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Jimmie Johnson Celebrates the Cats and Monday’s News and Views

jimmie johnson

Every year I always enjoy the Daytona 500 for its “Great American Race” quality that produces continual ridiculousness. From “Happy Birthday Trevor Bayne” to Sterling Marlin getting out of his car to the track catching on fire, to this year’s 50 Cent attempted kiss of Erin Andrews, something bizarre seems to always happen. Unfortunately though, this year’s edition was somewhat mediocre. Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500, but unfortunately may be the most boring human on Earth (I included a picture of his wife just to keep you folks interested). Like Jeff Gordon before him, he is methodical in his dominance, but unlike Gordon, he isn’t really hateable enough to boo. The biggest story in this year’s race was Danica Patrick, who started on the poll and actually acquitted herself very well during the race. She was in the Top 10 most of the day, sat in third going into the last lap and ended up finishing a more than respectable eighth. I am not sure if that success will follow her at non-restrictor plate tracks, but it did give the sport a great deal of interest today as we all were able to see her “I am woman hear me roar” side spring forward. While the race wasn’t the most exciting of all time (they are having a hard time passing with the new car), it did serve most of my requirements, I got to hear DW say “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity”, had a nice mid-race nap and the finish at least was moderately exciting. Another successful Sunday February afternoon.

Now onto the week’s excitement in Rupp Arena. But before we do, here is a pic of Anthony Davis dunking and Demarcus Cousins on the ground. I don’t like Cat on Cat crime

Cats Get Biggest Win of the Season:

Rupp Arena was at its absolute best on Saturday night. In part because of the unique setup, a 10 am start to Gameday that then allowed many fans the chance to spend the day getting themselves in “game shape, and in part due to the huge stakes of the game, NCAA Tournament life, Rupp rocked from start to finish. Calipari afterwards called it the best crowd since he has been at UK, and I would have to agree. From moment one, the fans came to play and soon after the opening ten minutes, the Cats joined them. The last 7 minutes of the first half and the entirety of the second half/overtime, represented the best effort Kentucky has given this season. They attacked on every possession, found a way to win 50/50 balls, ended up outrebounding the best rebounding team in America and hit key shots at crucial minutes to pick up a win that hey simply couldn’t do without (and dont let anyone tell you otherwise). Even before they won the game, I was proud of this Kentucky team. I loved the way they fought and the way that they left everything on the court. Missouri was a bad matchup for the Cats. The Tigers’ two biggest strengths were actually UK’s biggest difficulties, great perimeter quickness and bulk under the goal. But even though UK couldn’t stop penetration and at times got out-muscled, they persevered and got a win that will be huge on Selection Sunday. Everyone played a part, and below are some thoughts on the five players who played the most minutes (along with pictures in between of the various scenes of a great UK crowd with Gameday on hand):

JULIUS MAYS

When Julius Mays came to Kentucky, I think most everyone (likely including the coaches) saw his role as that of a sixth man who comes into the game to hit some threes and provide offense for about 20 minutes a night. Double the production level and minutes, and you have what Mays has been for UK in SEC play. Julius was absolutely unbelievable on Saturday, especially in the second half, when he had 21 of his 24 points and made the crucial plays down the stretch to get the win. Uncle Julius has shown to have ice water his veins, hitting key three pointers, breaking down the defense on penetration (even though he may be the slowest player on the court), making the right passes and nailing crucial free throws to get a win. As the game’s final seconds ticked off, the sight of of Uncle Julius limping with cramps seemed appropriate. No player had given more to get the victory and none seemed more deserving of a rest. Mays gets every ounce out of his body and since the Noel injury, his role as team leader has become more and more clear. There is literally no one on the team I have more confidence in during late game situations than Uncle Julius and the Wright State transfer has become, like Jorts two years ago, a delightful underdog surprise story.

The Rupp fatheads were huge successes, including Drew Franklin’s photoshop inspired work of Dodgeball Robic. Here, his three daughters celebrate their dad next to the court

ALEX POYTHRESS

Simply put, this was the best game Alex Poythress has had all season. The most obvious reason was the way he attacked the basket and scored in the second half. For long periods of time, he looked like the dominant force that we have all wanted to see, posting up his man, using his quickness around bulkier defenders and finishing at the rim. And while his offense was impressive, I was more proud of how he played on the defensive end and at the glass. Missouri came into the game with a clear game plan…use its excessive strength to muscle the UK players and dominate physically. Helped by referees taking a “let them play” mentality (which actually worked to help game flow instead of hurting as it often does), Missouri dominated on the glass early and made UK look like the weaker team. But led by Poythress, the physical play from UK increased in the second half and Alex began to man up on the blocks and impose his will. He guarded Ross, Oriakhi and others, ceding no ground and finally playing to his strong body type. It was quite impressive to watch and an example of why he is still projected as a lottery pick. The Alex Poythress that showed up in Rupp Saturday night is a force who, if he returns, can be one of the best players in college basketball next season.

Even with all the ESPN personalities in attendance, the person that was the hottest figure amongst the fans was Samantha Steele Ponder. She couldn’t walk a step without posing for a picture, as everyone met their new favorite sideline reporter. Samantha is a nice person who I got to know a bit when she did sidelines for a UK football game. Now she is clearly a star.

ARCHIE GOODWIN

This was a great Archie Goodwin game. Attacking at the right moments, Goodwin also showed what the NBA scouts see in him, a great penetrator with a killer first step and an ability to finish at the rim. By picking his spots and attacking at the right times, Goodwin was a dangerous weapon in the second half. Most of the crucial three pointers made by Mays (and it is worth noting that Archie made two himself) came about in part because of the space Julius had due to Goodwin’s penetration. He got easy baskets at key points and had fewer decisions that made you scratch your head. Early in the game, after Goodwin attacked the rim and lost the ball on a fast break, Mays screamed at him, “ARCHIE PASS THE BALL!” Goodwin looked at the player he calls his “best friend” on the team, and said, “you are right, my bad.” From that point on, he was excellent as he completed possibly his best overall game in SEC play.

RYAN HARROW

A big shout out from me to Ryan Harrow. After the Florida and Tennessee games, my assumption was that Harrow’s career at UK could be coming to an end. However he has bounced back in an unbelievable fashion and showcased why he his talent intrigued Calipari in the first instance. During the first half, Kentucky was struggling to score and Harrow kept the young Cats in the game. He attacked the rim, finished on nearly every occasion and was the one consistent offensive force while the rest of the team struggled to make shots. He had problems defending throughout the game, but he did work through it and had a number of deflections that led to either steals, or stopped scoring attempts. His last two games have been as good as the previous two were bad, and he looks to have calmed his nerves, possibly for good. This team will only go as far as his point guard play takes them, and the signs are finally trending upward.

WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN

Finally, it was a very solid performance from Big Willie Style, who after a rough start with the physical play, came into his own down the stretch and battled. He had seven blocks, and by my count on 4 of those, without his block it would have been a sure basket. He hit the glass and made a couple of key layups in the game’s closing minutes. Cauley-Stein needs to work on his hands (a couple of late turnovers could have been killer) and free throw shooting, but the energy he gives, added with his tremendous length, makes him a great presence down low. He has gone from a 15 minute a game player to a crucial factor, and his ability to stay out of foul trouble and disrupt the basket was integral to the team’s victory. HE continues to improve and you can see the NBA scouts collectively drooling.

All in all, a great weekend to be a Wildcat. The campus was hopping, Rupp Arena was at its best and the Cats are back on the right side of the Tournament ledger…for now. Four more games, and if the Cats can go 3-1, they are in. 2-2 and they will need a solid SEC Tournament performance, but should be ok. Now the path looks doable, and Saturday night was a key step.

In other news, we restarted the WALK ONS PODCAST with myself, Ben Swain and Mark Ennis (Mengus22 for you Twitter folks). You can resubscribe here. We have good stuff this week and it is worth joining us if you shall. KSR gets the week going with our regular radio show again in the morning…see you then.

Article written by Matt Jones

39 Comments for Jimmie Johnson Celebrates the Cats and Monday’s News and Views



  1. Roman
    10:52 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    Siiiiimmmoooooooooons!



  2. bluey
    10:53 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    Samantha Steele looks like Laura Rossoll in that pic.



  3. clink
    10:58 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    Is the girl on the right 12 or 40?



  4. Larry linebeard
    11:02 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    Who flippin cares about NASCAR?



  5. SadCat
    11:06 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    i forgot matt could type



  6. BeauKnows
    11:08 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    Just curious, did Jalen Rose party with the UK students after the game? Jay Bilas is the most righteous man in college basketball. He takes on Mark Emmert, the NCAA and college basketball officiating all in the same week.
    Great win for the cats, great preparation by Cal and his staff.
    GO CATS!!



  7. Sp0rtsFreq
    11:11 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    Hard to imagine after playing so well the past few games, but I think that Uncle Julius still has the worst shooting % on the team (top 9 players), and is also UK’s worst defender (statistically…both by raw stats, efficiency, and +/-).

    Uncanny how he can be so bad in both areas and still come up with such clutch shots; keep confidence of coaching staff; lead team in minutes per game; and be a vocal team leader? Must be living right!!



  8. Matt Jones
    11:22 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    #7 How are you measuring individual defensive efficiency? You talk about raw stats, efficiency, etc and I am unsure how one could even do that on an individual basis. I would love to see your numbers there. As for plus/minus, he plays the entire game. So I cant see how he could be the worst on the team when he is literally in from start to finish. His numbers should be the same as the team as a whole, which would probably make him the mean.

    Not sure about shooting %, but since he is taking the most shots and they are from the perimeter, that is not a surprise but also says nothing about his offensive value. Kobe Bryant has the worst shooting percentage on the Lakers. Guys who take a lot of shots miss a lot of shots



  9. Blue Jesus
    11:29 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    I think I remember reading that the football team was hosting a number of players this weekend; will we be getting an update on that? Or maybe I’m confusing this for some other weekend. Also a post with some SEC tourney seeding discussion would be appreciated.



  10. UKCatFan11
    11:39 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    I wouldn’t water down your posts with empty, baseless insults of people that you don’t know (Jimmie Johnson, above). People will lose respect for you.



  11. Bluekzu
    11:49 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    Hope it continues, but I was really impressed with the sustained effort. If they do something similar on the road, Im a believer. ..not at all interested in a picture of Jimmie Johnson’s wife but thanks anyway.



  12. tdogg40330
    11:58 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    9) you’re correct, Stoops had several Juniors @ Rupp for the game per his twitter.



  13. JBR
    12:43 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    Yeah 9…a football update would be nice, instead of this nascar garbage. And 10, the only insult with regards to the nascar topic is to our intelligence for even putting it on here. Even though it is the most boring “event” in most cases, this weekend gave the nascar crowd what they wanted…a huge crash with cars going in the stands. You know that is the only reason the rednecks watch it, and if you don’t agree, watch the video of it from the down-track angle…you actually see a fan on the left jumping with delusional happiness watching it in real time. For real.



  14. Duke blows
    4:47 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    #13 People like you sicken me! Your whole rant about “rednecks” just makes you look like a ellitest fool. NASCAR is one of the biggest spectator sports in the world, raking in millions every year. So I guess your right it’s just a small redneck sport. NASCAR has tracks that sell out over 100,000 seat every weekend all over this country with a diverse fan base. I’m sorry but I don’t think anyone was cheering for anyone to get hurt!
    You are just a useless moron who uses a screen name to hide behind while spreading hate. Your life must be so utterly useless that you have to try to prop your self up by begradeing a group of people.



  15. Me
    7:14 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    #13 = typical liberal



  16. BravoBigBlue
    7:22 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    I wish somehow there was a moratorium on mentioning that “so-and-so is projected as a lottery pick”. That is all well and good, but until that happens I want all focus (player and coach) to be on what he is doing as a Kentucky Wildcat. No more coming in with one foot out the door from day one. There’s plenty of time to celebrate (and brag) if and when the player gets drafted and Cal sets a new record for most first round draft picks. Can we all back off the NBA talk just a little bit please?



  17. RealCatsFan
    7:28 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t know about other cat fans, but I don’t really want the pro scouts “drooling” over our players every year. Yes, I realize that this is a sign that we are getting the most talented players and that they are producing results, but this year really brings to light the fact that we need a little more roster continuity from year to year if we want continued success. We can’t continue to have nearly total roster turnover every year and not expect more rough spots like we have had most of this year. At the risk of sounding a bit too much “old school”, I was really hoping to see Willie and maybe even Alex come back for a second helping of BBN love. I know Cal uses the NBA as a recruiting tool, but it seems to me that he should also be using the angle that playing for UK prepares a players for life in general – just like the “life lessons” that he talks about trying to teach his players during the year. I really hope a couple of this years’ freshmen hang around for a shot at a national championship next year – we will need them.

    On the flip side, if the NBA draft is as weak as they are saying this year, shouldn’t we expect to see a lot of players from other teams putting their hats in the ring? I heard Pitino quoted as saying he expects Dieng to go pro after this year, but I would not be shocked to see guys like Behanan and even Harrell test the waters.



  18. Doug
    7:40 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    JJ needs a good tailor. I’d have to think he can buy a jacket off the rack that would fit better than that.



  19. lou
    7:51 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    Yeah, let’s let go of the NBA draft talk for now. It only screws up the players mind and right now we need them to focus on playing TOGETHER!!!!!!!!!! What the hell is all this talk about bubble team when UK will clearly be the second finish team in the SEC at seasons end?????????? If we are not invited then there is a serious problem with the process period!!!



  20. kentuckyrules
    8:04 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    #14- protest much? Who cares if its popular? Someone here is allowed to state their opinion, even if its not in line with yours. By droning on about how popular it is, calling the other poster ‘elitist’ puts you in the same class as them. Personally, I don’t watch NASCAR, but whatever. Drivers need to be trained, and its physically tough on the driver, but not nearly as much as football/basketball/soccer/rubgy/etc. The CARS do MOST of the work. Plus, no collegiate competition? How does one get into NASCAR without millions of $?



  21. John Ellis
    8:27 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    (For those of you of a certain age) I didn’t realize Maynard Krebs was traded to the Pelicans.



  22. John Ellis
    8:29 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    And UK is entirely capable of beating Miss. St. at home, continuing to play well on the road and beating Georgia and Arkansas and then wiping out Florida (which lost another player) in Rupp Arena where Cal has lost ONE SEC game in his time and they shouldn’t have lost that one.



  23. John Ellis
    8:31 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    And I don’t care how popular NASCAR is, any event where spectators are in danger of being killed – even if they swarm the event – should be banned, not to mention the deaths and injuries of the drivers. Public hangings would be popular if we still did them too.



  24. red headed step child
    8:45 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    Nice post Matt,
    @23. Your right about public hangings. I would certainly attend everyone of them. They only problem is after the third hanging, people would start acting right do the hangings would stop. Capital punishment rules.



  25. Matt's English Teacher
    8:52 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    So those three girls are Drew Franklin’s daughters? Or Robic’s? I failed you, Matt.



  26. Joe
    8:56 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    #14-hahaha you honestly think that NASCAR has a diverse fan base?!? 50 cent tweeted from the Daytona 500 that he didnt see any black people there. hardly the makings of a diverse fan base…



  27. red headed step child
    9:23 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    I see people selling tickets outside the track that is a different race than I am. So if they decide to sell their tickets is that NASCAR’s fault?
    Wendell Scott raced for many years he was of a different race.



  28. Really Now
    9:24 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    Jimmy Johnson is the most boring human on earth…this coming from a guy (Matt Jones) that admires, no he adores Barack Obama. Really now.



  29. lesigh
    9:28 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    #25 I laughed at that too when I saw it, but misplaced modifiers are common errors. I cut Matt and co. slack, however, considering how much they post, how frequently they post, and the blog medium’s casual nature. That said, BTI’s posts were so heinously written, I skipped them. Matt is E. B. White by comparison.



  30. Really Now
    9:29 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    Furthermore, I would submit that Jimmy Johnson has done more positive good for the US economy, even on the micro level that NASCAR is compared to the US economy, than Barry has done.



  31. rockatao
    9:46 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    and NASCAR drivers usually start from the “pole”



  32. bored in law school
    10:09 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    Did you really say that Mays was the slowest player on the court? Have you seen Wiltjer play at all this season? Dude is a glacier.



  33. UKCatFan11
    10:35 am February 25, 2013 Permalink

    13 insulting a sport and it entertainment value is one thing, and people have a right to their opinions. But to call a guy who makes $30 million a year racing cars, competes in triathlons, and travels all over the world “boring” while he (Matt Jones) spends his life typing articles and tweeting information about UK is as backwards as a Duke fan with a line beard and a flat bill. It just doesn’t make sense.



  34. Hudgie DeRobertis
    12:53 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    The line beard perjorative often makes me laugh but I’m no expert on the feature, therefore, I must ask the question: “Does Uncle Julius have a line beard?”



  35. Blueneck
    1:29 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    Why the pic of Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose? Did u take it?



  36. hahahaha
    1:42 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    Julius does have a line beard



  37. JBR
    4:58 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    Wow 14, a little sensitive are we? When someone gets that bent out of shape over something someone says, it means that there is truth in the words that the receiver cannot stand to hear…keep living in your little world. And yes, I hate rednecks. Sorry about your luck.



  38. timd
    7:23 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    #23 getting killed at a baseball game is not out of the realm of possibility.



  39. Who cares
    7:52 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    About Danica Patrick. Look, she finished 8th. Do you know who finished 8th last year? You know why? Because it doesn’t matter. I’m sick of the fawngin over her. It ruined my experience with this race. Treat her like ANYONE else. she’s not a historic race car driver. She’s just A driver. One who has never won a Nascar Race.