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University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.
December 10th, 2017

Why not Memorial?

I am one of the only KSR interns that does not attend UK. Instead, I go to school about 2 and a half hours away in Bowling Green at WKU. There, I cover WKU Athletics for the campus radio station. That allowed for me to make the trip last weekend to Memorial Coliseum to watch WKU in the NCAA Volleyball tournament.

It was my first ever trip to Memorial Coliseum. I walked the perimeter of the building countless times as a kid… hoping to one day make a trip inside. When I finally got the chance to go, I had to take it. When I stepped inside, I was blown away. The amount of history is unquestioned. I go to the old cliche, “if only that building could talk.”

On my drive back to Bowling Green, I thought a lot about how cool of an atmosphere it was. It lead me to ask myself this question, why don’t the men play one home game a year there? Sure, I know the basic answer is money. Memorial only holds 8,500 to Rupp’s 23,500. That is nearly three times as much, which obviously will result in a lot less money for the program.

Why couldn’t they just bite the bullet and play one game there though? Since Rupp opened in 1976, Memorial has only hosted one home Kentucky basketball game, a 70-60 win over UNLV in 2009 in the NIT.

John Calipari is very open about being against tournaments over the Thanksgiving holiday. His compromise is “tournaments” like this year’s “Adolph Rupp Classic.” If Kentucky continues to host an event like this, why not play it at Memorial? They could invite three other teams. They can play one of them and let the other two play after Kentucky plays.

This would give fans an opportunity to still have a cool experience in attending a game at Memorial and would still allow for Cal to “coach his team” from Lexington.

Let me know… am I the only one that really wants to see this happen? Or do you have any cool memories from Memorial? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GormleyKSR.

Remember that Name: Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson

Picture: Inside NU

Perception can be reality. This especially applies during bowl season when cross-conference matchups are mandated. Kentucky’s Music City Bowl opponent hails from the Big Ten which normally invokes visions snow-covered fields and power-run heavy offenses. However, if you’re thinking that Northwestern is going align with two tight ends and dot the I formation in order to run north-south for sixty minutes, then you’d be mistaken. The Wildcats can run the football effectively. RB Justin Jackson has gone over 1,000-yards in four consecutive seasons and is the program’s all-time leading rusher.

However, I’d argue that quarterback Clayton Thorson is NU’s most threatening offensive weapon. Northwestern can operate at a fast tempo while spreading the field in order to isolate receivers in the passing game. How good is the junior signal caller? His name has been submitted by his head coach to the NFL’s Draft Advisory Council to gauge if his best interest is to return for a senior season or to begin preparing for the NFL Combine after the Music City Bowl. This puts Thorson in the same company as Lamar Jackson and Drew Lock in terms of third year QB’s that will be testing NFL waters. 

Clayton Thorson 2017 Results

Opponent Attempt/Complete/INT TD/Yards
Nevada 28/38 (73.7%) 1 INT 2 TD, 352-yards
@Duke 11/29 (37.9%) 2 INT 0 TD, 120-yards
Bowling Green 23/30, (76.7%), 0 INT 2 TD, 370-yards
@Wisconsin 29/45, (64.4%) 2 INT 3 TD, 219-yards
Penn State 19/36 (52.8%) 2 INT 0 TD, 142-yards
Maryland 27/49 (55.1%) 2 INT 1 TD, 273-yards
Iowa 21/36 (58.3%) 0 INT 0 TD, 192-yards
Michigan State 33/48 (68.8%) 0 INT 2 TD, 356-yards
@Nebraska 19/35 (54.3%) 2 INT 0 TD, 243-yards
Purdue 26/46 (56.5%) 0 INT 1 TD, 296-yards
Minnesota 9/13 (69.2%) 0 INT 3 TD, 86-yards
@Illinois 13/21 (61.9%) 1 INT 1 TD, 140-yards


Thorson finished 2017 as the Big Ten’s 3rd leading passer and 3rd team All-Big Ten. Let’s take a look at 2017 composite statistics:

Clayton Thorson’s 2017 Composite Statistics

Att/Comp/% Yards TD/INT
258/426 (60.6%) 2809-yards (234 per game) 15 TD, 12 INT

Thorson has enjoyed a successful career. He’s started 38 games in which he’s thrown for 7513-yards and 44 touchdowns. NU’s offense leans more towards a ball-control passing scheme than homerun hitting attacks as UK faced against Ole Miss, Missouri, and Louisville. Thorson’s experience, knack for completing timing routes, and sneaky athletic ability will put a tremendous strain on UK’s sketchy pass defense.

While completing 60.6% of his passes in 2017; Carson did throw 12 interceptions. Expect to see a plethora of slant routes and other short-intermediate throws in Nashville. He often utilizes tight ends and running backs as well. NU’s receivers are not as physically talented at Southern Miss, Ole Miss, Louisville, or Missouri. However, route execution is often exact and efficiently timed.

Much more to come on the Northwestern Wildcats as we close in on December 29th. But for now; understand that the Wildcat’s offense doesn’t exactly fit the Big 10’s disposition of power run-left, power run-right, and punt. Pat Fitzgerald’s team is led by a highly skilled, future professional quarterback in Clayton Thorson. Remember that name.

BREAKING: Terry Wilson commits to KENTUCKY

YAHTZEE! Four-star QB and former Oregon Duck has committed to KENTUCKY!

Just last week, most recruiting analysts wrote the Cats off following Nebraska’s hiring of Scott Frost and Wilson’s previous relationship with the former UCF head coach.

After announcing he’d be visiting a “special” place this weekend, many thought Nebraska would be the destination. Reports broke that it was, in fact, Lexington, and early rumors were that the visit went extremely well.

Obviously those rumors ended up being true, as Kentucky has found their stud quarterback signee for 2018.

Wilson is an extraordinary talent with a legitimate shot at starting for the Cats next year.

We’ll have more later breaking down Wilson’s game, but until then, celebrate. Kentucky just got a star.

Welcome home, Terry Touchdown!

ESPN exposes financial troubles, Jurich’s lies, and fraud at the University of Louisville

When I tell you ESPN went in on UofL this morning, I mean they REALLY went in.

Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN’s Outside the Lines published a piece this morning diving into Louisville’s downfall and just how detrimental their scandals are for the city’s finances.

The article is extremely long and packed with countless bits of information and interviews, so here are several key points you need to read:

When the original $160 million partnership between UofL and Adidas was announced, Louisville said the deal would “write the next chapter for college athletics.”

One of the largest all-school sponsorship agreements in Adidas’ history, it was much more than a shoe deal. In internal strategy documents, Louisville vowed to “write the next chapter for college athletics, for streetwear and fashion.”

What a chapter it has been.

It is well-known the athletic department was given favorable treatment compared to the academic departments. A UofL professor talked about how that feels, along with a donor’s perspective of the whole ordeal.

Jurich was so successful generating money that “I wished I could turn them upside down and shake out their pocket change for the academic side,” says Thomas B. Byers, a professor emeritus in the English department.

The strategy required prodigious cash; by this year, Louisville’s athletics budget was up to $104.5 million. “He treated his donors like investors,” says Jurich’s friend Larry Benz, a member of the Louisville Athletic Association, which oversees the department. Jurich built $280 million in arenas, playing fields and athletic offices by convincing rich people of the facilities’ vital importance. “I can give $5 million to stem cell research and it’s gonna help stem cell research,” says Dr. Mark Lynn, an optometry-chain owner whose name adorns the soccer complex. “I give $5 million to a soccer stadium and it’s gonna help everything.” Lynn says sports bring the school visibility.

State Rep. Jim Wayne said Jurich and Jim Ramsey just didn’t “get it,” and that they saw UofL and the city of Louisville as their “kingdom.”

“I don’t think Tom Jurich gets this, and I don’t think Jim Ramsey got it,” says state Rep. Jim Wayne, whose district includes parts of Louisville. “The University of Louisville is a state facility … and it is not their kingdom. They are not the kings, and the princes, and the nobility in the kingdom. They’re temporary stewards of these programs. And instead of seeing this as something that they should be responsible for and hold high ethical standards as they execute their jobs, they’re doing just the opposite.”

According to state auditors and local businessmen, the Yum! Center deal “blew (their) mind” and is the “biggest taxpayer scandal” in the city’s history.

Under the terms, taxpayer contributions make up 75 percent of the arena’s operating income while Louisville gets to keep most of the revenue — an arrangement that “blew our mind,” says state auditor Mike Harmon, whose office examined the arena’s finances. “It was like, ‘This is ridiculous.’ It’s like co-signing the loan for a friend’s home and then having to pay three-fourths of the mortgage.”

Denis Frankenberger, a local businessman who has dissected the lease in minute detail, calls it “the biggest taxpayer scandal in the history of Louisville.”

Outside the Lines reported the arena is currently $300 million in debt, and by the end, it will cost taxpayers more than $1 billion.

By early this year, the arena required a bailout to keep it from defaulting on more than $300 million in bond debt. Jurich’s athletic department agreed to pay an additional $2.4 million a year. The public, meanwhile, was saddled with another 25 years of arena-related taxes totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. In the end, the arena will cost more than $1 billion, with taxpayers funding most of it.

The Courier-Journal discovered Jurich earned $5.3 million in 2016, which was more than the budgets of the biology, English, history and math departments at UofL. Jurich’s response?

“They couldn’t have gone out and raised money?” he says. “Why is it I’m accountable for everything and all we’ve done is been successful? But these other people get a free pass?

It has been reported and discussed in-depth about Jurich’s act

They described consistent and aggressive efforts to influence coverage, including abusive calls to radio talk-show hosts and executives by Jurich and his surrogates; threats to get advertising pulled from stations; and attempts to influence hiring and firing.

In the end of it all, through all the lies and fraud, Jurich said he has given the school “20 years of dignity” and deserves “a little bit in return.”

Jurich, in the aftermath, seems like a man who feels bewildered and betrayed, as if he were fired for doing his job too well.

“I’ve given this school 20 years of dignity,” Jurich says. “I would hope I would get a little bit in return, and I certainly haven’t yet.”

To read the entire ESPN article, head on over here. I promise it’ll be worth your time.

Cats in the NFL Week 14 Schedule

Avery Williamson played his best game of the season in the Titans win over the Texans as Pro Football Focus rated him the highest of any linebacker in football for Week 13. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a big week for a few former Kentucky Wildcats as Bud Dupree’s Steelers host Za’Darius Smith’s Ravens in a huge divisional match-up in primetime on Sunday Night Football.

Player GameTime/TV
Danny Trevathan Chicago Bears @ Cincinnati Bengals 1:00/FOX
Randall Cobb Green Bay Packers @ Cleveland Browns 1:00/FOX
Avery WilliamsonTennessee Titans @ Arizona Cardinals 4:05/CBS
Wesley Woodyard Tennessee Titans @ Arizona Cardinals 4:05/CBS
Corey Peters Tennessee Titans @ Arizona Cardinals 4:05/CBS
Za'Darius Smith Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers8:30/NBC
Bud DupreeBaltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers 8:30/NBC

John Calipari brought on Kentucky’s lack of respect from national media

After yesterday’s convincing win against Monmouth, John Calipari told reporters he was “disappointed” with the lack of respect his Kentucky Wildcats are getting right now by the national media.

“I’m a little disappointed the kids aren’t getting the respect they deserve,” he said. “We’re just getting going.”

The latter half of his statement is true. Kentucky looked dominant in their 93-76 victory over the Hawks, with several role players finding their grooves and Hamidou Diallo playing like a true star. They truly look ready to take the next step up and become the team we all thought they could be going into the year.

The former, however, was brought upon himself.

Throughout the entire summer, he lowered fan expectations about this team and the troubles we were certain to see. When Jarred Vanderbilt went down with an injury, the comments were even more unfavorable and severe.

Two weeks ago, Calipari told reporters not to “get carried away with how things are going.” Kentucky had just demolished UIC 107-73, and both fans and media were ready to talk about how this team was turning a new leaf. Lowered expectations.

Just a week ago, the Cats squeaked out a nine-point victory over Harvard, and Coach Cal told reporters afterward his team wasn’t playing “winning basketball.”

“If you accept mediocrity, you’re going to get it every time, especially with young kids,” he said. “Playing winning basketball, there are stretches that we don’t play winning basketball.”

And I don’t necessarily disagree with those comments. They’ve looked disorganized, sloppy, and lazy on several different occasions, owning the label of “youngest team in college basketball history” they received a while back. But that doesn’t take away from the spectacular performances we’ve seen, either.

Every time Calipari steps in front of a camera or talks with the media at press conferences, he talks about how young his team is and how much of a challenge it will be to get them to find success. And we hear the same narrative every year. They’re always the absolute worst team Cal has ever coached, they make a magical turnaround during Camp Cal, and they end up making a run in the NCAA Tournament. Clockwork.

I love you to death, Cal, but come on. Whether you realize it or not (you do), people listen to what you have to say and respect your opinion. When you say your basketball team isn’t very good, the media is going to say you’re not good. When you say they’re extremely young and inexperienced, the media is going to find the statistics to back that up and write columns about how this is the youngest basketball team in history.

When the comments are made, and the stories are written as a result, you can’t complain about the lack of respect your team is getting. When they continue to play like they did yesterday, especially against some of the tough upcoming competition and into conference play, the respect will come. Just like it always does.

This Kentucky team may be rough around the edges right now, and we’re going to see some slip-ups throughout the year, but this is a really good basketball team with a ton of potential. They have an entire roster of talented pieces that just haven’t figured one another out yet. When one player struggles, two or three other players come off the bench and pick up the slack.

The minute they can all get healthy and come together as a cohesive unit, Kentucky is going to be tough to beat, and we will see Swaggy Cal come alive once again.

Like clockwork.

Do Andrew Harrison and Russell Westbrook have beef?

Michael Reaves/Getty Images North America

The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated Andrew Harrison and the Memphis Grizzlies 102-101 in overtime on Saturday.

Harrison was given the task of guarding Russell Westbrook. Westbrook shot 7-of-29 (24%) from the field, but still finished with a triple-double (20/11/14).

Harrison blocked Westbrook’s game winning shot attempt and then had some words for the OKC guard.

After the conclusion of the game, Westbrook and Harrison continued to have some words. Westbrook told Harrison to “Go home!”

First Drew Franklin, now Andrew Harrison. What does Westbrook have against Kentucky people?

Today on KSR: everything you need to see before you start your day

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, friends. It’s a nice, cold, snowy Sunday morning here in Lexington, and I hope you’re celebrating that by still being cozied up in bed. Yesterday was an eventful one in the sports world, so let’s get right to it.

A Quick Kentucky vs. Monmouth Recap

The Kentucky basketball team was finally back in action after what felt like years without a game. But the time off certainly worked to the No. 7 Wildcats’ favor: they cruised past Monmouth 93-76. We posted plenty of good stuff about the game yesterday, but in case you missed it, catch up by clicking here. Otherwise, here’s what you need to know:

  • Hamidou Diallo led all scorers with 23 points in his New York Homecoming. He also added three rebounds, one assist, one steal and just one turnover.
  • PJ Washington had his best game of the season with 20 points, five rebounds, two blocks and an assist.
  • Kevin Knox did not shoot the ball well, finishing the game with just four points. He contributed to the win with eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block, but he also committed seven of the Cats’ troublesome 19 turnovers.
  • Quade Green left the game in the second half after being poked in the eye. Calipari said Green’s eye was swollen shut after the game, but we haven’t gotten an update since then. Luckily, the Cats don’t play again until next Saturday, so he should have plenty of time to heal.
  • Along with Green, Sacha Killeya-Jones also missed the game due to injury. A sprained ankle kept the sophomore on the bench for the entirety of the game.
  • Without Green and Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard earned a season-high 12 minutes. He finished with four points, six rebounds and two steals.
  • John Calipari says “the kids on this team aren’t getting the respect they deserve as players… and we are just getting going.” Positivity from Coach Cal is a great way to end a game.

Kentucky Volleyball Falls

After a spectacular season, the UK volleyball team’s post-season run ended last night in front of a packed Memorial Coliseum after a disappointing 3-1 loss to Nebraska in the regional final. Although it’s not the outcome the “Comeback Cats” were hoping for, this was Coach Craig Skinner’s most successful team thus far, and the future is very bright. The Cats will miss senior middle blocker Kaz Brown’s dominating presence at the net, but setter Madison Lilley and outside hitter Avery Skinner are just freshmen, while Leah Edmond is just a sophomore.

We have a Heisman Trophy winner

It’s official: Baker Mayfield is this season’s Heisman Trophy winner. The Oklahoma quarterback was the overwhelming winner, collecting 732 first-place votes and 2,398 points in the voting totals. Stanford running back Bryce Love was second with 75 first-place votes (1,300 points) and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was third with 47 first-place votes (793 points).

While Mayfield certainly put up excellent numbers this year, I’d have to say Louisville’s eight-win season hurt their QB’s chances of taking home the trophy. Had Louisville performed better as a team, the Heisman may have been going home with someone else.

Duke loses to Boston College

What’s the only thing better than a day when Kentucky basketball wins? When Kentucky basketball wins and Duke basketball loses. The Blue Devils fell to Boston College 89-84. The No. 1 team in the country struggled defensively, while Boston College had a stellar shooting night, hitting just over 50 percent of their shots from the floor.

40-0? Nope. Thank you, Patty Ice.

NFL Today

Happy week 14! Here are today’s matchups:

  • Colts vs. Bills at 1:00 on CBS
  • Cowboys vs. Giants at 1:00 on Fox
  • Lions vs. Buccaneers at 1:00 on Fox
  • Raiders vs. Chiefs at 1:00 on CBS
  • 49ers vs. Texans at 1:00 on Fox
  • Packers vs. Browns at 1:00 Fox
  • Bears vs. Bengals at 1:00 on Fox
  • Vikings vs. Panthers at 1:00 on CBS
  • Redskins vs. Chargers at 4:05 on CBS
  • Jets vs. Broncos at 4:05 on CBS
  • Titans vs. Cardinals at 4:05 on CBS
  • Eagles vs. Rams at 4:25 on Fox
  • Seahawks vs. Jaguars at 4:25 on Fox
  • Ravens vs. Steelers at 8:30 on NBC

Well, that’s all I have for now. Have a great Sunday and stay warm out there, BBN.


December 9th, 2017

Kentucky coasts to 93-76 victory over Monmouth

© Nicole Sweet | USATSI

After a slow start on offense and a few defensive breakdowns in the first half, Kentucky fans thought we’d see yet another back-and-forth outing against a lesser opponent for the Cats.

At the flip of a switch, defense picked up, transition buckets were had with ease, shots started falling, and the blowout commenced.

At halftime, the Wildcats held Monmouth to just 31.3% from the field, 25% from three, nine turnovers, and blocked three shots. On the glass, Kentucky dominated 27-13 and also had an 18-6 edge in points in the paint.

In the second half, UK continued to thrive on both ends of the floor, defeating the Hawks 93-76. The Cats finished the day shooting 53% from the field, 37% from three, and outrebounded Monmouth 44-34. UK also blocked eight shots (altered several more), forced 15 turnovers, and knocked down 75% of free throws.

Five players finished the day in double figures, led by Hamidou Diallo with 23 points and PJ Washington with 20. Eight players made a shot for the Cats, proving just how well-rounded an effort this was.

Let’s break down some key aspects of this game:

Diallo was (almost) showtime

His stat line of 23 points on 8-13 shooting, three rebounds, one assist, one steal, and just one turnover against the Hawks was likely the redshirt freshman’s best outing as a Wildcat. He took over when the Cats needed points, and did it in spectacular fashion.

Earlier in the year, we saw a lot of moments that brought us back to the Archie Goodwin days, and not in a good way. He seemed out of control and tried to make something out of nothing just a bit too much, with turnovers and lazy shot selection occurring more often than not.

In the last several weeks, however, Diallo has been a completely different player. The game is coming to him easier, he’s confident, and he’s relentless when attacking the rim. He’s still a raw basketball player, but we’ve seen true superstar potential, and that should make the Big Blue Nation very excited.

We also saw Diallo get fouled on two ridiculous dunk attempts that would have taken the roof off the place. Those will start converting into and-ones for the Wildcat guard, and that’s when things will get truly scary.

PJ Washington had a breakout day

We’ve seen Washington take over some games this year, but for the most part, he just hasn’t been the player we all know he can be. He’s been turnover prone, misses gimmes, and seems to get flustered when things aren’t working for him.

Today, we saw just how dominant Washington can truly be.

The freshman big man finished with 20 points on 5-8 shooting and 9-9 from the line, five rebounds, two blocks, and an assist. He found his mismatches, attacked the basket, and balled out in a way we just haven’t seen yet this year. It was his best performance as a Cat by a mile.

On another note, Calipari said Washington has lost 15 pounds in just 17 days, and that the UK freshman would be one of the best players in the country by the end of the year.

You could see just how agile Washington was with the ball in his hands and how much confidence he had in himself. If Cal thinks this is just the beginning of Washington’s success, I think UK is going to be just fine.

Wenyen Gabriel finally put points on the board

I’ve been hard on Gabriel this year because of his lack of production on the scoreboard. When I watched him play this summer, the Kentucky sophomore reeked of confidence and did things you rarely see from a guy his size. His ball handling was incredible, he was UK’s best shooter, and he played with great strength. I thought we’d see Gabriel finish as one of the team’s leading scorers.

So far, Gabriel has done just about everything well on the floor except for shooting. He grabs rebounds, forces turnovers, blocks shots, and provides massive energy. With big buckets, he’d be one of the most valuable players on the floor for Kentucky.

Today, we finally saw him put it together. He looked confident from behind the arc, made highlight plays, and proved just how valuable his leadership can be for this team this year.

Kevin Knox was ice cold

Washington and Gabriel had been quiet offensively and each played extremely well today. Kevin Knox, however, was fairly invisible on offense for the Cats. In the first half, Knox had just one point on 0-4 from the field along with five turnovers. He hit a three in the second half to bring his total to four points, but still couldn’t get much of anything going.

He finished the day with four points on 1-10 shooting and 1-5 from three, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block to go with seven turnovers.

Other players stepped up in his absence and found their groove, which is a good sign for the Cats going forward. We know what Knox can be, but seeing other players put on a show was important for the team.

Turnovers continue to be an issue

For as well as the Cats shot today, turnovers continue to limit this solid basketball team from being great. We saw an abundance of lazy passes and careless dribbling from several players, leading to some heated Coach Cal moments.

They forced 15 turnovers for the Hawks, but committed 19 themselves. Part of it may have been playing loose with a big lead, but that’s something the Cats have to get fixed going into the the next part of their schedule. They have to develop that killer instinct to finish opponents when they have a significant lead. Slowing down and making crisp, efficient passes from tipoff to the final buzzer is a big part of that.

The no-name games are over for a while

Fans wanted tougher competition against bigger names, and they’re about to get it.

Next Saturday, the Cats will take on the 8-1 Virginia Tech Hokies at Rupp Arena. UK will then head to New Orleans to take on the Ball-less UCLA Bruins the following week. The week after, it’s Louisville Hate Week, where the Cardinals will head to Lexington.

Immediately after that trio of games, conference play begins, where the SEC is looking stronger than it has in years.

Kentucky is playing at a high level right now and things are starting to click, but we’re about to see some big tests for a very young basketball team.

Let’s get to work.

Stoops’ Staff is Figuring Out How to Finish an Abbreviated Recruiting Season

College Football’s National Signing Day is seven weeks earlier than normal this year.  A busy month of December is even busier with a December 20 signing day.

Defensive coordinator Matt House said it’s difficult, “but I don’t know if it’s any more difficult than last year.  It’s funny, when you get into the situation of juggling recruiting, bowl prep, final exams, you just kind of go.  You don’t really have a chance to analyze it compared to the year before.  That’s what we’ll have to do after signing day.”

The most difficult task at hand is figuring out how many recruits they want to sign on the 20th.  There’s a fine line Stoops must toe.  Do you sign guys you know who are solid, or risk losing them to find somebody better?

“It just depends,” Stoops said he’s still unsure how many they will take on the 20th. “If we’re very solid and feel comfortable with the guys we have, then we’ll close it out.  I’m not sure.  This is the first time we’ve gone through this. It is different, so we’ll see.  I anticipate signing the majority of the class and that’s the way we’re approaching it right now.  But I would like to keep a couple open.”

Regardless of how it all pans out, Stoops is confident the 2018 class will finish with 23-24 solid prospects.

“I know this, it won’t be hard for us to fill our spots.  That’s for sure.  We have to be very smart with how we finish off our class, because I think it’s very critical when you get into the last two or three spots.”

Click here to see everything Stoops had to say today, and here to hear from Matt House.

Benny Snell is Not Happy with the SEC’s Coaches

After the 12-game regular season closed, Benny Snell led the SEC in rushing yards (1,318) and rushing touchdowns (18).  Voting Snell First Team All-SEC should be easy, right?  It was for the media, but not for everyone else.

The SEC Coaches (a.k.a. sports information directors) voted Snell to the second team, behind Georgia’s Nick Chubb.  Today Snell was also snubbed by Pro Football Focus.  Benny firmly disagrees.

“Numbers don’t lie, people do.”

Today is a Kentucky Basketball Madison Square Garden Anniversary

Big Blue History

Today Kentucky dismantled Monmouth at Madison Square Garden.  A similar story was told when John Wall was at the Garden on this day in 2009.

It’s been eight years since Wall revealed to the world that the Cats are back.  Entering the game, national analysts were skeptical of John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats.  College basketball teams have been successful with freshmen before, but Cal’s Cats took things to a new extreme with Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Co.

Facing 14th-ranked Connecticut in the SEC/Big East Invitational, Wall scored 25 points, including the game-winning AND ONE.

Wall also stole four passes and threw down this incredible alley-oop on top of Kemba Walker’s head.

Patrick Patterson added 16 points and DeMarcus Cousins had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double in a 64-61 win over the Huskies.

Kentucky Falls to Nebraska 3-1 in Regional Final

UK Athletics

The Comeback Cats ran out of gas against Nebraska.

The perennial powerhouse looked the part against the Wildcats today at Memorial Coliseum.  A slow-starting team, even when UK recovered in the second set, Nebraska’s guns were too big.  For most of the match Kentucky was good, but Nebraska was better.

The Cats started strong in the third set by building a 7-3 lead.  That lead extended to 16-11, but was quickly erased by the Cornhuskers.  The Cats had to claw back to tie the game at 24.  A kill from Leah Edmond and a block later, the Cats handed the Cornhuskers their first set loss in 22 days.

Kentucky fought to keep their tournament hopes alive, but it was too much to overcome.  Nebraska won the fourth and decisive set 25-22 to eliminate Kentucky from the NCAA Tournament and advance to their third consecutive Final Four.

Despite the loss, a big Congrats goes out to Craig Skinner’s most successful volleyball team.  The Co-SEC Champs reached just the second Elite Eight in program history, the first in Skinner’s 13 years as head coach. With plenty of young talent returning (setter Madison Lilley and killer outside hitter Avery Skinner are just freshmen), the future is bright for the Kentucky volleyball team.

PJ Washington lost 15 lbs. in 17 days

© Nicole Sweet | USATSI

Hamidou Diallo was Kentucky’s leading scorer today, but the most impressive player on the floor to me was PJ Washington. Washington had a career-high 20 points off 5-8 from the floor and 9-9 from the free throw line in what was clearly his best game as a Cat. He also chipped in five rebounds and two blocks, one that was just straight up mean:

During his halftime interview, John Calipari said Washington’s dropped 15 lbs. over the past 17 days. Whoa. What is that diet and how do I sign up? When asked, Washington credited the weight loss to all the running he’s been doing in practice.

“Running, running every day,” Washington said of his diet. “Before practice, after practice. It’s just a confidence booster. I feel like I’m more in shape.”

Washington was more versatile today than he’s been all season, which Calipari said wasn’t a coincidence.

“That’s who he is. Plus 15 lbs. he can’t be that. And I even said, maybe lose 7, 8 more. Huh. You’ll even get better. As Kenny [Payne] was working him out in practice and basically, the kid wasn’t happy. He was whining, complaining. All of a sudden it starts kicking in. There’s only one way, if you’re chasing greatness to convince yourself you’re good enough and that’s through work, spending more time than anybody…In the case of PJ, it was a demand, not a request.”

ESPN Turned Kentucky-Monmouth into Baseball Tonight

As Kentucky turned on the jets to take commanding first half lead over Monmouth, ESPN’s commentators were hardly paying attention.  Instead of calling the game, they were talking to the New York Yankees’ new manager, Aaron Boone.

And that was just two minutes of their talk with Boone.  This went on for an entire segment between the eight and four-minute TV timeouts.

It became excruciatingly painful down the stretch.  While they waited for a dead ball, Boone was asked about every question imaginable until they reached, “How are you spending the holidays?”  The segment concluded with the former ESPN color analyst giving an uncomfortable, albeit emphatic description of a deep Quade Green three.

The gimmicks didn’t end there.

When the game really got out of hand, ESPN producers sent the sideline reporter outside to report in the snow.  With thousands of Santas walking the snowy Manhattan streets for Santa-Con, it’s not a bad idea to get a look of the surreal scene.  We got a look, but that’s it.  She didn’t even talk to the Santas.  Instead, the guys at the tables busted her chops.

The ESPN producer had the right idea, but not the talent to properly execute it.  If Aaron Boone is in the audience and the Yankees just made a blockbuster trade, you gotta ask him about it.  It all fell apart when Kentucky went on an 11-0 run and they remained focused on Boone.  They didn’t interrupt Boone during big plays, they just mentioned the game-defining run after the fact.

It was a blowout, but the Kentucky audience doesn’t care about the Yankees.  All we care about is basketball and the four-letter network failed to deliver.