Good morning, Big Blue Nation! It’s time for the second day in a row (of three, hopefully) of Kentucky basketball.
The Cats are ready to go this afternoon, taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Tournament Semifinals at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Here’s what’s on the agenda for today’s game, more around the SEC, and a recap of yesterday’s wild day of events:
TV – ESPN, 1:00 p.m. ET (Noon Central)
Radio – KSR Pregame Show this morning is at 10:30 (9:30 in St Louis) at Tin Roof.
Hear Tom Leach and Mike Pratt on the UK Sports Network, Sirius-84 and XM-84/374.
Vegas – Kentucky -4
The Collin Sexton Show
There is no denying all eyes will be on Alabama freshman Collin Sexton this afternoon, and rightfully so.
The phenom guard has scored 27 and 31 points in back-to-back games to kick off the tournament, including one game-winning buzzer beater on day one. He’s a fascinating prospect with elite scoring ability, and on the big stage, he’s taking it to a whole new level. Ryan Lemond even stood up to give a standing ovation to him on day one.
In their last matchup, Kentucky held Sexton to just 12 points on 4-11 shooting, two assists, and three rebounds, to go with two turnovers in their ten-point victory in Rupp Arena. Odds are pretty slim the Cats are able to shut him down two times in a row.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will almost certainly be matched up with Sexton this afternoon, and it’ll be must-see TV. Defense vs. offense for a spot in the title game.
Outside of Sexton, however, the Tide are pretty beatable. Limit him to a “normal” scoring day, and the Cats have a pretty good shot to make the championship tomorrow afternoon.
Around the SEC: Auburn and Florida fall, Vols prevail
The No. 1 and 3-seeds were sent home packing on Friday night, as Auburn lost to Alabama and Florida fell to an impressive Arkansas team. Despite maintaining a ten-point lead in the first half, the Tigers fell to Alabama by a final score of 81-63.
We talk about Florida being a streaky shooting team, and they proved to be just that to open the SEC Tournament against Arkansas. The Gators shot just 41% from the field last night, gave up nine turnovers, and were outrebounded 43-28 in their 80-72 loss to the Razorbacks.
As for the Volunteers, they JUST managed to sneak away from Mississippi State, winning 62-59. The Bulldogs had them on the ropes at the end, but unfortunately, couldn’t pull off yet another upset victory on the day. Tennessee will take on Arkansas roughly 25 minutes after our game this afternoon.
Recap: Impressive defense leads Cats to victory over Georgia
It was an ugly back-and-forth matchup to start with, but Kentucky played very impressive basketball in the second half to pull out the opening victory.
With Jarred Vanderbilt out, the vast majority of the Big Blue Nation worried about the team’s energy to kick of the tournament. Luckily for the Cats, Gilgeous-Alexander, PJ Washington, and Kevin Knox did more than enough to compensate for Vanderbilt’s absence, combining for 48 points, 20 rebounds, and 12 assists.
On defense, Kentucky rocked Georgia’s world, allowing just 28% from the field and 26% from three. Washington held Bulldog star Yante Maten to just nine points on 2-10 shooting and four rebounds on the day to send them home.
Quade Green and Nick Richards will need to step up this afternoon, but the Cats did more than enough yesterday to get fans to erase their blowout loss on the road to Florida to end the regular season.
Jarred Vanderbilt still out
After Kentucky’s victory over the Dawgs yesterday afternoon, Coach Cal told reporters Jarred Vanderbilt is highly unlikely to play today.
“I don’t think Jarred plays (today),” said Calipari. “You can’t not be 100% this late in the season and play. You can’t play at 80%, the games are too high-level. When we lost four in a row, he was playing. And then we started playing better and winning. He’s still limping. When you can jump up and grab the rim, then come talk to me.”
I would not anticipate seeing Vanderbilt in a Kentucky jersey until next week in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, I’d put money on it. Zero chance to risk further injury in a tournament that has little to no impact on tournament seeding.
It just means others will once again have to bring the energy today and (hopefully) tomorrow.
BatCats take down No. 3 Texas Tech
Hidden in the ruckus of all things SEC Tournament was an incredible upset victory for Kentucky baseball.
No. 3 Texas Tech came to Cliff Hagan Stadium and left with a loss with the help of an elite pitching performance from Sean Hjelle.
The star pitcher struck out six and allowed only six baserunners in seven innings in Kentucky’s 10-7 victory. Once again, Hjelle proved he was among the best in all of college baseball.
The Red Raiders kicked off the game with a 3-0 lead, but the BatCats came alive, led by Kole Cottam’s fifth home run of the season to drive in two runs in the second.
For the entire recap of the game, read Trey Huntsman’s post here.
Mississippi State’s Nick Weatherspoon suffered a neck injury
Last night, MSU guard Nick Weatherspoon suffered a devastating neck injury against Tennessee, where he was immediately rushed to the hospital.
Instead of stopping play, officials allowed the game to continue, where Weatherspoon had two players land on top of him, one directly on the head/neck area.
Miss St guard Nick Weatherspoon went down hard, remained on the ground and then was hit by players when the play came back down the court… pic.twitter.com/J5u9Wqvigl
— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) March 10, 2018
Weatherspoon is now responsive and communicating with those around him. He is also reportedly able to move his extremities, but remains extremely sore.
The MSU guard may be improving, but that didn’t stop the officials from playing dumb… again.
This was the official response from the SEC Coordinator of Officials:
We’re obviously big fans of college officiating here at KSR, but this one sets the bar to an entirely new level. This incident was incredibly dangerous, and despite one official (Pat Adams) looking directly at Weatherspoon when the play came back in transition, he did absolutely nothing to stop it.
Zero accountability for officials. You can plead ignorance all you want, but your incompetence could have left someone with a life-altering injury. Unacceptable.
Down goes Duke, Grayson Allen trips AGAIN
On that note, once again, Grayson Allen embarrassed himself on the national stage.
In their ACC semifinal loss to North Carolina, the senior guard hip checked a Tar Heel player in transition, resulting in a Flagrant One call.
TRIPPING GRAYSON ALLEN IS BACK pic.twitter.com/BuT03udbdF
— Barstool Pack (@BarstoolPack) March 10, 2018
Basketball gods, PLEASE let Grayson do this in the NBA against a guy like DeMarcus Cousins, Tony Allen, Patrick Beverly, etc. Beyond Scared Straight would have their highest rated episode in history.
Enough of that, let’s get this money.