By Maggie Davis on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 9:22pm
When it was good, it was really good. Re-live the best of the best, thanks to our friends from KYWildcatsTV. Included in the game highlights, of course, are all of the massive dunks from Kentucky’s win over Mississippi State.
Check it out!
By Nick Roush on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 8:59pm
Kentucky sprinted out to a big first half lead, but almost let it slip away against Mississippi State.
After falling into a 4-0 hole, Kentucky responded with an 18-2 run to give the eighth-ranked Cats a comfortable first half lead. UK didn’t bring the same energy out of the halftime locker room. A myriad of turnovers and missed buckets near the basket gave No. 22 Mississippi State a window to make a run.
With 13:36 left to play, the Bulldogs cut the Kentucky lead to two. The Cats received a wake up call at the right time. Five minutes later P.J. Washington hit a corner three to put UK up 14, the largest lead of the night at the time. Kentucky entered cruise control to defeat their second straight ranked opponent 76-55.
Washington’s dominant final ten minutes paved the way for a 21-point performance. Ashton Hagans set a new career-high for assists with eight. Reid Travis struggled offensively against State’s interior length, yet still grabbed 12 rebounds. The complete box score:
By Nick Roush on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 8:14pm
Kentucky’s Tuesday night matchup with Mississippi State needed some energy. Keldon Johnson happily obliged.
After a somewhat sloppy start, the freshman wing took advantage of a Mississippi State mistake. Johnson sprinted the length of the floor before taking flight.
Johnson’s leap from the SEC logo sparked an 18-2 run and gave him enough confidence to try one more dunk from near the free throw line. That one did not end quite so well.
By Drew Franklin on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 7:51pm
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 6:45pm
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By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 6:00pm
Once a year, John Calipari and the rest of the Kentucky staff ditch their dress shoes for sneakers for a game to promote cancer awareness; tonight is that night. Kentucky’s coaches and staff will be wearing these Nikes tonight as part of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Week.
Our coaches and staff will be wearing these shoes tonight in support of @CoachesvsCancer #SuitsandSneakers Week. One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. We hope you will support the NABC and @AmericanCancer Society in the fight against cancer. pic.twitter.com/XuuMTIDA4H
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 22, 2019
The Coaches vs. Cancer program is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches to increase cancer awareness and promote healthy living through year-round awareness efforts, fundraising activities, and advocacy programs. Since 1993, coaches have raised more than $100 million for the American Cancer Society.
For more information on the Coaches vs. Cancer program and to find out how you can help, click here.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 5:00pm
Kentucky’s win over Auburn was enough for CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm to boost the Cats to a two-seed in his Bracketology; ESPN’s Joe Lunardi agrees, putting the Cats at the bottom of the East bracket, opposite…Duke.
Are we over that game yet? My head says yes, but I also just gulped and shuddered a little bit, so maybe not.
Regardless, Lunardi’s other 1-seeds are Virginia (South), Michigan State (West), and Tennessee (Midwest). He has seven SEC teams in as of now: Tennessee (1), Kentucky (2), Auburn (5), LSU (5), Ole Miss (7), Mississippi State (7), and Florida (12).
Check out the entire field at ESPN.com.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 4:30pm
We’re two and a half hours from tipoff of Kentucky vs. Mississippi State, which means it’s time for the KSR Pregame Show.
Matt, Ryan, and Drew are live at KSBar and Grille to get you ready for tonight’s game, so turn that radio dial to 630 WLAP or listen online via iHeart Radio.
By Brett Bibbins on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 4:00pm
1. The starting backcourt for Mississippi State consists of a trio of double-digit scoring guards. In the Bulldog’s loss to Kentucky last season, the three combined for 38 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists, and two steals. All three return for Ben Howland and are leading an extremely experienced Mississippi State team. Quinndary Weatherspoon is the tallest of the three guards, despite being only 6’4″, and is the best player on this MSU squad. The senior is fifth in the SEC at 16.6 points per game, to go along with 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.3 steals, while shooting 32.7% of his threes. Quinndary’s little brother, Nick Weatherspoon, starts at the two guard position for the Bulldogs. The sophomore gives Mississippi State 10.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per contest. He can fill it up from deep, hitting 46.3% of his attempted threes this season, good for third in the SEC. Lastly, Lamar Peters runs point for the Bulldogs and he can absolutely fill it up. While the junior isn’t needed to score every possession due to Mississippi State’s balanced attack, he can go off on a moment’s notice. The New Orleans native is scoring 13.4 points, dishing out a fifth in the SEC 5.8 assists, and swiping 1.2 steals per game. He’s made the third most threes in the SEC this season, and is hitting 41.5% of his shots from behind the arc.
2. If you didn’t gather it from the stats of the starting guards listed above, Mississippi State is similar to Auburn in that they can live and die through the three-point shot. While not quite as willing to chuck from downtown as Auburn, Mississippi State does shoot a better percentage. The Bulldogs hit 38.3% of their threes, hitting over nine of them per game, both of which are good for second in the SEC. The Wildcats did a nice job of defending the three-point line for stretches in the Auburn game, but there were some times that breakdowns were evident. Several fouls on jump shooters, as well as letting Bryce Brown get red-hot in the second half almost cost them the game. If Kentucky can run these guards off the perimeter, and force tough twos rather than open threes, then tonight should be no problem. However, that won’t be any easy task. Strong defensive efforts from Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson will be key to stopping the three-point barrage from the Bulldogs.
3. Part of the reason that Mississippi State has success shooting the three is that they start three small scoring guards along with two bigs. The second big has varied throughout the season this year, but Owensboro, Kentucky native Aric Holman has been the mainstay in the starting lineup as a stretch four. While only putting up 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks against Kentucky last season, the senior is a difference maker for the Bulldogs. Standing at 6’10” and 225 pounds, Holman is averaging 12.4 points, is fourth in the SEC in rebounding at 8.1, and is second in the SEC in blocks at 2.2 per game. On top of what Holman can do in the paint, on the defensive end, and on the boards, he can step outside and hit a mid-range jumper or even a three if needed. He’s shooting 44.3% from beyond the arc, with the second-most made threes on the team. Kentucky’s going to need a solid defensive effort from PJ Washington on Holman to stop him from taking advantage of his unique skillset tonight.
4. So far this season, Mississippi State has put up a 14-3 record and come into tonight ranked as the 22nd best team in the country. The Bulldogs raced out to a 12-1 record to start the season, riding a nine game win streak into conference play. Unfortunately for Ben Howland’s squad, they dropped their first two games against SEC opponents, one at South Carolina in overtime and the other at home against in-state rival Ole Miss. After back to back wins, Mississippi State is ready to take on another big game and Kentucky is that win to get them back to making some noise in the Southeastern Conference. Tonight begins a brutal stretch for the Bulldogs as, including tonight’s game, they play a ranked team in five of their next six games. This stretch comes to end with another match up against the Cats, this time in Starkville, on February 9th.
5. In the time since John Calipari took over at Kentucky, Mississippi State has always been a team that played the Cats tough. Despite the fact that Kentucky is 11-0 in Calipari era against the Bulldogs, most of the games were close. In fact, 7 of the 11 wins over Mississippi State have been by 10 points or less and two have gone to overtime. On top of that, tonight will be only the 4th time in Calipari era that UK has played back to back ranked regular season opponents. Everyone knows that College Gameday is coming to Lexington on Saturday for the Kansas game, so taking tonight’s game in focus will be important to avoid the classic college basketball trap game. The Bulldogs aren’t some pushover team, so the Cats should be ramped up and ready to go come game time.
Go Cats. Beat Bulldogs.
By Nick Roush on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 3:00pm
After a slight break in the action, Kentucky football recruiting is picking up speed.
Kentucky will host dozens of underclassmen for the annual Junior Day when the basketball team hosts Kansas this Saturday. As the focus shifts toward the 2020 class, Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow and Co. are in the process of completing the 2019 class on National Signing Day.
The Early Signing Period has removed some of the sheen from the first Wednesday in February. Last year there were really only two prospects, Chris Oats and Xavier Peters, to watch over the final five weeks of the UK recruiting season. After signing 21 players in December, Kentucky does not have too many vacancies left to fill.
Kentucky Football Class of 2019
|Jared Casey||LB||Louisville, KY||6-3||235||4-star, .8958|
|JJ Weaver||OLB||Louisville, KY||6-6||240||4-star, .8937|
|Moses Douglass||S||Springfield, OH||6-2||200||4-star, .8906|
|Shawnkel Knight-Goff||OLB/ATH||Louisville, KY||6-4||215||3-star, .8788|
|KD McDaniel||OLB/DE||Tifton, GA||6-3||250||3-star, .8763|
|Travis Tisdale||RB||Voldosta, GA||5-8||165||3-star, .8762|
|Taj Dodson||CB||Fairburn, GA||6-2||180||3-star, .8739|
|Isaiah Gibson||DT||Springfield, OH||6-4||300||3-star, .8722|
|Demontae "TaeTae" Crumes||WR||Louisville, KY||6-1||165||3-star, .8688|
|Marquez Bembry||OLB||Atlanta, GA||6-3||225||3-star, .8669|
|Nik Ognenovic||TE||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||6-5`||235||3-star, .8668|
|Cavon Butler||DT||Toledo, OH||6-3||290||3-star, .8626|
|Brandin Echols||CB (JUCO)||Southaven, MS||6-0||180||3-star, .8602|
|Tra Wilkins||ILB||Stone Mountain, GA||6-2||210||3-star, .8506|
|Jalen Geiger||CB||Columbia, SC||6-0||185||3-star, .8480|
|Nik Scalzo||QB||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||5-11||185||3-star, .8475|
|Amani Gilmore||QB||Amite, LA||6-2||175||3-star, .8431|
|DeMarcus Harris||WR||Vero Beach, FL||6-2||170||3-star, .8398|
|Jake Pope||OT||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||6-7||275||3-star, .8385|
|Eli Cox||OG||Nicholasville, KY||6-4||295||3-star, .8323|
|Quandre Mosely||CB||Brunswick, GA||6-1||195||3-star, .89|
Kentucky can sign up to 25 players in the 2019 class. Two JUCO recruits, wide receiver JaVonte Richardson and defensive tackle Elijah James, committed to UK in December but did not sign. I cannot get confirmation, but it’s safe to assume they are out of the picture. Moving forward, Kentucky has prioritized defensive backs and wide receivers. An “under the radar” prospect could commit just before February 6, but first, let’s turn our attention to the big dogs with big UK targets on their backs.
Cornerback | 6-1 | 175 lbs.
Moultrie, GA | Colquitt County
|ESPN||N/A||Top247||No. 267 | 30 CB|
|Rivals||55 CB | 46 GA||247 Comp.||No. 503 | 52 CB|
The four-star cornerback initially committed to Kentucky in June. Following a visit to LSU he re-opened his recruitment in November. Kentucky has remained in touch throughout the ups and downs and it could pay dividends on National Signing Day. The Cats have one more chance to convince Ward to pick UK over LSU when the Georgia native takes an official visit to Lexington on the final weekend before NSD.
Cornerback | 5-11 | 200 lbs.
Leesburg, GA | Lee County
|ESPN||42 ATH | 55 GA||Top247||No. 453 | 36 S|
|Rivals||24 S | 28 GA||247 Comp.||No. 379 | 30 S|
This four-star corner created headlines when he wore UK gloves in his state championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. There was plenty of UK buzz around Robinson following his official visit, but that has shifted toward Auburn and Tennessee after visits to each respective school. Along with South Carolina, Robinson will choose between the four SEC schools on February 6.
Wide Receiver | 6-2 | 215 lbs.
Amite, LA | Amite
|ESPN||No. 242 | 34 WR||Top247||No. 177 | 7 ATH|
|Rivals||No. 126 | 12 ATH||247 Comp.||No. 163 | 6 ATH|
The most recognizable name remaining on UK’s recruiting big board, not much has come from the Top 200 player’s camp since he participated in the Under Armour All-American Game.
Lee officially visited UK with his high school quarterback, Amani Gilmore, in December. The visit transformed UK from long shot to possibility. Kentucky’s early playing time pitch was powerful. Meanwhile, LSU remains the perceived leader. Being an in-state hero is an appealing pitch, but there’s grumblings that the Tigers want him to play defense instead of offense.
Texas A&M, Auburn and Alabama are in the mix, but UK is in a position where anything is possible. Ultimately, Lee’s decision will weigh heavily on his official visit to LSU. If the Cats can lock up Lee, it would be the biggest recruiting win over SEC foes in a long time.
|Marlin “MJ” Devonshire
Cornerback | 5-11 | 170 lbs.
Aliquippa, PA | Aliquippa
|ESPN||72 ATH | 12 KY||Top247||63 CB | 14 PA|
|Rivals||32 CB | 6 PA||247 Comp.||50 CB | 9 PA|
A target that recently entered the mix, UK extended a scholarship offer to Devonshire on January 18. The son of a coach is a four-star recruit according to Rivals. Pitt, West Virginia, Ole Miss and Ohio State are Kentucky’s top competition. He’s expected to officially visit UK prior to National Signing Day.
Offensive Tackle | 6-6 | 315 lbs.
Dayton, OH | Dunbar
|ESPN||93 OT | 36 OH||Top247||89 OT | 49 OH|
|Rivals||–| 41 OH||247 Comp.||60 OT | 38 OH|
Unlike the Alabama Jonathan Allen, this Dayton, Ohio native is a pass protector, not a pass rusher. Another prospect that Kentucky began pursuing late in the game, Cincinnati’s early interest in Allen makes the Bearcats the leader. Ohio State, Penn State and Indiana are also involved. Marrow must convince Allen to make a visit prior to NSD to have a chance to secure a commitment.
No matter how many players sign with UK in February, there’s still a good chance Kentucky pulls a few players from the transfer portal at the end of the spring academic semester. Finding top wide receiver prospects at this point of recruiting season is difficult, but there are a few viable options on the transfer market.
La’Michael Pettway will be eligible to play as a grad transfer immediately this fall. Recruited by UK wide receivers coach Michael Smith at Arkansas, Pettway led the Razorbacks in receiving yards in 2018. Juwan Johnson was on the same field as Kentucky this season. After catching a couple of passes in the Citrus Bowl, Penn State’s No. 3 wide receiver announced his intentions to transfer. The 6’4″ wide out has one season of eligibility remaining and can play right away.
Kentucky has plenty of options to fill its 2019 roster. That picture will become much clearer over the next two weeks.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Anthony Edwards, the No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class according to 247 Sports, is on Kentucky’s campus right now for an official visit. To be specific, he’s in the Kentucky locker room, where he’s rocking a Kentucky uniform (looks like Matthew Hurt started a tradition).
The five-star guard is chronicling his official visit on Instagram, where he posted these videos to his story:
Edwards arrived in Lexington last night and was greeted by a cookie cake and lots of sweets in his hotel room:
Edwards will be in Rupp tonight for the Mississippi State game. Right now, Florida State and Georgia seem to be the teams to beat for the Atlanta native, but Kentucky could pick up some major ground this week. Evan Daniels recently compared the combo guard to James Harden and said he’s on track to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Landing him would be absolutely huge.
For the latest on what KSR is hearing on Edwards, check out Pilgrim’s Insider Notes from last night:
Then watch some highlights:
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 1:00pm
You thought Kentucky football was the only UK athletic program with a National Defensive Player of the Year-caliber player? Think again.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club released their midseason watch list for National Defensive Player of the Year, and Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans made the cut.
We've known @H23Ash is one of the best defenders in the country for a while but everyone else is now starting to notice. Hagans is on the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year national watch list. Semifinalists will be announced in February.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 22, 2019
The 6-foot-3 point guard out of Cartersville, GA is just one of 15 players included on the list, one of two freshmen (Zion Williamson, Duke), and one of two SEC representatives (Grant Williams, Tennessee).
Averaging 2.3 steals per contest, Hagans is ranked No. 2 in the SEC overall and No. 3 nationally among all freshmen. In players averaging 25 minutes or less per game, Hagans leads the country in steals per game among freshmen.
When you break down the advanced numbers, the Kentucky star point guard’s performances look even more spectacular. On the season, his steal rate per 40 minutes is 3.7, while that number over his last seven games has skyrocketed to 5.3 steals per game.
To take it a step further, Hagans is the first player in Kentucky basketball history with at least three steals in seven consecutive games, including an eight-steal outing against North Carolina on December 22.
The National Defensive Player of the Year award finalists will be announced in February, and it’s almost a certainty the Wildcat point guard will find his way on that list.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 12:30pm
The main focus for Kentucky has been on closing out the 2019 recruiting class, but the Wildcat coaching staff is laying the ground work for the elite prospects in the class of 2020.
In fact, several of those big-name prospects will be making their way to Lexington for visits in the coming weeks.
Let’s take a look.
|Hunter Dickinson (2020)
Center | 7-2 | 255 lbs.
Hyattsville, MD |DeMatha Catholic
AAU: Team Takeover
|ESPN||No. 20 | 2 C||Top247||No. 23 | 4 C|
|Rivals||No. 18 | 3 C||247 Comp.||No. 19 | 4 C|
Hunter Dickinson, a 7-foot-2 center out of Hyattsville, MD will head to Lexington this Saturday for Kentucky’s matchup with Kansas.
After some back-and-forth on whether or not it would be an official or unofficial visit for the five-star big man, KSR sources have confirmed it will be unofficial.
Back in December, the elite center told Jake Weingarten of Stockrisers.com that Kentucky is one of the schools recruiting him the hardest and he’s certainly open to John Calipari’s pitch.
“Kentucky has one of the best coaches in the country and Coach Cal probably has the best recent track record of getting players in the league,” he said.
In an interview with Irish Sports Daily yesterday, Dickinson said he would likely decide next fall.
“Final decision will probably be around next fall, hopefully. That would probably be a good decision for me. I don’t really want to rush it. I just want to make sure I’m making the best decision possible.”
Check out his highlights:
|B.J. Boston (2020)
Shooting Guard | 6-7 | 183 lbs.
Norcross, GA | Norcross HS
AAU: Athletes of Tomorrow (AOT)
|ESPN||No. 15 | 4 SF||Top247||No. 12 | 3 SG|
|Rivals||No. 8 | 2 SF||247 Comp.||No. 10 | 3 SG|
After a busy recruiting weekend when Kansas comes to town, things will slow down for a few weeks with 2020 prospects until five-star shooting guard B.J. Boston comes to town for Kentucky’s highly-anticipated matchup with Tennessee on February 16.
During his time at the Hoophall Classic this past weekend, Boston said the schools recruiting him the hardest right now are Duke, Auburn, Kentucky, Alabama, and Florida.
His most recent highlight tape:
|Sharife Cooper (2020)
Point Guard | 6-0 | 160 lbs.
Marietta, GA | McEachern
AAU: Athletes of Tomorrow (AOT)
|ESPN||No. 23 | 4 PG||Top247||No. 19 | 2 PG|
|Rivals||No. 24 | 4 PG||247 Comp.||No. 21 | 2 PG|
Just one week after Boston heads to Lexington, five-star point guard Sharife Cooper will unofficially visit Lexington when Auburn comes to town.
In an interview with Adam Zagoria of FloHoops, Cooper said he’ll be in town on February 23.
“I’m visiting Duke soon,” he said. “I think I’m going to go to the Kentucky-Auburn game later in the season [Feb 23].”
In fact, Cooper said the Kentucky coaching staff is actually pushing for a commitment from the 6-foot guard out of Marietta, GA.
“They kind of want to do it now, but I’m just trying to take my time,” he said.
Cooper’s interest in Kentucky really depends on what happens over the course of the next season. He likes the Cats, but he also doesn’t want to join an overly crowded backcourt.
“I really can’t think that far,” he said. “I’m just trying to finish the high school season. Anybody could commit to Kentucky. I don’t want to go somewhere where there’s three point guards, so I’m just really trying to take my time and see what they do.”
Watch him work:
Keion Brooks Jr.
Forward | 6-8 | 185 lbs.
Fort Wayne, IN | North Side
AAU: Spiece Indy Heat
|ESPN||No. 30 | 9 PF||Top247||No. 16 | 5 SF|
|Rivals||No. 35 | 13 PF||247 Comp.||No. 22 | 6 SF|
Beyond 2020 prospects, we also got a small bit of news on 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. this morning.
With UCLA firing head coach Steve Alford and the school’s next coach in question, Brooks has decided to remove them from his final list.
The final four schools in contention? Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Michigan State.
Zagoria was the first to break the news:
.@KeionB_12 said yesterday he's effectively down to 4 schools – Indiana, Kentucky, UNC and Michigan State. Said it would be 'difficult' to start a new relationship with the new UCLA coach. @FloHoops https://t.co/ZueE4sXQ1R
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 22, 2019
Brooks has said a decision is coming soon, with Indiana maintaining the majority of momentum right now and Michigan State also picking up steam…
More to come
Sources tell KSR there are more prominent visitors expected for the Kansas game this weekend, and I’m working on getting that official list to you guys in the next day or so.
I’ll also follow up on five-star point guard Anthony Edwards’ official visit to Kentucky, as well.
See you then.