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Basketball in the State of Kentucky’s Tuesday News and Views

Move over horse racing and bourbon; Kentucky is a basketball state again.

I challenge you to find another state in Amurrica with more success on the hardwood than the Bluegrass State right now. The University of Kentucky is the unanimous No. 1 team in the country again, Murray State is in the top 10 for the first time in school history and UK Hoops is No. 6 on the women’s side of things. The Racers could run the table for a perfect season and Matthew Mitchell’s squad is off to their best start in school history.

Oh, that’s not enough for you? Let’s go to Division II, where Kentucky Wesleyan is the top ranked team. The Panthers will slip from that top spot when the new D-II rankings are released Tuesday afternoon, but Bellarmine is right behind them at No. 2 waiting to move up to No. 1. Northern Kentucky is also in the top 10 in Division II and Georgetown is a top 5 team in the NAIA rankings.

Now tell me another state that dominates from top to bottom like that. Yeah, we’ve got Louisville keeping us down, but that just adds to the satisfaction of UK fans. Louisville dropped out of the top 25 in the AP poll and somehow stayed in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll in a tie with Wisconsin at No. 25. Thanks for ruining the state’s beautiful records across the board, baby bro.

It’s still just past the midway point in the regular season, so a lot could go wrong before season’s end. But, no matter which team you’re rooting for in the state, it’s safe to say Kentucky is the unofficial official home of college basketball. Enjoy it.

Now your News and Views…

— The Cats are No. 1 in the country, but John Calipari isn’t thrilled with being on top again. During his pre-Georgia media afternoon before practice today, Cal said he tried to get ahold of Jim Boeheim after his Orange went down to Notre Dame. “I was so mad at him. It’s just an added thing,” he said. “I just watched Georgia and Vanderbilt, Georgia had Vanderbilt beat at Vandy. I don’t know if they need anything added, they are at home against us and it will be sold out.” Calipari added that doesn’t want his guys getting too caught up in the hype that comes with being the top ranked team. He said, “I’ll tell these guys it’s a badge of honor, not a burden. It’s a badge of honor, let’s go play.”

–When asked about how he recruits young guys who can handle the atmosphere, Calipari used Kyle Wiltjer as an example of a freshman who isn’t afraid. “You don’t know until they are in there doing it, but you’re hoping you peg the kids that you think can deal with all this. I’ll give you an example, Kyle Wiltjer, not afraid at all. We pegged it right, he is not afraid at all. If he is open he is shooting it, defensively he is out there playing hard and he’s not playing timid in any way. We’re not playing poorly down the stretch in games, we’re giving ourselves a chance to win but there are things we are going to have to do to keep getting better.”

Wiltjer has noticed his own improvements as the team gets deeper in conference play — mostly on the defensive end. “I just feel like I’ve been better on defense, with angles and being in the right spots, doing what Coach Calipari asks,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot better in all aspects of my game because we’ve been working hard in the gym.” Wiltjer said the combination of film study, practice, and more games under his belt are making him a better player.

— During the SEC teleconference Monday morning, Calipari again talked about how loaded he thinks the SEC is this season. Cal said this is the best the conference has been in his three seasons at Kentucky. Just like he did last week, he predicted that four of the top five teams in the SEC will reach the Sweet 16 in this season’s NCAA tournament. If he thinks it’s stacked now, imagine how tough the conference would be if Missouri was already in. The nation’s top two teams would be from the SEC.

— Calipari is also impressed by Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. “He’s a terrific player,” Calipari said on the teleconference. “I’m telling you, he’s one of the best in our league and forget about class. I think anymore when you start looking at class, you’re making a mistake. If a kid can play, he can play, and forget about age.” The freshman guard leads UGA in minutes, points, and steals, and he’s third on the team in rebounding. Caldwell-Pope’s 16.6 points per game in conference play is good for fifth best in the SEC. Watch him.

Kentucky opened up as 12.5 favorite over Georgia. KSR does not condone gambling.

— What did you make of Calipari telling his players they probably need to get beat? He dropped that bomb on his Monday morning appearance on 790 the Zone in Atlanta. “I said ‘we probably need to get beat so you guys will understand that you cannot let a team come in and kick sand in your face and accept it.’ You can’t do it.” He’s exactly right, but I’d rather they learn a different way. I don’t like to see them lose.

— In recruiting news, the pursuit of Amile Jefferson officially came to an end Monday afternoon when news broke that the 2012 power forward is down to Duke and NC State. Although, you could say the pursuit of Amile Jefferson unofficially came to an end months ago. The young man from Philadelphia dropped to the second/third option in the eyes of the UK staff, behind Anthony Bennett and Tony Parker. Bennett has long been a priority for Kentucky and the staff believes they’re in good standing to land the prospect from Las Vegas. Interest in Tony Parker has also increased recently, while Jefferson has slowly moved down Kentucky’s big board. Jefferson is a good talent, but don’t lose any sleep over him cutting Kentucky from his last. Just trust the staff.

— Speaking of Anthony Bennett, he spoke with Five-Star basketball about the five schools he is considering and, of course, Kentucky is a major player. Bennett said he sees an opportunity to start at Kentucky right away because “they’re trying to lose like seven players this year.” (Spin that however you want; I see it as a kid talking in front of a camera.)’s No. 2 power forward is also considering UNLV, Washington, Florida and Oregon. Why does Washington even bother recruiting against UK anymore?

— Cats and Dawgs will tip off in the 9:00 pm game on ESPN Tuesday night. We’ll spend the afternoon getting you ready for that first dreaded game on the road as the top-ranked team.

I’ll leave you with this All-Access feature on Brandon Knight entering his first start:

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

46 Comments for Basketball in the State of Kentucky’s Tuesday News and Views

  1. Mclovin
    11:31 pm January 23, 2012 Permalink

    Kentucky Wesleyan has lost 2 games.

  2. UK LWC Fan
    11:33 pm January 23, 2012 Permalink

    Don’t forget Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.) along with the other Kentucky schools having success. They are is in the top 10 (#8) in the NAIA and in first place in the conference above Georgetown (by head-to-head tie-breaker; you’ve seen the video of that game winner).

  3. LWC fan
    11:43 pm January 23, 2012 Permalink

    Lindsey Wilson is also in the top 10. Pikeville is in the top 25.

    FYI – the NCAA D2 polls come out on Tuesday and KWC and NKU will both drop. Bellarmine will be #1.

    NAIA top 25:

  4. tdogg4033011
    11:46 pm January 23, 2012 Permalink

    Bennett sounds like he has a pretty good head on his shoulders, if he picks UK
    we know he does !!!

  5. Mclovin
    11:49 pm January 23, 2012 Permalink

    3.) NKU won 2 out of 3 this past week, doubt they fall any.

  6. KFC Yum Center
    11:52 pm January 23, 2012 Permalink

    if we crush people and cruise to an 8th banner, then I expect to lose 7 players. I dont think that losing 7 players is a bad thing if you are cutting nets. Comes with the success. Surely, you wouldnt rather have a 2nd round flame out and losing 4 or 5 players…

  7. LWC fan
    11:56 pm January 23, 2012 Permalink

    5) I hope they don’t fall. Would be great to have three Kentucky teams in the top 10.

  8. tdogg4033011
    11:58 pm January 23, 2012 Permalink

    6) I’ll take a championship …. Calipari wont rebuild he’ll RELOAD !!!

  9. John Wilmhoff
    12:29 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    NKU will be going Division I next year, joining the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Bank of Kentucky Center is great, and they’ll be hosting the D-2 Elite 8, Final 4, and National Title. It’s safe to say that at least one of these KY schools will be involved and playing in their home state.

  10. phk
    12:35 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    PPat doing work on the T-Wolves tonight.

    – Swats Rubio and tells him “Get that shit outta here”

    – Dunkin’ on fools.

  11. Mr. Meogy
    12:37 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Ill trade T jones for Knight anyday.
    we all miss his 3 point shot

  12. Wes
    12:43 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    What the hell is Ben Wallace going to do with the ball if he gets it?

  13. bluebloodedfreak
    12:43 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    I never see any love for Kentucky Christian University’s women basketball team, who are currently undefeated this season, and has won the national title for the NCCAA divII 5 years in a row now, and 14 total championships, thats called domination

  14. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?
    1:10 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    he doesn’t actually mean we’re “trying” to lose 7 players, he just means he thinks we will. Kids these days smh lol haha

  15. Blue/White
    1:11 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Dear Brandon Knight,


    The End

  16. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?
    1:50 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Haha. Just watching Federer-Del Potro in the Aussie Open and after they did a promo for the UK game, once of the commentators talked about how we’re always “right there”. “They lose their starting five and they’re there every year.”

  17. isaac in san fran
    2:27 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    i’ll just leave this here…

    Wally Szczerbiak
    @WSzczerbiak yep would love to c them (kansas and kentucky) matchup in tourny. #trob would kill jones and withey would hold his own against davis.

  18. soggyUKgrad
    2:46 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    soooooo….Wally didn’t catch the first version of UK-KU?!?!?

  19. memphiswildcat
    6:33 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Szczerbiak means “head in the sand” or worse in some eastern European language….

  20. NotJerryTipton
    6:36 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    the paragraph on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has some great Cal quotes for my next article …

  21. Bristol Cat
    7:03 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Has anyone mentioned that the SEC was #1 and #2 in football and with Mizzu coming next year, SEC is now #1 and #2 in basketball? SUCK IT ACC and Little Bitty East.

  22. SexnNursinHomes
    7:13 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer next year will be an A-One bad ass. Will easily average 15 a game.

    17- wally szerbiakcskskck is a loser when it comes to winning in basketball. Play basketball to win, and wally doesn’t do that. He loses. Loser scmoozer loser.

  23. Neil
    7:59 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    If we still had Knight, we would be next to unbeatable. We are missing his shooting ability. We really need another shooter. Hopefully that doesn’t prevent us from getting to the final four.

  24. IsItJustMe
    8:02 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    or does Knight not look happy to be playing for Detroit?

  25. T.J.
    8:04 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    at the 1:18 mark, he is scoring on Jodie.

  26. T.J.
    8:06 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    23-Technically, we ARE next to unbeatable. Next to unbeatable, would be one loss. Semantics…

  27. blue warrior
    8:06 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    BK will be fine in the NBA. I know he plays point but I always thought his skill made him more of s 2 guard. I guess his size dictates his position. We sure miss his shooting ability and Jorts toughness for that matter.

  28. blue warrior
    8:10 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    I’m not sure Terrence can create his own shot enough to be a huge success in the association, although playground ball might be what the Dr. ordered for him.

  29. SeaBlue
    8:29 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    ESPN loves Syracuse. Headline about Cincy game is nauseating.
    I do not want to play them in the tourney.

  30. cristoforouk
    8:31 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Can’t see us losing 7. I think 2 return of the following 4: MKG, Jones, Lamb, Teague. You know Jones, Lamb, and Teague all want to be gone but with their play so far this year they may not be drafted where they would like, and this draft will be strong (and 2013 will be a little down). I have a feeling MKG is one of those kids who enjoys his collegiate experience and is in no hurry to leave (i.e. Barnes, Sullinger, etc) but the smart business decision would be to go if he is personally ready. I do think it will be a tough decision for him though.

  31. SeaBlue
    8:35 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Cal is doing a great job turning Wiltjer into a real asset. We need more
    3-point bombers!!

  32. Some Guy in Kentucky
    8:55 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    ESPN classic is replaying the UK-UGA basketball game from 1999 at 5pm ET today.

  33. Uh...What?
    8:55 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    #18–Who in the hell cares what Wally Scabbycrack thinks?

  34. Ballgame
    9:04 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    How about a shout out to just Lexington schools. Not only is UK men and women in the top 25. But Transy is now 15-2 and ranked #25 in D3.

  35. Kidnut
    9:06 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Wally Sczerbiak may feel that way but his eyebrows feel different, he never could manage them.

  36. tom5673
    9:52 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    the nba talk has to stop on this web-site. to think that teague or lamb are ready to make an impact on an nba roster is ridiculous. and i love those guys and wish nothing but the best for them. they’re great players, but not ready for the pros imo. a player that left early from college used to mean that he was going to make an immediate impact for his team (i.e. start). now, it’s okay to jump early and sit at the end of the bench. i know the money is great, but after you spend it all on houses, jewelry, cars, etc. what is left? for the life of me, i don’t see how a player like jamychal green is ranked #43 on the mock draft board, and terrence jones is #12 or higher. i just don’t get it. and teague and lamb are in the top 20. does anyone really see teague leading an nba team NEXT year, or lamb playing 2-guard going up against the likes of d. wade, kobe, ray allen, etc. like i said, i love these guys and our team…i hate the nba talk.

  37. clay
    10:00 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    the KWC player shown above is Cornbread Walker. Great name, right?

  38. BigBlueFan31
    10:18 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    They always leave LWC out when talking about Kentucky schools. I’m glad some folks from LWC have already let it be known we are in the top 10 too. LWC #8!!

  39. Gordy Prather
    10:19 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    I’m a Cumberland College alum (now University of the Cumberlands), my wife was on scholarship for the women’s basketball team, so we still keep up with the athletic programs. Anyway, the women’s team are now #6 in the country in the NAIA rankings, so just wanted to give them a shout out!

  40. cristoforouk
    10:38 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    36 – It’s all about potential. Teams draft more out of fear than anything these days. They are all afraid of missing out on the next big thing. That is why there are so many busts. I am like you. What is the difference between a senior and a sophomore? It’s only two years. Why so desperate to draft the sophomore just because of his perceived potential when he is far behind the senior?

  41. Dave
    10:42 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Knight=Chauncey Billups 2.0

    He’s quicker but not as strong though.

  42. Dave
    10:45 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    BTW, Wiltjer and Teague aren’t leaving.

  43. Beat The Chickens
    11:26 am January 24, 2012 Permalink

    What about Transy? 15-2 and ranked in the top 25. the state of Kentucky is by far and away the best basketball state in the country. point. blank. period.

  44. catheels
    12:53 pm January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Remember, Pikeville College won NAIA Championship last year. Go Bears!

  45. Boyd Crowder
    1:04 pm January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Who the hell is in charge of scheduling these games against Justified?

  46. BobMcC
    6:15 pm January 24, 2012 Permalink

    Dont forget about D3 hoops and your alma mater Matt Jones. Those Transylvania Pioneers have broken into the D3 top 25.