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University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.





January 22nd, 2019

At The Half: Kentucky 34, Mississippi State 26

Here in Rupp Arena, your University of Kentucky Wildcats lead the Bulldogs of Mississippi State University, 34-26. Tyler Herro leads all scorers with 11 first half points.

 


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Kentucky coaches sporting sneakers for annual Coaches vs. Cancer Week

@KentuckyMBB

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.

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.


Get ready for Mississippi State with the KSR Pregame Show

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.

 


5 things to know about the Mississippi State Bulldogs

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.

@BrettBibbinsKSR


Kentucky Football’s Final 2019 Recruiting Targets

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

NamePositionHometownHeightWeight 247 Composite
Jared CaseyLBLouisville, KY6-32354-star, .8958
JJ WeaverOLBLouisville, KY6-62404-star, .8937
Moses DouglassSSpringfield, OH6-22004-star, .8906
Shawnkel Knight-GoffOLB/ATHLouisville, KY6-42153-star, .8788
KD McDanielOLB/DETifton, GA6-32503-star, .8763
Travis TisdaleRBVoldosta, GA5-81653-star, .8762
Taj DodsonCBFairburn, GA6-21803-star, .8739
Isaiah GibsonDT Springfield, OH 6-43003-star, .8722
Demontae "TaeTae" CrumesWRLouisville, KY6-11653-star, .8688
Marquez BembryOLBAtlanta, GA6-32253-star, .8669
Nik Ognenovic TEFt. Lauderdale, FL6-5`2353-star, .8668
Cavon ButlerDTToledo, OH6-32903-star, .8626
Brandin EcholsCB (JUCO)Southaven, MS6-01803-star, .8602
Tra WilkinsILBStone Mountain, GA6-22103-star, .8506
Jalen GeigerCBColumbia, SC6-01853-star, .8480
Nik ScalzoQBFt. Lauderdale, FL5-111853-star, .8475
Amani GilmoreQBAmite, LA6-21753-star, .8431
DeMarcus HarrisWRVero Beach, FL6-21703-star, .8398
Jake PopeOTFt. Lauderdale, FL6-72753-star, .8385
Eli CoxOGNicholasville, KY6-42953-star, .8323
Quandre MoselyCBBrunswick, GA6-11953-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.

Jay Ward 
Cornerback | 6-1 | 175 lbs.
Moultrie, GA | Colquitt County
Highlights
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.

Jammie Robinson  
Cornerback | 5-11 | 200 lbs.
Leesburg, GA | Lee County
Highlights
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.

Devonta Lee 
Wide Receiver | 6-2 | 215 lbs.
Amite, LA | Amite
Highlights
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
Highlights
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.

Jonathan Allen
Offensive Tackle | 6-6 | 315 lbs.
Dayton, OH | Dunbar
Highlights
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.

Transfers

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.


Ashton Hagans named National Defensive Player of the Year candidate

© Dale Zanine | USATSI

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.

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.

Congratulations, Ashton!