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Basketball Season Coverage


LOOK: Walter McCarty is BACK in Rupp Arena


Former Kentucky star Walter McCarty is back on the Rupp Arena floor, this time as a coach.

This morning, McCarty – the head coach of the Evansville Purple Aces – led his team in its morning shootaround prior to their matchup against Kentucky this evening.

McCarty joined Ryan Lemond and Drew Franklin this morning on Kentucky Sports Radio, where he discussed how excited he was to be back in Rupp Arena.

“This is awesome to come back here in this fashion,” McCarty said on KSR. “I never would have dreamt it. Being at Rupp playing the No. 1 team in the country is a great opportunity for our program.”

McCarty, who played at Kentucky from 1993-96, won a national championship with the Wildcats in 1996. Over three years in Lexington, the 6-foot-10 forward averaged 9.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists.

Back in March of 2018, McCarty was hired as the head men’s basketball coach at Evansville, the former Wildcat’s hometown.

Scouting Report:  Evansville Purple Aces

Scouting Report: Evansville Purple Aces


Evansville, led by former Kentucky Wildcat Walter McCarty, comes to Rupp Arena off a 79-75 season-opening victory over Ball State.  McCarty returns several key contributors from last season, including 2018-2019 MVC Most Improved Team member K.J. Riley.  The Purple Aces also added star recruit DeAndre Williams who was ruled ineligible last season, plus Kansas transfer Sam Cunliffe and Coastal Carolina transfer Artur Labinowicz to their already veteran group.  Evansville features a free-flowing offense and streaky 3-point shooting that allowed them to defeat each of the top 3 teams in the Missouri Valley last season despite only winning 11 games overall.  This group went 3-0 on their European trip over the summer and the 3 newcomers, Williams, Cunliffe, and Labinowicz, have been then keys to what appears to be a vastly improved UE team this season.


#33 K.J. Riley:  6’5” 180 lbs, Senior Point Guard          

13.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.0 apg

Point Guard.  Scored 14 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists against Evansville.  He is a DRIVER!!!  Uses his size and strength to get around the rim and finish.  No right hand drives.  Closeout short to take away the drive.  Wants to get to the free throw line.  420 FT attempts over the last 2 seasons.  Play without fouling.  Can really be in help off of him when he doesn’t have the ball, but don’t lose sight of him and allow him a head of steam to drive it.  Pushes it hard in transition; have to get the ball stopped as a team.  No layups!!!  Get your hands up as he drives it and make him score it over you.  Stay between him and the basket.


#3 Jawaun Newton:  6’3” 170 lbs, Sophomore Guard                    

3.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg

Athletic guard.  Willing 3-point shooter.  44 of 80 shots were 3’s last season, but he only made 10 of those attempts.  Has missed all 4 of his attempts between their exhibition and first game.  Closeout short to him until he makes a couple and guard against the right hand drive.  Just throw a hand up to contest it when he shoots.  Quick.  Will look to attack if they throw it ahead to him in transition.  No right hand drives.  Can go help on drives and dig on the post when he doesn’t have the ball until he makes a couple from outside.

#30 Noah Federking:  6’4” 210 lbs, Junior Guard                

6.3 ppg, 41/108 3pt

Shooter!!!  Take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s.  NO 3’s!!!  108 of 157 shots were from 3 last season.  Quick release, looking for opportunities to squeeze them off.  Have to be there to take it away.  Find him in transition.  Doesn’t want to have to do anything besides catch and shoot.  If he isn’t dribbling then you aren’t close enough to him.  Do not help off of him!

#13 DeAndre Williams:  6’9” 190 lbs, Sophomore Forward                        

Ineligible Last Season

Best player.  Very talented face-up forward.  Long and athletic.  Likes to play out of the trail spot (top of the key).  Will drive it from there or immediately dribble into a handoff and roll to the post.  Wants to face up in the post.  Take away his right hand.  Capable 3-point shooter.  Has made 4 of 5 attempts from 3 so far this season including making 3 against Ball State on his way to 26 points.  He has an extremely slow release so you should be able to play a step or two off of him and still give a strong contest.  Wants to use his athleticism to beat you off the dribble.  No right hand drives!!!  Will jump stop or spin to comeback and finish with his right hand.  Crashes the offensive glass.  BOX OUT!!!

#35 John Hall:  6’7” 215 lbs, Redshirt Junior Forward                                

9.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg

Versatile forward.  Good 3-point shooter.  112 of 244 shots were from 3 last season and shot over 35%.  Have to be there to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s.  Looking for opportunities to pick and pop.  Can switch when he ballscreens as anyone can guard him for a possession.  Can put it on the floor and drive it right as well.  No right hand drives.  Strong.  Will be physical at the end of his drives.  Right hand, left shoulder in the post.  Undersized.  Make him score over you in the post.  Box him out!



#20 Sam Cunliffe:  6’6” 200 lbs, Redshirt Junior Forward               

Transfer from Kansas:  1.9 ppg in 15 games

Aggressive offensive player.  17 points on 13 shots in 25 minutes of action against Ball State.  Very good shooter.  No 3’s!!!  Be there to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s.  He is looking to squeeze them off.  Wants to shoot jump shots.  Have to find him in transition.  Will drive it all the way to the basket going right, but likes to shoot the jumper bouncing it to his left.  Uses his size to get a lot of shots off.  Good player.  Have to try and play him straight up, but error on the side of taking away his 3’s.  Contest everything!  Don’t help off him.  Definitely could start instead of #3 or #30.  Very good offensive player.


#2 Artur Labinowicz:  6’4” 190 lbs, Redshirt Junior Guard

Transfer from Coastal Carolina:  10.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg

Strong, physical guard.  Good 3-point shooter.  148 of 265 shots were from 3 as a Sophomore at Coastal Carolina.  Shooting 36% from 3 in college.  No catch-and-shoot 3’s.  Once you take away the catch-and-shoot 3 take away the right hand drive.  Have to find him in transition.  Good driver and will try to use his strength and physicality to draw fouls and get to the free throw line.  He is a better free throw shooter than he is a finisher so do not bail him out.  Make him score over you without fouling.  Not helping off of him.  Another guy who could start instead of #3 or #30.  Good player; play him as straight up as you can but error on the side of taking away the 3.


#5 Shamar Givance:  5’10” 155 lbs, Sophomore Guard                             

4.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.4 apg

Backup Point Guard.  Will push it hard in transition.  Very quick with the ball.  Do not over help when he drives it as he is a bad finisher.  Driving it more to pass than he is to try and finish around the basket.  Much better free throw shooter than finisher so do not bail him out with a foul.  Stay between him and the basket!  Just throw a hand up to contest if he shoots it from the perimeter.


#10 Evan Kuhlman:  6’8″ 220lbs, Junior Forward

SHOOTER!!! No 3’s!!! 108 of 183 shots were from 3 last season.  Have to stay tight on him.  Do not help off of him.  No catch-and-shoot 3’s.  All he wants to do is catch-and-shoot.  If he isn’t dribbling you aren’t close enough.


Evansville Offense

Free flowing Motion that will be 4-around-1 or 5-out at different times.  Most possessions will begin with passing it to, or handing off to, the Forward in the trail spot as they come down the court.  This will get them into their Ballscreen/Dribble Handoff Offense.  Generally it will be #13 Williams in the trail spot.  When he gets the initial handoff he will look to make a play right away, but then will dribble towards the wing and either pass to the corner and follow it into a ballscreen or just hand it off to that guard.  After the Ballscreen/Handoff Williams will roll to the basket.  There will be 2 guards on the weak side, so as the guard with the ball dribbles that way normally the other post guy (who started on the block) will lift up and get a catch.  The guard on the wing will back cut and fill through to the backside as the post dribbles that way and then they are into another Ballscreen/Handoff with the guard coming out of the corner.  This is a typical Ballscreen/Handoff Continuity.  Possessions can also start with the forward who was the rim run coming up to set a downscreen for the guard to run into the initial handoff.  Check out a clip below that led to a Williams dunk.  This play worked so well because the Ball St. player guarding #10 had to stay tight on him because he is a shooter and couldn’t provide as much help on the roll.

A lot of their set plays are just entries into their Ballscreen/Handoff Continuity, but here are a few of their other favorite actions.

  • #33 Riley handoffs to the trail spot and receives a back screen from the other post guy who has worked his way up to the elbow.  Will look to throw it to Riley so he can use his size around the basket.  Hit the forward at the elbow after the back screen and now they are into a 2-man game with the guard on the ball side.  Ran this early against Ball State and the guard back cut for a layup.
  • Will set a lot of doubles to get a guard coming out of the corner off of 2 screens.  Generally will then clear out the ball side and Iso (especially for #33 Riley because he isn’t a threat to shoot it off the double).
  • Begin with a guy on the elbow and same side block.  PG dribbles over and the guard on the block “gut cuts” up to the top of the key off a little screen from the elbow.  The forward on the elbow then turns and ballscreens for the guard after he gets a catch.  Good place to throw it back to the ball screener, especially if it is #13 Williams.  Here is a clip of that action below.  Also a good example of how they crash the glass.

Evansville Defense

Half court man-to-man defense.  One thing they will do some is “Ice” side ballscreens on the wing.  This means they will try to keep the ball on that side by having the guard jumping out to the top side of the ballscreen so as to force the guard to reject the screen.  The guy guarding the screener will then drop back and keep the guard in front of him until the on-ball defender can recover.  Otherwise they will switch a lot of screens because their players are pretty interchangeable.  Below is an example of them icing the ballscreen and it actually turns into a switch (this is similar to how Texas Tech guards ballscreens).  See how #2 jumps out force the ball handler to the baseline and then switches on #12 when he tries to pick and pop.  If the ball handler had kept it longer #2 would have tried to recover as #35 stayed in front before sending him back out to the screener.

Keys to the Game

  • Contain #13 Williams.  More shots than points for him.  Contain the right hand drives.  Switch when he ballscreens if you need to so we keep a defender on him at all times.  More important to have a guy on a guy than to maintain the match ups.  Box him out too.
  • No 3’s for #2, #10, #20, or #30.  These guys all want to catch-and-shoot.  Closeout to them to take away the 3’s.  Contest everything!
  • No layups for #33 Riley.  He is NOT a threat to shoot it.  Have to stay between him and the basket.  Closeout short.  He is also a guy you can really help off of when he doesn’t have it on the perimeter.
  • Crash the Offensive glass and dominate the paint.  Evansville is very undersized and don’t play a traditional post player.  Kentucky should be able to have their way around the basket and control the glass on both ends of the floor.



KSR Show Thread 11/12: Evansville Preview

What do you need to know about Walter McCarty and the Evansville Purple Aces? Ryan Lemond, Drew Franklin, and Shannon the Dude are here to help.

This morning, the KSR crew is here to break down Kentucky’s matchup against Evansville this evening, along with the other wackiness going on around the state.

Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (772) 774-5254.

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LIVE: John Calipari previews Evansville

John Calipari is about to address reporters to preview tomorrow’s game vs. Evansville. Watch below courtesy of KyWildcatsTV:


Michael Moreno continues trend of in-state stars shining at Rupp Arena


In Kentucky’s exhibition opener against Georgetown College on Oct. 27, the Wildcats cruised to an impressive 80-53 victory over the Tigers. While there were plenty of positive takeaways on UK’s side of things – four players in double figures, Immanuel Quickley with a team-high 16 points, Ashton Hagans with a double-double, etc. – the top reason for optimism for Georgetown came from one individual in particular.

Jake Ohmer, who transferred from WKU to Georgetown in September, finished with a team-high 25 points on 8-16 shooting to go with seven rebounds and one assist.

But it wasn’t the Taylor Mill native’s first star performance at Rupp Arena.

Ohmer, a Scott High School standout, led his Eagles squad to the Sweet 16 semifinals in Rupp back in March of 2017. In three games, the 6-foot-1 guard scored 106 total points in just three games, the 13th-most points scored in a single Kentucky state tournament.

“He picked up where he left off in the state tournament,” Georgetown head coach Chris Briggs said during his postgame press conference last week. “We were practicing in here [on Saturday] and I am running up and down and getting a little exercise in here before we start and I said, ‘Jake, how many did you score in here? About 100?’ and he looked at me and said, ‘106, Coach.’ He knew and he got 25 tonight. Proud of him and the way he competes and the way that he battles.”

“I just came in here with the mindset that we just had to run the floor and be confident with ourselves,” Ohmer said of his performance. “We obviously didn’t do what we wanted. We didn’t run as much, but we rebounded well. I just thought that our team could’ve been a little more unselfish, but besides that I think we did fine.”

And on Friday, former Scott County High School forward and Sweet 16 star Michael Moreno put forth a standout performance of his own.

Despite coming off back-to-back foot injuries, the 6-foot-6 forward out of Georgetown, KY finished the game with 14 points on 4-9 shooting (4-9 from three, 2-2 FT) and five rebounds in 20 minutes. In a 42-point loss, he was also only a -17 overall.

“The last time I walked out of here, I went out sad. It really wasn’t the greatest memory, it was great playing here, but it is kind of special to some extent to be a Kentucky kid and score my first points at Rupp,” Moreno said during the postgame press conference on Friday. “I just caught and let it go, that’s all I really knew to do. Coach told me if I catch it and I’m open, just shoot.”

At Scott County, Moreno helped lead legendary head coach Billy Hicks and the Cardinals to three consecutive 11th Region titles from 2017-19 and the KHSAA state title game in each of the past two seasons.

In the title game defeat to Trinity this past year, Moreno finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds in his impressive farewell performance.

While he found success at Rupp Arena during the Sweet 16 over the last several years, the 6-foot-6 forward was quick to add that this experience was quite different from his time in the historic building before.

“It’s a completely new environment,” Moreno said. “Kentucky has fans that are really unmatched anywhere else. It’s their home opener, so there ready to get going too. It’s a totally different level of basketball but being here before prior to this in the state tournament it wasn’t like a shell shock to play at Rupp Arena.”

EKU head coach A.W. Hamilton said that after easing him back from injury, he was thrilled with what he saw out of the Scott County star against the Wildcats.

“Michael was really good tonight, that was a huge bright spot for us,” Hamilton said of Moreno. “Again we have been on a time restriction on how long we can play him because he is coming off, he’s broken his foot twice, so as we keep going he will continue to get more and more minutes. He’s going to be a really big player for us, he’s only practiced for two weeks, didn’t practice all summer wasn’t in practice pre-season.”

Moreno, who was a three-time first-team all-state selection and a 2019 Kentucky Mr. Basketball finalist, finished his career with 2,383 varsity points, 1,317 career rebounds, 270 assists, 267 blocks, and 211 steals.

WATCH: KSR’s Recap of the 91-49 Victory over EKU

WATCH: KSR’s Recap of the 91-49 Victory over EKU

Rupp Arena opened its doors to the Big Blue Nation for the first regular season game of the 2019 Kentucky basketball season. See the best moments from UK’s 91-49 victory over EKU through the lens of the incomparable Bradley “B-Roll” McKee. Come for the Nick Richards oop, stay for the postgame celebration.