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After sweeping the SEC opening weekend last weekend on the road, defeating LSU 5-2 in Baton Rouge and No. 66 Arkansas 6-1 in Fayetteville, the Cats started 2-0 in conference play.
Last Friday, the Wildcats won their biggest match year, beating No. 8 Texas A&M 4-0.
After a deceiving start to the season with four losses and the team missing the National Indoor tournament for the first time in five years, the UK men’s tennis took a step up and started practicing harder, said volunteer coach Anthony Rossi. The coaching staff decided to make practices last longer and more intense.
So yes, I have to say it sucks to wake up three times a week at 6 am to go workout before the tennis practice, but at some point you have to choose where you want to be. I for sure didn’t want to be in Lexington in mid-February when the best 16 teams in the country were all fighting against each other in Houston at the National Indoor. Our team had two solid weeks of practice with I believe 10 good practices in a row. I felt like the level of the team increased, but we had to prove it and play that level we knew we could have during a match.
Last Friday, WE DID IT.
The 22nd-ranked UK Men’s’ Tennis team beat No. 8 Texas A&M 4-0 in the best match the team played so far this year.
With free pizza for all the people attending the event, the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center was packed and I was really happy that a lot of people showed up. It was the first I’ve seen that many people being so loud during the entire match and the crowd had a huge impact boosting our confidence during the match.
It was really easy to get pumped for this match because sophomore Kevin Lai and I were playing the team ranked No. 1 in the country in doubles, Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow. We broke first to lead 6-4 but they broke us back right away to finally push us all the way to a tiebreaker. We did the work winning the tiebreaker 7-4. On court #2 Beck Pennington and Alejandro Gomez played a solid match beating the Aggies 8-5 to earn the double point for UK.
In singles, I was the first one to finish on court 1 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 11 Harrison Adams. Since I lost to Adams last semester at the SEC fall tournament, head coach Cedric Kauffmann knew what I needed to do to be able to get my revenge. We worked on it during the week and I felt really great on the court playing with the game plan we created. I was winning and I could see that Beck winning on court 3 and Jerry winning on court 4, and I was like, ‘Man, we’re going to do this!’
Coach Rossi was making sure I was staying focused on my court and on my game, which can be difficult when you feel like your team is about to win. I also felt like the people pushing me in the crowd at 3-3 in the second set was a huge help as well. I ended up winning in straight sets, giving us a 2-0 lead overall in the match.
Sophomore Beck Pennington, No. 99 in the country, won 6-3, 7-6 against No. 38 Jeremy Efferding for his best win of the year.
“I was really excited to play against a really good opponent today in front of my family that drove all the way from Bowling Green KY,“ Pennington said. “We have been practicing so hard and we really want to win the SEC like two years ago. We have the chance to have a guy like Tom on the team that is one of the best players in the country, and Coach Kauffmann who was a top 200 professional player in the world. I mean we have everything we need to succeed. After this win I can’t be more proud of the team.”
Freshman Jerry Lopez came out clutch on court 4 as he knocked off Junior Ore 6-2, 7-6 to clinch the win for Kentucky. Jerry dominated the whole match, imposing his heavy ball and giving no opportunity for the Aggies to come back.
It’s safe to say that was exciting!
Coach Kauffmann was really proud of the team. “That’s a great win for the boys today,” he said after the match. “I thought us not going to the National Indoors got us really sad and disappointed and we had to make a choice. We had to continue to do the same things we were doing, or we had to take a step up. We decided we were going to step up the physicality in our practices and we aren’t going to stop. This is just one win in the SEC. We will get back to work even harder.”
Lai admitted that beating the No. 1 ranked doubles in the country tastes even better after the team won the match overall. “I look forward to next weekend and playing again against Mississippi State and Ole Miss,” he said. “I now understand that we can compete against everybody in the country and I’m ready for some big things in the coming weeks.”
Kentucky is now 3-0 in the SEC and one of two undefeated teams in the conference, with the Georgia Bulldogs.
The Cats will be back on the court Friday afternoon a 4 p.m against Mississippi and again on Sunday against Ole Miss at 1 pm.
Photo by Chet White | UKAthletics.com
If you weren’t following the baseball action at The Cliff this week, well, you missed a lot. After sweeping a midweek doubleheader series against the Cincinnati Bearcats, Gary Henderson’s No. 22 Batcats (13-3) more than lived up to their nickname when the Ball State Cardinals came to town, combining to plate a school record fifty-eight runs over the course of the three-game weekend slate. If that’s not impressive enough for your Monday afternoon, it’s also worth noting that, in the last two games of the series, Gary Henderson’s crew outscored Ball State 50-4. I would try to further describe this dominance, but I think it’s best we let the numbers speak for themselves. Here’s a quick rundown of what happened and what lies ahead of the team as they prepare for the opening weekend of conference play.
3/05/14 (Doubleheader) - Kentucky 7, Cincinnati 0 | Kentucky 11, Cincinnati 4
For David Mulloy’s summary of the doubleheader, click here.
3/07/14 - Kentucky 8, Ball State 10 (10 Innings)
3/08/14 - Kentucky 24, Ball State 1
3/09/14 - Kentucky 26, Ball State 3
For David Mulloy’s summary of the weekend series, click here.
Players of the Week:
The spearhead of the Kentucky lineup during its most prolific series in program history was fifth-year senior catcher Michael Thomas. The Elizabethtown native went 8-for-13 at the plate (.615) during the weekend, with two doubles, two homers, and 13 runs driven in. He set new career highs both on Friday, going 4-6 in the extra inning loss, and Saturday, delivering six RBI to help the Cats bring home 24 on the day. After the monster weekend, his line now stands at .391 (18-for-46), five doubles, two homers and 20 RBI through fourteen games.
On the mound, sophomore Dylan Dwyer also delivered some of his best work in a Wildcat uniform this week, striking out eight Bearcats on his way to becoming the first Wildcat to throw a complete-game shutout in a midweek appearance in the 7-0 win over Cincinnati Wednesday.
The Look Ahead:
3/11/14 – at No. 17 Indiana (4:05 p.m.)
3/12/14 – vs. Northern Kentucky (4 p.m.)
3/14/14 – at Alabama (7:35 p.m.)
3/15/14 – at Alabama (7:05 p.m.)
3/16/14 – at Alabama (2:05 p.m)
Here’s hoping that the bats stay hot this week, especially when the team travels to Bloomington tomorrow to face the nationally-ranked Hoosiers and when the Cats open SEC play in Tuscaloosa this weekend.
In a performance for the ages, the 12th ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team fell just short of their first SEC Tournament Championship in 32 years, losing to the 6th ranked Tennessee Volunteers 71-70. “We have a team heading into the NCAA Tournament, and I think we’ve accomplished that. A lot of people thought we were dead in the water but we’re not, we’re ready to roll. I’m glad I’m coaching Kentucky.”
About midway through the second half, after Kentucky had maintained a single-digit lead for the majority of the game…the tides turned. Double technicals were called on the Cats and the Vols TWICE and the refs completely changed not only the momentum, but the entire flow of the game. Here’s what Coach Mitchell had to say about it…
“Changed it a lot. 11 for Tennessee (Cierra Burdick) was starting that activity in the game. If you don’t get control of that, and you have competitive players in the game…it’s not the first time it’s happened with that player. I noticed it early on. It’s a loud arena, it’s a tough game, I guess they didn’t see it. It just boiled over into what it was and now you’re getting into who said what first. It should be stopped in the beginning of that activity, and it was not. I was very disappointed in how that affected the game and I think it could have been stopped. It certainly got Samarie upset and I think DeNesha tried to have composure. That’s not what I want to see in the SEC Championship game.”
Despite the disappointing, gut wrenching loss, the season is young for the Kentucky Wildcats. After a dismantled and disjointed conference season left many scratching their heads about the future of this UK Hoops team, these past three days in Duluth, Georgia were everything we as Cats fans expected to see and more. “I’m proud to coach em, I wouldn’t trade locker rooms right now with anyone in the country. Everyone had us in the coffin and throwin’ dirt on us after we left Gainesville (Cats were 5-5 at the time in the SEC), but now we have a team. It’s a great great feeling to be coaching Kentucky right now. That’s a bunch of players out there who are very upset, very down.
Stallworth had a monstrous game inside against the Tennessee bigs. The senior scored 21 points with five rebounds against one of the most illustrious front-courts in the nation. She, and the rest of the team, were teary eyed following the loss but had a positive outlook on the finish. In the past when the Cats lost in the SEC Championship (so tired of it) UK just laid and egg and did not perform up to par. This year, that was not the case, the team knows they played extremely well and unified, and one single point is all that separates them from happiness.
Up next? The NCAA Tournament. Selection for the Big Dance is not till next Monday, so the Cats have some time to think about this one, digest it, and move on. UK is hosting the first and second rounds in Memorial Coliseum, so that’s a plus, and when asked what seed he expects to get, Mitchell quipped “someone told me they had us at a 4-seed and I think that’s a joke…but it’s not up to me.”
More on the matter tomorrow but I need time to breathe and Hayley and I have to get back home. Peace n’ blessings.
After dropping the series opener with two costly late game errors, the Cats mounted a furious offensive attack in final two games to take the series against Ball State. The Cats scored a combined 58 runs in the series (a school record), outscored the Cardinals 50-4 over the last two games and scored a total of 76 runs in five games this week. Senior catcher Micheal Thomas asserted himself as the early favorite for SEC Player of the Week with two three-run homeruns and 13 RBI in a 8-for-13 weekend. A.J. Reed also belted his nation leading 8th homerun and 28th RBI in the series.
Fri: UK 8, Ball State 10
Two late errors, one each ninth and tenth innings, doomed UK in the series opener. The Cats took a 8-5 lead into the ninth after rallying from a two-run deficit earlier in the game. A two-out error by third baseman Max Kuhn allowed the tying run to score in the ninth and the Cardinals scored the winning run in the tenth on a wild pitch. The Cats had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth but Austin Cousino struck out with the bases loaded. A.J. Reed took a hard luck no-decision as he worked eight innings, allowing five runs (two earned) on three hits, struck out three and exited in line for the win with a three run lead. Sophomore Ryne Combs was hung with his first loss of the season as he allowed two unearned runs on two hits in the tenth. The Cats were led offensively by senior catcher Micheal Thomas who went 4-for-6 with three RBI. Reed and sophomore Ka’ai Tom added to UK’s run total with two RBI apiece.
Sat: UK 24, Ball State 1
There was no lasting hangover from the disappointing Friday night loss as the Cats scored early and often in a 23 run route of Ball State to even the weekend series. A.J Reed put the Cats on the board with a leadoff homerun, his nation leading eighth, to begin what would become a six run second inning as the Cats chased Ball State’s ace and the 2014 preseason & 2013 MAC Pitcher of the Year. UK got another career day from catcher Micheal Thomas who went 3-for-4, including a two run double and three run homerun, as he racked up a career high six RBI. Third baseman Max Kuhn knocked in three runs while leadoff man Kyle Barrett and left fielder Dorian Hairston each knocked in two. Starter Chandler Shepherd worked seven innings and allowed one unearned run on just two hits and struck-out a career high eight.
Sun: UK 26, Ball State 3
Once again the Cats wasted no time scoring early and often in a 26-3 series clenching victory. Senior catcher Micheal Thomas continued his torrid weekend as he hit his second three run blast in as many games and drove in another four runs to give him 13 RBI total for the series. The Cats also got clutch hits early in the game from Dorian Hairston, who had two, two-out RBI and Max Kuhn, who hit his first homerun of the season, a two-out, two-run blast in the fourth. Kyle Barrett and A.J. Reed extended their hitting streaks to 18 games, with Reed’s hit coming on his nation leading 28th RBI of the season in the sixth inning. Junior Andrew Nelson got the spot start in place of Kyle Cody and worked six and two-thirds innings, giving up one run on five hits and struck-out four in his second career start and first career victory.
The Cats will have two midweek games next week, traveling to Bloomington to take on the 12th ranked Hoosiers on Tuesday and hosting Northern Kentucky on Wednesday before traveling to Tuscaloosa to open up SEC play against the Tide next weekend.
With a win over the South Carolina Gamecocks (YES), Kentucky has catapulted over the number one seeded team to the SEC Tournament Championship game, which will be played tomorrow at 3:30, versus either Texas A&M or Tennessee. If we are being honest right now, I was really not thinking that the Cats were going to be able to pull out a victory this afternoon, but I love that they proved me wrong. In true KSR fashion, today has once again, been filled with awkward encounters, ridiculous people, and #NaeNae ‘s. So far, here’s the Top Four encounters of the weird kind that we’ve had.
4. “GO CRY YA LITTLE CRY BABY!!!”
Wilder and I struggled early in our careers with press row etiquette (squealing pigs?) but until today, we had been pretty much subdued in our handling of the games. Even today, us getting ‘out of hand’ was just a few side comments to each other about the fans sitting behind us. One man in particular, who must have been friends with the Florida fans from yesterday, was convinced that he was officiating the game. Every time the Cats had the ball, there was supposed to be a foul, a travel, or a charge. This guy had been on our very last nerve all game, so when the final buzzer sounded and the Cats were the victors, I had a very smug “I hate you” smile to shoot to him. After pictures and the Kentucky fight song, Mitchell was heading back to the locker room when this guy screamed at him, “PUT YOUR FACE IN THAT TOWEL AND CRY YOU CRY BABY, JUST LIKE YOU CRIED THE ENTIRE GAME!” It was ironic because at the time, Coach Mitchell had the biggest smile on his face. Bye Cocks, go home.
3. Eager? More like #Turnt.
After our victory, Wilder and I headed to the press conference, which is customary. We sat in the same seats we had been sitting in, and were so excited to hear what Coach Mitchell and gang had to say about the win. While we were gearing up for note taking and social media overload, a beautiful melody began playing in the close by arena. Something with such a riveting and incandescent cadence that one could not help but pause and take in all that is the NaeNae. Something over came my body, and suddenly my right arm shot into the air, and I hit the NaeNae a few times. The lady sitting behind me mistook this out of body experience for excitement over the press conference, and said to us, “Oh… eager are you?” Rather than correct her and spend time explaining something that one does not simply explain, I let her believe that press conferences were my one true passion in life… cause why not?
2. The Blizzard Question Incident.
For those that read yesterday, you’ll remember that my silly locker room question was about mascots. Well, if you follow the Hoops team closely, you’ll recall that large victories are celebrated with a trip to DQ for some Blizzards. When we were waiting on the green light to head into the locker room, Coach Mitchell and his daughter Sailor headed in, with Sailor repeating, “Ice cream party!” on the way. Thinking that this could only mean one thing, I decided to ask the team about their favorite Blizzards. The answers I got were priceless. Bria Goss, in a very serious and deep voice, answered “My go to Blizzard… would have to be… the Reese’s Pieces.” Bernisha Pinkett answered, “I don’t eat Blizzards… I get a banana split with no chocolate, extra strawberries on the side,” to which Wilder responded, “Ok so she’s a diva..” and the two shared a moment. The best answer came from DeNesha Stallworth, who let us know that “chocolate chip cookie dough” was her favorite, and acted like we should have already known that. Cause, Duh. Fun Fact: the guards seem to favor banana splits, while Walker and Stallworth, our post players, both like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
1. Another Whispering Accident
Yesterday, we had a problem with Wilder whispering when he should have been a little louder. Today, we had a problem with me whispering a bit too loud. One of our favorite coaches has always been Texas A&M’s Gary Blair, who memorably called Wilder “rookie” last season. When we were leaving the locker room and headed out of the arena, he and his coaching staff were headed out to the court to tip off against the Lady Vols. I ever so sweetly whispered, “Come back here Gary Blair!!!” but it wasn’t a whisper. One of the members of his staff whipped around and looked at me with a face that said, “Wait wut?” and I can only imagine the petrified face that I made. Please oh please Coach Blair, don’t hold my excitement against me. I just wanna be best friends and swap college stories and basketball tips. Can we be best friends now?
In case you missed my Notes and Quotes from yesterday, you can check it out here. Make sure to join us tomorrow for our Live Blog of the SEC Finals!!
PS: Our hotel room is haunted. The alarm clock went to white noise last night at 1AM, the shower randomly turned on for three minutes a little after that, then the ice machine produced a brick that thundered through the freezer. Wilder is convinced it is the Rapture.
Playing against another team who Kentucky failed to beat in two tries this season, the Wildcats came out firing on all cylinders and never looked back, taking down the top seeded and 5th ranked South Carolina Gamecocks 68-58. Just two weeks ago UK fell at home to this same USC team 81-58, but the Cats put the past behind them and dominated the SEC regular champions from the opening tip. Bria Goss led the way offensively for the Cats with 14 points, but four Kentucky players finished in double-figures, namely the two freshman guards Makayla Epps and Linnae Harper who paced the Wildcats the entire game.
With yesterday’s win over Florida and today’s over South Carolina, Kentucky has back-to-back wins over teams that swept them in the regular season. #RevengeTour?
Let’s break it down….
Color me shocked. Without a doubt the most positively encouraging performance I have seen from Kentucky in a long time. We won’t lie, not many people gave Kentucky a chance going in to today’s contest. They recently got smacked at home against USC, so how could things have changed so drastically from then to now? Well, the Wildcats looked completely different. They were confident, and perfectly executed Coach Mitchell’s game-plan of “stay in attack-mode”. “That was the word that we wanted to rule the day for us, don’t worry about the outcome, the result, just get in attack mentality and stay there.” Stay there they did as after a 12-2 start to the game had the Wildcats energized they were able to maintain that effort for a full 40 minutes. “We probably had more poise and patience today than I’ve seen in a long time.”
Last time out against South Carolina, the Gamecocks out-rebounded Kentucky 44-19 in what was called an “embarrassing” performance for the Cats on the boards. This afternoon UK still lost the rebounding battle, but kept it close at 39-34 and only allowed seven offensive boards, a stat that has killed the Cats in the past.
Makayla Epps and Linnae Harper scored a combined 22 points in today’s victory, and have become a staple of success for Coach Mitchell. Oftentimes the head coach opted to put one of his freshman in at point guard, sitting veterans Jennifer O’Neill and Kastine Evans on the bench. These girls, with boatloads of high school success, are finally reaping the rewards of the effortless work they’ve put in throughout the season. Look out, because the key to this team’s success could rely on the play of the first year players, something no one around this program expected….
Stat of the game? Kentucky only commited FIVE turnovers…just five! In our three seasons covering this program, we have never seen such efficient numbers offensively. Meanwhile, the Cats got back to their old ways forcing the Cocks into 16 miscues and scoring 16 points off of those. “It was all us making really uncharacteristic decisions with the basketball,” said Carolina Coach Dawn Staley. The Cats were scrappy, and pressured the ball handler on every pass, giving USC nothing which led to tons of mental lapses.
Senior DeNesha Stallworth is what we kids say “on one” lately. While her 12 point performance today wasn’t a season high, her points came at a premium. South Carolina has one of the top-front courts in the nation, and Stallworth was able to take in the contact from the Gamecocks and score some tough-nosed layups inside when the Cats needed them the most. Your hard work did not go unnoticed D….
Today’s game should work wonders for Kentucky’s seeding in the NCAA Tournament. ESPN Bracketologist Charlie Creme currently has the Cats as a four seed and South Carolina as a one seed, so one would assume today’s win and a potential championship tomorrow will surely move UK to at least a three seed. The difference of a three seed and a four seed is major, especially in the women’s game…as you would avoid a Sweet 16 match-up with a one seed (two of them are still undefeated….)
The Cats will hit the floor for the SEC Tournament Championship tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 against the winner of Tennessee and Texas A&M who are playing right now. Until then….keep on hittin’ that Nae Nae.
The three seniors on the UK Gymnastics team went out with a bang last night when Kentucky defeated #22 California and Centenary in Memorial Coliseum. This is the second straight top twenty-five win for the Wildcats in the last two weeks and the third highest floor score in program history with a 49.425. Their team vault total (48.9) set a season record and seventh all time. Audrey Harrison won the all-around title along with tying with Freshman Taylor Puryear’s 9.9 for the floor title, Kayla Sienkowski captured the beam title with a season best 9.825, and Kenzie Hedges tied for the vault title with a career best score of 9.925.
Kentucky lead off on vault with Audrey Harrison’s 9.850, followed by Shelby Hilton who tied her season high of 9.8. Holly Cunningham contributed a 9.875, while Kayla Hartley and Kenzie Hedges both posted career highs of 9.875 and 9.925 respectively.
The Cats then moved to bars where they had their third highest rotation score of the season. Kayla Sienkowski and Audrey Harrison led the pack with a 9.850 and a 9.825, while Amy Roemmele and Kayla Hartley both posted a 9.75. Shelby Hilton contributed a 9.725.
On the beam, Kayla Sienkowski gave her season best of 9.825, Shannon Mitchell posted a 9.8, and Audrey Harrison gave a 9.75. Amy Roemmele and Marissa Beucler posted a 9.625 and a 9.550.
Audrey Harrison and Taylor Puryear tied to lead the pack with nearly perfect 9.9′s on the floor. Shelby Hilton posted a 9.875, Tiara Phipps contributed a 9.7, while Kenzie Hedges scored a 9.875. Kayla Hartley secured a 9.875 to tug the Cats over the finish line to victory.
Holly Cunningham, Audrey Harrison, and Kayla Sienkowski, the three seniors honored last night, have all given great contributions to the program in the time they spent at UK. In their time as Wildcats, they have helped the Cats achieve record scores on all four events and the top three team scores in school history. Last season Holly Cunningham led the Cats on the vault at NCAA Regionals with a spectacular 9.85, Audrey Harrison led the SEC with six in-conference all-around titles with seven titles in the overall season, and Kayla Sienkowski was the go-to on the bars and beam throughout the entire season. These are only just some of the many accomplishments of the three seniors. They will truly be missed by the Wildcats next season.
With that said, the season is not over yet. The Gym Cats will travel to LSU to take on the #1 Tigers on March 14th at 8pm (est). The Tigers raced past #25 North Carolina State last night 197.5-195.525 in Baton Rouge. After LSU, the Cats will then start thinking about the SEC Championship in Birmingham, Alabama on March 22nd.
Let’s hope that UK can take the momentum from the last two wins to Baton Rouge to upset LSU next weekend!
After a thrilling victory over the Florida Gators yesterday, the UK Hoops team has advanced to the semi finals of the SEC tournament, and is currently getting ready to tip off against the South Carolina Gamecocks. South Carolina, who is the favorite to win the tournament, has played UK twice this year already, and has come out on top both times. Most recently, the Hoops played the Cocks in Memorial, and they delivered us the most unreal thumpings that we have had in Memorial in the past three seasons, with a final score of 81-58. In the previous match ups, the key to Gamecock victory was out-rebounding the Cats. At Memorial, the Cocks grabbed 44 boards, while UK ended up with only 19 for the entire game. Kentucky is gonna have to tighten up their defense on Aleighsa Welch, who shot 10-16 from the field last game, had 10 rebounds, and 21 points. Tiffany Mitchell, the SEC POY, is also going to be a threat to the Cats, as well as SEC Freshman of the Year and the co-Sixth Woman of the year, Alaina Coates. Basically what we’re saying is that this South Carolina team is stacked. Today, more than ever, we’re going to have to have all cylinders running at full speed to keep up with the Cocks. Jen O’Neill, in you we trust.
#12 Kentucky v. #5 South Carolina
FINAL: YES CATS YES!!!! Kentucky tops the Cocks 68-58 !!!!! I am seriously saying that this win is going to move mountains for the Cats, especially when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. The extra little confidence that upsetting a top seed will bring to this team who has always relied so heavily on their mental game is just the icing on top of this extra delicious cake called March Madness. Wilder will be back shortly with a more in depth look at the upset of the season. Thanks for following friends!!
2nd Half 4:13: At this point, this team is more fun to watch than Tinder when you cross a state line. They are visibly just having so much fun, playing with heart, and rattling South Carolina. Nothing makes me happier than a #RevengeTour, and this UK team is putting a working on the Cocks like they did to us at home. South Carolina has chilled on the turnovers and pretty much plateaued at 15, but they’re still shooting pretty crappy, having only hit one from 3-pt range out of six fired. Kentucky is having some foul troubles, with Thompson, Stallworth, and Sidney each tallying three, but I doubt we’ll see much more action from Janee Thompson tonight. She has no points, and only one rebound, and why take out Makayla Buckets or Goss, who are playing great, when you can keep with the lock of consistency? If we see this team in a few weeks, something tells me we have a great shot at heading to Nash Vegas. Oh, did I mention Buckets to Linny?! UK 60, SC 49
2nd Half 8:37: I feel like Asher Roth right now.. I just wanna chant “freshmen, freshmen, freshmen…” Buckets and Harper are hot. Being able to listen to Mitchell talk about things that he needed them to work on at the very beginning of the season and then see them now, when it matters almost the most, in the SEC tournament, display exactly what Mitchell had been talking about… That’s an amazing thing guys. There has been so much growth between the two this past season. I feel like a proud aunt, or drunk uncle… either works. Epps has 10 and a rebound, while Harper has nine and two assists. Let’s finish this Hoops, who’s #NEXT?! UK 54, SC 42
2nd Half 11:24: Where was this Kentucky team all season? Every single play is calm, precise, and passionately executed. Bria Goss has taken over the leading scorer position with 12, and Samarie Walker has grabbed four rebounds so far this half, bringing her to a total of five. Earlier I said a win today would take a full team effort, and man oh man is that exactly what we’re seeing. The bench has been absolutely vital today, and has 25 points. Kentucky is going to have to buckle down and keep playing their game this final 10 minutes. LET’S GO!!! UK49- SC38
2nd Half 15:54: Kentucky is still playing so very well, and SO SMART, but South Carolina came back to play this half. UK is shooting much better this half than last half, and taking really good care of the ball, having turned over the ball only three times so far this game. South Carolina is still not taking good enough care of the ball, and has 12 turnovers. Kentucky has scored 15 points off of those 12 SC turnovers, but is still getting out-rebounded by the Cocks 24-16. That UK bench though… 23 points for them. UK 45, SC 33
HALFTIME: I can’t stop raving people. Not only is Kentucky playing like championship team, but South Carolina is playing like… well the UK men’s team. Their shooting is horrendous. 0-4 on their three point shooting, and not looking too hot from the field either. Most of their shots have been inside drives or layups, and when you’re only shooting 46% and you’re within five feet of the basket, there’s some issues. Kentucky has done a great job of virtually shutting down Tiffany Mitchell, like we talked about, but Ibiam is carrying the Cocks (lol) with 12 points and four rebounds. The Cats will need to come out from the lockers playing fresh like they did in the first half to secure the W today and take us to the championship tomorrow.
1st Half 3:51: This is the best half of basketball this team has played all season. There, I said it *knock on wood*. Jennifer O’Neill is grabbing DEFENSIVE rebounds folks. TWO of them. Our two leading scorers are Buckets and Harper, the two freshmen on the team, who both have seven points. Azia Bishop is our leading rebounder with three grabs, and just banked in a jumper. Don’t get me wrong, I am SO HAPPY, but I’m confused. Where are you Walker, Evans, Goss? You all start and so far, between the three of you you have four points. Ending this half strong into halftime will hopefully just twist the dagger. UK 27, SC 17
1st Half 6:45: After deciding that her new name was Makayla Buckets, we have also decided that the kind of heart and passion that we can see Buckets (formally, and formerly Epps) contributing to this team is something that any program should envy. She’s scored five points in the past minute, which is all her points, and she’s just warming up. She’s versatile, consistent, and even when she’s on the bench, she’s never really on the bench. Buckets does not sit down. Every play is her cheering a success, telling her team that “it’s alright, you got this” when they miss a shot or commit a turnover.. She’s really just the kind of young woman that is going to continue to bring growth and attention to an already prominent program. Cats are up on the Cocks 19-11.
1st Half 11:37: wow wOw WOW!!! This Kentucky team >>> Let the numbers do the talking… South Carolina with nine turnovers to Kentucky’s two, with a subsequent eight points off turnovers to their zip. Linnae Harper is leading the Cats with five points. Coach Mitchell is currently subbing four at a time. Last time we played, South Carolina scored 81 points. They’ve scored SIX in the first eight minutes of this game. WOWZERS! Cats are up 12 to 6.
1st Half 13:12: This Kentucky defense is just where it needs to be today folks. UK is capitalizing on every turnover, with a total of seven of our 11 points being scored off the Cocks poor passing and ball handling. Seeing UK jump out with a lead like this so early in the game is easing our tensions for sure, but something tells me these fightin Cocks ain’t done yet. SC calls another timeout to compose themselves. UK 11, SC 2
1st Half 15:30:- After some really sloppy turnovers from the Cocks early on, the Wildcats have been able to settle down into their defense early on. Our transition defense has been on point so far, and Kentucky has returned to playing man to man defense. South Carolina is continuing to make super sloppy turnovers, and is shooting really poorly. South Carolina has turned the ball over FIVE times compared to Kentucky’s one TO. They will take a time out to “chat,” which terrifies me because their coach is the scariest woman at this tournament. Cats are up 4-2 on the Cocks.
Tipoff- I’m sorry, but I’m not mature enough to not laugh at a ‘Cocks’ chant. The Kentucky fans have already showed up, and they brought the business. Their may be more SC fans, but I have faith in how loud these fans can get, and know they’re about to get #turnt for the Cats. We have located Cocky and WILL be getting a picture with him, then promptly delivering him a swift kick to the shin. The Cats looked pretty good during warmups, but so did SC. I’m starting to get so nervous you guys!!!! If the men’s game starts to go South, everyone #FlipTeams and head over to ESPN to watch this battle royale. Here we go Cats!
10 Til Tip- After the most sub par hotel breakfast I have ever had, we find ourselves nestled once again on press row, right behind ESPN and right next to… well no one so far, but I’m sure we will be shortly joined by some massive meanie pants. Battle of the Bands is occurring once again, but luckily they’re not both playing at the same time anymore. Something I’ve never seen before though… UK is playing “Hey Baby” and the South Carolina band is singing the lyrics. Never have I ever seen a band be nice to a competing band. Those tuba players are cut throat. There is a massive showing of Gamecock fans today, but the #BBN is still trickling in and Wilder and I have faith they will soon show up. We’ve also been working really hard to make friends with the Tennessee fans, so hopefully they’ll cheer for us as well. We’re going to need all the help we can get.
What a day it has been. From the bright and shining moments of a 6AM wake up call in Lexington, to the
6.5 5.5 hour drive, to the rivalry game that FINALLY ended in our favor, today has been good…Secondary mascot that, it’s been great (the live blog gets it). For those of you who don’t know, my PIC Wilder Treadway and I are in Duluth, Georgia covering the women’s SEC tournament. This is our second year in Duluth for the tournament, and if this year’s time off the court goes anything like last year’s did, we’re in for a weekend filled with embarrassing tweets, hilarious quotes, and of course, so much Pho (Duluth has the highest concentration of Koreans in North America). So, I’ve decided to share with you all some of my favorite moments from the first 18 hours of our trip. Let the Top Five Duluth moments count down begin!
5. “There’s snot all over the back of your shirt…”
This quote came to us bright and early from a fantastic gentleman that we met in Starbucks before we had even left Lexington. 6AM came a bit too early for one of us (I’ll give you one guess…), so coffee was going to be a necessity. Wilder and I stepped inside our favorite cafe for a quick cup, and while waiting in line, he sneezed. The gentleman behind us said “bless you,” and when Wilder said thanks, he responded by telling me that Wilder had sneezed all over me, and that “there’s snot all over the back of your shirt.” Yes, he was kidding, but it got our day started with some light chuckles. We got to talking about our trip, talked about his family that lives in Georgia, and we went our separate ways, but not before well wishes and good lucks. Kentucky is so unique in it’s fan base, and I just thought I should share one of my #BBN proud moments with you all. GO CATS!
After our victory over Florida this afternoon, we were very excited to go to the post game press conference to hear what both coaches were going to be saying about the outcome. After Coach Mitchell, DeNesha Stallworth, and Jen O’Neill wrapped up their portion of the press conference, they headed back towards the locker room. Wilder and I did a quick “Are you going? I am? Ok call me. Can’t wait to see you again. Miss you already” and I was off to click down the halls after the team. But before I could even get away from the makeshift interview room, I crossed paths with the Florida coach, two of her starters, and the Florida SID (sports information director). Unfortunately for me, I happened to make eye contact with the SID at the exact moment that she was presumably whispering something to her Gators. So naturally, I assumed it was targeted towards me. What exactly was said you ask? I wonder the same thing… but it sounded to me like, “See you in the locker room after the conference.” So great. An invitation to the Florida locker room accidentally issued to me?… or nah?
3. All the Alberta Dialogue- More Whispering
When we travel to tournaments, Wilder and I always try to have some sort of goals or aspirations that are ridiculous, and for this year’s tournament, we decided the goal would be Mascot SnapChat Selfies. Alberta, the Florida Lady Gator, is a lot. Her face is kinda messed up, and just her general motions are awkward and forced. Wilder and I went to grab a refreshment at half time, and on our way back, she was exiting the court when we were walking back out. I quickly told Wilder to grab her for a picture, and like a true journalist would, he whispered at her, “Hey Alberta come here…” Yes, I said whispered. Barely would have registered on a decibel meter. Then we parted ways, opportunity lost forever. RIP Alberta SnapChat.
2. Bria Goss Got Jokes
Speaking of Mascots… After my invitation to the Florida locker room fell through (darn), I headed to the UK locker room to do some more research for this article. I decided a safe question would be “Other than the Wildcat, who is your favorite mascot?” and boy, was I right. Kastine Evans said she liked LSU because their fans chant “Tiger Bait,” while Jen O’Neill said she was a fan of Alabama because of the Elephant’s funny nose. Then, Bria Goss bestowed upon me the absolute best answer I could have ever hoped for. Goss said, “”I like the Gamecocks.. cause when they break it down in the huddle they say ‘Lady Cocks’… ‘LADY COCKS ON THREE!’” I could not contain myself. I lost it, right there in the locker room, in front of everyone. Bria Goss also told me that she had vouched for Wilder’s absence in the class they share on Wednesday, telling their teacher that he had left for Duluth to cover the tournament…She did not, however, know that she had accidentally lied to her teacher, as sweet little Wilder was actually just to sweepy to get out of bed. #Oops
1. Maryland Eastern Shore would be offended…
Nothing says “SEC Love” like getting all the fans together for a nice, civil tournament where the refs call everything, right? We were lucky enough to have chosen seats right in front of a very large Florida population, and they were not too pleased with the officiating. The entire game, we were #blessed enough to listen to them demand “AND 1!!!” every single time a Gator shot, “THREE SECONDS!” every time a Wildcat stepped into the paint, and “CARRYING!!!” every dang time the ball was in play and not in a Florida player’s hands. The best quote of this trip so far was so thoughtfully delivered to us in the second half, when a dreaded (as in hair) heckler screamed at the top of her lungs, “THIS AINT THE MEAC REF!!! LET THESE GIRLS PLAY!” Consider me #confused. Are the ladies in the MEAC not allowed to be as physical as the rest of the conferences? Are the MEAC girls fragile? Are they supposed to stop more frequently for breaks of some sort? Perhaps they need water more often? If anyone would like to fill me in… please.
That’s all that we have for now my friends. Check out the KY Wildcats TV highlight reel from this afternoons game, as well as a special treat that I have included from a basketball game earlier this week in Louisville. Make sure to join us tomorrow at noon, as we take on the top seeded Gamecocks. Go Cats!
Photo from SEC Facebook
After falling behind by nine points in the first half, it looked like a bad case of déjà vu for the 12th ranked Kentucky Wildcats. The Gators had upset UK twice already this season, and Coach Matthew Mitchell was still searching for answers on how to stop the potentially potent Florida offense. The Cats went into the locker room down seven, getting zero points from star forward DeNesha Stallworth after a foul-laden start to the game, and blue clad fans in Duluth, Georgia were shaking their heads in frustration…
The second half started and Kentucky came out firing. Stallworth scored all 13 of her points in the final 20 minutes to lead the Wildcats, and UK fought off numerous late charges by the Gators to gut out a come-from-behind 75-70 win over the reptilian rivals from Florida. Four Wildcats finished in double-figures, and Kentucky was able to use their height advantage inside to dominate the rebounding battle 42-29.
Let’s break it down…
“Our players have worked really hard to improve since the last time we played them. So it was very gratifying to win this game and also to shake off a very poor first half,” Coach Mitchell commented after the game. Too early to call this conference tournament a revenge tour? After the Wildcats fell to the Gators twice this season, Kentucky was able to redeem themselves today. UK will have another chance to do the same thing tomorrow as they play South Carolina, another team the Cats lost to twice this season.
Confidence was key for Kentucky, who at times this season would fade away in the face of adversity throughout the course of the game. After the Cats fought back to take a lead near the end of the game, Florida hit two straight 3-pointers to tie it up at 70 with just over a minute remaining. Crumble, you say? Absolutely not. For the second game in a row, sophomore Janee Thompson stepped up to the plate and delivered a game clinching mid-range jumper to set Kentucky sailing to victory. Mitchell has instilled his total confidence in the majority of his players, and nearly every Wildcat has the green light to go and make a play when the time calls for it.
Junior Bria Goss finished with 11 points this afternoon, pushing her over the 1,000 point mark for her career. She is the 29th Wildcat to record over 1,000 points, so shouts to you girl…shouts to you.
If you’ve followed KSR’s coverage of Kentucky women’s basketball this season (and I know you have), you’ll know that Florida’s head Coach Amanda Butler is one of my personal favorites. She’s everything I want in a coach. Feisty, angry, and most importantly: stompy. That held true to today as there were several instances where the officials had to remind Butler to keep her place in the coaches box, and when Kentucky made their second half run…yeah, she wasn’t very happy. Obviously I was cheering for the Cats to ruin Butler’s day, but I can’t help but smile and cheer a little whenever I see the energized woman.
After Stallworth only played a measly two minutes in the first half, Coach Mitchell knew that the post play would be a key to the final result of the game. “We talked about toughness in the post, that you had to be patient but really, really tough. I thought our play on the interior really stepped up and battled there and played tougher in the second half. We made some real tough buckets.”
While he was pleased with the results, Coach Mitchell definitely knows there is room for improvement for Kentucky, and thought there was way too many turnovers. When Hayley was in the locker room with the team, he heard the head man complain “four turnovers?! Gosh…” about point guard Thompson. Stallworth had five giveaways of her own, and there will be no room for that against a top five team like the Gamecocks tomorrow. Expect another solid effort from USC (no surprise there) as the Gamecock coaching staff was sitting next to Hayley and I the entirety of today’s game scouting their next opponent. Gamecock Coach Staley is extra terrifying…don’t forget it.
Kentucky returns to action in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament against the top seeded South Carolina Gamecocks tomorrow afternoon at 12 pm. Yes, that’s the same time as the men’s game, so get ready for some double Wildcat action comin’ at ya on KSR. Till then…Nae Nae.
Someone tell me something to do/somewhere to go in Duluth, Georgia…please….
Congrats to UK Hoops, who advanced to the Semifinals of the SEC Women’s Tournament with a 75-70 win over Florida this afternoon. It was a gritty win for the girls, who will play the #1-seed South Carolina at noon tomorrow. That’s right, dueling basketball games!
Wilder and/or Hayley will be by in a bit with a recap.
While the boys are on their way to Gainesville to play #1 Florida tomorrow, the ladies are getting ready to play Florida in Duluth, Georgia in the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament. The game tips at 2:30 p.m. ET, and will be televised on Fox Sports South.
After a long day of driving, Wilder Treadway and Hayley Minogue arrived safely in Duluth and will be live blogging the game at 2:15 p.m. with special guest Aaron Flener. I’m sure if you explain that to your boss, he or she will completely understand.
The SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament is underway in Duluth, Georgia, and we now know UK’s opponent tomorrow: Florida. The Gators beat Mississippi State today to advance to Friday’s game against UK Hoops, which will be played at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Our own Wilder Treadway and Hayley Minogue are heading to Duluth in the morning to bring you live coverage. They’re leaving at 6 a.m., so if you see them around Lexington tonight, tell them to go home and get some sleep.
Game 1: UK 7, CIN 0
With the first game of the series pushed back a day due to the weather, sophomore Dylan Dwyer wasted no time asserting himself and pitched the first complete game shutout since first round pick Alex Meyer did it verses top ranked Vanderbilt in 2011. Dwyer allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out eight on 113 pitches.
Offensively the Cats were led by sophomore Ka’ai Tom and freshman JaVon Shelby adding two RBI each with Shelby hitting his first career homerun.
Game 2: UK 11, CIN 4
In the nightcap the Cats again wasted no time jumping on the Bearcats, scoring nine runs in the first three innings behind a 3-for-5 game by Austin Cousino. A.J. Reed knocked in three runs and extended his NCAA RBI lead to 24 and has his hitting streak to 15 games.
Juco transfer Andrew Nelson made his first start as a Wildcat, working four innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and struck out three before giving way to a bevy of relievers. Fellow Juco transfer Spencer Jack earned his first win at UK, working two and a third scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
The Cats will put their nine game winning streak on the line this weekend against Ball State, who will come to town for the final series before SEC play. First pitch is 4pm on Friday.
Finally. I’ve spent the last two years clamoring about how talented this Kentucky golf team is, but they have to put together a strong three day tournament against top notch competition.
Until now. The Cats spent this weekend exercising their demons, finishing 4th out of a loaded 14 team field that included first ranked Alabama, as well as seven other teams ranked inside the top 34. Leading the way for the Cats was senior and British Open participant Ben Stow, who shot 1-over for the three days to finish 4th overall. Stow was five shots behind the winner, Houston’s Roman Robledo.
Two other Cats finished inside the top-15 as well, as seniors Stephen Powers and Cody Martin both went 6-over for the tournament to finish tied for 14th. David Snyder (+13) and Will Bishop (+19) rounded out the Cats lineup.
Not only did Houston have the top finisher, though, as they also won the overall tournament by shooting a team score of 11-over par. Top ranked Alabama finished one shot behind, and the Cats lost to the Cougars by nine. Top teams that the Cats defeated included: #17 Vanderbilt, #21 Arkansas, #31 LSU and #34 SMU.
The Cats next action starts March 14th at the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro, GA. Good luck men!
After going 4-0 last week, the Kentucky Wildcats have found themselves back in the friendly confines of the college baseball top 25 polls. The last Kentucky found themselves in any of college baseball’s major polls was back on April 29,2013 after taking a three-game series at then No. 16 Ole Miss. This also marks the first of hopefully many more weeks that see the cats labeled as one of the best teams at the sport. With that said, it’s on to the first KSR Baseball Notebook of the year. Let’s get it:
Tuesday: Kentucky (7) – Wright State (1)
Friday: Kentucky (8) – Eastern Michigan (2)
Saturday (Game 1): Kentucky (9) – Eastern Michigan (5)
Saturday (Game 2): Kentucky (13) – Eastern Michigan (2)
Baseball America: #23
Collegiate Baseball: #23
Perfect Game: #22
Player of the Week:
Junior Austin Cousino gets POTW honors this week after his performance helped spark the cats to a perfect opening week at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The center fielder from Ohio hit a cool .500 during the four-game span, which helped expand his hitting streak to six games. Cousi also racked up three doubles, one triple, four RBI, and three steals as well. On the year, Cousino has an average of .438 as well as one home run to go alongside his eight RBI. So it’s definitely been a great week for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List member if I say so myself.
The Look Ahead:
Tuesday: at Cincinnati (4:00 p.m.)
Wednesday: vs Cincinnati (4:00 p.m.)
- All-Time Series Record: UK leads 56-29-2
- Last Meeting: Kentucky won at home 7-0 on April 17, 2012.
Both games will be broadcast as always on the UK IMG Radio Network. Fans can listen to the action in the Lexington area on WWTF 1580 AM, or online at UKathletics.com.
Make sure to keep it over here on KSR for all of your Kentucky Baseball coverage.
In a thrilling, down to the very last shot game, the University of Kentucky Hoops team beat the Vanderbilt Commodores 65-63. Tonight’s game marked the final of the regular season for the Hoops team, which the team celebrated by honoring their seniors and all their accomplishments. Tonight’s game was important for so many reasons, especially since this weekend we will be traveling to Duluth, GA, for the SEC Tournament, so let’s not be coy and just dive right in.
DeNesha Stallworth had another MASSIVE game tonight. She finished up her last regular season game with the Hoops having scored 18 points, and grabbing five rebounds. On the road versus Mississippi State, she had 16 points and 20 rebounds. I think it’s safe for us to go ahead and say that Stallworth is FINALLY back. Some will argue that she was back a few games ago. I agree, she was present, but she was lagging. She was out of shape a little, and still looking rough coming off a very strenuous recovery. Looking forward into the tournament, the Cats are going to need Stallworth to continue to be that post threat that we love to feed.
So let’s chat about Jennifer O’Neill. Wilder took the time once to check the stats on the team’s victories with her playing at a high level, and how many losses we have when she plays like she did tonight. Now, I do not in any way want to put this loss on her, because it’s not her fault. But when you are 2-7 from the field and play for 20 minutes, something’s gotta change. O’Neill has had such a roller coaster season, and going forward into Duluth, were going to need her to be on her high points. There’s a really good chance that the Hoops will be playing Florida on Friday afternoon. This will be the perfect chance for redemption for the Cats, and O’Neill isn’t too shabby against the Gators. 20 points for the junior the last time the Cats played in Gainesville, and 15 points when they came to Memorial make for an interesting call to action. I wanna see Jen O’Neill hit that SEC Dougie this weekend. Just sayin’.
The Slump: There Was One. In the middle of the first half, the Hoops were leading by 17 points. We thought this game was in the bag and ready for checkout, then all of a sudden, we found ourselves tied. Wait… What? While it would be easy for me to just write this off as a Kentucky slump in play or lack of concentration because of the senior day festivities, I’m gonna have to agree what Coach Mitchell attributed the Commodore comeback to; the competitiveness of Vanderbilt, and ultimately of the SEC as a whole.
All season long we have talked about how the SEC beats up on each other and how all the teams are so great, and how tough Kentucky’s season has been because of their schedule. Now, we have numbers to prove it. Kentucky clinched the number 4 seed for the SEC tournament with a record of 10-6. South Carolina, the number 1 seed, has a 14-2 record, with losses to Tennessee and Texas A&M, both teams Kentucky beat this season. As far as the UK schedule, here’s some knowledge for ya. Out of the projected 1 and 2 seeds for the NCAA tournament, Kentucky has played *all of the number 2 seeds, and two of the number 1 seeds*. Is that a sick joke? This team is unreal. This conference is unreal.
We’ll be coming to you all this weekend from the SEC tournament starting Friday afternoon at 2:30. Not sure who we will be playing yet, but when we know, you will to. I’ll leave you with this awesome Mitchell quote to read over and over and cry to until you fall asleep. Until next time folks.
“At the end of the day, to be able to walk off that court with a victory on senior day, there’s not many better feelings than that.”
*Corrections made thanks comment section for pointing out that I am not #Flawless