Two of the all-time winningest programs in the history of college basketball will meet for →
Two of the all-time winningest programs in the history of college basketball will meet for the 26th time this Saturday when your University of Kentucky Wildcats roll into Chapel Hill to face the Tar Heels of North Carolina. The two teams have squared off 13 times since the series was renewed in 2000, with a break last season to offset the home-home schedule and a postseason showdown in the 2011 NCAA East Regional Finals in Newark, New Jersey. North Carolina currently leads the series 22-13, but Kentucky has won three of the last four under John Calipari after dropping five consecutive meetings from 2004 to 2008 under Tubby Smith and Billy Gillispie.
Tonight on KSR, as a way to get you ready for one of your favorite Saturdays in December, I have a complete rundown of the UK-UNC series, dating all the way back to the first time the two programs met in 1924. Shout-out to Jon Scott and Big Blue History for all the research and information.
North Carolina 41, Kentucky 20
February 24, 1924
SEC Tournament, Atlanta, GA
Three years after shocking the south by winning its first Southern Conference Championship, Kentucky drew North Carolina in the first round of the 1924 bracket, resulting in a loss to the much better Tar Heels. North Carolina’s Jack Cobb almost outscored Kentucky on his own with 17 points in the 41-20 win. The Tar Heels went on to win the tournament.
North Carolina 26, Kentucky 15
January 1, 1929
Alumni Gymnasium, Lexington, KY
4,000 Kentucky basketball fans showed up for a disappointing outing from the team in blue, their first loss of the season. The Lexington Herald-Leader’s Neil Plummer wrote, “A lot of credit must be given to the Tarheels, who seemingly could hit a basketball goal dead center from almost any part of the floor, it was a Wildcat team that played as if it didn’t know what a basketball was, that aided the visitors in their drive to victory.”
North Carolina 43, Kentucky 42
February 27, 1932
SEC Tournament, Atlanta, GA
UK fell one point shy in Adolph Rupp’s first shot at North Carolina. Kentucky’s Forest Sale, whose jersey hangs in Rupp Arena today, had a game-high 20 points but it still wasn’t enough to get the W as the Wildcats blew a nine-point lead in the second half en route to the loss.
North Carolina’s Virgil Weathers hit a “one-armed heave” with 30 seconds left to give the Tarheels its first lead and the final score, 43-42.
(2) Kentucky 83, North Carolina 44
January 9, 1950
Alumni Gym, Lexington, KY
Kentucky won its first game over North Carolina in front of 2,200 fans in Alumni Gym in 1950. Four players — Walter Hersch, Jim Line, Bill Spivey, and Dale Barnstable — reached double-figures for the Wildcats, with Hersch’s 18 points leading the way. It was the ninth win in the first ten games of the 1949-50 season, with the lone loss coming to Frank McGuire’s St. Johns team in the third game of the year. UK finished the season with a 25-5 record, including an SEC Championship and a loss to eventual champion City College of New York in the quarterfinals of the NIT.
Kentucky 76, North Carolina 70
December 18, 1959
Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, KY
Bennie Coffman and Bill Lickert combined for half of Kentucky’s 76 points in the win over North Carolina in the University of Kentucky Invitational Tournament. The tournament also featured St. Louis, West Virginia, and that awesome poster you see above.
Kentucky lost in the UKIT finals to West Virginia, a Mountaineers team that featured a young Jerry West.
Kentucky 70, (5) North Carolina 65
December 13, 1960
Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
Head coach Frank McGuire, now at UNC, and his fifth-ranked Tar Heels lost to Kentucky, 70-65, in the first time the rivalry was played on North Carolina soil. Vincent Del Negro, the father of former NBA coach/player Vinny Del Negro, scored six points for UK in the win.
By show of hands, how many of you knew Vinny Del Negro Sr. played for Kentucky?
North Carolina 68, Kentucky 66
December 17, 1962
Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, KY
Dean Smith won the first Dean Smith/Adolph Rupp showdown in 1962. A young Larry Brown led the way with 19 points, outshining Kentucky star Cotton Nash in the two point win.
Little did we know at the time, probably because most of us weren’t born yet, Smith, Rupp, and Brown would go on to win a lot of basketball games throughout their careers.
(9) Kentucky 100, North Carolina 80
December 9, 1963
Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, KY
Cotton Nash got his revenge two years later by scoring 23 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out five assists in a blowout win over North Carolina. UNC’s Billy Cunningham led all scorers with 32, but the Wildcats were too much for the Tar Heels in this one, shooting 41-of-82 from the field.
(13) North Carolina 82, (11) Kentucky 67
December 7, 1964
Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC
With Cotton Nash in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, a young Pat Riley stepped up for the Cats with a team-high 16 points. The freshman’s efforts weren’t enough, though, as Billy Cunningham led all scorers once again with 22 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in the UNC win.
Fun Fact: Cunningham was nicknamed “The Kangaroo Kid.”
(8) North Carolina 64, (3) Kentucky 55
December 13, 1966
Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, KY
Led by 24 points from Larry Miller, 8th-ranked North Carolina defeated 3rd-ranked Kentucky in Lexington, 64-55. Miller was later named ACC Player of the Year that season.
(5) North Carolina 77, (9) Kentucky 84
December 12, 1967
Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
Meeting for a second consecutive season as top 10 teams, North Carolina handed Kentucky a third consecutive loss in the rivalry, this time in Greensboro, North Carolina.
A sophomore Mike Pratt tallied 13 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
(2) North Carolina 87, (3) Kentucky 77
December 7, 1968
Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, KY
11,500 fans showed up to watch Kentucky lose, yet again, to North Carolina. This time the two teams were ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the AP poll. Kentucky’s Mike Casey had a game-high 26 points in the loss. Dan Issel added 19 points and nine boards.
(2) Kentucky 94, (7) North Carolina 87
December 8, 1969
Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC
Sitting at 1-5 against Dean Smith in his career, Adolph Rupp finally got back in the series’ win column in 1969. Dan Issel and Mike Pratt were the stars of the game for the Wildcats. Issel scored 41 points on 15-of-31 shooting with 15 rebounds, alongside Pratt’s 27 points and 10 rebounds.
Kentucky lost to Jacksonville in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight later that season.
(13) North Carolina 78, (8) Kentucky 70
December 11, 1972
Freedom Hall, Louisville, KY
Now with Joe B. Hall at the helm, Kentucky fell to North Carolina, 78-70, in front of 16,000 fans in Louisville’s Freedom Hall. The loss was the third in the first four games of Coach Hall’s head coaching career. The Cats finished the year with a 20-8 record and a loss to Indiana in the Mideast Regional Finals in Nashville.
(5) North Carolina 101, (10) Kentucky 84
December 10, 1973
Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
Kentucky’s Kevin Grevey led all scorers with 23 points, but Grevey’s effort wasn’t enough as Kentucky lost again to North Carolina, the second time in Joe B. Hall’s first two years.
All-American Bobby Jones scored 21 for the Tar Heels.
(15) Kentucky 90, (9) North Carolina 78
December 9, 1974
Freedom Hall, Louisville, KY
The third time was the charm for Joe B. Hall against Dean Smith as Kentucky won its third meeting against UNC under Hall, 90-78, behind 35 points from Jimmy Dan Conner. The Cats needed a 26-3 run to overcome a 31-16 first half deficit en route to the victory. The win sparked a seven-game win streak that included wins over 18th-ranked Kansas and 13-ranked Notre Dame.
(4) North Carolina 90, (7) Kentucky 77
December 8, 1975
Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC
A 19-year-old Goose Givens scored 24 points with 10 rebounds in 37 minutes, but Goose’s big night wasn’t enough to even Joe B. Hall’s score against Dean Smith. North Carolina won the game, 90-77, in the old Charlotte Coliseum. The win gave North Carolina an 11-6 record in the series.
(5) North Carolina 79, (3) Kentucky 72
March 19, 1977
NCAA East Regional Finals, College Park, MD
After wins over Princeton and VMI, Kentucky met North Carolina in the Elite Eight of the 1977 NCAA Tournament, where its season came to an end. North Carolina shot 33-of-36 from the foul line — take notes, 2013-14 Wildcats — and advanced to the Final Four with a win.
(1) North Carolina 82, (2) Kentucky 69
December 26, 1981
East Rutherford, NJ
Playing in the new Brendan Byrne Arena (later known as Continental Arena, Meadowlands Arena, and the IZOD Center) in East Rutherford, New Jersey, North Carolina won the battle of unbeatens and the nation’s top ranked teams. That North Carolina team featured Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and Sam Perkins, while Kentucky’s star, Sam Bowie, sat on the bench recovering from a stress fracture of his left tibia.
Jordan, Worthy and Perkins combined for 66 of UNC’s 82 points in the win.
(24) North Carolina 121, Kentucky 110
December 27, 1989
Freedom Hall, Louisville, KY
A Rick Pitino led Kentucky Wildcats team dropped its fourth straight to the Tar Heels in 1989, Pitino’s first season in Lexington. Redshirt sophomore Deron Feldhaus and senior Derrick Miller scored 27 and 26, respectively, in the loss. Sophomore Richie Farmer added another 21.
(10) North Carolina 84, (25) Kentucky 81
December 10, 1990
Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
Now coaching in the arena that carries his name in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Dean Smith beat Kentucky for what feels like the one-billionth time. John Pelphrey led all scorers with 24 in the losing effort and we have now entered the Eric Montross era of North Carolina basketball. He scored two points.
(4) North Carolina 74, (2) Kentucky 61
March 25, 1995
NCAA Southeast Regional Finals, Birmingham, AL
After cruising through the first three rounds of the 1995 NCAA Tournament, one seeded Kentucky fell to two seeded North Carolina, 74-61, in the first game I actually remember in the series. That Cats had four regular season losses that year by a combined 10 points, including a one point loss on the road at eventual champion UCLA and a two point loss to Louisville in Freedom Hall.
Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace combined for 30 to Walter McCarty and Tony Delk’s 33 in the Elite Eight game.
Kentucky 93, (6) North Carolina 76
December 2, 2000
Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
In the first game of the current series, Tubby Smith’s unranked Kentucky Wildcats poured it on Matt Doherty’s sixth-ranked Tar Heels for UK’s first win over North Carolina in 26 years. Tayshaun Prince, Keith Bogans, Marquis Estill, Cliff Hawkins, and Saul Smith all reached double-figures in the win.
(11) Kentucky 79, North Carolina 59
December 8, 2001
Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
One of the single greatest shooting performances college basketball has ever seen. Tayshaun Prince, 7-for-11 from downtown, 5-for-5 in the first four minutes…
(18) Kentucky 98, (12) North Carolina 81
December 7, 2002
Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
Hayes, Estill, Fitch and Bogans matched North Carolina’s 81 points as Tubby Smith advanced to 3-0 over North Carolina. Fitch’s 25 marked a career-high.
(8) Kentucky 61, (9) North Carolina 56
January 3, 2004
Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
Make it four in a row over the Tar Heels for Tubby Smith as the Cats came from behind to beat North Carolina, this time under Roy Williams, in Rupp Arena, 61-56. It was a one point game with under a minute to play until Gerald Fitch knocked down a fadeaway three-pointer with 24 seconds left to stretch the lead to four. Cliff Hawkins sealed the deal with a steal and free throw in the final seconds.
Tubby Smith credited walk-on Ravi Moss with the spark that brought UK back when the Cats trailed by 10 in the second half.
(8) North Carolina 91, (9) Kentucky 78
December 4, 2004
Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
The Tar Heels led from start to finish in the 2004 meeting with Rashad McCants scoring a game-high 28 points, 20 of those coming in the first half. UK trimmed an 18-point deficit down to seven late in the game but that’s as close as the Cats would get.
North Carolina 83, (10) Kentucky 79
December 3, 2005
Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
Kentucky was outworked and out-hustled by a young North Carolina team that featured a freshman Tyler Hansbrough. Rajon Rondo scored 20 points, but it wasn’t enough to get the job done as UK’s poor showing on national television resulted in an L.
(7) North Carolina 75, Kentucky 63
December 2, 2006
Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
Another loss to North Carolina in 2006 dropped the Cats to 4-3 on the season and marked the third consecutive loss to the Tar Heels. Randolph Morris shut down Tyler Hansbrough, exactly what UK needed, but Wayne Ellington, Reyshawn Terry, and Brandan Wright made up for Psycho T’s absence. Morris scored 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting with seven rebounds in the outstanding, but losing effort.
(1) North Carolina 86, Kentucky 77
December 1, 2007
Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
Before Kentucky fans knew Billy Gillispie was Billy Gillispie, his young Wildcats showed fight against the best team in college basketball. The problem was, it takes more than Patrick Patterson, Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley to win a basketball game. Kentucky’s big three combined for 59 points but got no help, outside of seven from Alex Legion, from their teammates.
Your boy Mark Coury had zero points in 21 minutes.
(1) North Carolina 77, Kentucky 58
November 18, 2008
Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
53 points from Jodie Meeks, Patrick Patterson’s afro and Ramon Harris; five points from everyone else. Kentucky and its new incredibly baggy shorts lost big, falling to 0-2 on the year after losing to VMI in the season opener.
It only got worse from there.
(5) Kentucky 68, (10) North Carolina 66
December 5, 2009
Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
We all remember this as the day Kentucky basketball in Rupp Arena got fun again.
John Wall, ladies and gentlemen. John Wall.
North Carolina 75, (10) Kentucky 73
December 4, 2010
Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
UK led North Carolina in the final four minutes but the Tar Heels came back and escaped with a narrow victory. Doron Lamb scored 24, Tyler Zeller scored 27, and Jarrod Polson kicked it to Lamb for what would’ve been the game-winner from just inside half-court had it gone in.
Watch the final minutes here…
The two teams would meet again…
(5) Kentucky 76, (10) North Carolina 69
March 27, 2011
NCAA East Regional Finals, Newark, NJ
A DeAndre Liggins three-pointer sent Kentucky back to the Final Four for the first time in almost a decade. It also created one of Big Blue Nation’s favorite moments in a long, long time…
(1) Kentucky 73, (5) North Carolina 72
December 3, 2011
Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
Another magical moment occurred a little over eight months later when Anthony Davis’ block won the game for Kentucky and almost brought the roof down in Rupp Arena.
And we all know how that season ended.
(11) Kentucky ___, (18) North Carolina ___
December 14, 2013
Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
(Photo by Darrell Bird)
So, it’s like the Baylor game never happened, right? Well, maybe just a little. Kentucky was determined to put a terrible trip to Dallas behind them, and they did just that Tuesday night, putting away Boise State 70-55. Here are the eight things that stood out to me:
1. Consistently inconsistent
It’s becoming a familiar pattern: the Cats jump out to an early lead then let the other team drift back into until things get worrisome. Tonight, Willie Cauley-Stein started the game off hot, getting a layup, a block, and an offensive rebound to help the Cats to a 4-0 lead, only to have Boise State smack back with hot shooting to take the lead 14-13 at the 12:30 mark. Most of Boise State’s moxie came from Aussie Anthony Drmic, who led the Broncos with 18 points, and even managed to steal some of the hair talk from Willie:
Kentucky’s tendency to blow hot and cold is their most reliable trait so far this season. Calipari blames it on their youth and inexperience, and said that slowly but surely, they’re getting better.
2. “Goldie-Blocks” backed it up
He’s had it for less than a day, but I’m already sick of hearing about Willie Cauley-Stein’s hair. “Hairgate” swept the BBN on Tuesday, with the pictures of Willie’s hair almost crashing the site. It was like “Felicity” all over again. No matter how you feel about Willie’s hair, you can’t deny that he had a good game tonight, turning in six points, seven rebounds, and nine blocks, tying his career high from a week ago. While his point total may seem low, his defensive presence in the middle made up for it. Willie didn’t just block shots–by the way, he’s only one off Anthony Davis’ pace ten games in–he kept Boise State honest, altering their game plan and forcing them to shoot from the outside. Cal praised Willie for switching out and defending guards, which helped silence one of the best offenses in the country.
What did Cal think about the hair? After the game, he had the most pragmatic response I’ve heard yet: “I’m not the tattoo police, and I’m not the hair police. I don’t care how you make your hair look. But I’ll say this Willie, ‘Looking like that, you better play.’” Cal mentioned another flamboyant baller, Dennis Rodman, and told Willie “you can paint your hair all you want, just be like him.”
It’s worth mentioning that Willie had a beanie on as he came out to talk to reporters and Julius Randle ripped it off, playfully shoving him into the first circle of reporters. No covering that up now, Willie.
3. Signs of life on defense
Although the first half was a little shaky, the Cats pretty much shut down Boise State in the second, holding the second highest-scoring team in country to 31.9% shooting and only 55 points overall, 37 below their average. That was no easy feat, Cal said, calling the Broncos “as hard to guard as any (team) you’ll play.”
A lot of Kentucky’s success on defense was due to their size, which Boise State’s Ryan Watkins admitted was “hard to simulate.” After being humiliated by Baylor on the boards, the Cats outrebounded Boise State 43-27. Cal said he challenged his team to start taking things personally: “Whatever we do, you have to take it personal and look at the other guy and say ‘I’m going after you.’”
4. Still sloppy on offense
As encouraging as UK’s defensive intensity was in the second half, their offensive execution was still pretty sloppy. The Cats has 19 turnovers to Boise State’s 8, a number which Cal said was way too high, and blamed on poor passing:
“We turned the ball over way too much, just cross court passes, give it up earlier, holding onto the ball with three guys, bad post feed for no reason. We had a lot of turnovers. It was a sagging man to man. It was like they were out trapping us and going nuts.”
5. Julius Randle is back to double-doubling
Julius got back to being Julius tonight, notching his eighth double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds. His best play came in the second half when he was finally able to shake off some tiring Boise State defenders. Afterwards, Boise State coach Leon Rice said that he had to leave James Young open in order to put more defenders on Julius or “Randle gets 30.” (Fortunately, Young made the most of it, leading scorers with 21.)
Cal lamented about “Mob-a-Randle” after the game to Tom Leach: “Do you understand how good he is? Do you understand what the other team is doing to him?” Cal said. “He’s going to have an easier time in the league than he’s going to have here.”
Crazy, if true.
6. Andrew played well
Andrew Harrison was the subject of a lot of criticism coming into tonight’s game, but he played pretty well. He finished with 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 turnovers in 31 minutes. Andrew told Mike Pratt on the radio show afterwards that he knew he had to step it up after a terrible performance against Baylor: “I know that Baylor game was on me because I didn’t play good defense. I couldn’t sleep after the game”
Cal seemed pleased, but said that at times, Andrew pouted, and as a result, got yanked for Dominique Hawkins.
“I thought he did a good job. I thought there were times that if he dropped that head, I was taking him out. That’s just how it is. I need him to play. you know when you have that ball in your hands, it’s so important, we all feed off of him,” Cal said. “He was better tonight, but there were still moments, when you drop your head, you’re out. Dominique’s going in.”
You better not pout, you better not cry…
7. The bench didn’t score any points
Considering how big Kentucky’s bench is, it’s crazy that they didn’t have any bench points tonight. Four players came off the bench (Dominique Hawkins, Jarrod Polson, Dakari Johnson, and Alex Poythress) to combine for 47 minutes and 0 points. Marcus Lee sat out the game with a stomach bug, and because Boise State plays so many guards, Cal said Dakari didn’t get as many minutes as he would otherwise. While they didn’t score, both Dominique Hawkins and Alex Poythress both brought intensity and hustle. Cal said afterwards that he liked having Alex in the game alongside Julius, which is something the team only started working on yesterday.
8. Still need to take it to the next level to beat UNC
Tonight was a good way to shake off a bad trip to Dallas. By the end, we even got some dunks to remind us what this team is capable of. However, this team is still inconsistent, and will need a full 40-minute performance to beat North Carolina on the road. That being said, I feel a lot better about it now than I did on Saturday morning.
Today we at KSR are excited to announce that we are entering into a new partnership agreement with 247Sports. It is an exciting moment for KSR and we believe it will help make KSR even better in the years to come. Here is the official announcement of the agreement:
247Sports is proud to announce we have signed a partnership agreement with Kentucky Sports Radio (KSR), the largest independent college sports blog in America. With power brands like KSR and The Cats’ Pause working together in the Kentucky market, fans of UK football, basketball and recruiting should benefit immensely.
“KSR is the undisputed champ in the Kentucky sports market,” 247Sports founder and CEO Shannon Terry said. “247Sports has a war chest of talent, content and products for fans – highlighted by the industry-generated 247Sports Composite rankings and Crystal Ball prediction engine. By working together, Kentucky fans can have the best of both worlds.”
KSR and 247Sports will continue to operate kentuckysportsradio.com and CatsPause.com independently, but this formal partnership allows the free KSR blog and CatsPause.com’s premium subscription site to complement one another and make each brand stronger.
“We are very excited about the chance to partner up with 247Sports and increase what we can offer to UK and KSR fans,” KentuckySportsRadio.com founder Matt Jones said. “KSR has always strived to be, and will remain, the premier free place for UK fans to gather and get their UK news in the ‘most ridiculous manner possible.’ But now with the resources that 247Sports can provide, especially in the way of recruiting, we think the KSR blog will only become better.”
KSR readers will get exclusive posts and stories from CatsPause.com recruiting writer Chris Fisher and contributions from other recruiting experts in the 247Sports network.
KSR staffers like Matt Jones, Drew Franklin, Tyler Thompson and others will will be a part of CatsPause.com’s message board community and will be available – along with CatsPause.com staffers Chris Fisher, Darrell Bird, Jon Hale and Josh Edwards – to interact with fans day and night to discuss all things UK. All the experts will also make 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions to help UK fans stay informed during the recruiting process.
“247Sports is light years ahead of its competition in cutting edge content, and The Cats’ Pause is the legendary name in the world of UK sports that is known by nearly every fan in the Big Blue Nation,” Jones said. “This partnership will allow all of these entities to work together and thereby create for UK fans the best and most complete Internet coverage in college sports.”
So you may be asking yourself, in layman’s terms what does this all mean? Well as a starting point, it is important to know that, there will be absolutely no change to the KSR Blog or KentuckySportsRadio.com. Drew and Tyler will still be full time KSR blog employees, I will still be doing all the same KSR things and the post formats and numbers will be the same as always. The one major difference is that we will now have contributions on this blog from 247Sports employees such as Chris Fisher and national recruiting analysts. In fact, in the area of recruiting, KSR will be taking a MAJOR step forward, providing even more recruiting information, specifically on the football side. It isn’t a secret that we haven’t focused on football recruiting here on KSR, and now you will see the type of information that is normally only found on pay sites here on KSR for free for the reader. In fact, the first of these posts by Chris Fisher will be up on the site a little bit later today.
While the KSR blog will not change significantly (except to improve), we will be providing some changes for 247Sports’ UK site, CatsPause.com. Drew, Tyler and I will participate in their message board community there, and it will allow us to interact with fans in ways that we haven’t really been able to before. The KSR comment section doesn’t really lend itself to “discussion” (except during the show thread and times to yell at each other and call each other names), so we have for years been kicking around the idea of having a place to interact and talk with KSR fans. We now will be able to do that on CatsPause.com. The message boards there are free (with the occasional “VIP” comment) and Drew, Tyler and I will be a part of them to discuss what is going on in the world of UK sports. When something relevant is discussed there, we will link it here and the hope is that many of you will come over there, register for an account (which you can do at this link) and chat with us. Its just another place to talk UK sports in a forum that we have never had here on KSR. We will also be part of their Crystal Ball prognostications and some of their discussions on the site. None of our work will be in the “VIP” section, but instead will be there for the free account holders.
So why are we doing this? Simply put, 247Sports in the best overall college sports website network in the country. We believe that KSR is the best independent college sports site in the country. We want to always keep that independence but also want to give our readers access to some of the advantages that a network can bring, especially in the world of recruiting. Thus this partnership agreement allows us to do that. You will see many of the cutting edge changes created by 247Sports on this site and the amount of recruiting information will grow exponentially here, especially in the world of football. Simply put, it will make KSR even better, while retaining our independence and “most ridiculous manner possible” mindset.
Our hope is that this partnership agreement will give you even more of what you want in your college sports coverage. You now will have all the benefits of the old KSR, with new coverage from the 247 employees, while also having the ability to go on the 247 site and interact and use their databases and cool products like Crystal Ball, Class Calculator and others in ways you may not have before. We think it is a win-win for both of us, and more importantly for the KSR fans. We hope you enjoy.
(Not the highlight of the day for the NFL… The Redskins crowd… Yikes)
The NFL provided us with quite the treat today when in a span of 30 minutes, it seemed as if nearly every single game from the 1:00 time slot ended in dramatic and exciting fashion. If you’re like me, and you have no dog in the fight other than a few fantasy football players of interest, then Sunday afternoon was just plain fun. For those with rooting interest tied deeply to particular teams (I’m looking at you Terrible Towelers), the afternoon might have been nothing short of agonizing. We had the Steelers end of the game near-miracle, that was a mere milimeters away from being one of the most brilliant and exciting finishes in years. Then we had Tom Brady and the Patriots stealing one from the most unfortunate Browns in the waning moments of the game. Then we had perhaps the most overall entertaining game of the day: The Snow Bowl between the Lions and the Eagles. With a field covered in inches of snow, both teams put together a better game of football than many anticipated. The scenes and photos from the game were wild and it became a must-watch, if for no other reason than because of the shock value of the state of the field. And then finally, the poor, poor, poor Vikings. The Vikings’ season, our entertainment. Sorry, Mary Jo Perino.
After an action packed start to the weekend, let’s take a look at 10 thoughts and takeaways from the weekend that was in Kentucky sports…
1) Cal isn’t at a loss like last year, but he is certainly frustrated
During various points last season (a lot of points, in fact), John Calipari seemed almost at a loss when it came to analyzing and figuring out his team. Calipari is certainly not to that point with this team, but he is clearly frustrated after Friday night’s performance. The Cats took one step forward against Providence, and two steps back against Baylor. Calipari seemed genuinely pleased with his team earlier in the week, but whatever positives were to be taken from that victory were quickly erased by the disappointing finish against Baylor. Cal sees what we see… a team loaded with talent and potential. With that said, this team had an opportunity to put the foot on the gas pedal and finish Baylor midway through the second half, and instead did all of the things you can’t do if you want to win a game: lose the rebounding battle, turnovers, poor interior defense, miserable free throw shooting, lack of passion/effort.
2) It’s not time to panic, but there are legitimate concerns to be had with this team…
The good news is, while the Cats are stumbling a bit in the early part of the season… most of the other top teams in the country are doing the same thing. The 4 teams who participated in the Champions Classic (Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State) have totaled 7 losses already only a month into the season. That’s probably more than anyone would have expected, but it makes me feel a little bit better about Kentucky’s woes. Kansas strikes an uncanny resemblance to Kentucky, relying heavily on the play of freshmen and a few sophomores. The result has been a struggle with more experienced teams and coaches who can put together confusing defensive schemes to confuse the young players. The 4 teams mentioned above all figure to still be a big part of the national championship picture as the season goes on, but which team will find its stride the soonest and which team will avoid a slide that might wind up hurting seeding come NCAA tournament time (It’s never too early to start thinking about that…)
3) 2 non-double-double games in a row from Julius Randle
It might seem a bit harsh to criticize a guy after a 16 point, 8 rebound performance… but in the case of Julius Randle, he is just held to a higher standard than the average college basketball player. Randle came out guns blazing to start the season, churning out 7 straight double-doubles before missing on the feat for the first time against Providence. Friday’s game against Baylor marks the second game in a row in which Randle has failed to reach the milestone. The early streak probably got expectations a little too high that Randle could do it every time, but a guy as talented and physically as imposing as Randle CAN do it every time. Will he? No. But he can, and I think his production against Baylor could have been a little better.
4) 2 losses both to teams with solid big men
Both of Kentucky’s losses this season (Michigan State and Baylor) have come at the hands of teams with a strong front court. Adreian Payne had a productive night against the Cats when they played in Chicago and Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson were both key contributers on Friday night as well. The two combined for 26 points against the Cats and gave Kentucky some trouble on the defensive end. Between Julius Randle, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress…Kentucky shouldn’t lose the front court battle too often, and definitely should not lose the rebounding battle (41-25 in favor of Baylor).
5) Still waiting on Andrew Harrison and free throws
The two biggest areas where it seems like Kentucky fans keep waiting to see improvement: Andrew Harrison’s play and free throws. It’s not necessarily that Harrison is playing poorly (He had 6 assists and 7 points against Baylor), but he’s yet to look the part of one of the elite point guards in the country. He still struggles on the defensive end against the dribble, and he still hasn’t completely helped the team into an offensive groove for a total 40 minutes.
In other frustrating news, Kentucky still struggles mightily from the free throw line. Such poor free throw shooting has almost come to be expected from Calipari teams, but it’s flat out costing this Kentucky team games at this poiint. Both the Michigan State and Baylor losses could have been remedied with even slightly improved free throw shooting. Heck, if the Cats could just hang somwhere around the 75% clip, the 40-0 t-shirt folks might still have hope. Kentucky shot 52.2% on the night from the free throw line and that’s unacceptable. The most frustrating part? Even guys like James Young, who is a tremendous shooter, can’t be counted on from the free throw line. As the kids say, the struggle is real. And I used to find the kind of people who call into call-in shows about free throw shooting to be terribly annoying. Now I’m fumbling to find the number to place that call myself.
6) Cal’s system perfect for the rule change…not perfect for poor free throw shooters
As many suspected, the dribble drive and type of offense that Cal runs, allowing players to take on their man 1-v-1, is perfect for the new emphasis on calling touch fouls. Kentucky has found itself on the free throw line plenty of times, and with the advantage in athleticism the Cats can put other teams in foul trouble. With that said, the system doesn’t give much of an advantage if the Cats can’t make free throws.
7) The future Wildcats are looking good…
A couple of future Wildcats from the 2014 class played this weekend in the Marshall County Hoop Fest, giving Kentucky fans a front row seat to watch the next batch of Cats. Devin Booker and Trey Lyles both looked impressive in their performances this weekend, showcasing why the future could be bright in Lexington. Booker, a shooting guard, went for 40 points and 9 rebounds in a losing effort against Ballard. Booker’s numbers were fairly efficient too (9 of 18 from the field, 20 of 24 from the free throw line…HEYYYY!!!). Lyles had two strong performances, taking home MVP honors. Lyles finished with 30 points (10-16 shooting), 19 rebounds and 2 assists in an impressive win over Ballard (Kentucky’s top-ranked team). Lyles’ team had another big win later in the day when they took down Huntington Prep, one of the top teams in the country. Lyles finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Hurry up and get to Lexington fellas.
8) Football is still rolling…
Mark Stoops and his staff haven’t stopped moving since Kentucky concluded its season against Tennessee last weekend. If you follow any of the future Wildcats and potential future Wildcats on Twitter, you can see that the staff has been making the rounds to visit the guys. The staff is clearly putting a priority on keeping this year’s recruiting class in tact, while also making some visits to the next crop of players. The momentum hasn’t stalled a bit for the Kentucky staff.
9) Dallas is no one’s favorite place after this weekend…
I don’t think I need to go into much detail on this one. Delayed flights, icy roads, late nights, bad losses… Let’s just forget this ever happened. Unless you are the UK women’s basketball team. The real winners of the weekend were the ladies, as they not only came away with a 2nd win over a top-10 ranked team in the span of a week, but also captured the attention of the sports world in a 4 OT thriller win against Baylor. While most of the world tuned into ESPN to catch the Baylor-Kentucky men’s game, they were instead treated to an instant-classic that saw both teams go back and forth before Kentucky finally pulled away from the Bears. Matthew Mitchell’s squad got a ton of good publicity and buzz from the event, which will hopefully propel them in their quest for the school’s first women’s basketball Final 4.
10) We knew that this stretch of games would be a growing experience… Breathe.
When it’s all said and done, we knew that this stretch of games which the Cats are in the midst of (Providence, Baylor, Boise State, North Carolina, Belmont and Louisville) would provide a huge test and a chance for growth for this young team. We expected Kentucky could potentially take a few blows during this stretch, especially once we cooled on the idea of a perfect season thanks to Michigan State. The reality is that this team is young and this string of games allows very little margin for error. The teams are all good teams, and each game provides a challenge in one way or another for the Cats. With Christmas break just around the corner (meaning the Cats will get unlimited practice time with Cal), this team could undergo some serious growth and improvement, even if they still take a few more losses between now and the first of the year. Just breathe though, folks. Perhaps our expectations were too high to begin with. But this team has plenty of time, and plenty of upcoming chances against good opponents to right the ship.
It’s the start of a new month, which means it’s time to look back and rank each UK basketball player by their performance on social media in November. What counts as a good performance? They can be funny, like Perry Stevenson; real like Patrick Patterson; or straight up legendary like Doron Lamb. In October, Tod Lanter came out on top again, but freshman Marcus Lee was close behind. With another month of social media interaction under their belts, who will reign supreme this go around? Here are November’s Tweet Beat Power Rankings:
Im a thug. I do my crossword puzzles in pen.
— Tod Lanter (@tod_lanterIII) November 6, 2013
I think that would also classify you as a baller.
Best recent Instagram:
Tod shared this video of EJ Floreal dancing in the streets of New York City with a Salvation Army bell ringer over the weekend. I could watch four hours of that.
Twitter style: The reigning Tweet Beat power ranking champ is on top again, thanks to his trademark dry humor and some behind-the-scenes videos of the team’s trip to NYC. I wish the rest of the team would do more of this.
Think I'm gonna cut the hair today
— ☆€@TAL¥ST☆ (@TrillWill15) November 26, 2013
Change my mind I gotta grow it out like zero on holes my boy @davisreid has inspired me
— ☆€@TAL¥ST☆ (@TrillWill15) November 26, 2013
Nice decision, Willie
Best recent Instagram:
Willie’s growing the fro, which means there are some great pictures of his awkward growing out phase. Some have even inspired art.
Twitter stock: Willie’s hair has been the main topic of his social media interactions this past month. He was all ready to cut it until the Big Blue Nation made a plea for it to stay. If this past week is any indication, the longer Willie’s hair grows, the better he plays, so that’s fine by us. Willie hinted that he doesn’t really run his Instagram account this week, which is a total lie judging by the number of shoe shots (shoefies?) and selfies. However, if you read some of the comments, it’s clear the lady in his life has some influence over it, including rejecting the possibility of Willie getting cornrows as his hair gets longer. I, for one, thank her for that.
My back has been cracking so much lately. Feels so good!!
— Marcus Lee ∞ (@SuperKingMe) November 21, 2013
Marcus and I share this joy.
Best recent Instagram:
At first glance, I thought that was a crushed velvet tank top. Upon further inspection, I think it’s just a print, but regardless, that is one hipstery/hippy thing to wear in the middle of November.
Twitter stock: Lee’s still his cheerful, positive self on Twitter, which is great; however, I wish he’d share a little bit more about himself. The real way to get to know Marcus is through his retweets (RTs). For instance, through those, I know he likes the upcoming “Boy Meets World” sequel series “Girl Meets World,” enjoys “food porn” (pictures of tasty looking food like chocolate covered strawberries), and may be the UK Volleyball team’s biggest fan. Show us that in your own words, Marcus!
— Sam Malone (@SamMaloneuk13) November 12, 2013
Apparently “bigcatting” is a new trend in which you pose for a selfie with your mouth hanging open. I don’t get it, but I like that Sam Malone does.
Best recent Instagram:
Twitter stock: Malone is pretty good about posting behind-the-scenes pics of the team’s trips, dinners, shootarounds, etc. Check out this one of the team’s Thanksgiving meal. Mac and cheese ON ham?? That’s just crazy. He also tweeted that while in NYC, the team met up with former Cat Stacey Poole Jr., a blast from the past. Keep up the good work, Sam.
Great that someone maliciously slashed my tires last night…
— Jon Hood (@jonnylightning4) November 3, 2013
The tweet that started a thousand media wars. (Nice use of sarcasm, too.)
Best recent Instagram:
Like Jon Hod, I take a ton of pictures of my dog, and like Jon Hood’s dog, my dog also responds that way when I saw “squirrel.” And “walk.” And “treat.” Kentucky basketball players and their dogs: they’re just like us!
Twitter stock: November was a slow month for Jon on the social networks, but he did start a media war, so I’ll give him that.
6' 9 250 and I'm trying to skate. Thanks @kendra_shaw10 😒 not happening again lol
— Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE) November 21, 2013
The thought of Julius Randle skating (or ice skating) made my day.
Best recent Instagram: N/A
Twitter stock: Julius Randle’s Twitter feed showed life for the first time in months, with Julius posting about an unsuccessful skating trip, Thanksgiving with his new “brothers,” and retweeting a picture of a very cool Julius Randle cake. For that, he made a big jump in the rankings. Like Coach Cal says, Julius, don’t try to be perfect on Twitter, just try to be better than the person above you in the Power Rankings.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©12:40 am
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What an awesome way to end the weekend. Kentucky put together their best game of the season tonight in Brooklyn, storming by Providence 79-65. Here are seven things we learned:
1. Willie Cauley-Stein is more than just potential
“In West Olathe, Kansas born and raised, on the gridiron where he used to spend most of his days, chilling out max and relaxing all cool, started shooting some bball outside of the school…”
Big Willie style was all in it tonight. The seven-footer followed up an impressive performance against Eastern Michigan with an even better game against Providence tonight. Willie flirted with the elusive triple double tonight, putting up 15 points, eight rebounds, and a ridiculous nine blocks. He joins Sam Bowie, Andre Riddick, and Nerlens Noel as players to block nine or more shots in one game for UK, with the record belonging to Nerlens Noel, who had 12 against Ole Miss last season (surprisingly, Davis is not on this list). For most of his short basketball career, Willie has mostly been described in terms of potential, and after two excellent back-to-back games, it’s clear that he’s realizing it. Willie’s offense is catching up to his defense, and thankfully, he’s given up on that hook shot that failed him several times this season, focusing instead on taking it up strong or hooking up with James Young or the Harrisons for a lob.
After the game, Willie said his offense fed off his defense, and he’s no longer hesitant on either side of the floor. Cal couldn’t be prouder of him, telling reporters that Willie is an example of what the rest of the team team needs to do to get better:
“Willie is just getting so much better,” Cal said. “What is Willie doing different? He’s playing harder, longer. He’s pushing himself, pushing through.”
Willie’s best moment? After Providence pulled to within one at 39-38, he spurred an 8-0 run, putting up six points, three rebounds and two blocks in a three-minute span. Willie’s goal tonight? “Go block everything.” Mission accomplished.
2. This team can survive an off-night from Julius Randle
For the first time in his career at Kentucky, Julius Randle did not finish with a double-double. Randle had 12 points, eight rebounds, and an impressive four assists. Randle’s streak of double-doubles will stay at seven, leaving him tied with Jim Andrews for the UK record. Julius was obviously frustrated with himself during the game, but as Cal pointed out, Providence was all over him:
“Julius, they’re just beating the crap out of him and he’s hanging around there. There are balls that he could have gotten and rebounds that he just didn’t go after.”
Regardless, Julius helped his team in other ways, dishing the ball out four times to his teammates for easy baskets. At times this year, it’s looked like Kentucky lived and died by Julius Randle, but tonight proved that even if he’s triple-teamed or just having an off-night, others are ready to step up in his place.
3. Full court press = fast start
Finally, Kentucky came out of the gates at a sprint. Kentucky jumped out to an early 6-0 lead to start the game, which was their best start of the season. What happened? They pressed. With this team’s length, the full-court press was lethal, and hopefully we’ll see more of it going forward.
4. Aaron Harrison can be a lock-down defender
While Kentucky lapsed into some poor perimeter defense in the first half, they locked things down in the second, with some of their best defense of the year. Cal singled out Aaron Harrison for his strong performance, calling him “unbelievable defensively.” After Bryce Cotton torched the Cats in the first half, Cal shifted Aaron over to guard him instead of Andrew, and the result may have been the difference in the game: “I don’t know if you understand, Aaron Harrison is the one that changed the game.” Dominique Hawkins was excellent as well, and also got some major kudos from Cal.
By the way, don’t worry too much about Andrew. He tweeted this after the game:
Just gotta keep moving
— Andrew Harrison (@DrewRoc5) December 2, 2013
gotta stop fouling
— Andrew Harrison (@DrewRoc5) December 2, 2013
He will be fine.
5. When the shots are falling, the Cats can crack the zone
Kentucky looked better than they have all season against the zone. Why? They shot better than they have all season. The Cats shot a season-high 64% (27-of-42) from the field. That’s the third best shooting percentage in the Calipari era, and includes a smoking 75% (6-8) from behind the arc. Calipari said that his guards are finally listening to him and not taking as many threes, which is the secret to their success tonight:
“We didn’t shoot as many threes. I told them Doron Lamb was the best three point shooter that I coached, and the most he would take was five. These guys are trying to take eight threes, we can’t play that way.”
6. Cal is tired of the NBA rumors
The New York media seized the opportunity to grill Cal about the rumors about him going to the Knicks after the game. Color Cal annoyed. He went on a lengthy rant about how happy he is at Kentucky and how long it’s taken him to get where he is today. Here’s just a snippet:
“I don’t listen to any of it, and I don’t think my team does. It took me 20 years to get a job like Kentucky.”
Cal added that while he loved his previous jobs at UMass and Memphis, Kentucky is “a different deal.” However, he can’t do it forever: “Now, I don’t know how long I can stay in this seat and live.”
Someone get him a cushion.
7. Today was a big step forward
When asked what they’ve learned since playing Michigan State three weeks ago, Willie Cauley-Stein and James Young showed off the lessons Cal’s been preaching in the past few weeks. James said that the team’s doing better because they’re communicating more, and when asked, Willie said that last season, they “very rarely” talked, fired each other up, and clapped as much as they do now. Willie Cauley-Stein pointed to better defensive stances as the reason for his recent success, which means that all of those wall sits must be working.
Calipari was pleased with his team’s effort tonight, calling it a “good step” the team needed. There’s a ways to go, but according to Cal, the team “knows we could be special if we do this right,” and those last four minutes are a good sneak peek:
“I love how we ended the game today. We ground it out like a team that’s been doing it for two years. I was so proud of them, how they finished those last four minutes.”
Me too. Next up: Dallas.
By Nick Roush on ©11:59 pm
Well, at least a receiver was not playing Quarterback. Jalen Whitlow had neck spasms this past week, the most likely cause for his absence, leaving the Quarterbacking duties to Maxwell Smith. Max wasn’t all that bad producing probably his best performance of the year, but you cannot forget that this is Tennessee vs. Kentucky. The Vols started with a splash; Rajion Neal took the 2nd play from scrimmage 60 yards for a touchdown. However it did not completely cripple the Cats. No matter how many things went wrong throughout the game, the players and the coaches NEVER stopped. The Cats finished the offensive season with a 99-yard drive that was capped off by a 14-yard touchdown pass to Javess Blue. It’s the first time since 1941-42 the Cats have had back-to-back winless SEC seasons. The ball did not want to bounce their way and good drives rarely turned into scoring drives. Here are some high points from a game that just wasn’t meant to be.
1. No Jalen? Not TOO big of a problem. Neal Brown had some adjusting to do with Jalen out, starting the game with three consecutive screen passes. Max slowly got into the zone. He frequently made the easy throw, and hit his guys in the midrange game while coordinating plenty of positive drives. Unfortunately his deep ball was a little off, but at least they tried it. When they got a little pass-happy, Brown kept em honest by running the Wildcat package with Dyshawn Mobley and Jojo Kemp. Max finished the game 25-38 for 254 yards and 2 touchdowns. Max did all of that after missing practice Tuesday and Wednesday.
2. What we have here, is a failure to convert. It has been the story all year for the Cats: drive 40 yards into enemy territory, before finding a way to not score the ball. The Cats came up empty-handed in Tennessee territory 5 times (maybe one more). They have had one too many momentum killers all year. Today’s best example happened late in the 2nd quarter. The Cats drove down to the 27 before Javess Blue dropped a pass on first down; the next play a screen was sniffed out immediately; a flag on 3rd down made it even worse before Max got sacked as soon as he received the snap.
3. The biggest problem for Kentucky is that they play for Kentucky. Those silly plays that we are starting to see frequently at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium seem to always happen to the Cats. Jaleel Hytchye nearly had his first interception of the year, until the ball tipped into the air into Jason Croom’s hands for a 43-yard touchdown pass. They tried to get a little tricky, but of course that was just another tease. Joey Herrick lost 10-yards when he slipped on a double-reverse pass, one that had Ryan Timmons wide open downfield. Hopefully as CWS renovations begin it slowly kills the curse of the Kentucky Effect.
4. Landon Foster and Joe Mansour both had a tackle today. And not one of those sissy tackles either. I’m talking getting your nose in the opponent’s business and taking him to the ground.
5. Coach Stoops lost his freaking mind.
After getting hosed on a couple of penalties in the 3rd quarter, Mark Stoops had enough. He pulled a move that basketball coaches normally do, calling a timeout to scream at the referees. “I get along good with that official too,” Stoops said after the game. Stoops received a 15-yard penalty but apparently it worked: Donte Rumph forced a fumble shortly after.
6. Mobley, Badet and Blue earned their stripes. Dyshawn Mobley has provided a spark the past two weeks, combining for 235 yards rushing. Averaging 8.4 yards a carry tonight while putting in work on Special Teams impressed Coach Stoops, “I think he’s leaving a lot out there on the field.” Mobley’s 143 yards was the most by a UK player since Derrick Locke in 2010 vs. Vanderbilt. Jeff Badet was catching balls all over the field in what you might consider a breakout performance, finishing the game with a career-high 6 catches for 47 yards. Javess Blue hiccuped a time or two returning punts, but the kickoff returns were exceptional and he looked good after the catch, finishing with 3 catches for 42 yards.
Happy Thanksgiving, KSR readers. I won’t make you a leftover turkey sandwich, but I did put together this list of 25 things we’re thankful for on this special day. Go get a
second third slice of pie and enjoy.
1. Cal’s bedhead: fluffy hair don’t care.
2. John Short: His spread is rarely covered, but he’s a great American
3. These guys
4. The new automatic scoreboard on the live blog: Now we have more time to make silly polls and jokes about John Robic’s hair
5. Drew Barker: Everyone’s favorite KSR writer
6. Screenshots They don’t lie.
7. Loved ones near and far: The cure for UK basketball withdrawal these days? The NBA.
8. Swagger: It’s back
9. Alcohol being sold in the suites and club level of the new Commonwealth Stadium
10. Matthew Mitchell as James Brown: Hell, just Matthew Mitchell in general
11. Good deeds
12. The site redesign: Now, with a reply option!
13. Angry Stoops: He’s not gonna take it anymore.
14. Rupp Arena soft serve: Brain Freeze? Oh please.
15. Complaining about 30-point wins again: Last season seems so long ago.
16. Instagram’s video function: Sharing clips of UK’s pregame shootarounds has never been easier.
17. Giving back: Both John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins donated $1 million to their communities after signing max contracts. But they’re just thugs, right?
18. Fashion: Cal’s back to wearing ties, which means it’s business time. Also see: Willie Cauley-Stein’s hat, pants, and hipster glasses.
19. Family: and not complaining about picking up the check
20. KYWildcatsTV: UK Athletics’ video crew streams Cal’s press conferences live, gets fans highlights in record time, and puts together some pretty amazing videos. We’d be lost without them.
21. Leadership: Avery Williamson may be gone after this season, but Mark Stoops couldn’t have asked for a better ambassador for the new era of Kentucky football.
22. Hope: They’re coming.
23. The UofL athletics department: Got a problem? Call Tom Jurich. #Hacked
24. Freak shots
25. You: Keep reading, guys. You make this all possible.
What are YOU thankful for this holiday season?
(Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)
Kentucky got their 500th win in Rupp Arena tonight, gradually pulling away from Eastern Michigan for a final score of 81-63. Here are my twelve takeaways for you to discuss with your family tomorrow:
1. This was Willie Cauley-Stein’s game to shine
Tonight was Willie’s night to shine. Willie came off the bench (a mistake we’ll touch on later) to put up 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 7 blocks in 25 minutes. That stat line is nice, but doesn’t even begin to describe Willie’s impact on the game. His seven blocks ties his career-high, and he would have had more if not for a few questionable calls. Willie also had four dunks, further proof that Kentucky is getting better at timing their lobs. His performance wasn’t perfect–he still needs to work on that hook shot and further develop an offensive move other than a dunk–but his confidence is growing, especially at the free throw line. Cal said he’s been so impressed with Willie lately that he actually wanted him to start, but “John Robic screwed it up.” Way to mess up Robic’s hair with those tire marks, Cal.
2. The slow starts continue
At this rate, UK fans might as well just skip the first ten minutes of the game. The Cats stumbled out of the game again tonight, letting Eastern Michigan take a four-point lead in the first minute before Cal called a timeout to regroup. A three from Aaron Harrison at the 13:41 mark gave UK their first lead, but Eastern Michigan kept it pretty close, going into the half only down by three. With a tough December schedule looming, Kentucky can’t get away with that much longer.
3. Too many turnovers
Part of Kentucky’s problems in the first half was turnovers. They had 20 overall to Eastern Michigan’s 13, and a lot of that was due to poor passing by James Young and errant ball-handling by the Twins in the first half. In fact, Young, Randle, and Andrew Harrison finished with five turnovers each. After looking at the stat sheet, all Cal could do was shake his head: “Again, too many turnovers. James and Julius had 10 turnovers between them. C’mon, you’re too good of basketball players.”
4. Julius Randle is Mr. Double Double
At halftime, there was legitimate fear that Julius Randle would do what he hasn’t done at UK yet: finish a game without a double-double. The zone gave Randle fits in the first half and in turn, he spent most of it on the bench in foul trouble. But you can’t keep a Mandle down. After going scoreless in the first half, Randle put up 14 points in the second, along with nine rebounds (he had one before halftime). His double-double tonight ties Jim Andrews’ record of seven consecutive double-doubles. The last Cat to get seven double-doubles at any point during the season? DeMarcus Cousins. After the game, Aaron Harrison referred to Randle as “Mr. Double-Double,” a moniker that I hope sticks.
Randle’s second half blitz was his “loudest” performance since his big second half against Michigan State, and it’s becoming impossible to watch him play without saying the words “grown man.” Not only does Randle look like an NBA player, he finishes like one. Almost every time Julius gets fouled on a shot, he makes it anyways, to the point that another word to add to our lexicon may be “Rand-one.”
5. Offensive rebounding was excellent
After letting Cleveland State push them around on Monday, Kentucky went to work on the boards tonight, outrebounding Eastern Michigan 52-33. The most impressive part? UK had 19 offensive rebounds for 23 second-chance points, converting on 47.5% of their missed shots. Cal has mentioned a few times that this might be his greatest offensive rebounding team ever, and tonight, they showed us why.
6. Jarrod Polson has his Christmas card picture
7. Fouls, fouls, fouls
There were 48 fouls called tonight, 31 on Eastern Michigan and 17 on Kentucky. The officiating was actually pretty horrible, inspiring some classic sarcastic clapping from Calipari at times. However, as Cleveland State assistant Jermaine Kimbrough learned, blaming a game on officiating is pretty juvenile, and Eastern Michigan’s Rob Murphy was smarter than that. When asked how a zone team could commit 31 fouls, Murphy smiled and replied, “Great question. I don’t know if that’s a trick question. I asked the officials the same thing.” However, he emphasized that the number of fouls in the game “was not why Kentucky won.” Smart man.
On the bright side, Kentucky’s foul shooting has improved tremendously over the past several games. The Cats were 28-40 from the line for 70%, which goes to show that all of that extra practice they’re getting in at the Joe Craft Center is working.
8. The Cats looked better at the zone
In light of their performance against Cleveland State, we knew the Cats would struggle against Eastern Michigan’s 2-3 zone. To crack a zone, you have to do one of three things: penetrate, pass over the top, or hit from the outside. Kentucky pretty much failed on two of those tonight: passing and outside shooting. UK was 3-16 from behind the arc for a pathetic 18.8%. James Young was the worst offender, going 0-6 from three-point land. However, Calipari says he isn’t worried, because if his shooters are cold, they’re still doing things to help the team win:
You know we don’t rely on the three. I never coached that way. If we make ‘em, we beat you by 30. If we don’t, we’re just trying to win the game. …If we make threes, great. If we don’t make threes, we’re still able to win the game because I’m teaching you how to drive the ball, play off of one another, play when you’re not making shots.”
9, Cal’s going Mickey Goldmill on these kids
Raise your hand if you got that reference. Young people, go watch the Rocky series right now.
Anyways, Calipari talked at length about “going back to old school” training methods after the game. He said that he’s having his players do wall sits during his pre-practice talks and film work to improve their defensive stance. They also have to pass a 50-pound sack (of potatoes? rice? Julius Randle’s fan mail?) to each other for six minutes. Understandably, the players do not like it. Willie Cauley-Stein repeatedly called the wall sits “awful,” while Julius Randle admitted that although they’re painful and he hopes they don’t have to do them again, they’re “helping us out.”
Next thing you know, Cal will have them chasing chickens and punching dead cows to the point that they’re eating lightning and crapping thunder. Still no? Sigh.
10. If Randle is Mr. Consistency, Dakari is Mr. Efficiency
For the second time in three games, Dakari Johnson almost had a double-double in roughly ten minutes of play. Dakari finished with 10 points and seven rebounds in ten minutes tonight. He’s still struggling to put it together on defense, but if you want an easy bucket down low, go to Dakari.
11. Calipari says he will never run for office
You might as well put away your “Cal 2020″ signs. On the postgame radio show, Cal joked about running for President, to which the crowd cheered loudly. He quickly threw water on that fire, telling fans he’ll never run for office:
“Here’s the problem with running for office: You go from being the basketball coach at Kentucky to being a Republican or Democrat real quick. If there’s a Wildcat party, I stand a chance.”
12. “This is the greatest group of kids I’ve ever coached”
They may not go undefeated, and they still suffer from bad habits, but tonight’s second half was practically a highlight reel for this young Kentucky team. After the game, Cal raved about his bunch, calling him “the greatest group of kids I’ve ever coached”; however, like kids, they have a ways to go. Cal told Tom Leach his team “has to grow up” when it comes to their bad habits, and tonight was a positive step. Unfortunately, the training wheels are about to come off, with a slate of difficult games coming up. Let’s see what they’ve got.
Until then, Happy Thanksgiving, BBN.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©11:15 pm
(Photo © Mark Zerof)
Say it with me: “Phew.” I don’t think anyone anticipated that kind of game tonight. Kentucky looked as bad as they have ever looked in the first three fourths of the game, down by as much as eleven. With about seven minutes left and the realization that this team may actually lose to Cleveland State settling over the Big Blue Nation, the Cats woke up, going on a 24-7 run in the last 7:08 to put finally put the Vikings away 68-61. Let’s break the game down by the first thirty-three minutes and the last seven.
THE FIRST 33 MINUTES
Kentucky looked completely out of it in the first half. Just another slow start, right? Wrong. Kentucky trailed Cleveland State 31-27 at the half. What was wrong? Were the players’ minds already on Thanksgiving break or was this the latest and most troubling example of a lackluster break from the gates? Every one of UK’s 27 points in the first half came from either the paint (14) or the free throw line (13). Andrew Harrison got into foul trouble early in the first half, and from then on, the Cats really stunk on offense, shooting a paltry 26.9% off 7-26 shooting, including 0-6 from the three-point line. The second half start wasn’t much better, with Cleveland State going on a 7-0 run to extend the lead to 11 at the 14 minute mark, their biggest lead of the game. What happened?
Yet again, Cal chalked it up to the other team wanting it more:
“You can’t let a team come out and have way more emotion than you. You can’t. This is not about who looks the coolest. This is about who wants it the most when the ball is thrown up.”
Another problem Cal continues to mention is the team’s lack of communication, telling reporters that Rod Strickland came into the locker room at halftime and noted it as well: “They don’t talk to each other out on the court. They’re all into their own thing. When you’re into your own thing, it’s really hard to play basketball.” Did you notice some bad body language tonight? In his postgame remarks to Tom Leach, Cal expressed concern that his team wasn’t having any fun, in large part because they weren’t playing for their teammates. The most fun they had was when they finally came together in the last seven minutes and played as a team.
“You try to be cool verses show some passion and emotion in what you’re doing,” Cal said. “Especially if everyone else is bringing it. Our fans jumped on it, our players then showed it. My question: why don’t you start the game like that?”
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Kentucky was almost outrebounded by a much smaller opponent. For a good part of the game, Cleveland State both outhustled and outrebounded Kentucky, with the Cats winning the final margin 42-35. While the final stat doesn’t really reflect how frustrating Kentucky’s performance on the boards was, there is no excuse for a big, tall, and long team like Kentucky to get beaten to the ball as many times as they did tonight.
Zone gives this team problems
Whether it be poor effort, poor rebounding, or Andrew Harrison being on the bench, this team doesn’t respond well to zone, especially if it’s not shooting well from the outside. With Andrew in foul trouble, Cleveland State controlled the tempo, leaving the Cats standing around looking lost on the court. Trouble against the zone, along with poor perimeter defense are becoming unfortunate hallmarks of this squad, something the teams on the rest of the schedule are noticing.
Thankfully, the game didn’t end there.
THE FINAL SEVEN MINUTES
Kentucky went on a 24-7 run in the last 7:08 of the game. That run was sparked by a lob from Andrew Harrison to Willie Cauley-Stein, who was fouled and made his free throw to cut the lead to seven, 54-47. From there, the crowd gave the Cats some life, and the Harrison Twins went to work. The most important play of the game? Tied at 57 with two minutes left, Andrew Harrison drove the lane, scored, and was fouled. He hit his free throw to put UK up by three and give them the lead for good. That was the Andrew Harrison we’ve been waiting for. Cal agrees: “I thought Andrew made the plays, and it’s nice to know we’ve got two or three guys now we can go to.” James Young said that in the stretch, Andrew was a leader: “He was being more of a leader. He really stood out. He directed us a lot and told us where to go and what to do. He really stepped up.” As Andrew goes, this team goes, and hopefully he’ll stay in that final gear he found at the end of the game.
While James Young didn’t shoot well, Cal applauded his effort, telling reporters he liked how he hard he fought towards the end: “James Young just fought like crazy and came up with balls when we were dead. If they got those balls, we would lose. That’s why I looked at the other guys and I say, ‘Fight like he’s fighting.’” Young said that he was spurred on by the crowd’s support, calling it something he had never felt before:
“I have never felt something like this. It was amazing. I want this feeling when we are not down. I want it to be like that all of the time. I have never felt something like that before.”
To inspire more toughness, Cal is ramping up the intensity in practices, telling the media he “went back to old school UMass stuff” for the last three days, getting Alex Poythress’ heart rate up to 90% for the first time since he’s been at UK. Willie Cauley-Stein stood up and made some big plays, along with Julius Randle, who notched his sixth-straight double double of the year. However, this night was all about Andrew.
This was a “Come to Jesus” moment
Afterwards, Cal called this “the game we needed” to bend his players’ will to the changes they must make to be a championship-caliber squad. Right now, Kentucky is not a great team. Simply put. Too many mistakes, too many deer-in-the-headlights moments and not enough people making plays. Andrew Harrison finally gave us a glimpse of his “stone cold killer” persona we’ve heard about, but that doesn’t dismiss the errors and poor execution in the first three fourths of the game. Cal said that his players needed this game to “change how they approach the games, how they think about the games, their mentality of the games.” This group can be special, but all of that depends on whether or not Andrew Harrison builds on this performance.
The Voice of the Wildcats, Tom Leach, introduced the large crowd gathered at Nutter Fieldhouse to the New Commonwealth Stadium this afternoon. Surrounded by giant 40 ft. banners of what the Stadium looks like now, the unveiling was rather dramatic. With Aerosmith’s “Dream On” playing, those banners fell to the ground revealing what the site will look like in just over a year and a half. Emphasizing the unprecedented partnership between the University and corporate donors, Governor Steve Beshear said the renovation financed without tax dollars represents the “tangible physical aspect to the momentum that’s building (around the football program).” Here’s a rundown of the New Stadium specifics.
On September 5, 2015 Kentucky football will forever change when the doors of the New Commonwealth Stadium are opened for the first time. The inaugural season will have 8 home games, including the Cardinals and Volunteers. Capacity will decrease from 67,000 to 61,000 to create what Mitch Barnhart calls, “a more intimate environment.” The biggest changes are the addition of club-level seating and corporate seats, and a move of the press box to the top of the Stadium. Initial construction will begin in the next 2-3 weeks, with the majority of the heavy-lifting completed between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Let there be Limestone! Commonwealth Stadium has never been known for its good looks. Peeling paint from the steel structure reminds Louisvillians of their unappealing bridges. Hiding CWS’ ugly face will be the most notable change, adding a Kentucky limestone facade that beautifies the structure while featuring the limestone that is a staple to the natural beauty of the Commonwealth.
The East End Zone will be rockin! The East End Zone (the one closest to Nutter and the Cat Walk) will be the epicenter for on-campus atmosphere. The players will enter the field from their new state-of-the-art locker room beneath the stands. Above the locker room the highly-coveted recruiting room will be constructed, hosting recruits before and after the game. Surrounding the new areas for current future players will be the home to UK student section and band. The goal of making a more intimate environment is best seen here, where the hope is that this part of the stadium will house a great SEC football environment.
Chair-backs and alcohol…what are we Louisville? As Tyler mentioned earlier, SEC loopholes allow stadiums to serve alcohol to the rich and the famous. Alcohol will be able to be purchased in suits and at the club-level. If you know as many Louisville fans as I do, you’ve probably heard incessant griping about the lack of chair-backs at UK facilities. Mitch Barnhart did not have an exact number on how many chair-backs will be added (there are still many details to be sorted out in construction), but it appears as though that many will no longer have to lug in their portable seats to sit comfortably in Commonwealth.
Change your wedding plans to CWS. There are a variety of new conference rooms that will be added to the space. Corporations will be able to host meetings at the stadium with their name in bright lights on the scoreboard. Most importantly, you will be able to have your wedding at the New CWS. For UK fans my age, go ahead and change whatever potential future wedding plans you may have.
R.I.P metal bathroom troughs. As beautiful a site it is to see, the giant troughs and sinks in bathroom will be destroyed in the new renovation. New concession stands and bathrooms will be built while adding 40 ft. of space in the concourse areas.
Tickets will change. The numerical system the stadium has been using will not be the same. Season-ticket holders will receive information in December or January regarding the moving process. The price for a season ticket will not change in 2015, except for the additional charge for that extra home game. For students, their numbers will drop to 4,000-5,000 from 6,000 (the most used in 2012 was 5,755). Construction during the season next year should not affect too many, but those in Sections 219 through 232, rows 22 through 29 will have to move. The University will work with those in the affected areas, but I cannot help but feel sad knowing that Saturday is the last time my family will sit in Section 226, row 25. Many people like myself will face nostalgia as they replay their favorite memories from their seat, but hopefully this change will provide greater memories than before as the program expands.
More to come? The entire $110 million project is being directly invested into the Stadium. Upgrades to the Nutter Fieldhouse and Training Center will be the next project on the table. Coach Stoops’ recent arrival prevented him from being a part of intimate discussions on this project, but he plans on being an integral role in plans for the future.
From Tom Leach…
Julius Randle joined an exclusive club in Kentucky’s win over UT-Arlington, when he recorded his fifth consecutive double-double to start the season. That’s something only Jim Andrews (seven straight in ’72), Dan Issel and Cotton Nash (five in a row for each, a feat Issel achieved twice) have accomplished in the storied history of the Kentucky basketball program.
Randle has scored 20-plus points in four of those five games and he’s getting to the free throw line at a school-record pace. So with all of those numbers Randle is racking up, a question that often pops up is “who does Julius Randle remind you of?”
I have yet to hear an answer to that question that seems to nail the comparison but there are some qualities in Randle that remind me of some Big Blue stars of the past.
Jamal Mashburn: “Mash” offered a rare combination of size along with the agility of a smaller player. He could take his man outside and score or he could him up. I don’t yet see Randle having the scoring punch on the perimeter of Mashburn but I think Randle is better on the blocks.
Kenny Walker: “Sky” is not the one you usually hear compared to Randle but the similarity I see is the effectiveness in the low post. Walker scored 20-or-more 20 times in 36 games in the ’86 season and he averaged shooting 274 free throws per season in his final two years. Walker had that quickness in the paint that made him hard to guard in the way that opponents are struggling to contend with Randle (who has had double figures in free throw attempts in four of his first five games).
Demarcus Cousins: “Cuz” was bigger but he, too, had that amazing footwork that enabled to maneuver around opponents in the low post. Randle is a better pure scorer at this similar point in their UK careers but he could use a little more that brute force mentality that served Cousins so well.
James Lee: this is an old school reference but the similarity I see with Lee, along with the fact that both are lefties, is that Lee would rip the ball off the glass and be perfectly comfortable bringing it down the floor for a dunk.
We’re still early in Randle’s rookie season but it’s fun to think about those comparisons, given how many great players have suited up at Kentucky.
= = =
There’s not much reason to look back at a long night in Athens, Ga. The Bulldogs are arguably the most potent offense in the SEC when healthy and that was a mismatch for a Kentucky defense depleted by injuries and suspensions. And while Georgia has had a mediocre season on defense, Kentucky just doesn’t have the offense to take advantage of that, especially once it lost Jalen Whitlow, the man around whom the Cats had been building their game plans.
In our postgame interview, a dejected Mark Stoops said this would be an important week, as he looks to see which players bring their best effort in preparation for the season finale against Tennessee. A win over the Vols would give this program a shot of momentum for the offseason workouts and help the coaching staff as it tries to round out what figures to be the highest-rated recruiting class ever for UK football.
“WILDCAT PAW” HELMET STICKERS
Dyshawn Mobley. Not much in the way of praise-worthy performances for UK in this whipping down between the hedges. Mobley did have a career-best day in rushing yards, including a 69-yard sprint to paydirt and he continues to play well on special teams.
–listen to Tom each weekday morning at 9:06am eastern on “The Leach Report” radio network; and follow him on twitter @tomleachky and via “The Leach Report” page on Facebook
–check out tomleachky.com for more of Tom’s coverage of the Cats
It was easy to foresee a bloodbath in Sanford Stadium: suspended Wildcats, angry Bulldawgs after a terrible loss, all of the ingredients were in place for a shalacking. It was actually much worse. It only took 3 plays and 1:04 for the Dawgs to take the lead and never look back. The Cats only hope all year had been the play of Jalen Whitlow. Unfortunately Jalen’s 2nd drive stinger threw Max Smith into the action for the rest of the game. Outside of Dyshawn Mobley’s big run and a muffed punt recovered by the Cats, Georgia out-manned and out-gunned the Cats on every single play. In an attempt to refrain from beating a dead horse, here are some things that happened in the game that can (kind of) help explain how and why it was so bad.
- Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley are VERY good. Aaron Murray may have hurt his shoulder late in the first half, but it didn’t stop him for throwing for 4 touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns went to his SEC-Superstar back Todd Gurley. On his 3rd game back from injury, Gurley did a little bit of everything, finishing with 77 yards rushing (only 8 attempts) and 90 receiving yards. Who knows what Murray’s numbers could have been if he had not gotten hurt, but regardless their offense NEVER seemed phased against the Wildcat defense.
- Dyshawn Mobley and Javess Blue picked up the offense’s slack. Everyone should thank Dyshawn and Javess. Without Mobley’s outstanding play, who knows how much worse the score could have been. Mobley’s 69-yard touchdown run gave the Cats a tiny bit of hope early. With Raymond Sanders virtually out for the entire game, Jojo Kemp was asked to be the ‘feature back.’ Jojo never got things going, finishing with only 5 yards on 8 attempts. The reserve that hadn’t received much playing time this year picked up the slack, finishing the game with 92 rushing yards on 10 attempts. Max did not give WRs too many opportunities to catch passes, but Javess Blue took advantage of all of them. Blue scored a late TD in the 4th quarter to put a little exclamation point on a 5-catch, 93-yard performance.
- Raymond Sanders is on the football team, but not playing well. It seemed apparent that the Senior RB would not play today after Rashawn Franklin (not Drew’s cousin) reported that Sanders was dismissed from the team. Sanders surprisingly dressed, entering the game with a little over 6 minutes to play in the first half. Sanders caught a 7-yard pass on his first play, short of the first down. It never got any better; his only carry of the game was fumbled.
- The Cats will not be an embarrassing statistic. The Cats have not been good at intercepting passes the last two seasons, with only 3 entering today’s game. LB Josh Forrest’s lone INT could have been a record: there has never been an FBS team to only intercept one pass in an entire season. Luckily, a tipped-pass to Khalid Henderson kept the Cats from entering the history books.
- Holy Smokes! Sanford Stadium is loud. Without having ever attended an away game in the SEC, I had never really experienced a “real” SEC-football atmosphere. I’ve been at CWS for loud moments (Stevie Got Loose, LSU and Braxton Kelley), but I was amazed at the amount of support from Georgia fans, even when they are playing a team like Kentucky. Third downs were deafening, sometimes preventing me from hearing a screaming Tyler Thompson that was sitting next to me. You could actually feel the sound as your seat shook in the stands. Even after seeing the amazing pre-game ceremonies around campus, I still did not expect them to get THAT crazy. It must have been the amazing music. #FreeCommonwealth
Boone’s Butcher Shop Injury Report
Jalen Whitlow‘s stinger impacted the game more than any other, but there was still a pretty long list. Jojo Kemp injured his ankle, which kept him out for almost the entire second half. Ashley Lowery suffered a shoulder injury, forcing him to miss much of the second half.
Future UK Quarterback Drew Barker kept a diary for KSR throughout his senior season to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on in recruiting and the changes in the UK football program. Check out his earlier entries:
Laying a Foundation
Keeping the momentum going
Recapping The Elite 11/The Opening
The New Kentucky Football
Football is Finally Here
Bringing the Winning Mentality to UK
“We know these coaches are going to win”
Hey guys. I guess you heard, but my team lost to Anderson County in the playoffs last Friday. It was a tough game. We played them in 2011 in the Regional Championship and they ended up beating us 31-30, so this year, we were still kind of mad about that game and we wanted to come out and win. We got down early by a few touchdowns and it just seemed like nothing was going our way. All year we’ve battled back, and we came back and got the score to 35-34, and on the extra point to tie it up, we decided to run a fake kick and we didn’t get it, so we lost to them by one point again. In my three playoff losses as a starter, I’ve lost by a combined five points–one my sophomore year, three my junior year, and one this year. They were all tough games. Matt Jones came out to the game, so it was good to see him on the sidelines. I know Anderson County has a lot of UK flavor, so there were a lot of UK fans there too, so I definitely want to thank everybody that came out to show their support.
I feel like I’ve definitely improved a lot over this season. Going to all these camps this past summer like the Elite 11 really helped. When I was there, they focused on my footwork, which was good because your accuracy starts in your feet. They also helped me with my drops and the quickness of my drops, which made my pocket presence much better, being able to sit in the pocket a little longer and deliver the throws instead of running out as quick or bailing out as quick. I also thought my release got a lot quicker over last year, when it was a little drawn out. Just from watching Coach Brown’s offense this year and at Texas Tech, those quarterbacks have really fast releases. They might not have the strongest arms, but they have a really quick release. When I went out to the Elite 11, I asked Coach (Trent) Dilfer how I can improve the speed of my release because I knew it would help me in the Air Raid offense. They were hard on me about that, but you could see a big difference between last season through the end of the summer to the end of this season, how much better it’s gotten. I’m getting the ball to the receivers a lot faster. That and my footwork are the two things I’ve really improved on.
With high school football over, I’m not really sure what to do with myself. I’m taking a little break this week, then starting on Monday, I’m going to get back to lifting, running, throwing again and stuff to get ready for UK and the Army All-American Game in January. In high school football, there are two major all-star games: the Under Armour All-American game and the Army All-American game. You know how in basketball they have the McDonalds All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic? The Army All-American game is more like the McDonalds game. I got invited to both of them, but they’re back-to-back on January 3rd and 4th, and in the contract you can only choose one, so I chose the Army All-American Game because I thought it was for a really good cause, and there’s a lot of prestige behind it. I think almost 300 NFL players have played in the Army All-American game, including great players like Tim Tebow, Andrew Luck, Adrian Peterson, guys like that. Also, like I said, the cause is great. We wouldn’t be able to play football if it weren’t for the people serving our country, so that had something to do with it too.
As you know, Matt Elam’s also playing in that game, and I’m still trying to work it out so I can room with him. I called the people in charge of the game about it and they said they’d get back to me, so don’t worry, BBN, I’m on the case! I’m still not wavering at all in my prediction even though I see a lot of people getting nervous. Matt’s 247 Crystal Ball is up to 60% Alabama the last time I checked, but I think back to when I announced, and my Crystal Ball was 81% South Carolina, so those are just guesses. I’m staying strong with my feeling that he’s coming to UK. Like I said in my last diary, he’s definitely living the recruiting thing up and likes being in the spotlight, which is awesome, because he’s not going to have a bigger stage than the one at the game on January 4th. If he chooses Kentucky, it will be huge with all those viewers watching. I think I heard that there were over 2 million people watching it last year, so if had the UK, Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State hats on the table and chose UK, that’d be a sign to every recruit and fan that we’re not playing around anymore. They’ve gotta start taking UK football seriously. We’ve already done that with the class we have now, but it would be an even bigger step if he committed.
I’m sure you’ve seen some of the 2014 class tweeting out pictures of the letters they’re sending in. Technically, it’s not a letter of intent, it’s a financial aid agreement that guarantees the scholarship to the player. It means that the coaches can have unlimited contact, changes some of the recruiting restrictions, and they are permitted to talk about you publicly in the media. I’m planning on sending mine in tonight, and I’m really looking forward to faxing it in. Yes, even though it’s 2013, we have a fax machine, although it’s actually part of our printer. I don’t feel comfortable mailing it in because it will take two to three days, so I’ll fax it in tonight. In fact, I may have already sent it in by the time you read this.
I plan on talking to the coaches tonight after I send my paperwork in. They all sent me messages on Twitter after my game last week, telling me I had a great high school career and they can’t wait for me to get to get down to Lexington. One of the main reasons I chose Kentucky over the other schools was I felt like I had a great connection with all the coaches, and after that loss, it was cool to have every coach on the team send me a message.
It’s crazy that I’ll be at UK in a little over a month. I remember committing like it was yesterday and now it’s actually about to happen. I think it will definitely be kind of weird at first not going back to school with all my classmates, but I’m really looking forward to it and getting down there to work with Coach Korem and the strength staff, who say they have some big plans for me when it comes to weightlifting and diet and stuff. I’m ready to get my body in the best shape possible and be there with all the other guys enrolling early, like Mikel Horton, TV Williams, Nick Richardson, and Thaddeus Snodgrass. We’re looking forward to getting down there and bringing the new swagger with us to Kentucky football. I’m getting really excited.
This is my last entry, so I definitely want to thank everyone for reading. Ever since I committed, all of your support just shows that there’s no better fan base than the Big Blue Nation. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and tell me they read the diary, so it means a lot. I can’t wait to go out there and represent you on the field.
This just in: according to Rashawn Franklin, senior running back Raymond Sanders has been dismissed from the team for a repeated violation of team rules.
This follows the suspensions of Cody Quinn and Jason Hatcher (one game) and Demarco Robinson (indefinitely) earlier this evening.