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Ten Facts About Missouri Basketball

Rick Sugg | Kansas City Star

Rick Sugg | Kansas City Star

Kim Anderson is the Head Coach

I know what you’re thinking, “Is that a man?”  Yes, Kim Anderson is the name of a man, even though the only other notable man named Kim rules North Korea.

Anderson was a standout for Mizzou in the 70s, named Co-Big Eight Player of the Year in 1977.  He served as a Missouri assistant in the 80s and the 90s for 13 total years in two different stints.  Prior to taking the head coaching job at his alma mater, Anderson led the Central Missouri Mules to two NCAA D-II Final Fours and a National Championship in 2014, his final season.

The secret to Anderson’s success?  His fiery personality in pregame speeches.

Props to the SEC Network for doing its best to show the “most loyal fans” and not all of the arena’s empty seats.

Kim Anderson might have been a Football Coach

Anderson appears to be Hayden Fox’s assistant coach at Minnesota State.  The resemblance is striking.

They are bad at Basketball

Mizzou is 7-19.  Starting in December they went on a 13-game losing streak that included losses to Lipscomb and Eastern Illinois.  Even though they’re 2-12 in the SEC this season (wins over Arkansas and Vandy), they’re not last in the SEC.  That honor belongs to Johnny Jones and LSU.

In Anderson’s three years at Mizzou, the Tigers are 26-63.

Mizzou has Lost 33 Straight Road Games

Their last road win came against their former coach, Arkansas’ Mike Anderson, on January 28, 2104. Lucky for them, tonight’s game is at home.

Their Coaches Fought Georgia’s Coaches

Famous Basketball Alumni

DeMarre Carroll: The best former Tiger currently on an NBA roster, Carroll cashed in on the Atlanta Hawks’ 2015 success by signing a $60 million deal with the Raptors.  Until today, I had no idea Carroll played at Mizzou, but he helped them get to an Elite Eight in 2009 under Mike Anderson.

Melvin Booker: Devin’s dad was an All-American and Big Eight Player of the Year in 1994.

Kareem Rush:  Rush led Mizzou to the Elite Eight in 2002, a feat only done five times in school history.  He played professionally for ten years before calling it a career.

Larry Drew: Before he coached to the Atlanta Hawks to three playoff appearances from 2011-2013, Drew was a point guard at Mizzou.

Jordan Clarkson: A first team All-Rookie Selection in 2014, Clarkson averages 13.7 points per game for the Lakers this season.

They need some Muscle

After they turned into Protest U in 2015, enrollment took an 8 percent hit, with the worst decline coming from out-of-state undergrads, a 12 percent drop.

The Program is on Probation

Wherever Frank Haith goes, he leaves behind a trail of NCAA violations.  Mizzou is Haith’s latest victim.  After a booster handed out impermissible benefits, Haith was fired, the school vacated wins, lost two scholarships and is on NCAA probation until August of this year.

The Border War is No More

NCAA sanctions hurt Mizzou basketball, but losing the rivalry with Kansas might have done more to destroy their identity.  The oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi began on the basketball court in Columbia in 1907, but the hate between the states stems back to before the Civil War. Without providing a full history lesson, “Bloody Kansas” (also known as the Border War) was a violent time on Missouri’s western frontier as people fought over the legality of slavery in the new state of Kansas between 1854-1861.

When Mizzou left the Big 12 for the SEC, the rivalry ended after 267 meetings.  The teams each won their final home game of the rivalry in 2012 as top ten teams.  They have not played since, leaving a noticeable  void in the Missouri basketball basketball.

Jordan Barnett is their Best Player

Brett gave you a complete roster rundown earlier today, but if you only know one name, know Jordan Barnett.  A transfer that’s only been eligible for 17 games, he leads the team in scoring (12.3) and rebounds (6.3).  Barnett scored 23 points for the second consecutive game to lead the Tigers their last win over Vanderbilt.


A Second South Florida 2018 Prospect Commits to Kentucky

Via CBS Miami

Via CBS Miami

In a matter of minutes, Eddie Gran added a pair of Chaminade-Madonna teammates to the 2018 recruiting class.  Shortly after defensive end Davoan Hawkins committed, three-star wide receiver Marvin Alexander committed to Kentucky.

The 6’3″ 175-pound wide receiver told 247, “I feel it’s the best situation for me,” Alexander said. “I have a couple of my teammates going there. I just feel it’s the right place for me…It’s great that we will all be together in college, too.”

Joining Chris Whittaker and Joshua Ali from the class of 2017, Hawkins and Alexander give Stoops four from the Florida high school football powerhouse.  Alexander shares a connection with another member of the 2017 class; he was teammates with Clevan Thomas for his first two years of school at Flanagan High School.  Today’s two commitments give Kentucky three in the class of 2018.

 


Stoops Picks Up Second Commit in 2018 Class

Three-star 2018 defensive end Davoan Hawkins announced on Twitter he has committed to play football for Mark Stoops at the University of Kentucky.

@D1_Youngin

@D1_Youngin

Hawkins is teammates with 2017 signees Joshua Ali and Christopher Whittaker at Chaminade-Madonna Prep in Hollywood, Florida.  Hawkins has offers from Wisconsin, North Carolina and West Virginia.  Recruited by Eddie Gran, the strong side defensive end is the second commit in Stoops’ 2018 recruiting class, joining dual-threat quarterback Jarren Williams.


The Good and The Bad of Isaiah Briscoe

The Good and The Bad of Isaiah Briscoe

brisc

Big Blue Nation is becoming a fan base divided in its opinion of Isaiah Briscoe.

After a not-so-good game down in Georgia — after which John Calipari joked (but maybe didn’t) that he told Briscoe, “I’m glad you fouled out” — some are beginning to wonder if Briscoe’s minutes-per should be reconsidered.

That’s not to say Briscoe isn’t a good player; no one believes that. But in a stretch that has seen solid, consistent play from Dominique “Old Reliable” Hawkins and a good game from Mychal Mulder, there is a legitimate debate that maybe Briscoe should take a seat whenever he is in a funk, as he was in Athens.

In the postgame press conference following that game, John Calipari said, “We got a couple guys I gotta sit down with and talk to and figure out like, ‘Look, if this is who you are, you gotta take a step back.’ We gotta go with the guys that are playing. We got four games left. This ain’t like, ‘Okay, we’re in midseason, you’re good.’ This is like, ‘You gotta figure this out.’”

It’s safe to say Isaiah Briscoe is among those “couple guys” Calipari was referring to, and with only four games left until it is win-or-go-home in the SEC and NCAA tournaments, Calipari and Briscoe are running out of time to “figure this out.”

In the meantime, have a look at what, in my personal opinion, makes Briscoe good and what makes Briscoe bad.

 

THE GOOD: He gives his all.

There isn’t a player on the team who fights harder than Isaiah Briscoe. You know you’re going to get effort from him every night, whether he is scoring or not, on both ends of the floor. He hustles, crashes the glass and doesn’t back down from anyone.

THE BAD: He can’t shoot.

Though it has improved since his freshman season, Briscoe is still a pretty horrible shooter. He’s missed 17 of his 20 three-point attempts in his last 10 games (a 15 percent clip); and in Kentucky’s last five games, he is 1-for-10 from outside and 7-for-17 from the foul line.

LAST FIVE GAMES
Game FGM-FGA 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA
@ Florida 3-10 0-1 0-2
vs. LSU 4-9 1-3 5-6
@ Alabama 5-11 0-1 1-7
vs. Tennessee 6-10 0-2 0-1
@ Georgia 4-12 0-3 1-1
TOTAL 22-52 1-10 7-17

In that five-game span, Briscoe made only one two-point basket that wasn’t a layup.

THE GOOD: He defends, rebounds.

Of the Cats’ starting five, Briscoe is the best defender and the second best on-ball defender on the entire team, behind only Dominique Hawkins. Briscoe often draws the assignment of guarding the other team’s best offensive weapon and he has done a pretty good job in that role. His D is arguably his best part of his game.

Briscoe is also a quality rebounder given his size, with 5.4 rebounds per game for the third best rebounding average on the team. He puts that wide frame and lower body strength to good use on the block to get in position for loose balls.

THE BAD: He is turnover prone.

Briscoe leads the team in turnovers and it has been a huge problem over the course of the last month. Aside from his one turnover in the win over Tennessee last week, Briscoe is on a streak of games with three, six, four, three, four and four turnovers.

Overall, Briscoe’s 42 turnovers in conference play is the fifth-worst total in the SEC.

THE GOOD: He can drive, draw fouls.

When he isn’t turning it over or taking ill-advised jump shots, Briscoe is as good as they come at taking it to the rim and either finishing or drawing a whistle. Nobody can bully and maneuver their way to the rack like Isaiah Briscoe when he has a full head of steam.

However, when he isn’t getting the call, as we’ve seen a lot lately, his driving can do more bad than good. And when he is getting the call, he has to make the free throws.

THE BAD: He doesn’t fit within the offense.

Kentucky’s halfcourt offense is best when De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo are playing a two-man game with room to work, while the shooters, namely Malik Monk, are ready to catch and fire. But with Briscoe’s inability to hit shots as a guard, defenses are packing the lane and leaving him unguarded around the perimeter, which (a) clogs things up for Fox to drive; and (b) dares Briscoe to shoot, which rarely ends well.

Briscoe is too much like Fox in that he needs to be driving and not shooting, so having him out there with Fox often has an adverse effect on production. Neither he nor Fox can shoot, at all, and it’s never good to have two guards on the floor at the same time who can’t hit outside shots. Without the threat of a shooter from one of those two guard spots, the driving, which is the strength of the backcourt, is taken away. That is why we’re seeing those long-range two-pointers that make you want to rip your hair out. They’re having to settle for those because the defense is packing it in.

While I’m on the subject, I think this is Kentucky’s biggest problem offensively and probably worthy of its own post on here some other time. But in short I’ll just say I don’t think Fox and Briscoe’s games complement each other as they should. They have the same strengths and weaknesses, and Briscoe loses out because Fox is the true point guard, the better floor general and lightning fast with the ball in his hands.

THE GOOD: He has single-handedly won games.

If we’re going to criticize Briscoe for his mistakes, we have to acknowledge the fact Kentucky would have two or three more losses without him.

First, the Cats don’t win at Vanderbilt without Briscoe. With Fox and Monk in foul trouble in that game, Briscoe scored a team-high 23 points with seven rebounds and five assists in 39 minutes played. Every time Vanderbilt made a big bucket in the second half, Briscoe responded on the other end to silence the crowd.

Briscoe also shined in the close call at home against Georgia, in which he had 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. And then at Alabama, Briscoe scored seven straight points when the Tide tried to mount a late comeback.

THE BAD: His attitude.

There are some concerns from NBA scouts that Briscoe may have a little bit of an attitude problem. I had heard the same from a couple people I know in AAU circles when he first got to Kentucky and I’ve heard it from some people around campus since he’s been at UK.

We’ve even seen glimpses of it in games, whether it be arguing with officials or getting involved in unnecessary extracurricular activity with an opponent, and it’s not the best look for your presumed leader.

Of course, an attitude can be good — I love a confident trash-talker — but not always. As someone who hears more than most sitting courtside at Rupp, I can tell you there isn’t a player on the court who whines more to officials throughout a game. In those circumstances when things aren’t going his way, I think the attitude hurts him, and in turn, hurts the team.

THE GOOD: He has one of three triple-doubles in school history.

It’s hard to knock a guy who has done that.

THE BAD: He is too short for his position.

Going back to the fitting within the offense thing, Briscoe is a guard who is in his second season out of position because there are two better guards on the team. Last year it was Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray who pushed Briscoe over to the three; this year it is De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. He’s become a small forward in a college point guard’s body.

If not for Ulis and Fox, maybe Briscoe is great penetrating point guard with good shooters around him to make up for his own shooting insufficiencies. But that’s not the case as he has been asked to catch and shoot on the wing, rebound, and guard guys much taller than him, at 6-foot-2.

He’s a small small forward.

THE GOOD: He is one hell of a basketball player.

Is he playing out of position? Yes. Does he throw off the offense? In my opinion he does. Does he drive into “No Man’s Land” along the baseline and immediately turn it over? Absolutely. Does he need to become a better shooter? Yes, yes, yes. Has he ever thrown one alley oop that hit its target? Not that I can remember.

But through all the flaws one can highlight in his game, Isaiah Briscoe is still a guy you want on your team. He is going to defend. He is going to hit the boards. He is going to give 100 percent on each end. He is going to get physical inside despite being the smallest player in the paint and he is capable of taking over a game when he is able to drive and get whistles. Just ask the folks in Nashville or Tuscaloosa about that one.

At the end of the day, Isaiah Briscoe is going to do much more good than bad. But with Kentucky in its current state, the question is how much Briscoe is too much Briscoe when he isn’t at his best.


Kenny Payne: “Dominique Hawkins shouldn’t take second fiddle to any player on this team because he’s just as good”

Kenny Payne: “Dominique Hawkins shouldn’t take second fiddle to any player on this team because he’s just as good”

KSR-9181

For four years, Dominique Hawkins has been a solid role player for Kentucky, giving the Cats a steady hand off the bench and defensive intensity when the team needs it the most. How fitting is it that in his final year, the home state boy is becoming Kentucky’s crutch? This season, Hawkins is averaging 17.6 minutes per game, an eight minute increase from last year, and on Saturday, he followed up a season-high 10 points vs. Tennessee with nine points in a crucial game at Georgia. Dominique is playing the best basketball of his life, and today, Kenny Payne couldn’t stop praising him.

“I can’t begin to tell you how happy we are all with Dominique as coaches,” Payne said. “Dominique Hawkins brings a little something different, more energy at times, defensive toughness at times. Lately, he’s been our best on-ball defender. He deserves this and he shouldn’t take second fiddle to any player on this team because he’s just as good. He’s playing that way.”

Everyone raves about De’Aaron Fox (as they should), but did you know that Hawkins has the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team at 4.3? This season, Dom (whom Calipari dubbed “Old Reliable” after the Tennessee win) has 52 assists after combining for 39 assists in his first three seasons. In interviews today, he said that although he’s had big moments during his career at Kentucky, he knows his role this season is his most important.

“It’s definitely been worth it for me,” Dom said of his time at Kentucky. “I’ve definitely seen myself being a part of big situations my freshman, sophomore, and junior years, but I feel like this is the biggest role I’ve taken in my four years.”

Dom isn’t the only senior doing work; Derek Willis and Mychal Mulder are also playing well right now, averaging a combined 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. The 16.9 points per game from the seniors is the best in the John Calipari era. How awesome is that for a team whose youth the national media won’t stop fixating on? Payne attributed the seniors’ success to one thing: confidence.

“Same goes for Mychal Mulder, Derek Willis,” Payne said of the seniors’ contributions. “Derek Willis had 12 rebounds in the last game. He can do that anytime he wants. What is preventing him from playing that way? It’s all mental. That’s all it is.”

Everyone likes to talk about Kentucky’s freshmen, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that they won’t accomplish anything this season without their seniors.


Colin Cowherd says UK fans bragging about All-Star weekend is “pathetic,” program’s history in NBA “embarrassing”

Colin Cowherd says UK fans bragging about All-Star weekend is “pathetic,” program’s history in NBA “embarrassing”

cowherd

Oh, hey, look, Colin Cowherd’s saying stupid stuff about Kentucky players in the NBA again. After claiming that UK players in the NBA are “underwhelming” and “immature” on Friday, Cowherd aimed his fire at Kentucky fans and the program’s history to open his show today. After Kentucky players took over All-Star weekend and dominated the headlines, Cowherd said that any fan that brags about how a former player did in an all-star game is “pathetic.”

“You’re all jazzed up this weekend because you really did well in an all-star game. That’s pathetic. Can you imagine an Notre Dame fan or a USC or an Alabama football fan saying, did you hear our guy won a skills competition at the Pro Bowl? That’d be embarrassing. Your fanaticism for this weekend’s All-Star Game is embarrassing.”

After an odd comparison between the All-Star game and Adam Sandler movies, Cowherd came back to his point.

“If you’re bragging about an NBA All-Star weekend, you’re the NFL fan bragging about the Pro Bowl. You’re pathetic.”

Cowherd must have enjoyed the attention from the BBN over the weekend so much that he went a step further, calling Kentucky’s history of putting players in the NBA before the Calipari era “embarrassing.”

“If you took out Calipari, your history is embarrassing. Calipari has made it captivating because of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis. I think Anthony Davis is — and by the way, Karl-Anthony Towns, that’s a Kentucky kid, I think eventually, he’ll be something too. But if you take Calipari out of the all-time Kentucky equation, it’s embarrassing when you compare it to the all-time great teams.”

I think Rajon Rondo, Tayshaun Prince, Antoine Walker, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer, Tony Delk, Derek Anderson, Jamal Mashburn, Rex Chapman, Dan Issel, and Pat Riley might have something to say about that “embarrassing” history. Duke reference coming in 3…2…1…

“And Duke maybe doesn’t have a time of all-time greats, but they don’t give me head cases. They don’t give me busts,” Cowherd continued. “Kentucky underwhelms me, gives me head cases, gives me busts. Quit blaming the messenger. Look in the mirror.”

I don’t have the full clip of Cowherd’s comments yet, but here’s a portion of it (excuse me typing in the background).

UPDATE: Here’s the clip from Twitter…


Monday’s Top 10: Kentucky dominates All-Star Weekend, finds a way to win at Georgia

Monday’s Top 10: Kentucky dominates All-Star Weekend, finds a way to win at Georgia

e59db6c0_boogie-for-america

Good morning, friends, and to those in the banking industry, happy President’s Day. While these days, the holiday has become synonymous with mattress sales (what up, Sleep Outfitters!) and school breaks, the majority of us are at our computers per usual, just trying to get through another Monday morning. Thankfully, there’s plenty going on in the world of UK sports to distract us, such as last night’s monumental late breaking news that…

1. DeMarcus Cousins has been traded to New Orleans

In case you’re like me and woke up to that news, well, what a way to wake up. What started as rumors at the beginning of All-Star Weekend turned into reality late last night when Boogie and Omri Casspi were traded to the Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, New Orleans’ 2017 first round pick and the Sixers’ 2017 second round pick. No one has ever accused the Kings’ front office of being smart, but that was a really, really dumb trade. Sure, it was probably best that they parted ways with Boogie, but that’s what they got?! Ha!

No wonder the Pelicans are feeling so good this morning:

2. Boogie’s reaction to the news was priceless

How happy is DeMarcus to get out of Sacramento? Check out his reaction to finding out the news last night during interviews:

New Orleans is already one of my favorite cities in America, and now that they’ve got Boogie, Anthony, and Terrence Jones? Thank goodness I have friends who live there because I’m going to visit all the time.

3. Calipari and Kenny Payne were also at the All-Star Game

@UKCoachCalipari

@UKCoachCalipari

Of course John Calipari was in New Orleans last night to see Anthony, DeMarcus, and John Wall play in the All-Star Game. Before the main event, he, Brad, and Kenny Payne posed with Anthony’s family, who had to be proud because…

4. Anthony was named MVP

ADavis

Davis took home MVP honors after setting an All-Star single-game scoring record of 52 points in addition to 10 rebounds. Davis broke Wilt Chamberlain’s previous scoring record of 42 points set in 1962 in leading the Western Conference to a 192-182 victory over the Eastern Conference. Davis was 26 for 39 from the field, and had an astounding 18 dunks.

Watch all of his highlights below:

5. Don’t forget, Jamal Murray was named MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge

Making All-Star Weekend even sweeter for Kentucky was Jamal Murray’s performance in the Rising Stars Challenge Friday night, which earned him MVP honors. Murray put up a game-high 36 points and 11 assists in just 20 minutes. Murray scored 27 second-half points and made a ridiculous nine 3-pointers. In a game that also featured Devin Booker, Karl Towns, and Trey Lyles, Murray shined.

I mean, really, what a weekend for Kentucky basketball, and we haven’t even gotten to what happened with the current team yet.

6. The Cats found a way to win at Georgia

I was in Marshall County watching PJ Washington on Saturday night, but I did watch the replay of Kentucky’s win over Georgia and I’ll say this: a win is a win is a win. When I saw Yante Maten went down, I thought the game was in the bag for Kentucky, but the Cats didn’t look alive or fight until De’Aaron Fox turned it on the last eight minutes. There are plenty of positives from the win — Dominique’s continued good play, Derek’s 12 rebounds, Mychal Mulder’s resurgence — and no matter how much some want to nitpick, I’m just going to accept the win and move on. Looking at the schedule, the road game at Georgia was arguably the toughest task left in the regular season, so instead of worrying about Isaiah Briscoe, I’m going to take solace in the fact that Kentucky found a way to win a game they would have lost a month ago.

7. How bad is Missouri?

Well, horrible, but after a 13-game losing streak, the Tigers rallied for their first conference win at Texas A&M a few weeks back, and then topped it off with a home win vs. Vandy on February 11. With that momentum, they took Alabama to the wire last week before getting routed by Tennessee in Knoxville this weekend:

Screen Shot 2017-02-19 at 4.10.08 PM

Needless to say, Kentucky should take care of business tomorrow night in Columbia. One thing is for certain…

8. The crowd will be larger than this:

@EmptySeatsPics

@EmptySeatsPics

As you can see in the picture above, Missouri fans have reacted just about as you’d imagine to their basketball team thus far this season, but three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and crappy SEC teams packing their arenas for Kentucky.

9. Calipari will be on the SEC Teleconference at 11:35 a.m.

John Calipari and his fellow SEC coaches will take turns talking about their team on this week’s SEC Coaches Teleconference. If this week’s appearance is anything like Cal’s last one, that means I get to hear him talk about his team while huffing and puffing on the elliptical. Since the Cats are on the road tomorrow, this will be Calipari’s only media availability today, so check the site around lunch for a recap of his comments.

10. Tony Barbee, Kenny Payne, or Joel Justus will address the media at 2 p.m.

Calipari’s doing the SEC call, so he’s handing the Missouri preview presser to one of his assistants. Kenny Payne, Tony Barbee, Joel Justus…who will it be?! I know the suspicion is just killing you, so check the site around 2 p.m. for a live stream or shortly thereafter for a recap.

 

Radio in an hour…


Brett Davis | USA Today

10 Takeaways From Another Close Call Against Georgia

Brett Davis | USA Today

Brett Davis | USA Today

Whew, what a game.

It was a little closer than Big Blue Nation had hoped, but in the end, your University of Kentucky Wildcats escaped Athens with an 82-77 win in a game that saw 13 ties and 15 leads changes.

Like you, I’m a little gassed from yelling at my television, but let’s use what little energy we have left to run through some takeaways from the big SEC road win…

 

1. The Rule of 71 failed.

Georgia was the first to 71 points after J.J. Frazier made a three-pointer to reach the 71 plateau and put the Bulldogs ahead by two. But the Rule of 71 would not hold true tonight as the Cats still pulled off the win in the end.

Kentucky also won without getting a single point from Isaac Humphries for only the second time this season.

2. J.J. Frazier was unstoppable.

The Kentucky defense couldn’t do anything about J.J. Frazier and it was so frustrating to watch. JUST MAKE SOMEONE ELSE BEAT YOU!!!!

Georgia ran the same offense over and over and over again in the second half — ball screens to get a mismatch — and Frazier scored at will to the tune of a season-high 36 points, one shy of his career best mark.

Frazier was hot, but at some point you have to swarm him and make someone else do some scoring.

3. De’Aaron Fox was Mr. Clutch down the stretch.

Fox’s play was disappointing through the first 25-30 minutes of the game and the he took over in crunch time, scoring 10 points in the final two minutes and hitting six straight free throws in the last 44 seconds to close it out.

Fox said afterward, “I can step up in big moments.”

Yeah, we saw that.

4. Bam Adebayo also made big plays in the end.

Two plays in particular stand out: the block of Pape Diatta’s shot in a tie game with 33 seconds to play and the hustle to secure the long offensive rebound after a Kentucky missed shot with a little over a minute to go, which led to a tie game with the second chance bucket.

Adebayo also hit three clutch free throws and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds in 36 hard minutes.

5. You have to feel bad for Mark Fox and his Bulldogs.

Georgia has played two very tight games against Kentucky and had both of them won, plus an overtime loss at Florida, a one-point loss at Texas A&M (because the clock got stuck) and a two-point loss at South Carolina. They could’ve won any and all of those with just a couple different bounces of the ball, but instead they went 0-5 in those tight contests that could’ve really helped the NCAA tournament resume.

Unfortunately Georgia will likely miss out on the tournament now and that has to suck. They played so well in big games, just couldn’t finish.

6. Prayers up for Yante Manten.

Georgia’s star forward went down with a knee injury in the very beginning of the game and didn’t return. Hopefully it doesn’t keep him out too long and on into the summer when he is projected as a second-round pick in the draft.

Also, big pat on the back to Manten’s teammates for playing so well after he went out. You gotta wonder what the score would’ve been had he not suffered the injury.

7. Kentucky’s three seniors had good games.

Big night for the three seniors as they combined for 25 points off the bench and a whole lot more in other aspects of the game, including a CAREER-HIGH 12 REBOUNDS BY WILLIS. Derek did exactly what Kentucky needs from him outside of his shooting contributions and it’s time to consider moving him into the starting lineup.

Then of course Dominique Hawkins continued his streak of solid play by doing all the things Old Reliable gives you each night.

And how about my boy Mychal Mulder? I’ve been saying it all year: he needs more clock. Tonight he had nine points on three treys with two rebounds. Maybe I’m alone here but I wouldn’t mind seeing him take some of Isaiah Briscoe’s minutes when the situation calls for some shooting.

Coach Cal said on the postgame show, “I love what I saw from Dom and Mychal… And Derek did good.”

8. Malik Monk was cold from outside but made some key plays.

It looked to be one of those awful nights for Monk until he came up big late in the game and on the foul line. Monk finished 9-for-11 for the charity stripe with only three made field goals on 11 shots, and it was enough.

He got robbed of a big rebound when Kentucky was called for a cheap blocking out foul, too.

Speaking of bad calls….

9. WHERE WAS THE FOUL HERE!!!!!!!!

Had Kentucky lost that game, we were all taking a KSR field trip to the SEC basketball offices.

10. Moving forward…

It’s simple: learn to guard the high pick-and-roll. If not, that’ll be what kills this team in the end.

But for now let’s celebrate a hard-fought win in a tough environment against a very good team and a very good guard in J.J. Frazier.

Get back to Lexington with that W and put it behind us.


Fox Ices Frazier to Squeak Past Georgia, 82-77

Fox Ices Frazier to Squeak Past Georgia, 82-77

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Just like the first time these two teams met, it was a hard-fought, knock down, drag ’em out, that ended with Kentucky leaving victoriously.

Georgia ran J.J. Frazier off ball screen after ball screen to score 36 points, but his adversary had the last laugh.  De’Aaron Fox struggled with foul trouble and often failed to finish at the rim, but when Kentucky needed him most, Fox delivered.

Trailing by two with 1:12 remaining, De’Aaron Fox kissed one off the glass to tie the game.  Frazier responded, but Fox didn’t back down.  Fox was sent to the free throw line.  His first shot drew iron three times before rolling through the rim.  From there, Fox was good to go.  Fox hit six free throws in the final minute and scored eight of the Cats’ last 11 points to ice the game.

Fox and Malik Monk led the Cats in scoring with 16 apiece, Derek Willis tied a career-high with 12 rebounds and Bam Adebayo finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds.  The full box score:

uga-final

 


All-Star Saturday’s Top 10: Beat Georgia

The first Wildcat to earn hardware in New Orleans this weekend, via @NBA.

The first Wildcat to earn hardware in New Orleans this weekend, via @NBA.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls from all around the world, good morning and welcome to Kentucky Sports Radio.  It’s a big day around the Big Blue Nation.  The Cats’ toughest remaining road test is in Athens, Georgia tonight at 6:00 on ESPN.  At the conclusion of the game, four Wildcats will try to keep the Taco Bell Skills Challenge Trophy in the family on TNT.  Without further adieu, here’s everything happening…

A Strong Start for the BBNBA All-Star Weekend

Friday Night’s Rising Stars Challenge showcased first and second-year former Kentucky Wildcat stars.  With four players on the floor, one was bound to walk away with MVP honors, right?  Right.  Jamal Murray knocked down nine three-pointers en route to 36 points, 11 assists and an MVP award.

Joining Murray on the victorious World Team, Trey Lyles had 9 points, 2 assists and 1 rebound.  For Team USA, Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists while Devin Booker posted 17 points and 6 assists.

Today’s All-Star Weekend Schedule

Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress will do work in the D-League All-Star Game today at 2:30 on NBA TV. Tonight at 8:00 on TNT, Devin Booker, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and John Wall will try to keep the Taco Bell Skills Challenge Trophy in the UK familia.  Last year the Big KAT became the first big to win the competition.  With four of the eight competitors rocking Kentucky blue, according to my math the chances it stays in-house are 50 percent.

The Unibrow is Watching You

The UK billboard isn’t the only one in New Orleans to feature former Cats.  The hometown hero watches over the city like a superhero in this enormous sign from Nike.

@ArashMakarzi

@ArashMakarzi

The Cats are 7.5-Point Favorites Over Georgia

Don’t trust it.  Just stay away.  I have a bad feeling J.J. Frazier is going to get stupid and take this thing into overtime.  Luckily, I’m no soothsayer, so it’s possible UK’s reboot can run the Dawgs off their homecourt, but I’m not feeling it.

Can the Cats Keep a Lead?

This week’s edition of “Calipari’s Complaints” has focused on the Cats’ inability to maintain a large lead.  A coach will never be satisfied until it’s proven in a game, but Cal said at yesterday’s press conference, “The situational work has been good for them.”

“We get leads and (the players) think, ‘OK, it’s my turn to go do my thing.’ Then you turn around and it’s an eight-point game. What just happened? Me thinking they would already know – they don’t know. I was tough yesterday (Thursday). Yesterday was a rough practice.”

Fox’s Hair hasn’t Changed…

…as of yesterday afternoon.  These things can change on a dime, but it looks like this is what we’ll see this evening in Athens.

deaaron-fox-ksr

Renovations are Coming to the Joe Craft Center

When the Kentucky basketball practice facility opened ten years ago, it was without a doubt the “Gold Standard in College Basketball.”  After spending 300 days a year in it for ten years, there was so much wear and tear, it was time for a change.  With new facilities for football, baseball, softball, soccer and pretty much every other sport, it’s once again the basketball team’s turn.

“You knew we had to be in line,” Calipari said.  “There’s a line because of us. I didn’t mind being last. We just had to be in line, and they knew it. ”

P.J. Washington is Doing Great Things in Marshall County

@THeGrindSession

Via @TheGrindSession

The future Kentucky power forward had an okay start to the weekend.  Washington had 23 points, 18 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocks in a 19-point win over Hopkinsville.  He’s back in action at Marshall County tonight at 6:30 .

A Fight to End All Fights

You could watch World Star fights for seven days straight without seeing anything this crazy.  I don’t know what sparked the Henry Clay and Tates Creek girls to throw down, but WOW.

Today’s College Basketball Schedule

  • Noon: No. 25 Notre Dame at NC State on ESPN
  • Noon: Northern Iowa at Wichita State on ESPN2
  • 1:00: No. 3 Kansas at No. 4 Baylor on CBS
  • 2:00: No. 15 Florida at Mississippi State on ESPN
  • 2:00: Texas Tech at No. 9 West Virginia on ESPN2
  • 3:30: LSU at Alabama on SEC Network
  • 4:00: Michigan State at No. 16 Purdue on ESPN
  • 4:00: No. 17 Florida State at Pitt on ESPN2
  • 6:00: The best team that ever played basketball at Georgia on ESPN
  • 8:00: No. 5 Arizona at Washington on ESPN2
  • 8:15: No. 14 Virginia at No. 10 North Carolina on ESPN

Colin Cowherd saying UK players have underwhelmed in the NBA is one of the dumbest things you’ll ever hear in your entire life

For the life of me I will never understand why anyone would listen to Colin Cowherd’s radio show, but, it has a big following and he makes millions and I’m sitting here writing about him today on a sunny Friday afternoon, so good for him.

But he’s an idiot for the comments he made today when he went all the way in on a scorching hot take, telling his listeners John Calipari’s former players in the NBA have been underwhelming.

You’ll have to hear it to believe it:

Cowherd uses playoff wins to discredit John Wall and Anthony Davis, without acknowledging the fact they are former No. 1 picks and that No. 1 picks go to the worst team in the league. He also trashed the names of DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Julius Randle, Nerlens Noel, the entire Phoenix Suns roster and many others.

“Kentucky guys are mostly immature, uncoachable, underwhelming or, in Anthony Davis’ case, spectacularly gifted but I’m still waiting for the first playoff win,” he said at one point.

WHAT?! Underwhelming?!

May I remind Colin Cowherd there are currently seven Wildcats in New Orleans participating in the NBA All-Star weekend. SEVEN. There aren’t many schools with seven players in the entire league.

Has he not seen the historic numbers Karl-Anthony Towns put up in his rookie season? Or that Devin Booker is only 20 years old and and the fourth youngest player to ever score 4,000 points, behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant? Or that Julius Randle is one of only six players with multiple triple-doubles this season? Or that Eric Bledsoe had a triple-double two days ago? Or that DeMarcus Cousins is widely considered the best center in the NBA?

Cowherd can’t even believe his own nonsense this time around. He’s been hard on John Wall since Day 1, but this is ridiculous. He should be banned from talking about the NBA ever again.

Holy shit he’s an idiot.


Changes coming to Joe Craft Center locker room

joe-craft-center

You should be happy to know changes are coming to the Joe Craft Center, where your beloved Kentucky basketball players hone their skills each and every day.

The UK Board of Trustees is all set to approve a renovation of the men’s basketball locker rooms in their practice facility.

The board meeting’s Friday afternoon agenda reads:

Members, Board of Trustees:

RENOVATE/IMPROVE ATHLETICS FACILITY CAPITAL PROJECT
(JOE CRAFT CENTER LOCKER ROOM)

Recommendation: that the Board of Trustees approve the initiation of the Renovate/Improve
Athletics Facility Capital Project (Joe Craft Center Locker Room).

Background: Pursuant to Administrative Regulation 8:2, any capital project with an estimated cost of $1,000,000 or more must be approved by the Board prior to initiation. The renovation of the men’s basketball locker room in the Joe Craft Center will include numerous enhancements to improve the functionality of the space to better meet the needs of student-athletes.

The project will renovate and improve the existing player locker and shower space, lounge area, and team meeting room into one multi-functional space. The improvements also will include a supplementation and nutrition fueling station, as well as a hydration station. It is anticipated that other renovations will occur in the near future in this and other facilities, benefitting student-athletes across a variety of sports.

The scope of this project is not expected to exceed $5,000,000 and will be funded with private
funds. The project has been authorized by the 2016 Session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Key points: Changes coming to locker and shower space, the lounge and meeting rooms; the project is not expected to exceed $5 million; it will be privately funded.

The entire renovation is expected to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million in American dollars.

 

(Note: Earlier I said the renovation was to the Wildcat Coal Lodge but I’m an idiot and fully admit that so let’s pretend that never happened. Thank you. As you were.)


Friday’s 10: It’s NBA All-Star Weekend!

Friday’s 10: It’s NBA All-Star Weekend!

all-star

We all got dreams and we all start reaching, all start peaking, all-star weekend… One hotel room that all ya’ll sleep in, housekeeper knock to see if all ya’ll decent…

 

1. NBA All-Star Weekend begins today.

It’s a big couch weekend for NBA fans as All-Star Weekend kicks off today. Nine ex-Wildcats will participate in some form, beginning with Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Jamal Murray and Karl-Anthony Towns in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge (First-Year/Second-Year game).

Here’s a complete schedule of where/how you can find your favorite former Wildcats in New Orleans:

Friday, Feb. 17
BBVA Rising Stars Challenge (9 p.m. ET | TNT) – Booker, Lyles, Murray, Towns

Saturday, Feb. 18
NBA D-League All-Star Game (2:30 p.m. ET | NBA TV) – Johnson, Poythress

Taco Bell Skills Challenge (8 p.m. ET | TNT) – Booker, Cousins, Davis, Wall

Sunday, Feb. 19
NBA All-Star Game (8 p.m. ET | TNT) – Cousins, Davis, Wall

I love that half the field in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge are UK guys, although you and I both know I could take down anyone in a real Taco Bell Skills Challenge.

2. We will hear from John Calipari later this afternoon.

Coach Cal and a couple of his players will hold a pre-Georgia press conference around 2ish before the team takes off for Athens. As always, we will carry everything live via a video stream here on the internet with plenty of conversation about their comments to follow.

So check back later today for lots of basketball talk ahead of tomorrow’s tough road game.

3. It’s really hard to believe the SEC Tournament is three weeks away.

It’s actually less than three weeks if you like the non-Kentucky games, and you should.

Do you have the fever yet? Can you feel it? SEC Basketball Fever will soon be airborne and it’s contagious and you’re all going to catch it. Brace yourselves.

4. The second installment of our series of profiles on the basketball signees is up.

In case you missed it, my story on Nick Richards went up last night and can be found just south of what you’re reading right now on your computer screen. Tonight I will share more from that trip (the fun stuff) and then we’ll have more to come from Quade Green, PJ Washington and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander over the course of the next few weeks. In the meantime, read the Richards story that was almost impossible to write and check out Jack Pilgrim’s story on Jarred Vanderbilt here.

Thank you.

5. In today’s University of Louisville Scandal News…

Former UofL President/Scumbag James Ramsey secretly promised Tom Jurich an additional $6 million in incentives via the university’s nonprofit foundation back in 2014. The story from WDRB says, “There is no evidence that the athletics association board, nor the board of the foundation, approved the deal.” We’re talking about completely under the table, back alley handshake stuff here.

WHEN DOES IT END!

6. Trae Young will disappear at Oklahoma.

I’ll go ahead and go on record as saying what most of you are probably thinking: Trae Young going to Oklahoma means we will never hear a peep out of Trae Young again. Selfishly, as UK fans, that’s good. Because if he had gone to Kansas, he would’ve been a big addition to the Jayhawks and improved that team and all that. But now that he’s sticking around Norman, he’ll likely fall off the college basketball radar. Good luck to him, though. I won’t sit here and pretend like I didn’t want him at Kentucky when that was still a possibility. He’s a good player.

7. Why aren’t you following the new KSR Instagram page?

👋🏻 @kindly

A post shared by KSR Photos (@ksr_photos) on

You need to be doing that. It’s hot in the streets right now.

8. Let’s play “Guess The Line!”

Later today we’ll know the spread for Georgia-Kentucky when Vegas releases it into the gambling wild, but let’s toss our guesses out there now to see who can hit it.

I’ll say… Cats -7.

You?

9. The new Country Boy Brewery and Taproom opens in Georgetown today.

IMG_1454

Big thanks to the guys and gals at Country Boy Brewing for having me out to the soft opening of the new facility in Georgetown last night. I got to tour the new brewery, which is massive, and have a couple beers in the new taproom, which were delicious, and you should do the same tonight or tomorrow or Sunday or whenever. It’s a really cool spot and the expansion only means Country Boy is getting closer and closer to taking over the beer world, or maybe the whole world. I’m completely okay with either.

10. You’re stuck with me.

With Tyler and Nick on the road for various KSR assignments today and tomorrow, I’ve been left behind to hold down the KSR fort. That means I’m responsible for every single post from now until Sunday, so bear with me as I power through these next couple of days and nights. We’ll probably have to get off-topic from time to time or I’ll run out of things to say… I’m open to all suggestions and requests if you have any. Perhaps a Rising Stars game live blog? Taco Bell Chicken Chalupa review? My gambling picks since I’m on the hottest heater of all time? Lots of possibilities outside of the regular news stuff.

But for now, I need more coffee.


A Night in Jersey: Future Wildcat fouls out in front of Calipari, KSR

A Night in Jersey: Future Wildcat fouls out in front of Calipari, KSR

“What are you doing here?”

That is what John Calipari said to me when I walked into the Primetime Shootout at Roselle Catholic High School in New Jersey on a snowy Sunday evening. It was a fair question — and to be honest, I’m not really sure why I was there either.

The plan was to go to the Primetime Shootout to interview Nick Richards, one of six future Wildcats from the Class of 2017, for our annual series of profiles on Kentucky’s basketball signees. But after a month-long failure to establish any form of contact with Richards, his coaches or anyone from The Patrick School administration, getting a moment to speak with Richards was very unlikely.

Piling on to my improbable odds was the fact that the Shootout’s director, who did respond to my third e-mail, told me to buy a general admission ticket when I asked about media availability; and Richards was coming off a two-game suspension for fighting in a game the previous weekend.

Needless to say, I had very low expectations for my trip to the Garden State, but, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, they say. (And it’s not like I was going on my own dime.)


cal-barbee

The talent level at this year’s Primetime Shootout was absolutely insane as it featured several of the top players in high school basketball, which explains why John Calipari and Tony Barbee were in attendance for the night session, 24 hours after coaching Kentucky to a win down in Alabama.

A young man by the name of Nazreon Reid was the star of the first game Calipari and Barbee took in, the fifth game of the day at the invitational, between Roselle Catholic and Montclair Immaculate.

Reid is a five-star power forward in the Class of 2018, ranked No. 14 overall in that class, and he was as dominant of a big man that I have seen in high school basketball, especially for only being a junior.

He finished with 36 points (26 of which came in the second half) and 18 rebounds in Roselle’s come-from-behind win on its own homecourt.

Remember that name: Nazreon “Naz” Reid.

naz

Richards v. Brown

The marquee one-on-one matchup at the shootout was also my reason for driving through a blizzard to be there: Nick Richards of The Patrick School in the primetime game against Moses Brown of Archbishop Molloy out of Queens.

Brown is the No. 1 center in the Class of 2018 and he already holds offers from Kansas, Arizona, Louisville, UCLA, Florida and Maryland, among others. Duke and Kentucky are also very interested in Brown, although neither school has extended a scholarship offer just yet, and several other schools were in the building that night to watch him play.

Richards, on the other hand, had little to prove as he already knows where he will play his college ball, but he and his TPS teammates, six of whom have already signed with Division 1 schools, were out to win the final game of their regular season.

For a team as loaded as the first-ranked Shamrocks, the expectation is to win every game and anything short of the New Jersey Tournament of Champions championship is a failure.

richards-brown

As my luck would have it, Richards found himself in early foul trouble and he spent the majority of the first half on the bench. While I enjoyed watching his teammates and the sideline antics of his head coach, Mike Rice, formerly of the Rutgers abuse scandal, I did not travel to New Jersey to watch Richards sit on the pine.

At least one fan at Roselle Catholic shared my disappointment in Richards’ minutes. I heard someone yell, in a perfect New Jersey accent, “His coach didn’t come here to see him on the bench! Put him in!”

richards-bench

Richards would come back in with two fouls to start the second half, only to commit more fouls and eventually foul out of the game.

He finished with eight points and 11 rebounds in limited minutes in TPS’s 73-59 victory.

IMG_9765

However, in the action I did see, Richards’ athleticism was very impressive. I don’t know how suited his game is for the college level with what little I saw that night, but the seven-footer can definitely move and explode for someone of that size.

richards-dunk2

He showed off some passing ability, too:

pass-richards

The ESPN scouting report on him reads, “Richards is a high major center with great size and mobility. He is a big time finisher, rebounder and good scorer in and around the lane with excellent upside. His improvement has been steady each and every season. If he continues this ascension, his future is quite bright.”

I don’t disagree.

A man of very few words

After the game, I followed Adam Zagoria into the Shamrocks’ locker room in hopes of getting my conversation with Richards. With a little help from Zagoria and others in the media, I was able to pull Richards aside for a brief chat about his game and his future as a Wildcat.

richards-interview

He told me he was happy Coach Cal came out to watch him play on that particular night, but he doesn’t really pay attention to when his future coach is in the building. He also hasn’t spoken to Cal a lot recently, he said, because his focus is on finishing his high school season and “getting better everyday,” as Cal has encouraged him to do.

When I asked if he has spoken to any of Calipari’s big men, past or present, he told me, “I talk to Wenyen [Gabriel] sometimes. Wenyen, that’s probably it.”

Richards has also been in contact with Hamidou Diallo, a fellow Wildcat signee who enrolled early in the spring semester at Kentucky to get a head start on next season.

“I talk to Hamidou every now and then. He likes the campus life and he likes it down there.”

As for moving to Lexington in a couple of months, Richards said, “I’m excited to get ready for school, workouts and getting ready for the season — just trying to be the best player I can be.”

Blue got in

It is worth noting that several Kentucky fans from around the area made the trip to see Richards play at Roselle Catholic, the former high school of one Isaiah Briscoe.

IMG_1393

David Tulloch and his son, Ian, were impressed by Richards’ defense (although I think Ian was more excited to meet Coach Cal.)

I saw plenty of other members of the Big Blue Nation scattered across the gym as well, whenever they weren’t crowded around Calipari.

All in all, it was fun evening full of exciting high school basketball in a part of the country I had never seen. It would’ve been nice to see a little bit more of Richards on the floor, but luckily he’ll be in Lexington soon enough.

And I think you’re going to like him, BBN.


Why Calipari coaching the U19 National Team is a huge deal for Kentucky

Why Calipari coaching the U19 National Team is a huge deal for Kentucky

calipari-pyramids

In case you missed the news early this morning, ESPN is reporting that John Calipari will coach the U19 National Team in the FIBA World Championships this summer in Cairo, Egypt. This is huge for Calipari, who has wanted to be part of USA Basketball for a long time; however, it’s also big news for Kentucky. Why? Let’s break it down.

Calipari will have access to the top players in the sport

First, the obvious: recruiting. The under 19 squad is made up of the best rising college sophomores, incoming college freshmen and rising high school seniors in the country, meaning Calipari will have access to several members of the 2018 class. The 2015 U19 team featured Terrance Ferguson, Harry Giles, Josh Jackson, and Jayson Tatum, all of whom were uncommitted at the time. Several top prospects in the 2018 class could be on the U19 team, such as Immanuel Quickley, Javonte Smart, Romeo Langford, and Cameron Reddish. As if Calipari needs help recruiting, having access to these guys this summer is a huge advantage. (And don’t worry, the FIBA World Championships ends just in time for Calipari to be back for the Peach Jam.)

It will basically be summer practice for a core group of incoming Kentucky freshmen (and maybe sophomores)

Even before word that Calipari will be coach leaked out, several future Cats had a great chance of making the U19 squad; Hamidou Diallo, Quade Green, and PJ Washington all played for the gold medal-winning Team USA U18 squad last summer, along with Mohamed Bamba, one of Calipari’s few remaining prospects in the 2017 class. You’ve gotta assume Calipari will bring all of those guys, along with Jarred Vanderbilt, who has played in the USA Basketball system before, and any current freshmen that decide to come back. (Nick Richards was born in Jamaica, so he can’t participate.)

With Dominique Hawkins, Derek Willis, Mychal Mulder, and most of this year’s freshmen class headed out the door after this season, next year’s group could be Calipari’s youngest squad ever (and that’s saying something). We saw the impact a 10-day trip to the Bahamas had on the 2014-15 squad; Calipari being able to coach the core of his new team this summer will be the head start he’s needed now more than ever.

It puts Calipari back in the USA Basketball system

It’s no secret that Calipari has wanted back in the USA Basketball system for years. Cal dipped his toe into international basketball waters in 2011 and 2012 by coaching the Dominican Republic National Team, which included Karl Towns. With Coach K stepping down as the US Men’s National Team head coach, Calipari is now back in the system. Gregg Popovich will coach the US Men’s National Team in the 2020 Olympics, but by then, he’ll be in his 70’s. Is this step #1 to Calipari eventually replacing him?