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Kentucky will face No. 3 Houston for Sweet 16 Matchup

Kentucky will face No. 3 Houston for Sweet 16 Matchup

It’s official: No. 2 Kentucky will face No. 3 Houston for their Sweet 16 Matchup in Kansas City, Missouri. The No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes put up a good fight, but the Houston Cougars came away with the 74-59 win. It’ll be a late one for the BBN – the game is set to tip at 10 p.m. ET Friday night. It’ll be shown on TBS and will be called by Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel.

We’ll have plenty of pre-game coverage as the matchup approaches.

Cats > Cougars


Reid Travis has waited his entire life for moments like these

Reid Travis has waited his entire life for moments like these

Reid Travis has waited five years for the chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. Based on his two outings so far, it’s been worth the wait. The best part? His coach couldn’t be prouder.

“He trained his whole life for this,” John Calipari said Saturday. “Before the last game, I just told him, you’ve been waiting for this your whole life. [Thursday] he was unbelievable, had eight of nine or whatever he did, 18 points, and [Saturday] he did well again.”

He finished as Kentucky’s leading scorer against Wofford Saturday afternoon, recording a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) while committing zero turnovers. Against Abilene Christian, his stat line was equally impressive: 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting, nine rebounds and one assist. Calipari said Travis was so effective against Wofford, they wanted the ball in his hands “every time we needed a basket.”

His improvements and his success starts in practice, where Calipari says Travis is always “totally engaged.” When “outsiders” come in to watch a Kentucky basketball practice, they comment on Travis’ attentiveness, saying he never takes his eyes off of his coach. Calipari says he does have to get on him, but never for the same reason he gets on the team’s younger players.

“I’m on him like I am these young kids,” Cal said. “I just don’t have to as much because his is never effort – theirs is always effort. His is never effort.”

The compliments for Kentucky’s hardworking senior didn’t stop there.

“Let me say this, what a pleasure it’s been to coach him. He is truly professional in how he deals with everything, from training to weight training to keeping his body right to being where he’s supposed to on time,” Calipari said. “But it’s been – I’ve loved it… He’s helped us, but he’s helped himself in this. He’s really put himself in a great position.”

Travis’ reaction to Calipari’s praise was awesome.

“I think that is one of the kindest things Coach has ever said about me. It makes the work I do every day really mean something to hear him say something like that,” Travis said. “It’s kind of touching. It took a lot for me to come to Kentucky and decide to play another year of college basketball. [The reason] was nothing more than I wanted to play in games like this, and bring it every day and try to be my best.”

Without PJ Washington on the floor for the Tournament’s first two rounds, Reid Travis bounced back from an injury of his own in a big way. He’s repeatedly demonstrated how important of a role he plays for this team, but his performances in the post-season have only reinforced that idea. Now it’s time to get Travis back to his hometown, Minneapolis, for the Final Four – he’s been waiting forever.


@MaggieDavisKSR


KSR Shop: ‘Cats are marching on to the Sweet Sixteen!

KSR Shop: ‘Cats are marching on to the Sweet Sixteen!

Your Kentucky Wildcats are heading to the Sweet Sixteen! The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded are here to help you celebrate. Head to ShopKSR.com and when you buy two or more shirts you get a FREE hat! Load up on some new gear and go Cats!!

[KSR Shop]


Wofford Athletics

Scouting Report: Wofford Terriers

Wofford Athletics

Kentucky survived and advanced on Thursday night and it’s now time for a Round of 32 contest with a very dangerous opponent. Wofford is a top 20 team in just about every ranking metric with an offense that might be the best in the country. Behind three dynamic shooters, the Terriers will remain a scary opponent for the entire 40 minutes.

Wofford enters today’s contest with a 21-game win streak and are fresh off an impressive victory over Seton Hall in the Round of 64. Wofford has the sport’s all-time leading three-point shooter and a lineup filled with quality offensive options. This will be a ballgame, but that is what you expect in the Round of 32.

Nuts and Bolts

Wofford is located in Spartanburg, South Carolina and is a member of the Southern Conference. The Terriers joined Division I in the 1997-1998 season and since then they have made five NCAA Tournaments. However, there is no question that this is the best team they have ever fielded.

Mike Young took over the program in 2002-2003 and he has taken the Terriers to each of their postseason appearances in this decade. Young has been on the staff at Wofford since 1989 before sitting in the head coach’s chair. He be looking to guide Wofford to their first ever Sweet 16 appearance with a win this afternoon in Jacksonville.

From a style perspective, Wofford runs a spread offense with a ton of ball screen actions. They have three guards who they will utilize in these concepts and any of them is a threat to pull from any place on the court. They very rarely post it and use dribble penetration to create three-point looks. They are excellent with shot fakes and easily get the defense in scramble mode which can open up some offensive rebound opportunities. On the other end, Wofford plays primarily a man defense with a little bit of zone mixed in. Wofford does a great job guarding without fouling and they will give up open shots to get into rebounding position.

Out in the desert, Kentucky is a 5.5 point favorite with a total of 138.5. That’s a projected final score of 72-66.5. On the season, Kentucky is 17-16-1 against the spread while Wofford is 20-11. The Terriers have covered eight in a row and are 12-1 in their last 13 games. They enter Saturday as the hottest team in the country. The over is 4-1 in Wofford’s last five while the under is 7-2 in Kentucky’s last nine.  There are a lot of trends available entering this one.

Backcourt Breakdown

Let’s start with the guy that is putting up 20.5 points per outing. Fletcher Magee is a senior who is shooting 42.8 percent from three on a ridiculous 365 attempts. That’s an incredible 10.7 three-point shots per outing. He can launch from anywhere and Wofford will run him off a ton of screens in addition to letting him create in pick-and-roll sets. Magee is not just a shooter, however. The Orlando native does a good job drawing contact and has shot 108 free throws this season. He is an excellent college basketball player and will have a chance to play at the next level.

At the point, Wofford has a platoon going with Nathan Hoover and Storm Murphy. Both are shooting over 45 percent from three on a ton of attempts. Murphy is the top assist man with 3.2 dishes per outing, but he can be turnover prone. Hoover, meanwhile, is the second option on offense outside of Magee and is putting 13.3 points per game. Magee gets all of the attention, but Hoover and Murphy are the second and third scoring options that make Wofford dynamic on offense.

Off the bench, Hopkinsville native Tray Hollowell is used and he’s another quality three-point shooter. The sophomore is shooting 41.4 percent from three on 99 shots and that’s where all of his production comes from. At point, freshman Ryan Larson will contribute in small doses and he’s the worst three-point shooter (32.5 percent) Wofford will play on the perimeter.

This will be one of the least athletic backcourts UK has seen all season. Wofford doesn’t have much length on the perimeter and they can play at a slow temp0. However, they are very crafty on the offensive end and play smart basketball on defense. The Terriers are willing to give up points to get another shot. Ball movement and dribble penetration of off ball screens in addition to backdoor cuts will be UK’s biggest challenges this afternoon.

Frontcourt Breakdown

Wofford’s perimeter players get all of the attention, but forward Cameron Jackson might be this squad’s most important player. The 6-foot-8, 250-pound senior plays the five for the Terriers and he’s very valuable. The big from Winchester, Virginia is second on the team in scoring (14.6) and leads the squad in rebounding (7.5).

Jackson is not much of a three-point threat as he prefers to do most of his damage in the paint. He plays an integral part of the offense by setting a ton of screens in order to get the guards open shots. Jackson will be used on a ton of pick-and-roll sets. He’s the only player that can provide rim protection, is an excellent passer, and if he is out of the lineup Wofford could be in trouble.

Next to Jackson in the starting lineup is sophomore forward Keve Aluma. The 6-foot-9 big brings size to the table and is a solid rebounder. Outside of offensive rebounding, he’s not in there for offense. Off the bench, Wofford uses Chevez Goodwin at the four-s and he brings more athleticism to the floor. At 6-foot-9, 225 pounds he can get up-and-down in transition in addition to having the size to bang in the paint.

At the five, Matthew Pegram is used and he’s a mammoth. At 6-foot-11 and 260 pounds, he will be one of the biggest players UK has seen this season. Pegram has shot 29 threes, but is used in a very limited role.

The talk will be about how small Wofford is, but the fact of the matter is that they have size that can hang. Each of the four rotation players are at least 6-foot-8 and they all have the girth to play with physicality. If Wofford is going to win, they are going to need a big performance from their frontcourt.

Keys to Victory

  • Three-point defense has been an issue all season and Tennessee pouring in 10 last weekend likely costed Kentucky the Louisville region and a potential No. 1 seed. However, Wofford is a different animal. Fletcher Magee can pull from anywhere combined with two 45-plus percent three-point shooters playing around him. Guarding ball screens and communication will be key for Kentucky. UK has the length to challenge the shots if they are able to play through contact. Expect Wofford to take their time on numerous possessions to get the best shot possible.
  • For most of the season, Wofford has been a really solid rebounding team. Cameron Jackson does his job, but the rest of the squad does a great job in team rebounding. They hung around with Seton Hall and that should be scary for Kentucky. It is essential for UK to be dominant on the defensive glass and crash the boards on offense. Wofford can scramble up a man defense and that can lead to offensive rebounds. UK must get rebounds from their perimeter players today. On offense, there is an obvious length advantage. Tips and weak side rebounds should lead to multiple baskets. Kentucky must dominant this statistical category.
  • It’s no secret that Wofford wants to shoot a ton of threes. It’s a safe best that they will launch at least 30 this afternoon. They are going to hit some and a good chunk of them are going to be challenged. Therefore, UK needs to give them a taste of their own medicine. Kentucky has abandoned the three-point shot in recent weeks and that must change. Expect Wofford to sag off and pack the paint to stop drives and isolation post ups. Therefore, UK is going to get a handful of wide open three looks. Kentucky must knock them down. Expect Mike Young to have a junk zone defense in his back pocket and if UK is able to hit threes it could mean a long day for the Wofford defense.
  • It’s been awhile since Ashton Hagans made a huge difference on the defensive end, but today would be a good day to change that. Against Seton Hall, both of Wofford’s point guards struggled with ball pressure and the opportunity will be there for Hagans to force havoc. I wouldn’t expect Hagans to draw the defensive assignment of Fletcher Magee. He’s going to be better off harassing whoever is initiating the offense from point for Wofford. If he dominates this battle it could make life tremendously difficult for the plucky underdog.
  • At the end of the day, this is all about strength vs. strength. Kentucky’s defense (8th in adjusted efficiency) vs. Wofford’s offense (9th in offensive efficiency). Wofford lives off of threes. Over 40 percent of their shots come from deep and they are hitting 41.6 percent of those attempts. They do it in a multitude of ways. Kentucky must switch screens and keep everything they can in front. You cannot help off of their guards or fall asleep ball watching. Wofford will make you play and whenever they get the ball in the paint they are looking to pass to an open three-point shooter. It’s going to be fun watching these two units go at it.

Will Washington play again? Paul Washington Sr. and Coach Kenny Payne weigh in

As uncertainty regarding the severity of PJ Washington’s foot injury continues, the sophomore’s father has weighed in on the injury and the fans who are questioning his son’s intentions. He spoke with Kyle Tucker of The Athletic.

“I’m not a doctor, and the coaches aren’t doctors” he told The Athletic. “Let’s leave this to the doctors and treat my son like he’s your own son, OK?”

The comment is seemingly directed at members of the BBN who speculate Washington may be trying to bid his time and protect his draft stock. Paul Sr. thinks that’s ridiculous, adding that his son “came back to win a national championship,” and not participating in the post-season would obviously hurt his chances of bringing No. 9 home to Kentucky.

This isn’t about his draft stock, and it isn’t about Kentucky. It’s about making sure my son is healthy,” he said. “I would say those people just gotta try to be a parent in this situation and stop being a fan. And just relax.”

John Calipari has now officially announced Washington will not play against Wofford Saturday, but, assuming Kentucky advances, will Washington be able to play in the Sweet 16? Washington’s father wouldn’t speculate, but assistant coach Kenny Payne confidently weighed in on Washington’s future:

“Yes, yes, yes,” he told The Athletic. “The more time we can give him to rest and heal, the better for us. We’re trying to buy PJ time. We’re trying to live to fight another day. So if we win this game, it gives him a couple more days to get healthy. That’s our deal. We want to give him a chance to get back on the floor, and those guys are fighting for him.”

More here: [The Athletic]


Wofford’s excited to play UK, but they refuse to be intimidated

Wofford’s excited to play UK, but they refuse to be intimidated

Kentucky will face the Wofford Terriers Saturday afternoon, so both teams’ coaches and players spent some time talking with the media in Jacksonville Friday. You’ve already seen what John Calipari had to say, but how is Coach Mike Young feeling heading into Saturday’s matchup with No. 2 Kentucky? Based on his comments from today, I’m guessing pretty good.

“We’re playing the Wildcats of Kentucky, and I can’t wait,” Young said. “I have such great admiration for Coach Calipari and what he’s done at UMass and Memphis and now here at Kentucky. It’ll be a wonderful day for our team and our players.”

His players are apparently also feeling pretty good, according to the head coach.

“I can’t imagine a team more confident, and that’s earned,” Young said of his Terriers. “We haven’t lost since December 19th, and of the four losses, they’re all playing in the NCAA Tournament this weekend.”

Nick Richards was pretty confident as well when he was asked about the matchup between UK and Wofford’s big men. Despite Kentucky’s national ranking, NBA prospects and long-standing reputation, Coach Young says the Terriers won’t be discouraged.

We may get our ears pinned back tomorrow, but it will not be because my team is intimidated,” Young said.

Part of that lack of intimidation comes from Wofford’s strength of schedule this season. They feel prepared to face a “Blue Blood” like Kentucky, because they’ve played “Blue Bloods” like Kentucky.

“We went to Phog Allen Fieldhouse [at Kansas]. We had North Carolina at home, Oklahoma… You know, there is a method to the madness. Our non-league schedule is always really hard,” Coach Young said.

Wofford center Matthew Pegram agrees with Young regarding the benefits a strong regular-season schedule. How will that help him against Kentucky?

“I would say that our non-conference prepared us for that every year,” the senior said. “We play a pretty hard non-conference; we play against a lot of big schools. Go into it like any other game: get the game plan from the coaches, go out, play as hard as we can and see what happens.”

March gives smaller schools like Abilene Christian and Wofford the chance to promote their basketball program and promote the university itself. For Coach Young, he just hopes it helps spread the proper pronunciation of Wofford.

“Our name recognition has gotten better and better and better, and certainly this experience will help even more. I had to correct a gentleman out here in the hallway. If I hear one of you say “Woe-ford”, I’m going to come after you. It’s Wofford,” Young laughed. “It’s spelled W-o-f-f-o-r-d. It’s pronounced W-a-f-f-o-r-d… We’re making great progress, but still, work to be done.”

Then there’s senior forward Cameron Jackson, who’s just plain excited to play against UK.

It doesn’t get much better than playing teams like Kentucky,” Jackson said. “You dream of that as a kid: being on that team [or] being at a smaller school, playing against that team. So all of this is just a dream come true.”

Jackson isn’t alone – Coach Young is excited for the opportunity to coach against John Calipari and Kentucky.

“Way back, I remember sitting and listening to that AM radio station… listening to Cawood Ledford and that ’78 team are great, great memories,” Young said. “To strap it on tomorrow and walk out there and face UK, I mean, that’s a highlight. That will be a highlight for my team. That’ll be something they’ll never forget.”

Wofford seems like a likable bunch of guys, but let’s not entertain any Cinderella-team fantasies. Hopefully, the Cats will come out hot against the Terriers and take care of business Saturday afternoon. They can’t come out sluggish, because Wofford will be ready to go.

“They may whip our tail, but it will not be because my kids are scared,” Young reiterated. “They’ll come out ready to fight.”


@MaggieDavisKSR


© Matt Stamey | USATSI

Who is this Fletcher Magee guy, anyway?

© Matt Stamey | USATSI

In the past 12 hours, Fletcher Magee has become one of the darlings of the NCAA Tournament, the plucky David the nation will root for to carry Wofford past the Big Blue Goliath tomorrow afternoon. Who is this guy, anyway? Let’s find out.

He broke the NCAA career three-point record last night

Above all, Magee is a shooter. His seven threes last night took his career total to 509, setting an NCAA Division I record. It was the 15th time in his career he’s hit seven threes in a game. He and Steph Curry are the only Southern Conference players to make at least five threes in an NCAA Tournament game in the past 20 years. Speaking of Steph, Magee is only 11 threes away from breaking his single-season record (162) set back in 2007-08.

He was on Ben Simmons and Antonio Blakeney’s AAU team

Magee was an unranked recruit in the 2015 class, but played AAU with Antonio Blakeney and Ben Simmons, two five-stars Kentucky fans should definitely remember. The three played for Each 1 Teach 1 Elite on the EYBL circuit.

He also played on the FABC All-Star game with Tacko Fall back in 2015:

And yes, I just shared that picture because I’m fascinated by Tacko Fall

He declared for the NBA Draft last summer

After his junior season, Magee explored the NBA Draft waters, working out for several teams before deciding to return to Wofford. Here he is describing his game to Los Angeles Lakers reporters:

He’s struggled vs. ranked opponents

Magee’s averaging 20.6 points off 44.6 percent from the floor and 43.3 percent from beyond the arc, but those numbers are lower when you look at Wofford’s three games vs. ranked opponents:

Opponent Result Points FG FG% 3PT 3PT%
#8 UNC L, 78-67 21 points 7-23 30.4% 3-16 18.8%
#2 Kansas L, 72-47 7 points 1-14 7.1% 0-9 0%
#17 Mississippi State L, 98-87 24 points 7-13 53.8% 4-10 40%

As Todd Harris notes (and logic would suggest), the Terriers as a whole cool down considerably from the outside vs. Power Five opponents:

He’ll have a big cheering section tomorrow

Last night, Magee, an Orlando native, had almost 75 family members and friends in the stands in Jacksonville, a number that will surely grow tomorrow. As Kentucky fans, we’re used to it, but brace yourself because everyone in America will be cheering for him and the Terriers to pull off the upset.


John Calipari on PJ Washington’s injury and timetable to return

PJ Washington sent the collective blood pressure of the BBN skyrocketing when he showed up to tonight’s game in a hard cast riding a scooter. During the telecast, CBS sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl said PJ told her the pain in his foot was a 10/10. Afterwards, John Calipari explained the decision to put on the hard cast, not ruling out PJ’s return for Saturday’s game vs. the winner of Seton Hall and Wofford.

“First of all, the option was a boot or the cast. The cast would speed up the healing so we said put the cast on. Whether they’ll take it off tomorrow to check, I don’t know. If they don’t, he won’t play Saturday and they’ll probably try to take it off Tuesday or Wednesday of next week to see how his foot feels. Everything was negative as far as the X-Rays, but they just want — it was a sprained foot so they just want to keep it calm. That’s what it is.”

There you go.

UPDATE: Calipari told ESPN he doubts PJ will be able to play on Saturday.