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March 18th, 2017

Wichita State’s got one heck of a chip on their shoulder


Rashard Kelly

If you thought Wichita State would come into this game with a chip on their shoulder, well, you were right. Junior forward Rashard Kelly came to the podium full of jokes this afternoon, starting with Kentucky’s “Nike Elite” status.

“They’re elite. You’ve got the top recruits coming to Kentucky. You’ve got the Nike Elite gear. They get all the Nike gear. They’re elite in everything. We are trying to be elite one day too, Nike.”

Ironically, when Gregg Marshall took the podium, he was wearing a Nike Elite t-shirt, which drew some chuckles from the media. When asked about it, Marshall joked that his team only has so many Nike Elite items and as head coach, he gets first pick.

“Yeah, we have some Nike Elite stuff, and I have to take the big stage in order to wear that. We’re excited about [the chip on our shoulder]. Our guys are not your five-star recruits walking in.”

As Marshall and his team reminded the media several times today, Wichita State doesn’t have any five-stars on its roster, and therefore none of the players ever drew interest from Calipari. When asked why Kentucky didn’t go after him, Kelly had more jokes.

“Probably because I’m not 6’11”, don’t have a 7’2″ wingspan, but it’s all good,” he said.

In turn, Kelly said he focuses on the little things, which teams like Kentucky often forget (his words, not mine).

“You just got to do the little things. Sometimes teams like that don’t focus on boxing out, checking down, defensive pressure, just little things that make us great. And I think that’s what makes us appreciate playing and working so hard more because we do little things that end up being a big reason why we win.”

I hate how much I like this Kelly kid. Wichita State ain’t scared.

KenPom’s No. 4 and 5 teams to play in the second round tomorrow because that makes sense

Tomorrow’s No. 2/10 matchup in the South region may be the greatest second-rounder of all time if you take into account Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.

In KenPom’s new update following yesterday’s slate of games, Kentucky ranks fourth and Wichita State ranks fifth OVERALL.


That doesn’t seem right.

Check Out Highlights from Last Night’s Game


See how the Cats won with the following highlight package from KY Wildcats TV.

Eight Random Notes from Kentucky’s First Round Victory

Your favorite Backstreet Boys could not contain their enthusiasm for the Cats.

Your favorite Backstreet Boys could not contain their Big Blue excitement.

1. The Cats extended their win streak to 12, the second-longest in the nation.  They’ll play the team with the nation’s longest winning streak tomorrow.  Wichita State has won 16 games in a row.

2. “Not good” is one way to describe UK’s three-point shooting.  Kentucky made just 3 of 17 attempts, good for 17.6 percent.  Kentucky has shot less than 20 percent from behind the three-point line just once this year; on January 10 UK shot 11 percent against Vanderbilt.  Just like the road trip to Nashville, Kentucky escaped with a narrow victory over a good team.  Last night’s poor shooting performance was an anomaly, not the norm.

3. The Rule of 71 works.  NKU scored 70 points.  The Cats are 20-0 this season when holding their opponents under 72.

4. The Cats have won seven first round games in a row, all under John Calipari, and won 24 of their last 25 first round games.

5. A Few Noteworthy Numbers.  The following tidbits are from Corey Price (@coreyp08).  I don’t know how he does it, but nobody provides more unique Kentucky basketball stats than Mr. Price.

UK freshmen with 19 points in NCAA Tournament debut: Keith Bogans, Eric Bledsoe, Julius Randle, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jamal Murray, De’Aaron Fox.

Kentucky is 5-3 all-time (.625) in the NCAA Tournament Round Of 32 games when they win their Round Of 64 game by 9 points or less.

Kentucky is 3-0 all-time in the NCAA Tournament against 10 seeds, with an average margin of victory of 16.7 points.

6. Derek Willis NEEDS to be in the starting lineup.  When he is on the court alongside Briscoe, Bam, Monk and Fox, the Cats are undefeated, 9-0 this season *knock on wood*.

7.  The Cats have 30 wins.  It’s John Calipari’s fourth 30-win season in eight years and the tenth of his career.  The UK program now has 15 30-win seasons, the most all-time, one ahead of Duke.

8.  This has nothing to do with last night’s game, but you need to see this picture of Mike Gundy’s mullet rattlesnake hunting.




WATCH: The Kentucky Wildcat mascot stars in a national commercial

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We’ve already seen Kentucky fans play a prominent role in Coca Cola’s March Madness ad, and now, the Wildcat mascot is getting some screen time as well. If you didn’t see it during last night’s game, check out this commercial for LG washers and dryers, in which the Cat dries his ball of yarn:

Here’s another one:

And finally, my favorite, which includes a cat on a Roomba:

More LG commercials featuring other mascots after the jump…


Fern Creek Squeaks Past Ballard 55-52



Fern Creek defeated Ballard for the fourth time this season. Stakes for Friday’s matchup were high as the winner of the battle between Louisville’s top two teams would advance to the tournament’s Final 4. Creek overcame 30 turnovers to top the Bruins 55-52.

Fern Creek shot 48% for the game and out-rebounded Ballard 33-27. The Tigers were led by Chance Moore’s 18 points. Moore was 6-8 from the floor and 6-6 from the free throw line.

Ballard shot just 36% on the night and were paced by Clivonte Patterson’s 19 points-8 rebounds. The Bruins shooting woes carried over to the free throw line where it made just 47%.

Fern Creek advances to play Cooper on Saturday night.

Kentucky currently 3.5 point favorite over Wichita State


Depending who you ask or where you look, Kentucky opened somewhere in the two to three point range as the favorite out in Las Vegas. That number now seems to be 3.5 in most books around the internet, so get your money in quickly if you like the Cats. The total is 153.5.

I guess I’ll use this space to give my Saturday picks because I’m on Struggle Street this morning and can’t muster the energy to write a big post with explanations. In case you missed it, the first two days of picks here on the site went a healthy 7-3 with a stupid, stupid pick on UK to cover as the third loss of the run. Really dumb play by me, but here are today’s picks (which I don’t love so be careful) to get that one back:

West Virginia/Notre Dame Over 147
Florida State -6
Virginia +2
Arizona -4.5

Reminder: Please don’t put your kid’s college tuition on these because I’m an idiot. But if you decide you want to partake in a little NCAA tournament action, use my referral code at Bovada to sign up and we’ll break the bank together.

The NCAA Tournament Bracket After Round One


For the second consecutive year, three 11-seeds advanced to the second round.  That’s the only fun upset stat available because all of the favorites won, creating one of the most uneventful first rounds in recent memory.

Instead of being upset about the lack of upsets, the second round should be filled with fantastic weekend basketball.  Here’s Saturday’s schedule:

  • 12:10 — West Virginia vs. Notre Dame on CBS
  • 2:45 — Villanova vs. Wisconsin on CBS
  • 5:15 — Gonzaga vs. Northwestern on CBS
  • 6:10 — Florida State vs. Xavier on TNT
  • 7:10 — Butler vs. Middle Tennessee State on TBS
  • 7:45 — Arizona vs. St. Mary’s on CBS
  • 8:40 — Florida vs. Virginia on TNT
  • 9:45 — Purdue vs. Iowa State on TBS

Gregg Marshall sees two of his former commitments on Kentucky

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In his postgame interview with Andy Katz last night, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall admitted he knows very little about Kentucky’s team, outside of the fact two Wildcats were once committed to be Shockers.

“I’m familiar with a couple of their players because two of them committed to us before going to Kentucky,” he said. “But anyway, they got them and good for them. We got who we got and we’re happy with them.”

Mychal Mulder is one of the two, which you should know, and if you don’t, read my story on it here. The other is Isaac Humphries and I didn’t know that little factoid until Coach Marshall dropped it last night.

Wake up with the photo gallery from the win


I wish I had Advil and Gatorade to give you for those post-St. Patrick’s Day struggles, but unfortunately I do not.

I do, however, have our KSR photo gallery from last night’s win and that is the next best thing.

The shortest press conference in NCAA Tournament history

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 2.18.01 AM

THE MODERATOR: Coach Calipari has joined us in the interview room. We’re going to get started right away.
COACH CALIPARI: Folks, can you make this really quick. It’s 12:30. A college kid shouldn’t be playing at 12:30. The old man that’s coaching their team has to watch tapes tonight. Can you just ask a couple questions? We shouldn’t be playing this late, but that’s another issue for another day.

Q. John, what did you think of your team’s performance in light of the SEC tournament seemed to be an uptick?
COACH CALIPARI: We’ll be fine. I mean, you get up 18 and, you know, again, it’s 1:30 in the morning, and we’re playing. And then you have to give Northern credit. The thing they did all season is make 3s. And what I said at halftime, the one thing I’m worried about is they missed a bunch of 3s that they normally make, or the game would have been closer. And then late in the game, they made them all. So they made the game close.

Hat’s off to John and the job he’s done at Northern and their program and school and, you know, it was — the first one under the belt. We’ll be fine. I mean, we know how tough the next opponent is. Wichita is tough physically. Veterans, they play hard. They’re a very, very talented team, and we know that, and we’re going to have to play better to be in the game with them.

Q. What about Bam’s performance? How much did he sort of get you guys over the hump?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, again, what’s great about him is he’s making free throws. And our whole thing was we’re going at him. We knew they’d trap, which they did.

But he still ended up getting balls, and they fouled him. Just the stuff down the stretch. You know we use clock. We grind it out. We threw two quick passes away, like what are you doing, which gave them a chance. Well, that’s freshmen, so I will tell you this is all a learning curve.

We know we’ve got to play better, no question. I expect that we will.

Q. Coach, was there one particular thing that frustrated you? I noticed that as the game was going on, you seemed to be coaching this as if it was a tie game or maybe you were down?
COACH CALIPARI: Because I’m looking at all these games to try to tell them I wasn’t just worried about this game. You’re worried about playing in this tournament and how you’re going to have to play to win. And you can’t just think that there are certain things you can do in each round that goes by is tougher and tougher and tougher.

So I was coaching them to say this is not how you do this. We talked after the game. But I want them to enjoy the win. They’ll be sleeping here in another 45 minutes, but they can enjoy it for another 45 minutes anyway.

Q. De’Aaron, number 30, Lavone Holland for them, an important part for them. What did you see from him? Obviously, he kind of gets them going or could get them going if he finds a rhythm.
DE’AARON FOX: He was a very good player. He was great off the ball screen. He was able to rebound for them. He didn’t turn the ball over much. We tried to pressure him. He handled the pressure pretty well today. He scored the ball, and that’s what we knew he was going to do. We just tried to contain them.

THE MODERATOR: Any more questions?

COACH CALIPARI: Thank you very much.

Extremely Late Takeaways While I Try To Stay Awake


For the late crowd, or probably the morning crowd, let’s do a couple of takeaways from the game before my body falls over. It was a 15-hour shift for Team KSR at Bankers Life Fieldhouse today and my body is refusing to take any more coffee. I’m seeing two computer screens right now and, from what I’ve heard, everyone outside the arena is seeing two or three of everything too. Happy St. Patrick’s Day and all that. Let’s go…


De’Aaron Fox scored at will. Fox led Kentucky in scoring for a fourth consecutive game with 19 points in this one. Now that he is driving the ball and playing through the contact to get to the rim, he has become the biggest scoring threat in the Cats’ offense. He’s averaging 21 per game over the last five and it’s a beauty to watch him attack.

Isaiah Briscoe also scored when he wanted. Briscoe chipped in a second-best 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field, all at the rim. Like Fox, he had very little trouble getting inside and finishing in huge mismatches. And on top of the scoring, he had eight rebounds, two assists and only one turnover for a complete game. I think John Calipari will take that from him every single time.

Bam Adebayo is peaking. As I wrote a little earlier in the evening (or morning), Adebayo’s 18 rebounds were the most in an NCAA tournament game since the 1950s. The combination of the boards and 15 points marked his fourth double-double in eight games, which tells me he is hitting his stride as the season winds down. For a little perspective, he had zero double-doubles from the Valparaiso game on Dec. 7 until the Missouri game on Feb. 21.

Malik Monk couldn’t buy one. Hopefully Monk got the bad one out of his system now because he can’t go 0-for-6 on three-pointers again and expect Kentucky to win. In the locker room after the game he insisted that he is still confident and they’ll soon drop, but it was tough to watch them rattle out against Northern Kentucky. However, it wasn’t nearly as tough as watching him answer the same question over and over and over again. I don’t know how these kids do it. I literally heard at least 10 different reporters approach him to ask what’s wrong with his shot.

Can Hawkins and Willis stay forever? Please?

Big shout-out to Northern Kentucky. Let’s be honest here: Northern Kentucky was never going to win that game. So keeping it in single digits was a great showing by the Norse and I hope those guys are holding their heads high. They put the program on the map Friday night and it’s only uphill from here. Big things coming for NKU basketball.

Jeff Ruby doesn’t have to buy steaks for the entire student body. But he may still have something in store for everyone…

That 10 pm start time can kiss my ass. Like Cal said when it was over, there’s no reason college kids should be finishing up a basketball game of this magnitude at midnight. Figure it out, NCAA. And then they’re the second game on Sunday?

And on that note, I’m about to fall asleep. Plenty more to come throughout the morning and on through the weekend.

Go Cats.

Bam Adebayo put up enormous numbers in the win


Friday night’s Player of the Game Award goes to Bam Adebayo, who recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 15 points and 18 rebounds. The career-high 18 boards were the most by a Kentucky Wildcat in the tournament since the 1950s — the FIFTIES!!!

Back then, Bill Spivey grabbed 21 in 1951 and Jerry Bird grabbed 24 in 1956. Adebayo’s next up in the books with his 18 here in 2017.

After the game, Calipari spoke of Bam’s free throws, not his double-double, telling reporters, “Well, again, what’s great about him is he’s making free throws. And our whole thing was we’re going at him. We knew they’d trap, which they did.”

There aren’t too many big men in the country I’d take over Bam right now, if any at all. The big man is playing outstanding basketball.

Calipari: It’s too late to be playing, or talking about, basketball


You’re not the only one that’s sleepy. An agitated John Calipari came to the podium tonight and asked reporters to keep it short and sweet because it’s way too late to be talking about basketball, especially a game as ugly as the one we just witnessed.

“Folks, can you make this really quick. It’s 12:30. A college kid shouldn’t be playing at 12:30. The old man that’s coaching their team has to watch tapes tonight. Can you just ask a couple questions? We shouldn’t be playing this late, but that’s another issue for another day.”

In true Calipari form, 12:30 became 1:30 a few seconds later when he was asked about his team’s performance.

“We’ll be fine. I mean, you get up 18 and, you know, again, it’s 1:30 in the morning, and we’re playing.”

(Around here, we call that “Calculus”)

Regardless, Calipari said he knows Kentucky must play better to beat Wichita State — “no question” — and made it clear to his squad after a lackluster second half in which the Norse outscored the Cats 46-41.

“We talked after the game. But I want them to enjoy the win. They’ll be sleeping here in another 45 minutes, but they can enjoy it for another 45 minutes anyway.”

Okay, we get it. It’s late. Plus, there’s plenty of time to talk tomorrow this afternoon during the team press conferences.

Monk insists he is healthy


Despite some whisperings going around that he might not be at 100 percent, Malik Monk insists he is healthy.

“Yeah for sure,” he said, when Kyle Tucker asked after Friday night’s game. “I just gotta have more energy.”

Monk did admit to having some lingering effects from the charge he took at the SEC Tournament, but he said the training staff did a great job and got him over it real fast .