The sports schedule is getting a little hectic. The NFL is gearing up for the playoffs. College football is in the bowl season. High school, college, and pro basketball is running strong. To top it all off, the holidays are upon us. Mondays are good days to plan out your week and make sure you don’t miss any of the UK-related action.
–Women’s Basketball – Kentucky at Middle Tennessee State – BBSN – 8:00: How about this UK Hoops team, huh? They are one of 8 undefeated teams in the country, have tied a school record for consecutive wins (11), and are averaging almost 84 points a game. Add that to their stellar defense (average 12 steals and 5 blocks a game), incredible turn over margin (they lead the nation with +11.3), and the athletic play of Victoria Dunlap (She almost went Lisa Leslie on UT Martin. My suggestion? Quit taking dunk tips from Kate Martin.) and you have a team that is flat-out fun to watch. There are all sorts of UK connections with this Blue Raiders squad but none bigger than the father-son match-up. Rick Insell, MTSU head coach, has a son, MTSU alum Matt Insell, on the UK staff and this will be the first time they coach against each other. Expect junior to garner bragging rights over pops as the Wildcats pad their 9-2 all-time record over MTSU.
–Men’s Basketball – Hartford at Kentucky – ESPN2 – 7:00: UK has never played Hartford but they are 4-0 against the America East Conference, so I look forward to the indoctrination process. It is always fun to watch teams like Hartford get a little wide-eyed when they first hit the floor at Rupp. The best thing about this game, though? It is on ESPN2 so you won’t have to hear Drew Franklin complain that it isn’t on in HD. The Franklin compound is a mecca of affluent machismo with beer fountains run by Brazilian models, multiple flat screen televisions, massage chairs, hot tubs, and his own UK player that poops ice cream sundaes on command. The utter discomfort that a pedestrian, non-high def broadcast can generate is almost too much for a man of Franklin’s stature to bear. I hear it gives him the vapors.
–Women’s Basketball – Mississippi Valley State at Kentucky – ESPN – 8:30: Did you see where I had a few stats regarding the UK Hoops team up on Monday’s entry? First in the nation in turn over margin, 16th in blocked shots and steals per game, and one of eight undefeated teams in the country? How about a few more? Nationally, your Wildcats are second in scoring margin (+28.2), fifth in scoring offense (83.6 points per game), 11th in turnovers per game (14.5), 21st in 3-point field goal defense (25.7) and 25th in assist/turnover ratio (0.99). All that and they currently aren’t ranked. Huh? In fact, in the AP Poll, the Hoops team only gets 7 votes. At least ESPN/USA Today grants UK enough votes to put them around the 27th ranked range. I don’t get it. Anyway, the Wildcats take on the Devilettes (which sounds like something Dolly Madison would produce) in their last game before SEC play begins.
–Men’s Basketball – Louisville at Kentucky – CBS – 3:30: Ah. Ze beeeg game. The Cards limp into Rupp sporting a 9-3 record, dashed expectations, and a tarnished coach who has nightmares about the creation of TMZ Sports. Should be an easy win, right? Not so fast, Hoss. Need I remind you people that this is exactly the type of game that rises up and bites us on the tuckus when we take it for granted? In 2003, Otis George led the #20 Cards past a stacked #2 Wildcats. In 2002, we let turncoat (may he rest in peace) Marvin Stone go off on our #14 team as the unranked Cards obliterated the Cats. In 1998, Denny Crumb and Marques Maybin (seriously) layed the wood to the #3 defending champion Wildcats. In 1997, Crumb used 20 points from Eric Johnson to eek out a 2 point win over the #4 ranked Kentucky squad. In a personally scarring incident, Tick freaking Rogers, pride of Hart County, and DeJuan Wheat beat an absolutely loaded UK team in 1995.
Now, in terms of the rivalry, Kentucky, having lost the previous two meetings, is due. I’m not going to go into full Patrick Barker mode and say that the Cats might lose this one, but they do need to be careful. It will be closer than we think. Then again, aren’t all good rivalries this way?