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Five headlines from UK’s 68-51 win over Texas A&M

Image via @Finna_Go_HAM

(AP Photo/James Crisp) 

Behind the great play of Alex Poythress, the Cats cruised past Texas A&M tonight by a final score of 68-51, covering both the John Short (10) and Vegas (14) spreads.  It’s late, so let’s roll through my five headlines from the game:

Image via @Finna_Go_HAM

Image via @Finna_Go_HAM

1. Alex Poythress owned the night

This was Alex Poythress’ night to shine.  The sophomore led scorers with a season-high 16 points and five rebounds.  Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard John Calipari rave about Alex’s performance during practice and seen the slow build of confidence in games.  Tonight, Alex dominated.  Gone was the hesitant and frustrating Alex of yesteryear; in his place was a confident player who elevated his team’s play with each dunk, rebound, and free throw.  Alex’s progression is reminiscent of Terrence Jones’ in 2012, and shows just how much a second year in Cal’s system can help certain players.  If his performance tonight doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.

When asked about that layup-turned-dunk, Alex said “I just jumped and I guess I didn’t realize how high I was.”  Julius Randle told reporters he “couldn’t be more happy” that Poythress’ hard work in practice is paying off.  Calipari said that Alex’s performance was more mental than anything: “Mentally, Alex thinks he’s going to kill you.  So he is.”

2. Paging Willie Cauley-Stein

On the other side of the mental spectrum, Melancholy Stein returned to Rupp Arena.  For the third game in a row, Willie was out of it, scoring only one point and getting one rebound. As a result, he only played nine minutes, opening the door for Dakari Johnson.  Yet again, Dakari made the most of the opportunity, putting up six points, seven rebounds, and three blocks in 24 minutes.  Cal even started Dakari in Willie’s place in the second half, a shakeup we may see again soon.  “Dakari is starting to grow up and he’s owning his performance,” Cal told reporters.  If you like your plus/minus stats, you’ll love that the Cats were +22 when Dakari was in the game tonight.

(AP Photo/James Crisp)

(AP Photo/James Crisp)

When asked what was wrong with Willie, Cal seemed just as much at a loss as we are:

“I don’t know what’s wrong with Willie, but he’ll be fine,” Cal said. “At the end of the game, I said ‘Look, we’re going at you. You’ve gotta get going here, kid.’  And he turned and fumbled and it didn’t get any better. And he wants to do well. He was doing really well and he backed up a little bit and it’s like a slippery slope. When you back up, and you don’t keep bringing it and all of a sudden, you’re going that other way, this sport is as mental as much as anything else.”

Keep that head up and show off your new ink, Willie.


(The live blog consensus was that’s the tree from The Lion King.)

3. The start was better

Hallelujah, praise the Lord, the Cats actually started a game well.  In the first two and a half minutes, the Cats got off to an 11-5 lead, a big improvement over just about every other game they’ve played.  A lot of that may have to do with Texas A&M being greatly overmatched, but here at KSR, we like to think it’s because the Cats were looser and especially lively during their pregame dancing routine.  Julius Randle was asked about it afterwards, and said that the players discussed the slow starts before the game, and it showed:

“It was very refreshing. We have been getting down in games 12-2, 14-5, and stuff like that. We talked about it and we wanted to get off to a fast start and just have energy from the jump. I think we were a lot better today.”

Randle also said that having fun is “what it’s all about,” and that the players “can’t have the weight of the world on us.” Dance like nobody’s watching, fellas.

(AP Photo/James Crisp)

(AP Photo/James Crisp)

 4.  Andrew had another good game

Aside from Alex’s performance, the most promising thing tonight I saw was Andrew Harrison’s continued improvement.  Andrew had eight points, eight rebounds, four assists, and four turnovers tonight, which may not sound that impressive, but the offense moved smoothly under his direction.  “I thought Andrew played a pretty heady game, did some good stuff.  Didn’t shoot it well, but played pretty good,” Cal said afterwards, but said that he still wants more: “The thing I’m looking for is more energy, more juice. I don’t want anyone to watch him play and say ‘Where’s his energy?’ That should never happen. Never, not once. So, that’s all we’re working on. But it’s not just him, it’s all of these guys. More spirit defensively.”


5.  Jimmy Dykes almost jinxed the Cats with his shoulder cam

One of the oddest moments of the night was when Jimmy Dykes did color commentary from under the basket, with an ESPN cameraman filming the action over his shoulder.  “Jimmy Cam” was truly bizarre (I thought it was hilarious), and seemed to distract the Cats.  While Jimmy kneeled next to the basket, Texas A&M outscored UK 6-2.  When he finally went back to his seat, Kentucky went on a 7-0 run. Get ready for some Drew Franklin photoshops tomorrow.

All in all, an easy SEC win for the Cats at home, with what may be a coming-of-age performance from Alex Poythress.  As Cal said, there’s still a lot of work to do: “I’m telling you, the upside of where we should be, where we could be, where we need to be…we’re not there.  We’re just not.”

The pieces though…they’re getting closer together.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

57 Comments for Five headlines from UK’s 68-51 win over Texas A&M

  1. Kyle
    12:52 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    WCS over last 3 games, bummer:

    Assists: 0
    Rebounds: 10
    Points: 3
    Turnovers: 2
    Fouls: 11
    Blocks: 2
    FG: 11% (1-9)
    FT: 25% (1-4)

    • We Hang Banners
      1:09 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      Willie’s “new” tat is to cover up her name.

    • bigblue091812
      8:06 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      Damn Kyle I guess nothing is good in your life, look at the good sometimes and not the bad. Andrew ran the team great tonight, Johnson is becoming comfortable and playing great, Randle is a beast and playing so much better out of double and triple teams, Young and Aaron are playing great and last but not least ALEX is becoming a man more and more every game. How much better is this team than the one that lost in Chapel Hill with Johnson and Alex coming into their own and Andrew and Aaron (and as Cal says) owing their performance. I’m gald that someone like WCS can get into a bad rut and we still are deep enough to win games, he’ll get it worked out and be back stronger than ever.
      By the way, IU is going to hang a new banner for “Only losing by 5 to a top 5 team”. Keep in mind the Hoosiers did all this with MSU’s big man out with an injury, WOW, much be nice in Hoosier and TURD EEL land this year.

  2. Bunny
    12:54 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    AlPo was great! Cal’s obviously been trying to build his confidence and it appears to be working…

    I think Cauley-Stein will be OK. Maybe a little more focus on basketball and a little less on tats, weed, and hair color…

    • bigblue091812
      7:28 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      They don’t tell us everything, sometimes they don’t tell the coach everything. He may have lost his first true love, someone ill in his family or just lost his confidence. I know Cal cares about his players on and off the court and he’ll get WCS back on track.

    • classof68
      8:28 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      Cal said he was backed up. That explains it. Time for the dreaded apparatus.

  3. I Sayyy
    12:56 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    I absolutely can not stand Jimmy Dykes. He tries to make the game more about him and his analysis rather than just the game.

    • Big Dykes Fan
      1:17 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      Jimmy Dykes knows his stuff. Always well armed with facts in addition to having both a player and coach perspective to draw from. He is extremely fair and unbiased….and most importantly he is a great Christian Man. He looks out for others and tries to help others in his daily life.

    • I Sayyy
      1:49 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      Umm okay and?

    • I Sayyy
      1:52 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      He critiques teams, players, and coaches for their performances too much for a play by play analyst.

    • KMan
      7:44 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      Dykes is not the play by play guy. He is the color guy. He does a good job.

    • Rockfield, KY
      8:29 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      I couldn’t disagree more. His off the wall comments and ideas for bits are great. He tries to do the job in a different way than other guys and I like it. I’m glad he is the SEC man for ESPN.

    • BNClay
      10:21 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      I don’t any thing about Dykes personnally, but his commentary is dreadful. It is like he always trying to come up with the most obscure facts and references he can (of course some one is feeding him this pregame most likley and it is his mission to get it in the broadcast), and his catch phrase are dumb.

    • bigbluebert
      12:06 pm January 22, 2014 Permalink

      Hey–at least he has an original thought. Most ESPN guys just regurgitate what one or two guys who have original thoughts say (like Bilas). He’s ok. Not a fan of the Jimmy Cam, though. That was ESPN trying to be cute–kind of like that crazy camera helicopter view camera angle they used last year. Jimmy isn’t bad though–one thing we can’t argue is he gives UK love.

    • wildcat91912
      12:53 pm January 22, 2014 Permalink

      I just don’t understand why ESPN gets so excited over Jimmy Dykes. I will say that while some of the things that he says are interesting, at least much more interesting that some of the other commentators can come up with. However, if I see one more Jimmy Dykes special (i.e. Jimmy running around some campus with a camera then showing us his food, this “plane” thing that he does for March Madness, the “What Jimmy Sees” screen, the under-the-basket cam), I’m going to go crazy. Just stick to your job. Don’t try to get all fancy with it. It’s done a certain way for a reason.

  4. Andrew a good game? U Serious?
    12:57 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    38 mins. 3-12 FG, 2-7 3FG, 0-0 FT, 4 Ast, 4 TO, 8 Reb. I guess Websters changed the definition of “good” for KSR.

    • bigblue091812
      7:26 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      I guess you don’t know the definition of Point Guard. Andrew didn’t shoot well (I’m sure he’s aware of it) but the leadership on the floor is his main responsability and he’s doing GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • jus sayin
      8:12 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      Not having a good shooting night does not mean that you had a bad night unless all you do is shoot. He did other things including rebound and assist. Plus 2 of those turnovers were not his fault even though they will be credited to him.

  5. Lukeman
    1:11 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    I still say Willie’s new tat is a potato resting on a slingshot.

      4:37 am January 22, 2014 Permalink


  6. Catlogic15
    1:11 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    I’m tellin you, Willie hasn’t been the same since he got busted for telling ESPN about his “real” girlfriend that attends Arkansas. Has created real tension with his “one” in Lexington maybe. Just sayin’ . Hopefully she isn’t trying to get even with a teammate. I’ve seen it before.

    • Troy
      1:28 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      Sparks and Bradley or was it Rondo

    • el hombre juan
      2:55 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      It was a while back but if I remember correctly rekalin Sims and sheray Thomas or so I heard from sources inside the lodge. Either way it involved sheray.

    • Troof
      9:01 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      James Young…

  7. Headline # 6
    1:12 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    It is after 1 A.M. and Sam Malone is still sitting on the commode in the locker room after drinking that Soy Sauce (MSG) before the game.

  8. Troy
    1:23 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    I dont understand why my post didnt get published. I didnt say anything vulgar or dirty

    • JHA
      9:23 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      We are being watched

  9. Culver
    1:26 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    Obviously Willie has been going through a difficult breakup over the past week or so. The reason his head has been off in the clouds of late. No shame big guy. I’m sure you’ll find another who will really appreciate Big Willie better than ever. He will appreciate you for who you are, not what your bank account might be in the future. Go get ’em!

    • Rockfield, KY
      8:31 am January 22, 2014 Permalink


    • JHA
      9:24 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      it is worse than I thought

  10. musrat59
    4:00 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    It looks like Big Willie has a bad case of the willies.

  11. Nate
    7:01 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    Willie, you sir are a UK basketball player. If a woman is on your mind, forget it. There are hundreds of others standing around the Coal Lodge on a nightly basis. The last thing I would do while a Uak basketball player is get cuffed to one!

  12. caliparty
    7:16 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    Our guards have to start shooting a better percentage from behind the arc. Its the only way we are going to free Julius up down low..

  13. Tim Kathlina
    7:16 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    The team didn’t look good last night. Looked like walking zombies. Played down to the competition. Hopefully they will get in better sync Saturday. These guys better look at more game film. They will not even contend for #9 playing like this.

    • Rixter
      8:56 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      Do you think Tennessee is a good team? A & M went into Knoxville and beat them. I think A & M is a good team…but no match for a so-so game from Kentucky.

  14. BurnerTurner5
    7:19 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    Really good start to the game. Of course up here in Northern Kentucky we didn’t get to see it since the Michigan State/Indiana game ran long. The last five minutes of that game seemed to take a half hour. Every time we have the late game and Michigan State is playing in the game before ours that happens.Izzo does that to us all the time. Izzo SUCKS!!! And of course Alex’s dunk didn’t make ESPN’s top plays of the day. Of course they had to throw in a play from a frigging soccer game as they always do as one of the top plays. ESPN SUCKS too!!! And we noticed that the “Jimmy Cam” was bad luck for the Cats. Have I mentioned that I dislike Tom Izzo and ESPN?

    • bigblue091812
      7:33 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      If Alex paid for anyother team in the country that dunk would’ve been on ESPN top plays of the day. Guess what, everyone watching live and in Rupp seen it, oh and A&M players seen it.

  15. bigblue091812
    7:50 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    IU losing before we played made it worth having to watch the first 5 mins or so on ESPN Classic and watching the end of the IU game on ESPN360. With IU paying over rated Crean $3.12 mil a year they are getting they’re moneys worth. He’s trying to catch Pitino with 10+ loss seasons, this year will make 4 of 7 for Crean and he’s catching up with Pitino who has 7-12 10+ loss seasons at LOSERVILLE. Why bring this up, I’m tired of hearing how Cal can’t coach and we can’t win with freshman all the time, Cal has on lost 30 games in his time at UK, not too bad In the same time frame at IU and UL Pitino lost 37 and Crean lost 78 games, both with Jr’s and Sr’s. So, quit the complaining how he can’t coach and can’t win with fresman. And he’s doing this without having an affair with the wife of any of his friends or somone on his staff and he’s not kissing little boys and men in Rupp.

    • Beavis
      8:33 am January 22, 2014 Permalink


    • Beavis
      8:35 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      Crean does have one leg up on Cal. Its called CREEPY

  16. I. Melvin
    8:03 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    The combo of Nessler and Dykes is my favorite to call UK games (unless Bilas can be had). Considering the alternatives, I can live with Dykes’ slightly overlong analyses. (Hey, at least he knows what he’s talking about.)

    Just sooo pumped about the emergence of Alex the Great. It’s coming and it’s gonna be great. Just hope no one pulls the Nurse Ratched on him.

    If Alex stays, I think we’ve solved our SF issues for next year. Wasn’t sure he could play the spot, but it’s beginning to look like he just might – which would help him mightily at the next level.

  17. ozamataz
    8:06 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    Andrew did not play well at all, dakari played horrible defense, James young settles way to much on three’s and is horrible on defense as well as very slow. We have a very slow disinterested team on defense that doesn’t bend their knees and remain in a defensive stance. Aaron game was off, Alex did wonderful, as well as Julius, much props to those two.

    • No
      8:15 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      He settled too much for 3s but he did everything else well. Even 2 of the 4 turnovers were not his fault. Basketball is more than stats and shooting percentage. James young may be our best outside defender.

    • Rockfield, KY
      8:35 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

      I’ve noticed our guards stand up too much when playing defense, but I thought Dakari moved well on defense and got a couple blocks I didn’t think he’d get. James Young can be a stopper on defense, but he gets too worried about jacking up 3’s on offense.

  18. UKAlum
    8:10 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    Four out of five starters could have triple doubles and some people would still consider the night a failure because all five didn’t have them.

  19. ozamataz
    8:20 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    The night wasn’t a failure, but at what point do we call a spade a spade? We are just not that good right now, we are slow and cannot shoot. Even though we held Tamu to a score in the 50’s individual defense was porous. Only thing saving us is offensive rebounds, and second chance points. It is just frustrating to watch at times no doubt…hopefully twins come back with Lee, poytress, and dakari and will blast through the schedule next season…..just don’t see it this year but doesn’t mean I’m going to stop rooting!

  20. ozamataz
    8:25 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    No, you are correct. Hustling, and intangibles are saving this team ATM not stats and percentages. Rebounding, and second chance points, and if we happen to hit more than our ave of 4 three’s a game.

  21. Shooter
    8:36 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    Guys, doesn’t Willie have the sickle cell trait, that can cause sluggishness he has really slowed down.

  22. JJeff
    8:43 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    It wasn’t James Young’s best night but he had 7 rebounds, 2 assists and was looking to help his teammates score. I watched him for a while when he was stuck on 8 points and rather than forcing up shots, he was probing and looking for someone open. I’ll take that.

  23. jim
    9:04 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    Just ship # 9.No reason to make anyone else think they have a chance.

  24. Some Guy in Kentucky
    9:24 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    TJones went into a slump like WCS is in, and was able to put it behind him. I hope WCS can do the same.

  25. UK Freshmen
    10:07 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    A lousy 16 pts earns you ownership of the game? My….our standards with this team has gotten low.

    • Bob
      9:48 pm January 22, 2014 Permalink

      With all due respect, I really wouldn’t call that 16 points “lousy”. I thought he looked pretty strong on most of those scores, didn’t you? Or maybe I just don’t know what you mean by “lousy”?

  26. Troy
    11:16 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    I agree with a JJeff- I had no problem with Young last night. It wasnt his best game but he actually looked to get the rest of the team involved. I was surprised he passed on the 2 on 1 fast break. Harrison missed and Young tapped it back in. Dakari’s defense- he is getting a lot of praise right now and he is playing better but he is no where near WCS defensively when WCS comes to play. We need WCS to have any shot. They are improving but still not there

  27. twocoach
    11:50 am January 22, 2014 Permalink

    WOW, was I surprised to see just how terrible Texas A&M basketball is. They had kids out there that looked like little high school boys. I haven’t seen a team so incompetant on offense in a long time. I am not sure if they were running set plays or just kind of winging it. That was terrible, they are a mess.

  28. BigBlue37
    12:05 pm January 22, 2014 Permalink

    We won by 17…what the hell are you all gripping about? I’d rather each of our starters score 12-14 points and get a win more than one player go off for 30 and lose.

  29. ink me
    12:23 pm January 22, 2014 Permalink

    What the hell is that terrible tattoo of on WCS neck?