit 7-of-15 from the beyond the arc with Aaron Harrison adding three of his own to match Booker, plus the one from Ulis.
When this team’s hitting shots, they’re unbeatable.
4.) This is one of two Kentucky squads to win its first 11 games by double-digits.
The current Cats join the 1946-47 team — you remember them, right? — as the only two teams in history to start 11-0 with 11 double-digit victories. It’s also the first team to begin the season at 11-0 since John Wall and the boys hit 19-0 to start the 2009-10 season, Calipari’s first at Kentucky.
5.) Shots were fired in UK’s “Battle of the Blue Bloods” intro video.
Kentucky Wildcats TV produced a special intro for today’s game and it featured a nice shot at Carolina’s title count in the beginning. The crowd loved it, as did I.
6.) Kennedy Meeks has lost weight and thinks UK’s length isn’t normal.
First of all, good for Kennedy Meeks to shed all that weight he was packing around as a freshman. He’s been the butt of several jokes since arriving at UNC and he appears to have really worked hard to slim down. Good for Meeks, one of KSR’s best friends at the casino in the Bahamas back in August.
As for Meeks’ day, he played alright but was clearly bothered by Kentucky’s bigs. When asked to describe UK’s height and length in the postgame interviews, he told reporters, “You really can’t even describe it. It is not normal at all.”
“Kentucky Basketball: Not normal at all.” Print the shirts.
7.) North Carolina played well and still lost by 14.
Very rarely does a team play a good game and still find itself trailing by as many as 19, but that’s what UNC was working with today. The Heels cleared 50 percent shooting in the first half (that doesn’t happen on UK) and finished at 45 percent for the game, only to see a 14-point loss in the end.
Seth Davis likely had that in mind when he tweeted, “Okay folks start lining up to tell me why it’s ridiculous to say Kentucky can go undefeated. I’ve been saying it since the summer.”
Kentucky’s good, folks. Kentucky’s real good.
8.) Karl Towns is still getting used to physical play, but you will not go at him with that weak ass floater.
Get that out of here.
Towns struggled and looked a little overwhelmed by Carolina’s big bodies. He’s not used to having to work for every point and rebound like today. He’s still adjusting to this level, but don’t worry about Karl, says Cal: “Karl’s going to be fine. We all know how good he is. The game got a little physical and there was a little bit of fight there, but he’s going to be fine.”
9.) Trey Lyles’ midrange game is nice.
Lyles can knock down that 15-footer all day long and he seems to shoot it best from the most difficult spot, on the baseline. What Kentucky loses in Poythress’ big play ability, it makes up for in Lyles’ consistent shooting and offensive ability. He was 4-for-6 from the field today and deserves a green light on that jumper until it stops falling.
10.) The Cats “Roared for 22.”
Alex Poythress was visibly crushed having to watch his brothers from the sideline, but it didn’t keep him from leading the cheers once the game really got going. He began the game at a table behind the goal — where players would find him for a high-five every time they subbed out — but he moved over to the bench in the second half.
After the game he tweeted, “Everyone is handed adversity in life. No one’s journey is easy. It’s how they handle it that makes people unique. Proud of my brothers fought & how they all went to war today!”
This photo is perfection:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 12th, 2014 @ 7:58am
In case you haven’t heard, yesterday, Alex Poythress tore his ACL in practice. John Calipari confirmed the news in a blog post on his site this morning:
Alex tore his ACL during yesterday’s practice. It was a breakaway layup and no one bumped him. He stepped with his left foot and just went down.
When I saw Alex last night, I said to him exactly what I said to Nerlens: “You’re fine. If this is something crazy, you have insurance and you’re a millionaire. You have even more time than Nerlens had to prepare yourself for the draft if that’s what you choose to do. You can also come back. You’re going to have your degree in May and you can start on a master’s degree for your last year.” Alex is nearly a straight-A student and one of the greatest kids that I’ve ever coached.
Our team was devastated for Alex when I told them. There were tears throughout the room because this hurt them to the core. How they will respond I really don’t know, but I will do my best to be there for each of these kids.
I told them, this is a big blow to our team. No one will be able to replace Alex and what he did for this team. I go back to last year’s NCAA Tournament. Without Alex, we don’t win those games. No one will be able to replace him, but now everybody has to do a little bit more as we try to circle the wagons.
Absolutely heartbreaking. Head on over to CoachCal.com to see more.
What happened to cute, nerdy Columbia? The Ivy Leaguers were supposed to show up in their peacoats and leather satchels and look around Rupp Arena with wide eyes before retreating to the locker room in fear. That didn’t happen. Even without a vendetta, the nerds were out for revenge tonight, giving the Cats way more trouble than we anticipated. Kentucky eventually won 56-46, but it was far from the easy rout we had in mind. What was the Cats’ deal tonight? Let’s break it down.
Columbia was no cupcake
I’ll take the blame, I thought they were. Hell, I even used a cupcake graphic on the site earlier today; however, I don’t think anyone expected the Lions to sprint out to an 11-0 start. And I really don’t think many people expected Columbia to stick around for most of the game. The Lions clearly weren’t scared by the stage and 23,000+ in Rupp tonight; instead of spooking at the spotlight, they jumped in and sang a few show tunes.
We knew heading into game that Columbia was going to try to slow the game down, and they pretty much controlled the tempo in the first half. Most teams attack Kentucky from the outside, and Columbia certainly did that, making 8 of 25 threes, which Cal said surprised him. “The tape I watched, they hadn’t been great three‑point shooting team. And they started the game like they were on fire. It was 11‑0 to start the game,” Cal said.
What set Columbia apart from most of UK’s foes so far was their fearlessness in the post. Whereas most teams wet their pants when the look into the lane at UK’s bigs, Columbia wasn’t scared to get in there and fight for points and rebounds. “But here’s the other thing that kind of surprised me: They, they fought us in the post. And they fought more than our guys fought,” Cal said. “They kept us away from offensive rebounds that we could get, except for Trey, everyone else just accepted being pushed and that was it.”
Where was the energy?
UK has rarely started a game well this season. That trend was magnified tonight when UK let Columbia jump out to an 11-0 start. Caliapari seemed disgusted with his team’s lack of energy, which he said the platoon system has masked all season. “I was disappointed in the energy level,” Cal said. “That’s what the platoons have done for us. It hides all that, because instead of getting seven minutes of that, you get two.” During his radio show, Cal said he saw “signs of last year” on the floor tonight, and I’m pretty sure he meant the regular season version and not the postseason version.
Player of the game: Trey Lyles
After what I’m sure was an entertaining halftime pep talk, Kentucky was much more energetic to start the second half. What was the difference? According to Cal, Trey Lyles. “The reason I started him at half: motor. Him, he’s going. He’s starting,” Cal said of Trey, who finished with 7 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and enough hustle to fuel Calipari’s Vespa. “I thought Trey was outstanding today…He was REALLY good. Great motor, great motor.”
Other Cats picked up on Trey’s lead, including Willie Cauley-Stein, Derek Willis, and Marcus Lee. “In the second half, I thought they fought,” Cal said.
Postgame show player of the game: Derek Willis
That roar you heard across the Bluegrass in the second half was KSR postgame callers rejoicing; with Devin Booker out, it was finally Derek Willis’ time to shine. Derek has balked at opportunities at times this season, which Calipari criticized him for before the game, but today, he was ready. Derek had five points, including a huge three to push the lead to a comfortable margin with four minutes left. “What Derek did was show me ‘don’t be afraid to play me.’ Now I’m not. I’m not afraid to play him,” Cal said. “Derek was really good, defensively active, played with confidence. I thought Derek was outstanding.”
What spurred Derek on tonight? He told reporters he pretends every team is “trying to take your job or your money or your girlfriend.”
About the shooting…
Ten games in, it is not a fluke: the Cats can’t hit the broad side of a barn right now. On a team with so many great shooters and so many missed shots, what’s the problem? Calipari said Kentucky’s defense is too good at bailing the offense out. “That’s what’s kind of crazy about this. There’s no pressure for you to make them. It just makes the game a little easier on the rest of us if you do,” Cal said. He did acknowledge UK’s shooting problems as of late, joking that at the rate they’re missing shots, they need to be practicing on the blue courts and not in the Joe Craft Center; however, he’s still not worried. “If we go 10 of 17 against a team from the three, you know what that score is going to be. It’s going to be really ugly.” Also, he asked fans to please not send him any letters about the shooting woes. He knows. He’s got this.
Despite leading the team in scoring with 14 tonight, Aaron told reporters this was the game that showed him he needs to get back in the gym for more practice. “Tonight was it,” Aaron said. Leave the light on for him tonight, boys.
If Tyler and Devin don’t practice tomorrow, they’re not playing on Saturday
Of course, part of UK’s lackluster performance tonight may be due to the absence of Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker. KSR is hearing that Ulis has a small limp and Booker has a shoulder issue, with Ulis the more likely of the two to be ready in time for the game. Calipari said that if Tyler and Devin don’t practice tomorrow, they won’t play against the Tarheels on Saturday.
Send all of your healing vibes to the Joe Craft Center ASAP.
Keep calm and crush the Heels
If UK plays like this against UNC, UCLA, or Louisville, then let’s start getting worried; however, I don’t see that happening. Calipari parrot says that these games are everybody’s Super Bowl, and yes, sometimes the players have trouble getting as hyped up for teams like Columbia as they do for teams like Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville, etc. “I’m happy with my team and I’m happy this happened today. It shows us,” Cal said, tweeting later “Not one of our better efforts. Reverted a little bit but don’t overanalyze, BBN.”
Now, let’s go crush the Heels.
Four-star athlete Marcus Lewis, a top-200 player in the 2015 recruiting class, will officially visit Kentucky this weekend. You’ll find everything you need to know about him below.
Defensive Back/Wide Receiver
Washington, D.C. (Gonzaga)
6-1 | 187
247Composite: 10 ATH | 128 OVR
Top247: 17 ATH | 165 OVR
Rivals: 6 S | 93 OVR
ESPN: 9 S | 153 OVR
Scout: 23 CB | 175 OVR
He has a bajillion offers.
Miami, Clemson, Georgia, Oregon, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Notre Dame, Michigan State, NC State, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, West Virginia… I can keep going if you’re not sold.
Kentucky is one of his top three schools, with Miami and Washington State.
Lewis tweeted his top three Tuesday night; he’s down to Kentucky, Miami and Washington State. He visited Washington State in October and said, “It’s a nice school and the campus and football facilities are tops in the country. I think next to Oregon, they’re the best I’ve seen.”
He also has a close relationship with Washington State head coach Mike Leach, the former UK offensive coordinator during the Air Raid’s glory years.
He will take official visits to Ole Miss and Miami in January.
Lewis will touch down in Oxford on January 25, followed by a trip to South Beach five days later to visit the U.
The UK coaching staff visited him on December 3.
Coach Mainord and Coach Ansley traveled to D.C. four days after the season ended to visit Lewis in his home. The D.C. area is Mainord’s turf on the recruiting trail and he’s on track to building a pipeline to Lexington.
He is a teammate of UK wide receiver commit Jabari Greenwood.
Proof that Mainord is doing well in the DMV: UK already has a commitment from three-star wide receiver Jabari Greenwood, a teammate of Lewis at Gonzaga High School.
Lewis and Greenwood attended UK’s Junior Day together back in February. “They are very close,” their high school coach said in an interview earlier this year.
Lewis is also close to Kobie Walker, a redshirt linebacker at Kentucky who will make his on-field debut next season.
He will play in the Under Armour All-America game on January 2.
Lewis will play safety for Team White in the 2015 Under Armour All-America game at Tropicana Field. Damien Harris will be his teammate in the game and the starting running back for Team White.
He believes UK is two years away from “being there.”
UK still balled this year even though they couldn't get that bowl game. 2 more years n they gon be there 💯
— Marcus Lewis (@THE_NUMERO_UNO) November 29, 2014
Will he play a role in getting there? This weekend’s visit may determine that. Give him a warm welcome and blow him up on Twitter.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 08th, 2014 @ 8:30pm
I realize Kentucky doesn’t play North Carolina until Saturday and there is game before that to worry about, but forgive me for diving headfirst into the Carolina hate. As someone who went to college in North Carolina, I know UNC fans very well, and so it comes as no surprise to me that even as their program is being brought to its knees by the academic scandal, they still manage to come off as elitist, entitled punks.
Last year, I went to the Dean Dome for UK/UNC and because there were “too many reporters and not enough spaces on press row,” UNC Media Relations put me in the crowd for the game, where I was given a harsh refresher course in “The Carolina Way.” For two and a half hours, I listened to fans around me yell about “PayPal Cal,” the evils of one-and-done, and the Tarheels “doing things the right way.” At one point, with my laptop battery on life support and no electrical outlet because, you know, I was in the stands, I argued back, bringing up the academic scandal. It mostly silenced those around me, although a lady behind me “accidentally” spilled her drink all over my computer bag. Nice, right? You can imagine how lovely they were after UK lost.
Anyways, in the spirit of the week, here are my tips for winning any argument with a North Carolina fan, featuring the Academic Scandal Trump Card, a Carolina hater’s secret weapon.
By Drew Franklin on ©December 07th, 2014 @ 10:30pm
Eastern Kentucky made the short drive from Richmond on Sunday for a shot at the nation’s No. 1 team in Rupp Arena. It did not go well, as expected. The Cats cruised to an 82-49 victory powered by great defense and an aggressive Karl Towns gettin’ buckets.
The highlight of the night: begging for a three.
Let’s talk about it.
Aaron Harrison hit the biggest shot of his career.
With two minutes and 57 seconds left in the game and Big Blue Nation on pins and needles, wanting a three-pointer, Aaron Harrison pulled up from his go-to spot and drained the long ball. The shot kept Kentucky’s streak of games with a three-pointer alive at 909 consecutive games, the second-longest of its kind in the country.
The Cats were 0-for-10 from beyond the arc prior to Aaron’s clutch shot and many fans, myself included, believed the run was coming to an end. Fans were yelling for the players to shoot the deep ball on every trip down the court and the energy in the building was that of a tight game in its closing moments, not a blowout.
Only at Kentucky would fans sweat out a 33-point win until the very end.
Karl Towns took MVP honors.
Towns was 8-of-9 from the field for a career-high 19 points with a pair of assists, four blocks and one rebound shy of making it a double-double. He added his first career three-pointer late in the game (once the pressure of the streak was relieved) to cap off his big night.
“I felt like Aaron against Wisconsin and Louisville,” Towns told Mike Pratt, looking back on his made three.
While Towns was efficient offensively and led all UK scorers, UK assistant coach John Robic said it was Karl’s best game defensively. Robic believes Towns was more vocal than he’s ever been on the defensive end and played aggressive on both ends of the floor.
And don’t think about stripping him:
That’s a seven-footer making a smaller defender look foolish.
Robic wants to see more from the offense.
“We’ll get better over time offensively,” Robic said in the postgame press conference. He likes where the Cats are defensively through nine game but sees plenty of room for improvement on offense.
Defensively, Robic said some of the numbers they’re producing are “kind of silly.” “It’s mind-boggling.”
The players are doing that brother-keeping thing.
We’re watching a bunch of guys who genuinely like each other on and off the court. We’ve been talking about it since interacting with them in the Bahamas and Robic shared another good example of how unselfish they are tonight. He said Coach Cal looked at Willie when it was Willie’s time to check in and Willie told him to leave Marcus Lee in the game because he was playing well. So Cal let Marcus run with the blue platoon while Willie watched on with excitement from the bench. Robic compared it to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sitting for Darius Miller in 2012; that year ended pretty well if I remember correctly.
Lee said, “That totally does put trust and comfort in your other players, knowing that I would be able to do it for him, and he is also capable of doing the same thing for me. It kind of shows how much we care about each other and we are just not there for ourselves.”
UK held Eastern to under 20 points in the first half because that’s what UK does.
EKU’s 14 first half points marked the eighth time Kentucky held an opponent to under 20 points in a half this season. The Cats forced the Colonels into 26 percent shooting in the game, and other than seven straight points to start the second half, EKU was getting nothing, all night.
UK’s last five opponents shot under 30 percent against the Cats’ defense. No team has shot over 40 percent this season.
Andrew Harrison and Dominique Hawkins tallied six assists apiece.
With Tyler Ulis sidelined with an illness, Dominique Hawkins saw extra playing time as the point man of the white platoon and he made the most of the opportunity, dishing out a career-high six assists in the game. Starting point guard Andrew Harrison added another six assists to the box score, including five in the first 12 minutes of the game.
Devin Booker’s gone cold.
Booker missed all six of his three-point field goal tries, all pretty good looks. He was 1-for-8 from the field in the game and made three inexcusable turnovers. Needless to say, it wasn’t Booker’s night. He’ll be fine, though.
Trey Lyles had his first double-double.
Towns is the game’s MVP but Trey Lyles’ performance did not go unnoticed. The freshman recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes. He has been putting in a lot of extra time in the gym, working on his baseline jumpers and midrange game, and tonight he said he focused on helping his team on the glass. It worked.
EKU’s Eric Stutz did not play, but he did wear this festive headband.
I’ll leave you with that.
Bring on Columbia.