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Eight notes from a letdown rout

After flying high after the rout over Kansas, the Cats needed to be pulled back to Earth a bit, and tonight, the Boston Terriers tried their best to play the spoiler. Of course, UK still won by 24, but that seems to be a pattern this season: even with an incomplete performance, the Cats are big and strong enough to cruise. Let’s go through the highlights.

Hangovers are real, yo

The first half wasn’t pretty. As predicted, UK jogged out of the gate after the huge win over Kansas, and to their credit, the Terriers were truly pesky, nipping at the Cats’ heels like the friskiest of Jack Russells. “We did not fight in the first half,” Calipari said. “I expected a letdown, I was just hoping it wouldn’t be too bad.” After the game, Boston head coach Joe Jones acknowledged that his squad may have caught Kentucky at a good moment after the thrilling win over Kansas.”I thought it was always hard to get up for a game like this when they had such a big game and they played so well in that game,” Jones said. “I was using everything at my disposal.”

Jones is a character and obviously loved the spotlight of UK’s stage. After he was done with his press conference, he “accidentally” tried to walk into the wrong locker room, joking “Is this Kentucky? I’m going to change teams.”

Really, can we keep him?

Ryan Lemond tackled the UK mascot at halftime

In case you haven’t been to a game yet this season, Ryan Lemond now handles halftime festivities, emceeing halfcourt shots. Tonight, the UK mascot made the halfcourt shot, and Ryan tackled him in celebration.

Yes, those are zippers on his back pockets. Zipper pockets on the jeans! Mark this down as a show topic for Monday.

Boston got chippy

The second half escalated quickly. Boston stayed right with Kentucky for the first ten minutes thanks to several fouls from the refs, which sucked up any life in Rupp Arena. The officials called a double technical on Aaron Harrison and Cedric Hankerson, and another technical on Nathan Dieudonne. Boston clearly wasn’t scared of the Cats, jawing and scrapping until the end. In fact, UK only won the rebounding battle by five; however, the Cats opened it up with about seven minutes left, cracking BU’s 2-3 zone by going to their strengths: length and lobs.

Andrew Harrison got mad

Andrew Harrison only had eight points tonight, but I’d argue he shifted the momentum in the second half. After the refs tried to choke any and all rhythm from the court, Andrew got mad, driving the ball, drawing a foul, and sinking two free throws. He followed that up with a beautiful lob to Willie Cauley-Stein. Andrew also had five assists, second to only to Devin Booker, the star of the game. UK shared the ball better than they have all season tonight with 24 assists, the most in a game since dishing out 28 vs. LIU-Brooklyn in 2012.

Speaking of Harrisons, Aaron had a lot of these, too:

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Devin Booker took over

Remember when Devin Booker finally found his shot vs. Kansas? That hot streak continued tonight, and in the second half, it seemed like Devin couldn’t miss. He finished with 15 points off 5-8 shooting, 4-6 from behind the arc. Even better were Booker’s seven assists, a team high. Booker admitted that getting his shot to go down vs. Kansas was a huge confidence boost. “Finally got to see a shot go in. so, that was good,” Booker told reporters afterwards. “Shooters keep shooting. I feel like I kind of shot myself out of it and from here on out I’ll be good.”

Still looking for a full performance

It seems crazy, but we still haven’t seen a complete performance from the Cats. Tonight, the offense finally flowed in the second half thanks to Aaron and Devin, but the defense struggled. On defense, Calipari said that against Kansas, UK looked like a “January team,” whereas tonight, they looked like a “November team.” He also issued his standard disclaimers, warning that this team isn’t as great as everyone is making them out to be. “We all expect this team to be world-beaters every time out, and let me say this, folks: they’re not going to be,” Cal said.

I get Cal’s point, but the fact that it’s only November and the team looks this good and still has room to improve has me heading to bed happy. These quotes from Boston head coach Joe Jones help. “They have so many guys that someone is gonna get hot. They are so good,” Jones said. “Even though it was a close game, they were playing as a team. You can win big that way.”

“They’ve got a chance to get better and better. That’s the scary thing.”

Really, let’s keep him.

Meanwhile, in Athens, Georgia…

@D00bin

LOL. No, you don’t.

This dunk by Dominique Hawkins is all you need to see

Dominique got the start after Alex Poythress sat out because of illness, and made the most of it with this dunk, the first of his career at Kentucky. “Now people know I can dunk. I feel like I’m the best dunker on the team,” Dominique said.

There’s no topping that. Enjoy the rare Saturday off.


10 Things To Know About The Boston Terriers

Until I looked at the schedule around noon today, I’m not sure I could’ve told you who Kentucky had on the schedule tomorrow night. I might’ve said Boston, maybe, but I don’t know. I’m still in celebration mode from Tuesday night. Go Cats.

However, eventually we have to move on and focus on the challenge ahead, so tonight I buckled down and did some research — like, looking up who Kentucky plays — on the upcoming opponent.

Do you know much about Boston University basketball? If the answer is no, and I assume it is, you’ll feel much more informed after you read all of the important information I dug up below. Thank me later.

*****

1.) The Terriers are 1-1 on the season.

Northeastern defeated Boston University in TD Garden in the season opener, 71-65. Northeastern then went on to beat Florida State in Tallahassee two days later, so they’re no joke.

Boston bounced back last night against Norfolk State with a 71-63 win in Norfolk to move back to .500 on the young season.

2.) Boston competes in the Patriot League.

The Patriot League is a conference made up of private institutions of higher education and two U.S. service academies, Army and Navy. Outside of the Ivy League, it is the most selective group of higher education institutions in NCAA Division I and has the highest student-athlete graduation rate for both the NCAA graduation success rate and the federal graduation rate.

A few other notable colleges in the conference are Bucknell, Holy Cross and Lehigh, the latter being the team that upset second-seeded Duke in the NCAA tourney a few years ago.

3.) The Terriers were the preseason conference favorite six of the last seven years, but begin 2014-15 at No. 6.

It is the lowest preseason conference ranking for Boston in its history, sharing the honor with sixth-place starts in 1999 and 2000. The Terriers opened the season with three brand news starters, in addition to more roster turnover across the board. Only two players returned from a season ago.

So they’re new.

4.) The school’s colors are scarlet and white.

Scarlet is a fancy word for red. It was originally called torch red in your crayon boxes until Crayola changed it to scarlet in 1998.

5.) According to the American Kennel Club, the Boston Terrier is an “All-American” dog.

“It is a lively and highly intelligent breed with an excellent disposition. Conveying an impression of determination, strength and activity, he is short-headed and compactly built, and must be black, brindle or seal with white markings.”

Fun fact: Helen Keller had a Boston Terrier named Phiz, given to her by her classmates, and that has absolutely nothing to do with tomorrow’s basketball game. Joan Rivers, Warren G. Harding and Gerald Ford also owned Boston Terriers, another useless fact.

6.) Starting guard Cheddi Mosely played AAU basketball with Karl Towns and new UK signee Isaiah Briscoe.

Mosely was a member of the 2013 NJ Playaz AAU squad, one of Tomlin’s favorites at the Peach Jam. The year before, Cheddi suited up for IZOD — yes, IZOD has an AAU team — with one Karl-Anthony Towns.

Mosely was the seventh-ranked recruit in the state of New Jersey’s 2014 class.

7.) The last time the Terriers played the No. 1 team, they lost by 17.

Boston opened the 2005-06 college basketball season with a trip to Durham to face No. 1 Duke in Cameron Indoor. That Blue Devils team featured J.J. Redick, Shelden Wiliams, Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts.  Boston held a first half lead for nearly 12 minutes but fell in the end, 64-47.

8.) Rhett the Boston Terrier got his name from “Gone With The Wind.”

Because “no one loves Scarlet more than Rhett,” says the novel.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

9.) Starting forward Nathan Dieudonne is from Louisville.

Dieudonne was named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012 after leading Trinity to its first state title in school history. He was the MVP in the state title game and finished his senior season with 14 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.3 assists per game.

Now a junior at Boston, he started 34 of 35 games in 2013-14 and is coming off an 11-point outing in last night’s win over Norfolk State.

10.) Boston opened up as a 29-point underdog against Kentucky.

I’ll take the Cats for all of the money in my bank account, please.


Closing the book on an awesome Tuesday night in freezing Indianapolis

Closing the book on an awesome Tuesday night in freezing Indianapolis

@HowardWKYT

KSR has had plenty of coverage from last night’s game here on the site, including opinions from both Matt and Tyler, but as the only KSR representative in attendance last night, I’d like to write a few words myself, if you don’t mind. (We have to justify the hotel and travel expenses.)

By now you’ve read all of the quotes and seen all of the stats, but I have a few stories and takeaways from what was an exciting scene in Indianapolis. Allow me to ramble for a bit and then we’ll close the book on Kentucky’s annihilation of college basketball’s fifth-ranked team.

*****

A Duke fan projectile vomited at my feet as soon as I walked in the door.

I wasn’t a hundred steps in the building when I ran into Mark Krebs in the concourse area on the main level, about to put in work on a Papa John’s pizza. I said hello to Mark and started to tell him about the massacre we would soon witness, until a young man in a black Carlos Boozer jersey came sprinting through the entrance to Section 1, directly toward us, with his hand over his mouth. There was no escaping what was about to happen.

Forgive me if this is too descriptive, but it came spewing through all of his fingers — there was no catching this flood — and across the concourse floor, right up toward my feet. There was so much of it and it covered so much of Bankers Life’s nicely polished floor. I mean he really let out some fluids.

Now, most people would be very upset in this situation, however, I am not most people. (I think I’ve been angry twice in my life.) I began laughing, as one should when a Duke fan can’t handle their booze in public, as several UK fans broke into PUUUUUKKKKEEE chants right on cue. The poor guy, now 20 pounds lighter, tried to run for the border but he couldn’t escape the ongoing PUUUUKKKKKE taunts as I watched him stumble around the corner, covered in his own dinner.

It wasn’t the ideal way to begin my evening in the arena, but once it dried on the bottom of my shoe, I was glad it happened.

Coach Cal took Krebs back to the locker room.

It wasn’t all pizza and dodging vomit for Mark; Cal pulled him out of the crowd and took him back to the locker room after the win. It’s good to see he loves being around all of his former players, not just the ones with max deals in the NBA.

World Wide Wes was in town.

Because of course World Wide Wes was in town. Here he is with a fan outside the arena:

@KyleD_Riggs

He was also spotted in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires last night.

To the woman wearing the UK scarf on the big screen during the Dance Cam…

I felt a connection between us when you were dancing, while I ate stale popcorn and beef jerky out of my backpack on the other side of the building. Did you feel it, too? It’s like we were the only two people in the entire arena. Nothing else mattered. Time stood still and all I could see was you and all I could hear was the sweet sounds of Pharrell Williams. It felt so invigorating. Tell me it was mutual. Tell me that moment, that moment when our souls met, was the beginning of something special. Something real.

You’re my #WCW today and forever. Marry me? Please?

There was a line to get in Tin Roof by 3:30 pm.

You people are crazy.

I won’t mention any names, but the two people I rode up with were two pregame shots of Fireball away from outscoring Kentucky:

fireball

Which reminds me… WHO ORDERED THE CHICKEN & WAFFLE NUGGETS AND WHY DIDN’T I GET A BITE????!!!!

The media room meal wasn’t free and you would’ve thought it was the Apocalypse when everyone found out it cost eight dollars.

There isn’t a whinier group of people than the media at a big event like the Champions Classic. If I had one dollar for every time I heard someone complain about having to pay for the food, I would’ve had enough money to order St. Elmo takeout for all of them, and told them to choke on it. Seriously. Some of those people acted like the poor girls working the buffet were asking for the severed head of a firstborn child for access to the nacho bar. It’s eight dollars. Cheap, no, but fans are paying 12 bucks for a bratwurst 200 feet above you, and they’re not getting reimbursed. Get over yourself. You’re not that important, some most of you aren’t at all. You get paid to write about sports. Pull out your wallet like an adult and purchase the meal if you’re hungry.

I heard SO MUCH of this:

“What do you mean we have to pay?”

“Hey man, did you hear? The food isn’t free.”

“I can’t believe we have to pay for dinner here.”

“They charged us last year too. Unbelievable.”

Since when did going to work come with a free meal? From the bottom of my heart, and I mean this, I hate everyone who complained and wish awful, awful things on their appetites and bank accounts. And they’re lucky I’m not mentioning names.

Rant over.

Shout-out to Larry Vaught and Darrell Bird.

I was seconds away from death by frostbite when I was rescued by Larry Vaught and Darrell Bird outside the arena prior to the game. I had done a full lap around the place, looking for the media entrance, and was ready to accept my fate when they found me and led me inside. I honestly thought it was the end. You know when Jack is saying goodbye to Rose in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as the Titanic sinks in the distance? That was me, maybe colder. Then Larry and Darrell appear out of nowhere and I’m able to live to see another day. Thanks, guys.

And in my defense, the media entrance was hidden and the tiny sign on the door was in Spanish. Let’s do something about that, Bankers Life.

Richard Branson cheers for KU and he might’ve cried a little bit after the game.

thor-kansas

Not to kick a Thor impersonator when he’s down, but this guy was having a hard time dealing with the loss when I saw him in the back after the game. Poor guy was emotional. I wanted to tell him to cheer up because he has a bright future on the midwest independent wrestling circuit, but I was too busy taking selfies for my SnapChat story. Priorities, ya know?

There were far too many Indiana fans at the game.

First it was a fat man wearing plaid shorts and an IU basketball t-shirt — may I remind you it was freezing outside — and I thought, okay, one doucher snuck in to do douche things, whatever. Then I saw another and another and another until I realized they’re all inside to catch a glimpse at good basketball.

Coach Cal was walking around like this:

The postgame media scene was full of shock and disbelief.

No one had Kentucky winning that game by 32 points and there was nothing but looks of utter disbelief in the back as stats and game notes kept coming out throughout the night. I sat next to Pat Forde and Dana O’Neil, two of Cal’s biggest haters, and even they couldn’t come up with something negative to say. Kentucky shut all of the naysayers up and I sat back, propped my feet up, and enjoyed watching the scene in the media room. (Some of them looked really hungry, too.)

What a night in Indy.

Cats.


GIFs from last night, beatdown edition

GIFs from last night, beatdown edition

cal-fistpump

Fourteen hours and four cups of tea later, I’m still not over that win. The Cats didn’t only beat Kansas, they demoralized them. There were so many great moments during the game that narrowing them down to a handful of GIFs was nearly impossible; however, I’ll take any excuse to watch that game over again, so I stepped up to the task. How badly did John Calipari want that win? His near violent fist pump headlines this week’s edition of GIFs from last night.

Alex may only have had four points, but he kicked off the block party with these two swats:

alexblock1

alexblock2

How excited was Cal when UK extended the lead to 24-9 in the first half?

cal-hyped

He was so swaggy he just laughed off the bad calls:

humgiddygiddy

After Jason King told us about Willie’s frequent insecurity, it was nice to see him dunk with authority:

willie-dunk

Read Cal’s lips after this bogus foul on Willie Cauley-Stein:

calscream

No, really, read his lips. I can’t tell what he’s saying.

Just in case you need a reminder of why Andrew is the leader, this amazing “and one”:

andrewandone1

Afterwards, the normally stoic Andrew couldn’t help but let some emotion out:

andrewcelebrate

Karl Towns took it old school with this sky hook:

karlsky

Derek Willis gets buckets:

willisthree

And then there was all of the brother keeping:

bk1

brothers1brothers3


(Photo: Darrell Bird, 247Sports)

The Anatomy of a Beatdown

(Photo by Darrell Bird, CatsPause.com) 

Since the summer, all of the talk in college basketball has been whether or not John Calipari’s platoon system will work. ‘They have too much talent,’ the pundits said. ‘Those players will never be satisfied only playing 20 minutes a game.’ Even after Kentucky won five games against professional teams in the Bahamas, the chatter still continued. ‘Wait until the regular season,’ they scoffed. ‘The rationing of minutes will mess with team chemistry.’ When Kentucky beat Grand Canyon by 40, they stayed quiet; when Kentucky struggled against Buffalo and “only” won by 19, they pounced. ‘Calipari’s already abandoning the platoon system!,’ they cheered, failing to mention that Cal only strayed because Karl Towns was in foul trouble. ‘It’ll never last!,’ they rejoiced.

Tonight, the haters were silenced. Kentucky blew Kansas out of the water in icy Indianapolis by a final score of 72-40. The beatdown was so bad that Bill Self asked for vodka in the postgame press conference. UK’s platoons rolled over the state border and pummeled Kansas with smothering defense, holding them to 19.6% from the field and only 12 points in the second half. What was UK’s battle plan? Let’s break it down.

It was a nervous start

By the time the game finally started at 9:30 p.m., everyone was a bundle of nerves, including the players. It seems crazy to say now, but the first five minutes of the game were a mess, with both teams playing sloppy and bodies flying all over the place. The white platoon came in and steadied things a bit, and when the blue platoon came back in at the 11-minute mark, it was over. Kentucky went on a 10-0 run to stretch the lead to 15, and when they let up on the gas a little bit in the last few minutes of the half, Kansas made a small comeback to narrow the gap to ten going into intermission. It didn’t last.

How appropriate that MKG was in the stands for this defensive performance

Appropriately, MKG was in the stands for this amazing defensive performance

It took Kansas 5 minutes and 21 seconds to score in the second half…

…and that was only on a free throw. It became very clear early on that Kansas was incapable of driving on Kentucky, and at times, look downright terrified as they looked into the paint. Kentucky had 11 blocks, which is also the same number of field goals Kansas made the entire game. The block party was so raucous that Jay Bilas joked during the broadcast that the Cats had carpel tunnel from all the blocked shots they were getting.

As mentioned earlier, UK held Kansas to 12 points in the second half, or 13% from the floor. We haven’t seen that kind of defensive performance since 2012, which is particularly appropriate because MKG was in the stands. “We kind of bum-rushed them a little bit and every time they looked there were more tanks coming over the hill. It wasn’t substitutes; it was reinforcements,” Cal said. “Here they come. It kind of gets to you a bit, and I think that’s what happened.”

You know Calipari’s happy when he breaks out quotes like this about his defense: “What we did is we really covered for each other. We had the helper helping the helper.”

humgiddygiddy

It was a balanced affair

The crazy part? UK didn’t even play well offensively. Eleven Cats scored and no Cat scored more than eleven points. You know it’s an odd night when Dakari Johnson is your leading scorer. Dakari had eleven, followed by Andrew Harrison with ten, the only two Cats who scored in double figures. “We have a long way to go offensively. We have to figure out how to get more motion. Today, we jammed it in, but we won’t be able to do every game,” Cal said, telling reporters he anticipates future opponents using more zone to make the Cats shoot from the outside. That being said, Kentucky missed a lot of gimme shots and jumpers, and once those start to fall…

bbnlike

Brother Keeping to the max

When he arrived at Kentucky over five years ago, Calipari was labeled the king of the one-and-dones, the soothsayer of the selfish AAU prima donnas. Kentucky has been branded the NBA factory, where kids stop for one season before getting their check, and outsiders want you to believe they don’t care about school, fans, or each other.

The platoon system smacks that stereotype right across the face. This season, Calipari is asking his players for the ultimate sacrifice, and in the first real test, it worked. “There’s no way if we didn’t have solid, selfless kids to do what we’re doing and giving them half a game. We’re playing them half a game and they’re accepting it,” Cal said after the game. “Unless they allow us to do this, we can’t do it. And that showed today what we’re about.”

Tell me, are these the faces of selfish players?

phpFwUEXrimage B2xyE6BIEAA47W7 B2xtS0ZIQAAi70P B2xukYMIUAAS07K happycats

It’s only November, and yes, there’s a long way to go, but man, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.


10 things to know about the Kansas Jayhawks

10 things to know about the Kansas Jayhawks

RICH SUGG The Kansas City Star

Tomorrow night, Kentucky will take on Kansas in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis, and to get ready, let’s get to know the 2014-2015 version of the Jayhawks.

Like Kentucky, they lost two great players to the pros, but have key returning veterans

Kansas and Kentucky had similar roster turnover during the offseason, with Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid going first and third in the NBA Draft. Like Kentucky, they have some key returning players (junior forward Perry Ellis and sophomore guard Wayne Selden) and another crop of talented freshmen (Cliff Alexander, Devonte Graham, Kelly Oubre). While freshmen-laden teams are the norm at Kentucky, having freshmen as the core of his squad is something Bill Self’s still getting used to. Self has called this group his youngest and most inexperienced team ever.

They only beat UC Santa Barbara by ten points

Yes, Kentucky didn’t look great vs. Buffalo yesterday or at times vs. Grand Canyon on Friday; however, Kansas didn’t exactly shoot the lights out in their opener either. In fact, the Jayhawks only beat UC Santa Barbara by ten points. For most of the game, Kansas looked choppy and awkward, thanks in part to UCSB’s zone, and struggled to contain Alan Williams, who could be an All-American candidate. Kansas only made three of its first ten shots and went more than five minutes without a field goal. The Shiver’s Matt Scott called it “brutal basketball to watch.” Sound familiar? Eventually, Kansas figured out UC-Santa Barbara’s zone and got their act together, thanks in part to a stellar performance by a freshman, which should also sound pretty familiar.

Devonte’ Graham has been their most impressive freshman so far

Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre are by far the most heralded of Kansas’ freshmen, both McDonald’s All-Americans who were recruited by Kentucky; however, it was Devonte’ Graham who stole the show Friday night. Like Tyler Ulis against Buffalo, the freshman guard helped save Kansas from an upset with a team-high 14 points on 5-8 shooting, including a key jumper to spark a 9-0 run in the first half. More importantly, he showed poise beyond his years and steadied the ship when Kansas’ starting guard Frank Mason picked up two early fouls.

They’ve got a Ukrainian on the team

Freshman guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is from Cherkasy, Ukraine, which means he’ll get the Mike Krzrylakjsdfl;kajsdf treatment during the live blog. Ain’t nobody got time to correctly spell that. Mykasldjfa;d (see? Already an improvement) speaks three languages and also played ping pong in high school. Since coming to the States, he’s already managed to hurt himself in the most American way possible: eating too much Halloween candy.

Kelly Oubre didn’t have a great opener

The freshman only played four minutes and sat the entire second half during Kansas’ opener. When asked about it after the game, Self said Oubre’s limited playing time was intentional. “It was a coach’s decision,” Self said, “just trying to do what’s best for our team. It’s not a knock to Kelly. It’s just, he’s young.”

But, he does have this tattoo…

…which looks like it should be on the cover of an RL Stine book. In a contest of ugly tattoos, which one wins: this one or the mushroom cloud tattoo on Willie’s neck?

Bill Self really likes to talk about Kentucky and Calipari

Bill Self has been talking about Kentucky a lot lately, but then again, so has everyone in college basketball. Last week, Self raved about UK’s talent to USA Today. “There’s not a talented team in the last several years like Kentucky is going to have on paper,” Self said. “You have nine McDonald’s All-Americans. They have more McDonald’s All-Americans than the Lakers.”

In the same article, SMU head coach Larry Brown said that if you take UK’s first and second teams and split them up, they’d be #1 and #2 in the nation, and that Calipari “should go 45-0 with that talent.” When asked about Brown’s comments, Self said what we’re all thinking: why is Brown puffing Cal up for a fall? “Who knows what Larry’s doing; he may be mad at (Cal) about something,” Self said.

But back to praising the Cats. We like that. “Their program is so tradition-rich. It’s the bluest of the blue bloods. Ours is right with them,” Self said. “It’ll be fun. There’s a lot of history there.” I’d change that “right with them” to “right after them,” but hey, nice sentiment.

I can’t help but like their throwback jerseys

 

Normally adidas craps the bed when it comes to jerseys, but these throwbacks are pretty sweet. Or, maybe the designers at adidas just save all of their ugliest designs for Louisville, which I’m totally fine with.

Bill Self Bill Self’s toupee is the most interesting man thing in the world

This promo ran before Kansas’ annual Late Night in the Phog festivities and features Self dressing up as Ron Burgandy from “Anchorman,” which included him wearing a hairpiece on top of his hairpiece, by far the most interesting part of the promo for me.

Remember when Cliff Alexander’s dad did this?

cliff.0

I know Aaron Flener does. Not awesome enough for you? His dad can also do 360-degree dunks at age 40:

Wow.

They haven’t beaten Kentucky in 7 years

The last time the Jayhawks got the best of the Cats was the 2007 West Regional in Tubby Smith’s final game as coach. Since then, Kentucky has beaten them twice, first in the 2011 Champions Classic in New York, and of course, later that season in the 2012 National Championship.

Let’s push that streak to three tomorrow night.


The Cats got the wake up call they needed today

The Cats got the wake up call they needed today

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Heading into this weekend, John Calipari said he wanted his team to be tested and face some adversity. He got his wish today. In a game all of us expected to be a rout, Buffalo didn’t just hang with the Cats, they outplayed them in the first twenty minutes, leading by five points headed into halftime. After the nightmare that was the Tennessee game, it was all starting to feel like a cruel joke, but thankfully, Kentucky got its act together and clamped down on defense, holding Buffalo to only 14 points in the second half, winning by a score of 71-52. Let’s run though the headlines so you can get back to football.

The first half was horrendous

Truly awful. I don’t know if the Cats were just sleepy or distracted trying to set their fantasy football lineups, but they might as well have not shown up. UK shot an atrocious 34% from the floor in the first half and let Buffalo totally control the tempo of the game. The most troubling part of the first half was how bad UK looked on both sides of the floor. “We were also disconnected offensively. Wasn’t just defense. It was both,” Cal said. “They had more energy than us. We were always a step behind.” UK’s woes were punctuated by Justin Moss’ filthy dunk on Willie Cauley-Stein:

The crowd reactions say it all:

B2lgY_8CEAA5HiX

The Cats looked so bad that one of Cal’s assistants suggested they scrap the platoon system

Kentucky looked so out of sync early on that someone on Cal’s staff suggested they abandon the platoon system altogether; however, Cal is still standing by his strategy. “Somebody on my staff said, ‘Do you want to …’ Stop. We’re playing how we’re playing.” Calipari did shake up the platoons today because Karl got in foul trouble, and even played Tyler Ulis alongside Aaron Harrison, which proves he’s willing to go with Tyler if Andrew’s not having a great day. For the foreseeable future, Calipari is sticking to the platoons, but it’s good to see that the lineups aren’t in cement.

Defense led the way in the second half

Down by five, I can’t imagine the locker room was a happy place at halftime. Calipari said he told his players that he was happy they were being embarrassed by Buffalo. “You know what? I’m happy this happened. And if you don’t start playing, you’ll lose, and I’ll be happy about that.” The Cats responded by turning up the defense, holding Buffalo to only 14 points off 4-19 shooting in the second half. It was like the team remembered how tall they are, protecting the rim and forcing ten turnovers. Bobby Hurley called UK’s defense in the second half “overwhelming.” Calipari said that’s the team he wants to see. “I want you to know they scored 14 points in the second half. That means we all defended. No one broke down,” Cal said. “The whole team had great energy in the second half. What we were in the second half, that’s who we should be.”

Three freshmen led the team in scoring

In a game in which they were tested, you would think the veterans would steady the ship; however, it was three freshmen that led the Cats in scoring today. Tyler Ulis and Trey Lyles had twelve points each, followed by Devin Booker with ten. “We subbed three freshmen in there and they executed down the stretch,” Cal said. Trey Lyles was particularly impressive, sparking a 9-0 run at the start of the second half with a three, a steal, and a dunk. And, Cal keeps reminding us that Trey still has a ways to go to catch up after being out all summer. “Trey Lyles gives us, on that second unit, unbelievable scoring ability,” Cal said. “He’s just learning to run fast. He’s just learning to play fast, yet be in control. This is a great team for him to play on.”

Tyler Ulis also provided a spark with 4-5 shooting from behind the arc and six assists. After a cold streak, it was good to see Devin Booker finally find his shot. Meanwhile, it just wasn’t Karl Towns’ day. Karl fouled out with only three points, but Cal said he told him not to sweat it. “What I said is if you didn’t play well, next game; move on. Whatever you thought, you thought you played well, it’s next game. I looked at Karl, next game, Karl.”

Alex came in like a wrecking ball

After a rough first half, Alex woke up and roared in the second with two spectacular back-to-back dunks to cap off a 8-0 run. That one above is almost enough to make me forget about Willie getting crammed on.

Thank goodness for wake up calls.

Was it the pretty blowout we all wanted? Definitely not. But it may be exactly what this team needed. Right, Cal? “For us to be able to have a game like this, this was a big time game for us. We needed this. We needed a team that could beat us on the dribble, that wasn’t afraid, that played physical, that had an inside presence.” Cal said. “We probably need another hit in the mouth. Let’s see where we are.” So let’s relax. It’s only November.


Andrew Bruckse | UT Athletics

From Bad to Worse

Andrew Bruckse/ UT Athletics

Andrew Bruckse/ UT Athletics

After four consecutive weeks of thorough ass-whoopins, we should have seen this coming.

The blowout loss at LSU wasn’t a surprise.  You couldn’t have asked for more from the Cats against #1 Mississippi State.  Losing at Mizzou was painfully bad, but the Cats managed to one-up that loss by getting blown away for 3 quarters in a 63-31 loss at home against Georgia.  The four-game losing streak was rough, but the #BBN believed the Cats could find their inner-MOJO against rival Tennessee.  Unfortunately, not much changed.

Tackling had been bad for the Cats, but the missed opportunities in the open field occurred more often than not.  Stopping the rush was out of the question.  The Cats started faster than normal, but stupid mistakes prevented them from doing anything with their early momentum.  Even when the Cats perfectly executed a flea-flicker, the UT defense had better pass coverage.

Like most of the last five games, there were moments where you thought the Cats had a chance.  But the few positives don’t stack up to the long list of negatives from today’s game.

Andrew Bruckse/UT Athletics

Andrew Bruckse/UT Athletics

The ugliest of the ugly

The defense couldn’t stop a high school team right now.  Tennessee and Georgia aren’t the most prolific offenses in the nation, but they made Stoops’ D look worse than a Hal Mumme defense.  Just through seven quarters of both games, the defense surrendered 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns, while only forcing one punt.  Making the other team kick ha never been so difficult.

Tennessee only averaged 131 rushing yards per game, yet Kentucky gave up 214 today.  I can understand giving up yards to LSU’s Fournette or Georgia’s Chubb, but letting Jalen Hurd and Josh Dobbs run all over the field is unacceptable.

To the Cats’ credit, they couldn’t catch a break.  After a solid first drive (12 plays, 77 yards for a field goal), Patrick Towles injured his ankle, seemingly keeping the Kentucy offense from doing anything productive for two drives.  With Towles out of the game, Reese Phillips has hit during a throw, leaving the ball high in the air for the Vols to get an easy Pick-Six.  It might have been the most “Old Kentucky” play of the night, good for 7 of the Vols’ 14 points off Kentucky turnovers.  On the flip-side, Kentucky has only forced 3 turnovers during the 5-game losing streak after starting the season as one of the best in the nation at creating turnovers.

It was the first time in 20 years that Kentucky has given up 50 points in back-to-back games.  In that 20-year span, the Cats have given up 50 to the Vols on 8 different occasions.

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A Few Bright Spots

Jared Lorenzen was on to something when he picked Javess Blue as his game MVP.  It wasn’t enough to get the win, but Blue was the one guy that kept the Cats in the game.  At halftime, the Cats only had 195 yards of offense.  Blue was responsible for 129 of those yards, making him the 23rd player in UK history with 1,000 yards receiving.

Blue’s best smartest play came near the end of the half.  With only :10 left til half, Blue caught a pass across the middle.  He took a knee immediately, giving Austin MacGinnis 2-seconds to kick a 54-yard field goal, the longest in UK history.  MacGinnis is one of only three kickers in the nation with htree field goals over 50 yards (and he’s only a freshman).  The Cats couldn’t build sustainable momentum in the second half, but Blue’s play and MacGinnis’ leg gave them a chance.

Ryan Timmons received a lot of criticism heading into this week, but he responded how the BBN hoped the whole team would.  Timmons’ stats aren’t jaw-dropping (4 catches, 28 yards), but he made the routine plays in clutch situations.  With the ball inside the red zone, Timmons caught a tough 3rd down catch near the sidelines to keep hopes for a touchdown alive.  Towles ran in a touchdown the following play.

Where do we go from here?

Sitting at 5-1, our hopes and expectations were a little overzealous.  Hindsight is always 20/20, but Kentucky can still muster up a successful season.  Before the season, most of the BBN would’ve been pleased  heading into the Louisville game needing a win to become bowl eligible.  With a Bye Week looming, the Cats have enough time to recover from five straight weeks of losing.

The Cats can’t solve all of their problems in two weeks.  But if they treat Louisville like a Bowl Game, anything can happen.  Just ask Matt Roark.


Both Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe pick KENTUCKY

Both Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe pick KENTUCKY

SkalCat

BriscoeUK

2 for 2. C-A-T-S CATS CATS CATS!

More coming all night…


Everything we know about Skal Labissiere’s recruitment

There’s a very good chance 2015 big man Skal Labissiere becomes a Kentucky Wildcat tomorrow night. To say Skal’s recruitment has been bizarre would be an understatement and Gary Parrish’s article about it earlier today brings up even more questions, so I spent my day charting Skal’s journey from Haiti four years ago to his decision tomorrow night.

January 2010: A catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocks Haiti. Skal and his family were trapped inside their home in Port Au Prince as it collapsed around them, stuck in the rubble for three hours before being rescued. Eight months later, Labissiere moves to Memphis, Tennessee through the Reach Your Dream (RYD) foundation, a nonprofit organization that identifies and relocates talented kids to America from disadvantaged countries.

So, Skal came to Memphis because of the earthquake? Maybe, maybe not. Gerald Hamilton, who runs the RYD program, claims he had already heard about Skal’s basketball talents and was working to bring him to Memphis, with the final paperwork going through five days before the earthquake happened; however, other articles suggest that Hamilton didn’t know about Skal until afterwards, when Skal’s parents decided they wanted to send him to the US.

[CBSSports.com, Herald-Leader]

August 2010: Skal moves to Memphis to live with Hamilton and his family and starts working on his game, enrolling in Evangelical Christian School. The buzz begins.

October 2012: Skal takes his first unofficial visit to Memphis, who becomes the favorite in his recruitment

November 17, 2012: Kentucky offers Skal a scholarship on the same day he puts up 17 points, 13 rebounds and 9 blocked shots in Evangelical’s season opening win.

November 2013: Skal injures his back, is forced to miss his entire junior season.

July 2014: Skal mentions the possibility of playing overseas ala Emmanuel Mudiay. Gary Parrish reports that Hamilton has made inquiries as to whether or not there is a market overseas for a player like Skal.

[CBS Sports]

August 2014: Skal transfers to Lausanne Collegiate Prep, another private school in the Memphis area. Lausanne has a good basketball reputation and one five-star player on its roster already: Isaiah Stokes, the younger brother of former UT star/current Memphis Grizzlies forward Jarnell Stokes.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) ruled Skal ineligible for the 2014-2015 season. Why? He practiced with Emmanuel Christian three times that spring:

But TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said he’d been informed by ECS that Labissiere had practiced three times this spring, meaning he’d be ineligible to participate in basketball at Lausanne or any other Shelby-Metro school. The TSSAA is the Tennessee’s governing body for high school athletics.

“If he transferred without the family having a bona fide change of address, he wouldn’t be eligible,” Childress said.

[Memphis Commercial Appeal]

September 2014: The TSSAA denies Skal’s hardship application.

September 16, 2014: John Calipari visits Skal, who says “Let’s just say [the visit] went great!”

skal-cal skal-selfie

September 19, 2014: Skal takes an official visit to Kentucky, where he reportedly loves the mattresses. “It was nice. It was really impressive and the level of players he played with was impressive as well,” Hamilton tells CatsPause.com’s Chris Fisher, also mentioning a meeting Skal had with Rock Oliver about how to bulk up his thin frame.

[CatsPause.com]

October 27, 2014: Skal announces he will play for Reach Your Dream Prep this season. Reach Your Dream Prep shares the name of the foundation run by Hamilton, who also coaches the squad. Hamilton created Reach Your Dream Prep so that Skal would have a team to play on his senior year while still taking classes at Lausanne.

A high-school athlete playing for a program outside of the school they attend is not unheard of. Findlay Prep, whose alumni include Rashad Vaughn, Kelly Oubre, and Anthony Bennett, isn’t an actual school; its players attend Henderson International School. However, Reach Your Dream Prep could get Skal in trouble with the NCAA if it’s not funded correctly.

[NBC Sports]

November 5, 2014: Reach Your Dream Prep postpones a game with the Memphis Mustangs because Skal is sick. An opposing coach agreeing to postpone a game because a team’s star is sick is absurd, and raises even more questions about Reach Your Dream Prep.

[92.9 FM Memphis]

Samuel Jean-Gilles (left) and Skal Labissiere (right). Photo via Memphis Commercial Appeal

November 7, 2014: Samuel Jean-Gilles, another Haitian refugee brought to the US with Skal by RYD, tells the Memphis Commercial Appeal that Hamilton moved him to Boston once he heard Jean-Gilles didn’t have potential to be a Division I athlete.

“They [were] guardians for me and they don’t want me anymore,” Jean-Gilles told the paper. “So I guess he did what he had to do. … If I was 6-feet-9, yes, it would have been different. I would have been [a Division I athlete], and he most definitely wouldn’t [have sent] me to Boston. People know what he’s trying to do. … If this is really how he’s trying to make money by using people, if that’s really how he’s doing it, I just feel bad for him.”

[Memphis Commercial Appeal]

November 11, 2014: The Sporting News’ Kami Mattioli interviews TSSAA assistant executive director Matthew Gillespie about Reach Your Dream Prep. Gillespie says he’s never heard of it and it’s not a member school or an umbrella school recognized by the TSSAA, therefore Skal is ineligible to play in any of the state’s postseason play or awards. Officials for the McDonald’s All-American game tell Mattioli Skal is ineligible for that as well.

Also, a request by the Sporting News into RYD’s tax records shows the foundation cannot operate a school as its main or secondary function.

[The Sporting News]

November 12, 2014: Gary Parrish publishes an article quoting Memphis AAU Coach Keith Easterwood saying that Hamilton had contacted him within the last two years to ask how to make money off a basketball player and reports that the NCAA is already planning to investigate Skal’s recruitment.

[CBS Sports]

November 13, 2014: Skal Labissiere announces he will attend __________.


7 takeaways from a fun romp in Rupp

7 takeaways from a fun romp in Rupp

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

I mean, what is there to say? There are wins, big wins, blowouts, and then there was tonight. Kentucky absolutely trounced Georgetown College in their second exhibition 121-52. For the first time since 2011-2012, the Cats are just wailing on their opponents, and even though it was just Georgetown, at times, all you could do was shake your head and smile. This team is laughably good, and we’re just getting started, bro.

Let’s roll through all the highlights…

UK actually got off to a rough start in this game.

Believe it or not, UK did not start this game well. Platoon 1 (Harrison Twins, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl Towns) was slow out of the gate, only leading Georgetown 5-2 at the 15:51 mark. Cal sent in Platoon 2 (Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles), who extended the lead to 16-7. Platoon 1 came back in and went on a 16-0 run, and from there, the game turned into a lobster lob fest. How good was it? Seven Cats scored in double figures even though no player saw more than 19 minutes of action. UK shot 63.9% from the field, had 54 rebounds, and 32 assists.

Hello, Willie Cauley-Stein

There were a lot of stars to choose from tonight, but we need to start with Willie Cauley-Stein. Midway through the second half, there was a great stretch where Willie had an assist, a block, and two dunks in about a minute. Willie showcased his unique ability to defend any player on the team from center to point guard, and every one of his twelve points had exclamation marks on them. “Willie played really, really well tonight,” John Robic said after the game. “What he does at seven-feet tall is phenomenal.”

Aaron Harrison was also amazing, leading all scorers with 17 points, including five threes. After the game, John Calipari compared Aaron to Stephen Curry, and said that he played his best game at Kentucky in terms of confidence. Cal said he was particularly impressed by how Aaron came up to him during the game and asked to defend the point guard. Aaron hasn’t really been known as a lockdown defender, but that’s what Cal is trying to mold him into this season.

Our 6’10” forward had back-to-back threes

Trey Lyles has been the mystery man so far this year, but tonight, he showed why he’s got NBA scouts buzzing with two back-to-back threes. He finished with 14 points and 4 rebounds. Like Willie Cauley-Stein, Lyles’ length and versatility is staggering, but his shooting touch sets him apart from the rest. If you’re not impressed yet, get ready, because Calipari said after the game that Lyles has plenty of room to improve. “Still he’s not offensive rebounding the way he needs to, he’s still not running the court the way he needs to. He’s got to step it up,” Cal said. “He’s where the twins were last year, where he didn’t have the summer. And he just got back into it. And he’s a great kid, and he can really score and he’s really skilled, really skilled. Great hands, shoot the ball.”

Derek Willis even put a nice little bow on it for us

Best 12th man in the country? Easily.

Georgetown’s coach had some strong words

Color Georgetown College coach Chris Briggs impressed. After the game, the former UK graduate assistant sounded like one of us, heaping the praise on the Cats. “They could have beaten some NBA teams tonight. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Briggs said. Then he said the thing most of us are thinking but have been too scared to say out loud. “I honestly don’t see how they’re going to be beat this season. If they play like they played tonight, they’re an NBA playoff team.”

Whoa.

Wait, you mean this can get better?

Despite the back-to-back 100-point performances, Calipari maintains this team has a lot of work to do, especially on defense. “We’ve got to get better. We still have some guys breaking down on pick and roll. Karl has a long way to go, Trey has a long way to go. Devin is really playing hard. I’m really pleased with how hard he’s playing but he’s breaking down, taking chances defensively that he doesn’t need to take,” Cal said.

Cal also warned fans again that UK may lose a few games because of a platoon system, which he said he will reevaluate after 10-12 games. “This after 10 or 12 games, I’ll evaluate, see if we need to tweak anything. And the second thing is at the end of the day is this the best way we can play to go compete for the whole thing and that’s what my job is to evaluate that and figure it out.”

Routs are fun, but it will be nice to see how this thing works against a legit opponent like Kansas a week from Tuesday.

callaugh

Swaggy Cal was the swaggiest

Cal was at his swaggiest after the game, pretty much shaking the TV announcers with joy and kidding around with reporters during his presser. And you really know Cal’s feeling great when he mentions his fictional friend that watches practice. “A friend of mine watched our game last week and said: As soon as your guys realize they can play even harder than they’re playing it becomes scary. It becomes scary.” Even scarier? “We have no seniors. May have this team back next year, we could be really good.” Just stop it, Cal. I mean, really.

Cal even dropped a KSR reference when talking about which platoon he’ll play at the end of a close game. “I’ve asked each staff member to give me a finishing five that we would want to finish off a game with,” Cal said. “And I asked them to give me their opinions. I have my own, but I want to hear what they’re saying. Now that I said that, I’ll probably have seven million suggestions on KSR. I don’t listen to any of them, you do know that, right?” Not surprisingly, that reference fell flat in the media room.

He even let John Robic finish up his radio segment because he had somewhere he needed to be. “John Robic is actually going to take care of the rest of this radio because I’ve gotta go somewhere. I’m going somewhere, and I’m not going to tell you where. No, not recruiting.”

Make Cal proud by giving us your best guesses as to where he went in the comments.


A Crushing Way to Leave Commonwealth Stadium

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The Cats have had some ugly losses this year, but the third time’s a charm.  The Senior Day struggle on the final day of the Old Commonwealth was the worst loss of the season.  There’s no way around it.

They didn’t just lose, they lost in pure video game fashion.  Kentucky was the little brother that couldn’t figure out the tackle button (PRESS SQUARE!) and had never heard of Special Teams before.  Meanwhile, the Georgia Bulldawgz did whatever they pleased, turning the ordinary into extraordinary.

Here’s just a taste of how Georgia turned this into a video game:

–  90-yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown.

–  Perfect on 3rd down conversions (7-7)

–  They NEVER punted (not even with the backup QB in the game)

–  63 is the most points Georgia has scored in an SEC game since they dropped 75 against Florida in 1942.

–  The Cats hadn’t given up 35 points in a half all year.  If the clock wasn’t running, Georgia would have done it in both halves.

–  The UGA QBs only needed to throw the ball 20 times, but still managed to throw more touchdowns (5) than incompletions (3).

–  Kentucky gained 4.5 yards per play.  Georgia more than doubled that with 9.4 per play.  They managed the feat despite having the ball for 10 minutes less than Kentucky.

–  Even in garbage time, the Cats couldn’t catch a break.  A tipped pass was nearly turned into a one-handed interception.  Instead the ball fell right into the Georgia receiver’s hands.

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Even though it was a terrible start, the Cats still had their chances.  After spotting Georgia a quick 21 points in the first quarter, Kentucky responded with a 16-play 6-minute drive for a touchdown, their longest scoring drive of the season.  Special Teams created a big play, causing a fumble off a pooch kick.  Unfortunately, a holding call forced them into a field goal.  On Georgia’s next drive they had a similar holding call in the red zone, except they followed it up with an immediate touchdown.

Yet somehow these Cats continued to scratch and claw away at the lead, sneaking in a touchdown with :16 left in the half to cut the lead to 11.  Getting the ball first in the second half, they had the chance to take the momentum.  On the first play from scrimmage, Ryan Timmons could only get one hand on a hard slant pass, tipping it right to a Georgia defender.  After a quick touchdown, Isiah McKenzie provided the dagger with his second special teams touchdown, this one a 59-yard punt return.  Down just 11, the Cats had given up 2 touchdowns before the 11-minute mark in the 3rd quarter.

Moving forward, the greatest concern is on the offensive line.  Running up the middle is hardly a viable option, but it’s tough to air it out without forcing Pat to scramble.  In the second quarter, the Cats only good quarter, Brown rolled Towles away from the blitz yet he STILL was sacked from behind.  Jordan Swindle finally found a way to lose his spot after a gazllionth false start.

On defense, I have no words.  Just a lot of head shakes.  Their running backs were better than our tacklers.  Plain and simple.  It would just be nice if we could do ONE thing right, I’m tired of typing “Tiller got torched.”

*****************************************************************************

Sitting at .500, the Cats have two games to determine the legacy they will leave.  Will they take a couple more video game losses like the Kentucky of old, or embrace their coach’s character by responding with some resiliency.

There’s no doubt this team is exponentially better than last year, but there will be doubts if they can continue to move forward next season if they can’t find a way to win just one more time in 2014.


The Best of the Bluegrass: UK’s 2016 in-state commitments

The Best of the Bluegrass: UK’s 2016 in-state commitments

Most of the focus in football recruiting is currently on the 2015 class, but Kentucky has already made major strides with its 2016 prospects. One of the hallmarks of Mark Stoops’ tenure so far has been keeping top in-state talent in state, starting with Ryan Timmons and Jason Hatcher in 2013; Matt Elam and Drew Barker in 2014; Eli Brown and possibly Damien Harris in 2015.

In the 2016 class, UK has already landed commitments from four of the top five prospects in Kentucky, and there’s a VERY good chance they make it five out of five with Drake Jackson, the number one recruit in state and the nation’s top center. UK is also considered the favorite for Male’s Keion Wakefield, the 6th best prospect in the Commonwealth. I interviewed some of the recruits about the job Stoops has done so far, and how much that in-state focus means to them. I also spoke with 247 Sports’ Director of Scouting Barton Simmons to get his evaluations of each player. Let’s get to know them.

landonyoungLANDON YOUNG
Offensive Tackle
Lexington, KY (Lafayette)
6-7 | 270

Ranking: 
247Composite: 24 OT | 259 | 2 KY
247Sports: 15 OT | 150 | 2 KY
ESPN: 24 OT | 271 | 2 KY
Rivals: 26 OT | 2 KY
Scout: 15 OT | 160

Committed: 6/14/2013

247 Sports’ Barton Simmons on Young: “A rare elite national offensive lineman from within Kentucky, Young is still developing physically but he’s got outstanding length and he plays with toughness. Though he doesn’t play an elite level of competition, the way he finishes blocks and the way he can move at his size make him a highly ranked kid on 247Sports.”

d-robinsonDAVONTE ROBINSON
Cornerback
Lexington, KY (Henry Clay)
6-1 | 165
Ranking: 

247Composite: 48 CB | 538 | 3 KY
247Sports: 43 CB | 5 KY
ESPN: NR
Rivals: NR
Scout: NR

Committed: 10/8/2014

Davonte on UK:

On playing for his in-state school: I think it’s very important because it’s where I grew up and it’s where I want to stay.

On 4 of the top 5 in-state recruits committing to UK: I think it’s great that people from the state committed because we can represent for our state.

On UK this season: I think Coach Stoops has done a great job. He’s really changing the program and leading UK in a good direction.

When he knew he wanted to go to UK: After the South Carolina game

On how he thinks UK will end the season: I think this year they will make it to a bowl game

Will his opinion on UK change if they don’t make a bowl game? No. Whether they make it or not, they will still be a great team and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.

247 Sports’ Barton Simmons on Davonte: “Though he’s a local kid, Robinson has national speed as a cornerback and he’s got the ability with his size to be a lock-down defender. He runs a sub-11 second 100 meters and he has 6-1 size and he is an impact player on both sides of the ball as a high schooler. Robinson is a high ceiling type of talent.”

373465ZY’AIRE HUGHES
Dual-threat quarterback, wide receiver
Paducah, KY (McCracken)
6-1 | 180
Ranking: 

247Composite: 41 ATH | 545 | 4 KY
247Sports: 34 ATH | 4 KY
ESPN: NR
Rivals: 5 KY
Scout: NR

Committed: 7/19/2014

Zy’Aire on UK:

On playing for his in-state school: It’s important for me because of all of the support I get and it’s close to home. I just love how the coaches are trying to build a family.

On 4 of the top 5 in-state recruits committing to UK: It’s great because I know everyone in my class and played on all-star teams with most.

On UK this season: Stoops has done a great job. He’s really building a program.

On how he thinks UK will end the season: I hope they can make it to a bowl game.

Will his opinion on UK change if they don’t make a bowl game? No, I’ m excited to be a Cat. I love everything about it.

247 Sports’ Barton Simmons on Zy’Aire: “While he will often line up at quarterback for his high school, Hughes is likely a wide receiver on the next level, or possibly a defensive back but his athleticism, burst with the football and creativity making plays makes him the type of player that you want to deliver the football to. In Kentucky terms, Hughes has a little Randall Cobb to his game.”

1276835QUINTON BAKER
All-purpose Back
Ashland, KY (Paul G. Blazer)
5-8 | 180
Ranking: 

247Composite: 10 APB | 555 | 5 KY
247Sports: 8 APB | 3 KY
ESPN: NR
Rivals: 4 KY
Scout: 29 RB

Committed: 10/25/2014

Son of former UK running back Al Baker

Quinton on UK:

On playing for his in-state school: It’s important. I want the players in state to stick around and come to UK too. It would really be something.

On 4 of the top 5 in-state recruits committing to UK: It’s awesome that the in-state guys are staying here!

On UK this season: Coach Stoops is really changing the game. There’s a completely different swagger.

When he knew he wanted to go to UK: When they offered me on Junior Day

On how he thinks UK will end the season: I think UK will be bowl eligible and do great in their bowl.

Will his opinion on UK change if they don’t make a bowl game? No.

247 Sports’ Barton Simmons on Quinton: “More and more frequently, we’re seeing undersized dynamic players find a place in big time college football and even the NFL. Baker could be that guy for Kentucky. He’s a quick, space athlete that can be effective out of the backfield or out of the slot in Kentucky’s spread offense.”

IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Kentucky’s top 2016 in-state target is Drake Jackson, the Commonwealth’s best prospect and the nation’s number one center in his class. There have been rumors Jackson already gave the UK staff a silent verbal, but he denied that last week. Jackson has visited Kentucky three times this season, and has also made trips to Alabama, and Tennessee. He was kind enough to share his thoughts on Stoops and the program. I think you’ll like what he has to say.

2929815DRAKE JACKSON
Offensive Guard
Versailles, KY
6-2 | 288
Ranking:

247Composite: 1 OC | 117 | 1 KY
247Sports: 1 OC | 58 | 1 KY
ESPN: 1 OG | 164 | 1 KY
Rivals: 238 | 1 KY
Scout: 1 OC | 84

Drake on UK:

On the importance Mark Stoops and staff have put on keeping in-state talent in state: I think it’s very clear what Coach Stoops’ plan is when it come to recruiting in-state. He has put a wall on the border, keeping just about everyone inside of it. I like this idea, because I know what it’s like to play with those guys. I played on a middle school all-star team with Zy’Aire Hughes and even played my whole middle school with Sam Letton (who moved to Georgia, and has a UK offer). Playing with your friends is something every player dreams of.

On his recruitment: I can see myself making a decision when I’m done taking my visits this fall. As for the excitement around UK, there’s no better time to be a part of it, and that plays a big factor.

247 Sports’ Barton Simmons on Drake: “Drake has everything you want in a center. He’s cerebral, he’s got great toughness and physicality, moves his feet extremely well and he’s proven himself not only in pads on Friday nights but on the camp circuit around the country against the best. Early in the 2016 recruiting cycle, Drake has emerged as our top center in the entire country on 247Sports.”

Come on down and join the heroes, Drake.


Georgia’s Coming: What To Know About The Dawgs

The No. 17 Georgia Bulldogs are coming to town this Saturday for Kentucky’s final home game of the season, a noon kickoff on the SEC Network. It is also Senior Day in Commonwealth Stadium and one of UK’s final three attempts to earn a bowl bid. So it’s big.

Seeing as though KSR’s last two Wednesday night football previews were titled “Why Kentucky Will Win,” and those games didn’t pan out too well, tonight we’ll keep it simple with “What You Need To Know” about the visiting team.

Get educated, football fans:

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Georgia leads the SEC in scoring, ranked 10th in America.

The Bulldogs produce 40.5 points per game, best in the Southeastern Conference and ranked 10th nationally. Kentucky, on the other hand, has allowed just under 18 points per game to visiting teams through six home games this season.

The Cats average 29.2 points per contest, the 70th best total in the country.

Todd Gurley will not play.

Georgia’s prized running back will sit out against Kentucky, the final game of his four-game suspension. He will return November 15 against Auburn.

A Heisman candidate early in the season, Gurley was forced to sit out after it was discovered he received $3,000 for signed memorabilia. The NCAA announced last week he is cleared to return, but not until after Saturday’s game in Lexington.

Whew.

Nick Chubb is no slouch of a backup.

True freshman running back Nick Chubb picked up right where Gurley left off, leading the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to wonder if he may actually be an upgrade in the Georgia backfield. Chubb has 599 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in three games since taking over as starter, an average of almost 200 yards and two touchdowns per game, all on the road in the SEC.

Life doesn’t get any easier for Kentucky’s defense with Gurley out.

Their fans know the importance of a good base coat.

Hopefully that kid doesn’t do road games.

The Dawgs’ turnover margin ranks second in college football.

Georgia’s offense has turned the ball over only five times this year — three interception and two fumbles — while its defense has forced 10 interceptions and recovered eight fumbles for a margin of +13 turnovers. Kentucky’s margin is also impressive, ranking 17th nationally, but the Cats are more prone to coughing it up on offense with 10 turnovers this season.

Georgia won at Missouri, by a lot.

If you’re the type that likes to compare common opponents, Georgia defeated Missouri, 34-0, in Columbia earlier this season. They also destroyed Vanderbilt but lost to South Carolina, although that was a road contest for the Dawgs, unlike Kentucky.

Read into that however you would like.

Kentucky has lost 15 of the last 17 in the series.

But man, those wins in 2006 and 2009 were an absolute blast. What do you say we run it back and trim that deficit to 15 losses in the last 18 games?

Starting quarterback Hutson Mason once tweeted a Coach Cal quote.

But he also listens to Florida Georgia Line, so I can’t decide if he is likeable or nah.

There is a lot at stake for Georgia in this game.

Not only is Georgia playing for the SEC East crown, but a loss to Kentucky would likely force Mark Richt out of Athens. Several fans believe it is already time for him to go, after suffering a loss to a not-so-good Florida team last week, so a second consecutive loss to an inferior opponent may result in his termination. With that in mind, Georgia will be pumped up to play the Cats and not looking ahead to next week’s game against No. 3 Auburn. No trap game here.

I’m a Mark Richt fan, but let’s send him job hunting.

Beat the Dawgs.


KSR’s 2014 UK Sports Ballot

KSR’s 2014 UK Sports Ballot

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It’s Election Day, which hopefully means that all of you went to the polls today to let your voices be heard, or at the very least, get one of those great “I Voted” stickers. (Unless you live in Louisville, where giving them out constitutes littering. Sorry, Matt.) Here at KSR, we’re getting into the spirit with some elections of our own. Don’t worry, it’s not about Mitch or Alison, it’s about your beloved UK Wildcats. Exercise your rights as a member of the Big Blue Nation by voting in the following races…

Best Basketball Hair

Best-hair2

Best Dunker

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Best Angry Stoops moment

#1: 2013 Mississippi State game stoops-gif

#2: 2014 LSU game B0ReICrCMAAGHN4

#3: 2014 Missouri game stoopsheadset

Best KSR Caller

Best uniform combination

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