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February 18th, 2017

10 Takeaways From Another Close Call Against Georgia

Brett Davis | USA Today

Brett Davis | USA Today

Whew, what a game.

It was a little closer than Big Blue Nation had hoped, but in the end, your University of Kentucky Wildcats escaped Athens with an 82-77 win in a game that saw 13 ties and 15 leads changes.

Like you, I’m a little gassed from yelling at my television, but let’s use what little energy we have left to run through some takeaways from the big SEC road win…


1. The Rule of 71 failed.

Georgia was the first to 71 points after J.J. Frazier made a three-pointer to reach the 71 plateau and put the Bulldogs ahead by two. But the Rule of 71 would not hold true tonight as the Cats still pulled off the win in the end.

Kentucky also won without getting a single point from Isaac Humphries for only the second time this season.

2. J.J. Frazier was unstoppable.

The Kentucky defense couldn’t do anything about J.J. Frazier and it was so frustrating to watch. JUST MAKE SOMEONE ELSE BEAT YOU!!!!

Georgia ran the same offense over and over and over again in the second half — ball screens to get a mismatch — and Frazier scored at will to the tune of a season-high 36 points, one shy of his career best mark.

Frazier was hot, but at some point you have to swarm him and make someone else do some scoring.

3. De’Aaron Fox was Mr. Clutch down the stretch.

Fox’s play was disappointing through the first 25-30 minutes of the game and the he took over in crunch time, scoring 10 points in the final two minutes and hitting six straight free throws in the last 44 seconds to close it out.

Fox said afterward, “I can step up in big moments.”

Yeah, we saw that.

4. Bam Adebayo also made big plays in the end.

Two plays in particular stand out: the block of Pape Diatta’s shot in a tie game with 33 seconds to play and the hustle to secure the long offensive rebound after a Kentucky missed shot with a little over a minute to go, which led to a tie game with the second chance bucket.

Adebayo also hit three clutch free throws and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds in 36 hard minutes.

5. You have to feel bad for Mark Fox and his Bulldogs.

Georgia has played two very tight games against Kentucky and had both of them won, plus an overtime loss at Florida, a one-point loss at Texas A&M (because the clock got stuck) and a two-point loss at South Carolina. They could’ve won any and all of those with just a couple different bounces of the ball, but instead they went 0-5 in those tight contests that could’ve really helped the NCAA tournament resume.

Unfortunately Georgia will likely miss out on the tournament now and that has to suck. They played so well in big games, just couldn’t finish.

6. Prayers up for Yante Manten.

Georgia’s star forward went down with a knee injury in the very beginning of the game and didn’t return. Hopefully it doesn’t keep him out too long and on into the summer when he is projected as a second-round pick in the draft.

Also, big pat on the back to Manten’s teammates for playing so well after he went out. You gotta wonder what the score would’ve been had he not suffered the injury.

7. Kentucky’s three seniors had good games.

Big night for the three seniors as they combined for 25 points off the bench and a whole lot more in other aspects of the game, including a CAREER-HIGH 12 REBOUNDS BY WILLIS. Derek did exactly what Kentucky needs from him outside of his shooting contributions and it’s time to consider moving him into the starting lineup.

Then of course Dominique Hawkins continued his streak of solid play by doing all the things Old Reliable gives you each night.

And how about my boy Mychal Mulder? I’ve been saying it all year: he needs more clock. Tonight he had nine points on three treys with two rebounds. Maybe I’m alone here but I wouldn’t mind seeing him take some of Isaiah Briscoe’s minutes when the situation calls for some shooting.

Coach Cal said on the postgame show, “I love what I saw from Dom and Mychal… And Derek did good.”

8. Malik Monk was cold from outside but made some key plays.

It looked to be one of those awful nights for Monk until he came up big late in the game and on the foul line. Monk finished 9-for-11 for the charity stripe with only three made field goals on 11 shots, and it was enough.

He got robbed of a big rebound when Kentucky was called for a cheap blocking out foul, too.

Speaking of bad calls….


Had Kentucky lost that game, we were all taking a KSR field trip to the SEC basketball offices.

10. Moving forward…

It’s simple: learn to guard the high pick-and-roll. If not, that’ll be what kills this team in the end.

But for now let’s celebrate a hard-fought win in a tough environment against a very good team and a very good guard in J.J. Frazier.

Get back to Lexington with that W and put it behind us.

Calipari went on long rant in defense of fellow coaches Fox, Gottfried


John Calipari used his postgame press conference to go on a long rant in support of Georgia head coach Mark Fox for the job he has done with the Bulldogs throughout so many close, heartbreaking games.

The rant then turned to Mark Gottfried, who was fired from NC State earlier this week, as Calipari said, “We’re firing coaches in midseason… Are you shitting me?”

He concluded it with, “FAKE NEWS!!!! I’m just kidding.”

Hear what De’Aaron Fox and Derek Willis had to say about the win


De’Aaron Fox and Derek Willis were available to the media after tonight’s win and Kentucky Sports Radio was there with a camera to capture it all.

Have a listen/watch as Fox and Willis explain how their performances contributed to their team’s narrow win.

LIVE: John Calipari’s postgame press conference from Athens


Tune in to hear what John Calipari has to say about the close call against Georgia:

Fox Ices Frazier to Squeak Past Georgia, 82-77

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Just like the first time these two teams met, it was a hard-fought, knock down, drag ’em out, that ended with Kentucky leaving victoriously.

Georgia ran J.J. Frazier off ball screen after ball screen to score 36 points, but his adversary had the last laugh.  De’Aaron Fox struggled with foul trouble and often failed to finish at the rim, but when Kentucky needed him most, Fox delivered.

Trailing by two with 1:12 remaining, De’Aaron Fox kissed one off the glass to tie the game.  Frazier responded, but Fox didn’t back down.  Fox was sent to the free throw line.  His first shot drew iron three times before rolling through the rim.  From there, Fox was good to go.  Fox hit six free throws in the final minute and scored eight of the Cats’ last 11 points to ice the game.

Fox and Malik Monk led the Cats in scoring with 16 apiece, Derek Willis tied a career-high with 12 rebounds and Bam Adebayo finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds.  The full box score:



A Turnover-Filled Halftime Box Score

Pic via @KentuckyMBB.

Pic via @KentuckyMBB.

Kentucky averages 12 turnovers per game this season. In the first half they’ve given Georgia the ball nine times.

One other thing worth mentioning: Georgia’s star power forward, Yante Maten, is doubtful to return after suffering a right knee injury in the first half.


UNC Takes Series With 6-5 Win On Saturday

(Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

(Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Zach Reks went 4/4 and Kole Cottam drove in three runs for Kentucky in a 6-5 loss to North Carolina. UK trailed 6-1 headed to the 7th before the offense woke up with three runs in the 7th and one in the 8th. It was a little too late as UNC took game two of the series.


UK jumped out to an early 1-0 in the first as Kole Cottam doubled to score Reks. The lead would be short lived as the Tar Heels used a Kyle Datres RBI single to tie the game at one. Logue was able to wiggle out of multiple jams throughout his 4.1 innings on Saturday. The senior stranded six runners in the first four innings, but the Tar Heels began to knock him around in the fifth. Logue allowed single runs in the fourth and the fifth as he exited allowing three runs in 4.1 innings on six hits and four walks and five strikeouts.

As Kentucky’s offense struggled to bring in runs, UNC jumped on their biggest opportunity in the sixth. Leading 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, UNC batted around and scored three runs against four different UK pitchers. Alec Maley hit a pair of batters and Mark Doerries and Austin Keen combined for three walks as UNC stretched their lead to five. Brad Schaenzer got the final out and left the bases loaded for UNC.

Kentucky found their fight in the 7th as Reks singled and Riley Mahan and Tristan Pompey walked. Cottam roped his second RBI double of the game to score Reks and Mahan. Pompey was thrown out at the plate but the Cats trimmed the lead to 6-3. Marcus Carson knocked Cottam home with an RBI double of his own with two outs.

Zach Pop came in and held the UNC offense down. The Top 100 MLB Prospect held the Tar Heels scoreless for 1.2 innings before Logan Salow got the final out of the eighth. In the top of the eighth, UK used an RBI groundout by Mahan to get one more back before the ninth.

For the second consecutive day, Josh Hiatt came in and shut the door for the Tar Heels in the ninth. UK got a man on first but Hiatt ended the game with a strikeout.


Reks continued to hit well. The second year left fielder has seven hits in the first two games with one walk. Having a guy like that at the top of your lineup can truly change how an opposing team pitches to you.

Evan White missed today’s game. White was out with a hip issue that is supposedly minor. Nick Mingione held him out today due to caution.

Plenty of new faces. We saw a lot of new guys come out of the bullpen today. Pop, Salow, and Logue are all guys that started last year. Keen, Maley, and Doerries made their debuts today.

Game three is tomorrow at 1 ET. Justin Lewis is set to go for UK. 



UK vs. Georgia LIVE BLOG


Join us below for a live chat during the Cats vs. Dawgs…

Live Blog UK vs. Georgia

LIVE: UK’s pregame warm-ups at Georgia


Check out the pregame festivities down in Athens:

Let’s get your predictions

We’re inside the one-hour mark before tip-off, so what better time to get your predictions than now. So take a moment, if you will, to write a little ditty about how you think things will play out and what the final score will be.

Can the D stop Frazier? Will Maten dominate the paint? Which Derek Willis will we get? Maybe Gabriel? Can Bam Adebayo stay out of foul trouble? Is Monk still hot?

Let us know how you feel and then come back in about 45 minutes for the live blog.

Let’s go Cats.

Gabriel, Willis battling in practice for Cats’ most important position


Following Tuesday night’s win over Tennessee, Rick Barnes said his team’s plan was to limit production from Derek Willis and Wenyen Gabriel at the four position. Willis and Gabriel did not perform in Tennessee’s upset of the Cats in Knoxville, so the Vols set out to shut them down once again, rather than focusing on the tall task of stopping Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo.

“We were willing to let the other players pretty much do what they had done. Adebayo, Fox, Monk do what they do. We just didn’t want that fourth guy to really step in there,” Barnes said after that game.

Barnes isn’t the only person who sees the importance of the four for Kentucky; in fact, anyone with eyeballs knows that can be a make or break position.

Calipari said yesterday he will turn to Mychal Mulder in that spot if Willis and Gabriel aren’t giving him anything, but Willis and Gabriel will each get their time because that is how the team is practicing.

“Instead of trying to put a big team out there that we’re not playing with, let Derek and Wenyen get their time at four. If we want to slip them to three at times I will. And I’m also really working on that first unit of guys. I’m really focused on that unit playing well, especially if that unit’s going to play 25 minutes together in a game. I’ve got to spend 75 percent of my time then working on that unit because they’re going to be out there the most.”

Gabriel noted that he is seeing a lot more of Willis in practice, in part because of the recent reboot, and it is helping his defense.

He said, “We’re starting to go against each other more at practice now. We used to not go against each other as much, but now that we’re still working on this reboot now we’ve been starting to play against each other.”

“It’s part of the competitiveness,” Gabriel explained, when asked why he is getting more of Willis.  “It brings out more of our competitive spirit. Going against him, we know that we sub in for each other. Kind of earn your playing time during practice.”

“It motivates me, but I love to see my teammate do good. It was his game (against Tennessee), but I still think that’s my position as well. It’ll be great if we both play good the same game.”

Listen to the KSR Pregame Show!


It’s time to fire up your radio and tune in to the Kentucky Sports Radio pregame show with Matt Jones, Ryan Lemond and Drew Franklin.

The guys will be talking about tonight’s game down in Athens and whatever other randomness comes up along the way.

So turn your radio dial to 630 WLAP or listen here online; you can also catch the second half-hour on 98.1 The Bull beginning at 5 pm.

Discuss below.

Georgia students have been lined up since 6 am

Everybody’s Super Bowl.





KenPom predicts Kentucky will win by six


Kentucky will win by six points down in Athens today, if you’re to believe Ken Pomeroy. KenPom’s magical machine of statistics projects a 79-73 road win for the Wildcats.

It gives Georgia a 28 percent chance of sending Kentucky back to Lexington with a loss.Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 12.45.56 PM

What’s your score prediction?

Me, I like Cats by… oh, let’s say… somewhere in the by 90 range.

De’Aaron Fox slept through the first Georgia game


De’Aaron Fox missed the first meeting between Kentucky and Georgia in Rupp Arena earlier this season thanks to a small case of the flu that hit him the morning of the game.

Yesterday, Fox was asked what he remembers about that close overtime game, the only one he has missed all season.

“I probably seen like five minutes total of the game, just because I was sleeping so much,” Fox admitted.

“We didn’t talk too much about it,” he added.” But I seen highlights and I seen like — I think it was the game before that so I kept it on that channel — I saw like the opening two minutes, saw like when it was about to be halftime and then I think I saw Malik’s shot at the end, and then I didn’t see a second of overtime.”

“I couldn’t — it was pretty bad.”

Luckily for Kentucky, Fox is back to full health for the rematch today. Let’s hope Round 2 doesn’t need more late heroics from Malik Monk to get a win.