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Basketball Season Coverage

Kentucky will face No. 3 Houston for Sweet 16 Matchup

Kentucky will face No. 3 Houston for Sweet 16 Matchup

It’s official: No. 2 Kentucky will face No. 3 Houston for their Sweet 16 Matchup in Kansas City, Missouri. The No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes put up a good fight, but the Houston Cougars came away with the 74-59 win. It’ll be a late one for the BBN – the game is set to tip at 10 p.m. ET Friday night. It’ll be shown on TBS and will be called by Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel.

We’ll have plenty of pre-game coverage as the matchup approaches.

Cats > Cougars

Fletcher Magee was not impressed with UK’s defense

We all know the Kentucky Wildcats held off the Wofford Terriers on Saturday to move on the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Also, we all know that Fletcher Magee has made the most three-pointers in NCAA history.

Well, the Cats weren’t about to let one of the most prolific shooters in Division-I college basketball history beat them. They forced Magee into a ton of bad shots and didn’t give him a sliver of breathing room. If Wofford was going to upset Kentucky, it was going to have to be through someone else.

Despite setting the record mentioned above just days earlier on Thursday night, Tyler Herro and the Kentucky Wildcats helped Magee achieve another three-point shooting record. After going 0-12 from downtown, Magee set the record for the most three-point attempts without a make in NCAA Tournament history.

This was due in large part to the defense of Tyler Herro and Co. Of the 12 three-pointers Magee attempted, 11 of them were contested. But that didn’t impress him – he didn’t see any difference between the Cats’ defense and the defenses he’s been playing all year.

I’ve shot the shots I got tonight against every team in the [Southern Conference], every other team I’ve played. They were no harder,” Magee said. “I just didn’t shoot it well. Some of them felt good and were short, some of them felt good and were long, and some of them were just off. It’s just what happens.”

Sure, sometimes it just happens. But, for some context, his previous worst career game without a successful three came earlier this season against Kansas, when he went 0-9 from deep. Saturday was the fourth time in his four-year career with Wofford where he failed to make a three.

However, it seems Magee just struggles when he faces better opponents. In four games this season against KenPom top-50 defenses, Magee only shot 16 percent from behind the arc. Meanwhile, his average was exponentially higher when he competed against the lower-level teams. He shot over 45 percent against KenPom defenses rated outside the top 100 and a whooping 58 percent against non-Division 1 teams.

Magee should probably look to give credit where it’s due. I’m sure a KenPom top-10 defense like Kentucky’s was a bit more difficult to maneuver than the Citadel’s or Mercer’s. And maybe, just maybe, it had something to do with the length and athleticism of UK’s elite defense, especially that of Tyler Herro.


Reid Travis has waited his entire life for moments like these

Reid Travis has waited his entire life for moments like these

Reid Travis has waited five years for the chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. Based on his two outings so far, it’s been worth the wait. The best part? His coach couldn’t be prouder.

“He trained his whole life for this,” John Calipari said Saturday. “Before the last game, I just told him, you’ve been waiting for this your whole life. [Thursday] he was unbelievable, had eight of nine or whatever he did, 18 points, and [Saturday] he did well again.”

He finished as Kentucky’s leading scorer against Wofford Saturday afternoon, recording a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) while committing zero turnovers. Against Abilene Christian, his stat line was equally impressive: 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting, nine rebounds and one assist. Calipari said Travis was so effective against Wofford, they wanted the ball in his hands “every time we needed a basket.”

His improvements and his success starts in practice, where Calipari says Travis is always “totally engaged.” When “outsiders” come in to watch a Kentucky basketball practice, they comment on Travis’ attentiveness, saying he never takes his eyes off of his coach. Calipari says he does have to get on him, but never for the same reason he gets on the team’s younger players.

“I’m on him like I am these young kids,” Cal said. “I just don’t have to as much because his is never effort – theirs is always effort. His is never effort.”

The compliments for Kentucky’s hardworking senior didn’t stop there.

“Let me say this, what a pleasure it’s been to coach him. He is truly professional in how he deals with everything, from training to weight training to keeping his body right to being where he’s supposed to on time,” Calipari said. “But it’s been – I’ve loved it… He’s helped us, but he’s helped himself in this. He’s really put himself in a great position.”

Travis’ reaction to Calipari’s praise was awesome.

“I think that is one of the kindest things Coach has ever said about me. It makes the work I do every day really mean something to hear him say something like that,” Travis said. “It’s kind of touching. It took a lot for me to come to Kentucky and decide to play another year of college basketball. [The reason] was nothing more than I wanted to play in games like this, and bring it every day and try to be my best.”

Without PJ Washington on the floor for the Tournament’s first two rounds, Reid Travis bounced back from an injury of his own in a big way. He’s repeatedly demonstrated how important of a role he plays for this team, but his performances in the post-season have only reinforced that idea. Now it’s time to get Travis back to his hometown, Minneapolis, for the Final Four – he’s been waiting forever.


SEC UPDATE: Four teams advance to the Sweet 16

SEC UPDATE: Four teams advance to the Sweet 16

For only the third time in history, four teams from the Southeastern Conference have qualified for the Sweet 16. Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn and LSU have all punched their tickets for the NCAA Tournament’s next round. The Conference also sent four teams to the second weekend back in 1986 and 1996.

The expectations surrounding Kentucky and the tournament are, obviously, much higher than they tend to be for the other SEC teams. Regardless, it’s been a pretty strong season for the nation’s “football conference.” John Calipari has brought the Cats to the second weekend of March in eight of his ten seasons with Kentucky, but the other qualifiers aren’t quite as familiar with the Sweet 16.

LSU was the first team to punch their ticket, qualifying in dramatic fashion over No. 6 Maryland. They’re going for the first time since 2006. It’s been even longer for Auburn – the Tigers advanced for the first time since 2003. Tennessee qualified for the first time since 2014 and for the seventh time in school history.

Of the SEC’s 14 teams, seven qualified for the Big Dance. Now, four remain. Come next weekend, a quarter of the bracket will belong to SEC teams.

LISTEN: KSR’s UK-Wofford Postgame Show

Too busy celebrating Kentucky’s win over Wofford to catch Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond on the radio? No worries – you can listen to the postgame show here! The KSR duo discusses the Cats’ win, which players had the biggest impact and Coach Cal’s Sweet 16 record.

They’ll be back on the air Monday from 10:00-noon.

(Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports)

Ashton Hagans put Storm Murphy on the floor

(Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports)

Let’s watch Ashton Hagans embarrass poor Storm Murphy with that spin move.

Have a seat, bud.