How big was De’Aaron Fox’s night? His 39 points are the most ever by a freshman →
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 7:30pm
Since he arrived in January, we’ve seen very little of Hamidou Diallo.
You’ll find the nation’s top-ranked class of 2017 shooting at the end of the bench, but that’s no fun. Watching him do crazy stuff in warm-ups, that’s a lot of fun. This might be the craziest thing we’ve seen yet.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 25, 2017
Why can’t he play again?
By Trey Huntsman on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 7:15pm
Justin Lewis went seven inning of one-run ball to lead Kentucky to a series win over Ole Miss. After a 4-2 victory last night, the BatCats won 4-1 in today’s rubber match. UK now sits at 18-7 on the season after winning five of their first six SEC games.
It can’t be underestimated how important it is to have a great Sunday starter in the SEC. With so many series coming down to the final game, the Sunday start can be the deciding factor in whether or not a team wins a series. Lewis has been excellent on the final game of each series the last few weeks. UK’s offense got Lewis run support early when Tristan Pompey doubled and Zach Reks brought him home with an RBI single in the first. Lewis was in cruise control early as Ole Miss did not put a man in scoring position until the fourth inning.
Tyler Marshall flew out to center to score Riley Mahan to give UK a 2-0 lead through four innings. The Cats got to Ole Miss’ bullpen in the fourth as Will Ethridge exited after only three innings. Lewis set the tone through five as the Cats quieted the SEC’s lowest ranked offense. The Rebels lone run came in the sixth inning when Colby Bortles (brother of Jaguars QB Blake Bortles) singled home Ryan Olenek.
Lewis exited after the seventh inning with a line of seven innings, seven hits, one run, no walks, and eight strikeouts. UK got Lewis two more runs of support in the bottom of the seventh. Marshall doubled to lead off the inning and the Rebels booted the ball around enough to get Marshall home on a wild throw. Connor Heady reached second on the error and later scored on a wild pitch to give UK a 4-1 lead through seven.
Zach Pop entered in the eighth and shut down the Rebels in order. Logan Salow would follow suit in the ninth with two strikeouts to end a 4-1 win for the Cats.
Sweeps Texas A&M.
Takes 2 of 3 from Ole Miss.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) March 25, 2017
Logan Salow filling into the closer role- Salow has retired 24 consecutive hitters in relief. UK has searched for a reliable closer since Trevor Gott graduated in 2014, and it appears Salow may be the guy. Salow has not allowed an earned run in 19 innings this season.
Justin Lewis solid again- After picking up the win last Sunday at Texas A&M and a dominating Ole Miss, Lewis is now 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC. Lewis has allowed only six runs in his last four starts this season.
UK is now 5-1 in the SEC- The Cats have won their first five SEC games against ranked teams from the West. For the time being, UK is #1 in the SEC and will at least be tied for the top spot headed into next weekend’s series against Vanderbilt.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 6:30pm
The Kentucky/North Carolina game in December will go down as one of the best basketball games I’ve ever seen, mostly because the teams combined for over 200 points. In the three months since, how have both teams changed? De’Aaron Fox said for Kentucky, it’s all about defense.
“That December game, there was no defense in that game,” Fox said. “When you’re playing a 40-minute game and it’s 100-103. Both teams have gotten better, but like I said, even with the UCLA game, that could have been in the 100’s. Yesterday, we showed we can defend. That team has so many shooters, so many ways to beat you. We didn’t shut it down because that’s impossible to shut a team like that down, but just try to contain them. We know we’re going to have to do the same thing against North Carolina.”
Fox and Monk combined for 60 points last night and when asked if they need a third player to score 20+ to beat the Tar Heels, Fox said what’s much more important is the team’s defensive effort.
“Last time, Malik had 50, so, that was different, but we can’t depend on him to do that again, that’s tough for anyone to do. We’re just going in, honestly, it’s not about our offense. Like I said, if we can buckle down defensively, our offense is going to come. If we’re playing defense, we’re confident in how we play.”
I like where their minds are at.
By Drew Franklin on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 5:49pm
By Drew Franklin on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 5:43pm
Malik Monk’s go-ahead three-pointer against North Carolina came against John Calipari’s orders.
If you remember, Calipari was screaming for Monk to drive the ball to the rim, but Monk decided to pull up from way outside and go for the lead in a two-point game, rather than attacking and playing for the tie.
Of course, the shot went in and Kentucky won the game, which was nice. But Isaiah Briscoe wonders what could’ve been.
“I always tell Malik, ‘What if you missed that,'” Briscoe said today, when asked to reflect upon that December game in Vegas. “Just what if?”
“I just remember that shot Malik hit, and I remember Coach yelling at him telling him to drive, and he shot it anyway.”
Briscoe said his heart beats fast when he thinks back to what could’ve gone wrong, had Monk not drained the game-winner.
On that note, let’s watch Monk’s 47 points from that game…
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 3:49pm
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 3:15pm
1. Nobody won. Normally you don’t want one side of the ball to completely overwhelm the other, but that’s often the case. Eddie Gran wasn’t happy with his offense, but Stoops described the day at Commonwealth Stadium as “balanced.”
“I thought we got better, I really do. It was a good scrimmage. I wouldn’t say either side won it or lost it. You saw some very good things on both sides of the ball,” Stoops said.
2. Exceptional Ball Security. A point of emphasis this spring, the offense took care of the ball until the very end of the scrimmage. A.J. Rose let one ball hit the dirt, but it was recovered by Tavin Richardson.
3. Focus on First and Second Downs. The Cats weren’t very good on third down last year. A big reason why is because they were giving up too many yards on first and second down. With just base packages in place, neither side got too crazy on third down, forcing the other side to focus on playing sound football from the start.
“That’s what we’re really focusing on. We (the defense) gotta get em into longer yardage on third down. There was way too many third and shorts, third and mediums last year.” Stoops added he liked what they did today, but of course, there’s still room to improve.
4. Position Change for Davonte Robinson. The electric Lexington native spent his first season as a redshirt cornerback. This year he’s been moved back to safety where there’s more opportunity to see the field.
5. There’s a Secret to Keeping the Secondary Motivated. “My foot,” Stoops said with a laugh. “That’s never an issue keeping those guys on their toes. It’s a hard position. You can’t ever get comfortable in the secondary.”
6. #Blessed. Speaking to the media for the first time since his contract extension was announced, Stoops was gracious, then described it as another building block for the football program.
“It’s a very good situation. I’m very committed to this university and they’ve been very committed to me. None of us are content. We want to keep pushing the program forward.”
Freddie was there and will provide his insight later.
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 2:30pm
After De’Aaron Fox killed Lonzo Ball’s college career, the national media is in a frenzy after the pregame expectations were flipped upside-down. While the body is still warm, read all of Fox’s rave reviews.
De’Aaron Fox stood in a hallway, smiled, and said he wished he could play for Kentucky again in an hour. Lonzo Ball sat on a chair and said, in a monotone, that he will never play for UCLA again. The difference between them was just as stark as it had been during the game, when Fox and Kentucky dismantled UCLA’s Showtime Jr. attack.
De’Aaron Fox — the most entertaining, blazing, promising Kentucky point guard since John Wall — had a legendary performance in Memphis in the South Regional semifinal. Fox proved, once again, that he — not Malik Monk — is Kentucky’s best, most valuable player. Lift the lid, inspect and you’ll discover this has been the case all season. Now, with America having watched one of the more dominant individual tournament performances in recent memory, most will come to realize it.
Ball deserves a ton of credit for UCLA’s resurgence in 2016–17, and the Bruins offense this season was nothing short of extraordinary. But holy hell, did he ever disappoint against Kentucky on Friday. It wasn’t even that Ball played poorly in UCLA’s 86–75 loss, because he didn’t. He put up 10 points, eight assists, and three boards, which is in the range of what he averaged all year. Yet that’s precisely the problem. This game was always going to come down to Fox versus Ball, since they’re the two lottery pick point guards who can rip off a highlight at any given moment. Fox knew this, viewed this matchup as a personal challenge, and was out there to ATTACK from the second the ball was tipped. He could get anywhere he wanted on the court, while Ball, who clearly struggles to stop explosive guards, went with the it-can’t-be-considered-failure-if-I-don’t-actually-try approach.
It wouldn’t be hyperbole to declare that De’Aaron Fox blew Lonzo Ball off the floor with 39 points and four assists. Those were the most points ever scored by a freshman in an NCAA Tournament game. Think about that. Michael Jordan played in the tournament as a freshman. So did Magic Johnson and Steph Curry. But let’s not allow all that to get out of hand.
Ball’s very bad final night as a collegian did include occasionally grabbing at his hamstring during the first half and something close to a full-blown limp late in the second. He said he tweaked his hamstring early, but declined to play the excuse card.
“I got outplayed tonight,” he said.
There’s no doubt about that. Fox was phenomenal, scoring Kentucky’s first eight points and racking up 15 by halftime. Late in the second half he went into closer mode, taking the ball to the basket repeatedly, drawing fouls and making his free throws (13 of 15 on the night).
UCLA has been a soft defensive team all season, and Fox exploited that. The fact that the freshman from Houston is left-handed may have been left off the Bruins’ scouting report, because they gave him the drive to the left repeatedly. Fox tortured UCLA in pick-and-roll situations from the top of the key – blowing past Ball and other guards, then pulling up in the lane when the Bruins’ big men gave him room to shoot.
(Magic) Johnson attended — and skipped the unveiling ceremony for Shaquille O’Neal’s statue in Los Angeles — to dissect the game of Ball, the West Coast product and projected top-three pick who could save the franchise from its ongoing misery in this summer’s NBA draft.
But Fox starred instead and complicated conversations about the best point guard in college basketball.
If a point guard must be the most important leader on the floor, then those attributes were more pronounced in Fox’s efforts than Ball’s.
The contrasting performances of Ball and Fox gave NBA evaluators something to mull over. Pelinka, newly installed as the Lakers GM, may be choosing one of the first players in the loaded, upcoming draft. He cannot comment on underclassmen, and he wouldn’t tip his hand, anyway. But the reason he traveled to Memphis was to see how top players perform against one another, and Fox thoroughly dominated Ball.
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 1:45pm
Sorry students, you’ve had your time. Over the last two weeks we’ve seen the two best celebrations ever brought to Kentucky fans, thanks to a few proud, joyful parents. Last week, Bam’s mother stole the show in Indy.
Bam Adebayo’s mother, Marilyn Blount, after UK’s victory over Wichita State. “He didn’t shut (Bam) down, did he?! Bam went at him!” pic.twitter.com/uRkR8B1vhD
— Tanner Hesterberg (@TannerWKYT) March 19, 2017
Last night, it was De’Aaron Fox’s mother Lorraine’s turns. All week we heard about the great Lonzo Ball, but last night Fox put the glove on Ball.
— Brian Ray Gilbert (@filterthree) March 25, 2017
“Fox put the glove on Ball” needs to be the title of Kentucky Joe’s next hit.
The students, they had their fun, but it was very average. In fact, it was much worse than normal. Somehow there’s a negative correlation between fires and arrests; fewer fires mean more arrests. There were only three fiery couches, but there were four arrests.
— Conroy Delouche (@ConroyDelouche) March 25, 2017
This was the only thing chanted outside of “C-A-T-S CATS CATS CATS!”
— Conroy Delouche (@ConroyDelouche) March 25, 2017
I hate to see the students disappoint, but you can’t keep ’em down for long. No matter what happens, we’ll still get to see them drunk on the local news.
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 1:00pm
Before breaking down the historical significance of Booker’s game, there’s much more pressing matters at hand.
LOOK AT BRANDON KNIGHT’S ABS.
Those things can’t be real. It’s not a six-pack, it’s an eight-pack. King Leonidas’ Spartans would be jealous of Knight. G.I. Joe wants to know how Knight got that tight. I don’t know how he ever wears a shirt. If I had all eight of those, I would make sure the world saw them every time they saw me.
Another thing about the photo: the NBA posted it on their Instagram account. The Celtics’ Jae Crowder commented, “NEVER SEEN SO MANY GUYS HAPPY AFTER AN L.” Booker replied, “You can’t guard me.”
I’m a bit distracted, so bullet points will have to do.
- Booker’s 70 points are the most ever recorded at the Boston Garden.
- It’s the most points scored in a basketball game since Kobe went for 81 back in 2006.
- To get to 70, he shot the ball 40 times and took 26 free throws.
- 51 of Booker’s 70 points came in the second half. Even more impressive, 35 of his points came in the final 15 minutes of the game.
- He’s only 20. Booker is now the youngest player to score 60 or more, surpassing Jerry West’s mark that was set when West was 23.
- There’s only been 11 games of 70 points or more in the history of the NBA. Six of those games belong to Wilt Chamberlain; the others are from Kobe, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor and David Robinson. Neither Jordan or LeBron have ever cracked 70.
- I appreciate this line from The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks: “Watson was calling timeouts and having his team foul while down double digits in the final seconds in order to manufacture extra possessions for Booker to shoot. Somewhere out there, Kobe is crying tears of joy.”
- Kobe was, in fact, pleased, although not crying tears of joy.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 25, 2017
For those who still haven’t seen highlights…
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 12:34pm
And just like that, Steve Alford is stuck with LaVar Ball.
Jeff Goodman reports Indiana will hire Archie Miller to be their next basketball coach. The 38-year old took Dayton to the Elite Eight in 2014 and has a 68.8 winning percentage in five seasons with the Flyers.
I was really hoping Indiana would hire Alford — a guy who can’t win in the Sweet 16 or coach defense — after firing Crean — a guy who can’t win in the Sweet 16 or coach defense. Instead, the Hoosiers made a homerun hire.
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 12:00pm
Fresh off scoring 70, Devin Booker had some encouraging words for his team.
Way to handle business fellas @KentuckyMBB 👌🏼
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) March 25, 2017
Now in L.A., Julius Randle was happy to see De’Aaron Fox end UCLA.
You a dog @Swipathef0x !!! Way to hoop my g
— Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE) March 25, 2017
Well played A.D., well played.
Who said there's no perfect brackets left? pic.twitter.com/MUTokJ6yvw
— Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) March 25, 2017
From one point guard, to another.
Fox like that #BBN !!
— John Wall (@JohnWall) March 25, 2017
Wall’s former running-mate was pleased with the performance as well.
— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) March 25, 2017
Chuck Hayes did less celebrating, but during the game he provided high-qualify analysis.
— chuck hayes (@c_hayes44) March 25, 2017
Admire Bam is still battling for position on the block and for offensive rebounds. Even tho he's scoreless right now #CATS
— chuck hayes (@c_hayes44) March 25, 2017
Patrick Patterson did much of the same, with a lot more gloating.
Fox.. cook him! #bbn
— Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) March 25, 2017
Looking forward to hearing what LaVar Ball has to say next.. #BIGBLUENATION
— Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) March 25, 2017
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 11:00am
Lost in the shuffle of De’Aaron Fox’s historic night was Malik Monk’s reemergence. After shooting only 20% from thee-point land in March heading into last night’s game, Monk broke out in the second half, going 4-9 from behind the three-point line and 8-17 from the floor. Fourteen of Monk’s 21 points came in the second half, and his teammate Dominique Hawkins said when Malik saw that first three finally — mercifully! — drop into the basket, the floodgates opened.
“Once he sees the basket and the ball goes in, he feels like he needs to get the ball again to shoot another shot,” Dom said.
Not only was Monk finally on fire again from the outside, he showed no hesitation, a far cry from the player who looked so uncharacteristically gun shy vs. Wichita State. All four of Monk’s threes came from deep, one practically on the South Regional logo:
Few players get hot like Malik, and coming into the game, it felt like Kentucky couldn’t survive another game without him shooting well, so when he finally warmed up in the second half, the entire BBN cried out in relief. The team did too.
“It’s very important because we need Malik when we go down the stretch,” Hawkins said of Monk’s resurgence. “He’s an elite scorer and we rely on him to score most of the time.”
Hawkins said Monk — who had dozens of family members from nearby Lepanto in the stands — didn’t say anything to his teammates in the huddle once he got going, but the relief was written all over his face.
“He didn’t say nothing, he just smiles. When he starts smiling, that’s a good sign.”
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 10:00am
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The Difference in De’Aaron Fox
The Kentucky point guard had the best game ever by a freshman in the NCAA Tournament, finishing with 39 points. He put the team on his back from the get-go, knocking down his first six shots. Coach Cal attributes his success to increased physicality.
“What he’s learned to do is play physical, not take a hit and fly, and throw a ball. He’s learned to play through bumps. He’s learned to work. He’s understood the grind now. It took him a while,” Calipari said. “He goes to the rim, and I know if he gets hit, he can still make it. Well, early in the season, he wasn’t doing that. I am so proud of him.”
D, D, Defense
Kentucky pulled away from UCLA in the second half because of their offensive tempo and defensive intensity. They valued each offensive possession and forced UCLA to make difficult shots. For awhile, they went in. Bryce Alford was falling down and Holliday always had a hand in his face, but UCLA was still shooting around 70 percent for most of the half. The contested looks eventually quit falling and the Cats ran away with the game thanks to a 21-9 run.
Monk is Out of His Funk
Bringing his family into the building is just what Malik Monk needed. He had just 7 points in the first half, but doubled it within minutes of the second half. He scored 21 points, but more importantly, he knocked down four three-pointers, the most he’s hit in one game in the month of March.
He only had two points, but Adebayo was effective. Welsh and every other UCLA post that tried to guard him got in foul trouble, and when the double team arrived, Bam found an open teammate. Adebayo led the team with five assists.
It Just Means More
Just when you thought the night couldn’t get better, Florida made tomorrow’s Elite Eight in Madison Square Garden an SEC party.
BUZZER BEATER ALERT! 🚨🚨🚨
CHRIS CHIOZZA WINS IT AT THE BUZZER WITH THIS ALL TIME WALK OFF 3!!!
IT’S EVEN BETTER W/TITANIC MUSIC! 🏀🚢🎼 pic.twitter.com/8CcrXDMzhE
— 🚢Titanic Hoops🏀 (@TitanicHoops) March 25, 2017
Coach Cal joked about the SEC’s three Elight Eight teams in his postgame presser. “No. There are not three SEC teams in the Elite 8. We’re supposed to be a bad league.”
The Cats get the 5:05 ET tip-off in Memphis against North Carolina on CBS. The Tar Heels handled Butler, blowing past the Bulldogs halfway through the first half to win by 12. North Carolina opened as 2.5-point favorites over the Cats.
You’ll hear from the team starting around 3:45 ET this afternoon.
Steve Alford Said He’s Gonna Stay at UCLA
“I’m absolutely, 100 percent not going to Indiana.”
DON’T MESS WITH JOURNALISTS ON DEADLINE!
SI for KIds reporter is cute and all, but not a fan of an off-topic question at 1 am when beat writers are trying to pull gamers together.
— David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) March 25, 2017
Booker Got Buckets
Devin Booker could be a junior at Kentucky. Instead, he’s scoring 70 points in the NBA. What makes his game even more incredible, is that he scored 51 of those points in the second half.
70 points is the most scored by any active player in the NBA. Not too shabby.
Tonight’s Elite Eight Schedule
- Xavier vs. Gonzaga at 6:09
- Oregon vs. Kansas at 8:49
Both games will air on TBS.