(AP Photo/James Crisp)
It was a great Saturday with the Cats winning, SEC representing, Syracuse and Duke going down, and we’ve got NFL on deck for tomorrow. ‘Tis the season for great sports moments! So settle in, here’s a few late night notes before you hit the hay.
— Kentucky is your new No. 1
The Fab Mello-less Syracuse Orange lost on the road to Notre Dame this evening, meaning Kentucky will move up to number one in the national rankings. This may not be such a blessing, seeing as the Cats are on the road next week, at Georgia and at Louisiana State. Rowdy crowds ready to knock off a top-ranked team is never a good recipe for success away from home. I don’t know about you, but I was pretty content ranked second without a target on the back. Regardless, Kentucky is back on top of college basketball.
— Holy free throws, batman!
Free throws continue to be a major story line for Kentucky, and this afternoon was no different. We saw both sides of the coin today in the Alabama game: An ugly start at the foul line by every standard; at one point Kentucky was 4-11. But, as strange as it sounds, Kentucky won the game at the line scoring its final 15 points with free throws. In the final minute of the game, Kentucky made eight straight. That’s clutch.
Calipari commented on the huge turnaround at the free throw line in the post-game:
I have no idea. I can’t explain the 14 oneâ€‘footers we missed in the first half either. We missed seven free throws and 14 oneâ€‘footers in the first half. We’re lucky we were in the game.
— Two-faced Terrence
I don’t mean that in a bad way. Well, kind of. Let’s take a quick poll: Raise your hand if you were happy with the way Terrence Jones was playing in the first half… No one? Yeah. He was pretty awful. In fact, in the first 14 minutes of the game Kentucky led 19-5 without Jones, and trailed 16-5 with him. But guess who the leading scorer was when it was all said and done? Terrence Jones.
—Anthony Davis cools off
We’ve come to expect incredible games every time Davis steps on the court. Unfortunately he did not live up to those lofty expectations today. He scored a modest 11 points, reeled in only nine rebounds, and shot 2-11 from the floor. Plenty of those misses came down low body-to-body against Alabama defenders in that very physical game — Which Alabama coach Anthony Grant said was the team’s main focus of neutralizing Davis. Still, there were plenty of times I was left scratching my head, wondering why he didn’t just go for a dunk.
JaMychal Green said of Davis:
I always kept a body on Davis if he rolled to the goal because we watched him play. We saw a lot of lobs and dunks so we knew that’s how he scored. We just kept him off the boards.
—Hallelujah it’s rainin’ threes
Early in the first half the Cats were dropping bombs from deep, and it was awesome. Lamb and Miller both had a pair, and Jones and Wiltjer got in on the action too. Kentucky finished 6-14 from three point land. Pretty sold, because when the Cats are hitting from outside, there isn’t a team that can beat them. Point blank, period.
— Huge day for SEC
Arkansas got a big win over the Michigan Wolverines today in Fayetteville. Many are saying the Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball right now, so a Razorback win over the No. 19 ranked team definitely looks good for the SEC. Tennessee defeated No. 11 Connecticut in Knoxville. I know it might be hard to root for the Volunteers, but understand it actually helps Kentucky. Remember how the Cats just won a game down there? With some traditional Big East powers struggling, the SEC can make a move for “best conference in the land” — up there with the Big Ten — and these wins certainly help.
— The Dookies lose
Fresh off an upset of North Carolina, Duke lost to Florida State in Cameron Indoor Stadium which puts Kentucky as the sole owner of the current longest home winning streak. It sometimes would flip-flop between Kentucky and being tied based on scheduling and who was on the road longer, but no more. You know what Duke stands for, right? (Attempting to) Duplicate U-of-K Excellence, of course.
— Loserville wins ugly
Over on ESPN the Louisville Cardinals are wrapping up their third Big East win over the Pittsburgh Panthers. It was a bit of a struggle early on for the Cards against a god-awful Pittsburgh team and resulted in, what’s shaping up to be an ugly win. We were so close to seeing all hell break loose for Rick Pitino. I just want to see what will happen up the road when Louisville really starts to self-destruct, don’t you?
That’s all I’ve got for now. Get a good night sleep; we’ll see you in the morning.