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January 16th, 2017

Power Ranking The Not-So-Good Southeastern Conference

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The SEC basketball season is rolling along as most of the teams get ready to play their sixth league game Tuesday night. But before they do, we’re ranking all 13 teams behind Kentucky to see who is a contender, pretender or complete trash (Missouri and LSU).

So grab a Dr. Pepper and a bag of Golden Flakes and catch SEC Basketball Fever with our very first edition of SEC power rankings.

 


1. Kentucky (15-2, 5-0)

RPI: 1
KenPom: 4

Wins: Stephen F. Austin, Canisius, Michigan State, Duquesne, Cleveland State, UT Martin, Arizona State, Valparaiso, Hofstra, North Carolina, at Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Arkansas, at Vanderbilt, Auburn

Losses: UCLA, at Louisville

New year, same Kentucky dominance across the SEC. This No. 1 ranking is unlikely to change this season.


2. Florida (14-3, 5-0)

RPI: 3
KenPom: 13

Wins: Florida Gulf Coast, Mercer, St. Bonaventure, Belmont, Seton Hall, Miami, at North Florida, Charlotte, Little Rock, at Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee, at Alabama, Georgia

Losses: Gonzaga, Duke, at Florida State

Returning to its rightful throne as the SEC’s second best team after an eighth-place finish a year ago, Florida is Kentucky’s biggest threat in the conference in 2017. The Gators appear to be back in Year 2 under Mike White with a perfect in-conference record through five games, while its three losses in the non-conference slate came against three top-10 teams in No. 5 Gonzaga, No. 7 Duke and No. 9 Florida State.


3. South Carolina (14-3, 4-0)

RPI: 25
KenPom: 28

Wins: Louisiana Tech, Holy Cross, Monmouth, South Carolina State, Michigan, Syracuse, Vermont, Florida International, at South Florida, Lander, at Georgia, Texas A&M, at Tennessee, Ole Miss

Losses: Seton Hall, Clemson, at Memphis

Frank Martin has his South Carolina squad off to another great start in 2016-17. The Gamecocks are 7-2 against top-50 teams and won their first four SEC games by an average of 10 points. Carolina is a tournament team and a tough matchup for everyone in the conference.


4. Georgia (11-6, 3-2)

RPI: 40
KenPom: 44

Wins: UNC Asheville, Furman, George Washington, Gardner-Webb, Morehouse, UL Lafayette, Charleston Southern, at Georgia Tech, Auburn, Missouri, at Ole Miss

Losses: at Clemson, Kansas, Marquette, at Oakland, South Carolina, at Florida

Georgia comes in at No. 4, which is also where it was picked to finish in the media’s preseason poll. The Bulldogs are lead by Yante Maten, my pick for the league’s best non-Kentucky player. Maten is second in the conference in scoring and third in rebounding. He is tough.


5. Arkansas (13-4, 2-3)

RPI: 41
KenPom: 49

Wins: Fort Wayne, Southern Illinois, UT-Arlington, Mount St. Mary’s, Stephen F. Austin, Austin Peay, Houston, North Florida, Texas, North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, at Tennessee, Missouri

Losses: at Minnesota, Florida, at Kentucky, Mississippi State

Justin Moore’s beloved Razorbacks were off to a blazing start until running into Kentucky and Florida in SEC play. They’ve now dropped three league games and they are slipping down the power rankings despite being the conference’s second best scoring team at 82.2 points per game. Losing at home to Mississippi State was not a good look.


6. Tennessee (9-8, 2-3)

RPI: 59
KenPom: 55

Wins: Appalachian State, at Chaminade, Georgia Tech, Presbyterian, Tennessee Tech, Lipscomb, at East Tennessee State, at Texas A&M, at Vanderbilt

Losses: Chattanooga, Wisconsin, Oregon, at North Carolina, Gonzaga, Arkansas, at Florida, South Carolina

Tennessee has been somewhat of an overachiever thus far after being picked 13th in the preseason poll. The Vols took North Carolina down the wire in Chapel Hill, played Oregon to overtime, and picked up two nice road wins in the early conference play.


7. Alabama (10-6, 3-1)

RPI: 76
KenPom: 66

Wins: Coastal Carolina, Ball State, Saint Louis, Charleston Southern, South Carolina Upstate, Arkansas State, Stetson, at Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, at LSU

Losses: Dayton, Valparaiso, at Texas, at Oregon, Clemson, Florida

Alabama plays one ugly style of basketball that limits scoring by both teams. The Crimson Tide currently ranks 277th in the nation with only 68.6 points per game, while allowing only 62.6 from its opponents. Some of you may fall asleep just thinking about watching an Alabama game.


8. Ole Miss (10-7, 1-4)

RPI: 46
KenPom: 99

Wins: UT Martin, UMass, Oral Roberts, Saint Joseph’s, Montana, Memphis, Murray State, Bradley, South Alabama, at Auburn

Losses: Creighton, Middle Tennessee, at Virginia Tech, Kentucky, at Florida, Georgia, at South Carolina

Ole Miss has seven losses, all to top-50 teams, and the Rebels’ schedule is the eighth toughest in college basketball. Yeah, that 1-4 conference record is ugly, but you have to consider the fact Ole Miss played the four best teams right out of the gate. Let’s hold off on passing too much judgment on this team until we see how they play the middle-of-the-road teams and bottom-dwellers of the SEC.


9. Vanderbilt (8-9, 2-3)

RPI: 78
KenPom: 69

Wins: Belmont, Norfolk State, Santa Clara, Tennessee State, High Point, Chattanooga, at LSU, Auburn

Losses: Marquette, Bucknell, Butler, Minnesota, at Middle Tennessee, at Dayton, at Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee

Bryce Drew’s first year is off to a mediocre start with the Commodores hovering around .500 overall and in conference. With only three wins against top-100 RPI teams, Vandy has some winning to do. Playing Kentucky close isn’t enough.


10. Mississippi State (12-4, 3-1)

RPI: 118
KenPom: 92

Wins: Norfolk State, Boise State, UTEP, Northwestern State, Oregon State, Georgia State, Southern Miss, Morehead State, UMKC, at LSU, at Arkansas, Texas A&M

Losses: UCF, Lehigh, East Tennessee State, Alabama

Mississippi State is off to its best start since opening the 2011-12 season 13-3, in part because it has the worst strength of schedule in the entire conference. A win at Arkansas helps the resume, but outside of that, Ben Howland’s Bulldogs haven’t shown us anything other than that they can beat teams in the bottom half of the RPI.


11. Texas A&M (9-7, 1-4)

RPI: 90
KenPom: 60

Wins: Northwestern State, American, CSU Northridge, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M-CC, Denver, South Carolina State, St. Francis, LSU

Losses: USC, UCLA, Arizona, Tennessee, at Kentucky, at South Carolina, at Mississippi State

Last year’s SEC co-champion and tournament runner-up has been the conference’s biggest disappointment in 2016-17. Picked third in the preseason by the media, A&M has lost four of its first five SEC games, including a 42-point drumming at Kentucky and double-digit losses to Tennessee and South Carolina, and has a 1-6 record against top-100 RPI teams. It’s safe to say we all were a little off with our expectations of the Aggies because they’re garbage.


12. Auburn (11-6, 1-4)

RPI: 83
KenPom: 102

Wins: North Florida, Georgia State, Eastern Kentucky, Texas Tech, South Carolina Upstate, UAB, Coastal Carolina, Mercer, Oklahoma, UConn, at Missouri

Losses: Purdue, Boston College, Georgia, at Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, at Kentucky

Bruce Pearl’s third Auburn team already matched its win total of a year ago, but the Tigers still have a ways to go to become an SEC contender. There is some optimism on the roster as Pearl has built a good foundation for the future with two five-star freshmen in Austin Wiley and Mustapha Heron along with redshirt freshman Danjel Purifoy, who was the No. 12 small forward in the 2015 class. Auburn will return seven of its top eight players next season, but in the meantime, Auburn is still Auburn.


13. LSU (9-7, 1-4)

RPI: 130
KenPom: 145

Wins: Wofford, Southern Miss, North Florida, Old Dominion, Houston, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern, Charlestown, at Missouri

Losses: Wichita State, VCU, at Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Mississippi Sate, at Texas A&M, Alabama

Fresh off a comical 14-loss season with the No. 1 NBA draft pick — a strong candidate for Worst Coaching Job Ever — LSU is back to its losing ways in 2016-17. Antonio Blakeney is having a good sophomore season, though; the former UK and Katina Powell target averages 17 points and five assists per game. Outside of his play, it’s a Christmas miracle Johnny Jones still has a job.


14. Missouri (5-11, 0-4)

RPI: 273
KenPom: 191

Wins: Alabama A&M, Tulane, Northwestern State, Western Kentucky, Miami (OH)

Losses: Xavier, Davidson, North Carolina Central, Arizona, Eastern Illinois, Illinois, Lipscomb, LSU, at Georgia, Auburn, at Arkansas

After starting the season with a 55-point win and a one-point overtime loss to then-No. 11 Xavier, Missouri has lost eight consecutive games going all the way back to early December. The Tigers are on course for a third straight last place finish in the conference and may struggle to match their SEC win total of three games in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. To put it shortly, Missouri flat out sucks at the game of basketball.


 


Wendy’s KSR Top 10 Tweets of the Weekend

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Wendy’s new Spicy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich features our iconic Spicy Chicken, topped with a one of kind Sriracha Jack Cheese, thick-cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, creamy Sriracha aioli, spring mix, and red onion, all served on a toasted Sriracha-infused bakery-style bun.


You can be a part of Wendy’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day. Now. On to the tweets:

#10 Logan WISEman

Whoa, how did I not know this?

 

#9 Corey

Well, they beat ESPN for the 30 for 30.

 

#8 Wildcat Statue

You have to appreciate history though!!!!

 

#7 41-38

This is true.

 

#6 Coach Salyers

And a Golden Globe. And a Tony. Heck, just give him all the awards for a performance.

 

#5 Jordan Tarrence

If looks could kill.

 

#4 erin bruh

At least he tried.

 

#3 Corey Nichols

My face most of Saturday’s game.

 

#2 Rachel Dixon

Now the truth comes out.

 

#1 Tyler Boling

She mad, real mad.

 

@haleysimpKSR


Position Reviews and Previews: Linebackers

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Since Kentucky considers Josh Allen and Denzil Ware as OLB/DE’s, they will be considered linebackers for this post.  The D-Line portion will be dedicated exclusively to the three players who always have their hand in the turf.  

2016 Production and Accolades

Nobody knew who was going to lead Kentucky’s linebackers in 2016.  Filled with uncertainty, they proved to have everything the defense needed.

Courtney Love hadn’t played a down for Kentucky, but the transfer from Nebraska was placed on the podium at SEC Media Days as Kentucky’s defensive leader.  The middle linebacker was never bad, but never great.  He continued to improve throughout the season, finishing as the team’s third-leading tackler with 76.

Kentucky’s leader on the field was Jordan Jones.  Before the first game, I asked someone close to the program, “Who’s going to lead the team in tackles?”  Without a moment’s hesitation, “Jordan Jones.  That guy is ****ing psycho.”

Both statements proved to be true.  Jones had 109 tackles (3rd in the SEC), 74 solo (1st in the SEC), 15.5 tackles for loss (6th in the SEC), 4 sacks, 9 QB hurries, 4 pass deflections and a forced fumble.  The last Wildcat with more solo tackles are TFLs was Super Bowl Champ Danny Trevathan.  His production led the defense, but his infectious, relentless energy was the defense’s most valuable asset.

Enjoy these highlights of Jones from our friends at CN2.  Nose for the ball, instincts, quick-twitch, whatever you want to call it, Jones has it.  

On the edge, Denzil Ware and Josh Allen had breakout sophomore seasons.  If you thought Bud and Za’Darius were good during their senior years, Allen and Ware were better.  The NFL defensive ends combined for 12 sacks in 2014; Allen and Ware combined for 12.5 in 2016.  They showed discipline on the edge and created turnovers.  Allen’s four forced fumbles were the most in the SEC and tied for ninth nationally.

The most startling statistic about this group: Kentucky’s linebackers accounted for 17.5 sacks after only recording 8.5 a year ago.

Accolades:

  • Jordan Jones was named Second Team All-SEC by the league’s coaches and Phil Steele.  He was a Third Team selection by Athlon.
  • Denzil Ware was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week following a 5-tackle, 2-sack performance against South Carolina.

Grade: B-

They aren’t who we thought they were.  The linebackers were my greatest concern entering the season.  When the season ended they were exceptional playmakers, especially in the pass rush.

The run defense had its woes up the middle, there were mishaps in the pass defense on the outside, and Courtney Love struggled to put everything together, until he absolutely needed to down the stretch (ignore Ed Cunningham, just pay attention to who fell on the ball).

Departures

There are no departures.  Everybody returns in 2017.

Newcomers

  • Jamar “Boogie” Watson: No relation to DeMarcus Cousins, Watson redshirted last season.
  • Roland Walder:  Larger than his DMV counterpart, the redshirt freshman from Trotwood-Madison was one of the best defensive players in the state of Ohio a year ago.
  • Jamin Davis:  The early enrollee has fluid hips, great instincts and the respect of Freddie Maggard.
  • Josh Paschal, Jordan Wright and Alex King:  Elite edge rushers, they are destined to follow in the footsteps of Allen and Ware down the road.

2017 Outlook

When you aren’t losing anybody from an above-average unit, the outlook is going to be good, but there are still a few concerns.

This offseason must be dedicated to depth and strength.  Eli Brown and Jordan Bonner must have significant roles in the defense next year to provide a few snaps off for Jordan Jones and Josh Allen.  Brown needs to add weight, Allen and Ware need help behind them and Kash Daniel must continue to develop.  Kentucky was lucky the injury bug rarely bit the linebackers in 2016, but that luck will inevitably run out.

2016 Reviews and Previews: Offensive LineRunning Back, Secondary


Late Night Notes, Dedicated to the Best Car in Kentucky

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From time-to-time I’ll see a ridiculous car on Kentucky’s wonderful roadways — maybe a Cadillac with 40 inch rims or a truck with a six-pack of giant smoke stacks — and think to myself, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen somebody do to a car.”  Wrong.

This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen anybody do to a car.  It’s so spectacularly stupid, it’s fantastic.

Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t do justice to what I saw yesterday on Hurstbourne Lane in Louisville: a Ford Taurus monster truck.  It rumbled like something you’d see at Monster Jam, but it was a Ford Taurus, eight feet into the air.  I don’t know how this person gets into their car.  I don’t know how it’s street legal.  I don’t know how this this concoction was created, but I’m glad the Monster Taurus exists on the roads of the great Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Now, back to UK sports.  After all, that’s why you’re here.

Anthony Davis got Beat Up

The kid can’t catch a break.  He missed a few days last week with an injured hip.  He re-injured that hip and his left thumb after taking a hard fall in the third quarter of today’s loss to the Pacers.

Luckily, x-rays produced negative results, but these injuries must stop.

Rondo Can’t Last Much Longer

We always knew Rondo was a jerk.  It’s not helping him in the latter stages of his career.  Benched by the Bulls, he’s trying to earn more time in the NBA by using his words…poorly.

“Last year, you couldn’t name three people on my team…and I led the league in assists,” Rondo told David Aldridge.

Last year Rondo was one of three former Cats on the Sacramento Kings, joining DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein.

A KY Wildcats TV Recap of Auburn Game

Instead of simply giving you highlights, the fine folks at KY Wildcats TV stepped it up a notch for the Auburn game.  Give it a look, you will not be disappointed.

Bad News for UofL

Louisville will be without their starting point guard, Quentin Snider, for 2-3 weeks, but that’s not the real bad news.

Tomorrow the university will submit its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations regarding the parties thrown at Minardi Hall by Andre McGee and Katina Powell.  The response will not be public, but Tom Jurich previously stated they will argue Rick Pitino should not be charged with “failure to monitor.”  The NCAA has 60 days to counter before the case heads to the Committee on Infractions.  The Committee on Infractions will decide if UofL’s self-inflicted postseason ban was enough punishment.

For many Louisivlle fans, this is actually good news.  The end is near for the “Breaking Cardinal Rules” scandal.  By the start of the NCAA Tournament, they might be able to put this behind them for good…until a friendly Kentucky fan reminds them.

Willie Taggart Doesn’t Play

Oregon players rejoiced when Willie Taggart was hired as their next head coach.  Many have probably changed their tune after he put them to work.  Taggart’s first order of business: use the first workout to crush their souls by sending three players to the hospital.  This commenter’s take is the only one you need.

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The New Circle Circular Checks in with UK’s National Champion Cheerleaders

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Before the Kentucky cheerleading team won their 22nd National Championship, they spoke with The New Circle Circular.  There are many factors that led to the championship performance, but we all know what put them over the edge was their appearance on Hey Kentucky!

Don’t forget, Hey Kentucky! is giving away a trip to the UK-Alabama game and free Cane’s for a year.  Matt has all of the details here:

Watch the entire episode with Dr. Ricky Jones after the jump.

(more…)


Win a VIP Trip to UK/Alabama from Cane’s and Hey Kentucky!

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Not only do you get free Kentucky basketball tickets, you get to fly on a private jet AND free Cane’s for a year.  What are you waiting for?  Get to Cane’s.


Kentucky Football is Back to Work

UKFootball | IG

UKFootball | IG

Even though the University of Kentucky did not have class on MLK Day, the football team still had plenty of work to do.  The team’s post-bowl break ended with today’s work outs at the Nutter Football Training Facility.

During their time off, Nick Haynes hooped (Yes, that’s a 6’3″3 320-pound offensive lineman dunking).

The coaches didn’t have much of a break.  Once the dead period ended on January 11, Vince Marrow was recruiting, pictured here on the 12th with Naasir Watkins and Josh Paschal.

@Naasir_wat

@Naasir_wat

The Cats did more than lift weights.  Their workout included plyos (short for plyometrics) on the running hill.

@UKStoopsTroops

@UKStoopsTroops

After work, there was time for play.  This afternoon Dorian Baker hit the Commonwealth Stadium turf for a photoshoot.

@UKStoopsTroops

@UKStoopsTroops

The coaches were busy working too.  Vince Marrow and Mark Stoops brought Steve Clinkscale to their hometown of Youngstown to see UK’s latest commit, Lynn Bowden.

@H_Huncho

@H_Huncho


Malik Monk on Bam Adebayo: “Every team is scared of him”

© Mark Zerof

© Mark Zerof

Back when Kentucky started recruiting Bam Adebayo a few years back, the first thing I noticed about him is that he looks like a 40-year-old man, not a teenager. According to Bam’s teammates, the big man’s intimidating stature is the first thing his opponents notice about him as well.

“Every team is scared of him when they see him I think,” Malik Monk said of Bam today. “Especially when he comes out to defend guards on the perimeter. Bam is a great player and I’m glad to have him on this team. He brings a lot of energy too so we feed off of that.”

When asked if about Joel Justus saying Bam is “meaner” on the court than he thought he’d be, Isaiah Briscoe said that’s a trait of the entire team because of how competitive practices are these days.

“It’s with this team I think you have to be mean on the court,” Briscoe explained. “It starts in practice. Like Coach said, we’re in there competing with each other. We’re acting like we don’t know each other, just for the love of the game and just to get each other better. Nobody on this team can really be soft. It starts in practice. If you’re soft in practice you’re going to see us every day. You just gotta have a different attitude coming into practice every day. And like you said, Bam is Bam. He’s big. He dunks on people. He’s gotta be mean. That’s just something that he’s gotta do. People respect that and when they see it he scares people. People are scared of that. It’s a good thing he’s on our team.”

Yes, it is. Let’s feed him more, okay, guys?


De’Aaron Fox ahead of Malik Monk in the latest Draft Express mock draft

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Most of the mock drafts I’ve seen in the past month have Malik Monk going before De’Aaron Fox, but Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony says not so fast. Givony updated his 2017 mock draft this morning and has Fox going sixth to Philadelphia, followed by Monk going seventh to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Obviously, the draft order isn’t even set yet, so it’s best not to get too excited about these things, but KAT and Monk? Yes, please!

Meanwhile, Givony has Bam Adebayo going 17th to the Milwaukee Bucks and Isaiah Briscoe going 48th to the Indiana Pacers. Briscoe hasn’t been a constant in most mock drafts, so seeing him firmly in the second round was nice to see; judging by his play so far this season, he certainly deserves it.

Also of note: Harry Giles, who was once predicted to be the number one pick in the 2017 draft, has fallen all the way to 18th in Givony’s mock. Through seven games, the Duke freshman’s only averaging 5.6 points and 5 rebounds per game. Ouch.

Check out the rest at the link below.

[Draft Express 2017 mock draft]


5 Notes/Quotes from Joel Justus’ Mississippi State preview

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This afternoon, Joel Justus filled in for John Calipari to preview tomorrow’s trip to Mississippi State, and while I already shared his thoughts on Isaiah Briscoe with you, there were plenty of other interesting quotes to share. Five, in fact.

1. He continues to be impressed by Bam Adebayo’s work ethic

Justus has raved about Bam Adebayo in past media opportunities, and he did again today, telling reporters Bam’s got so much potential that Kentucky fans won’t see his best basketball before he leaves.

“I think any time we talk about Bam, I don’t believe, and I don’t expect, that anyone here is going to see Bam’s best basketball. I think hopefully we can get him to be his best version right now before he leaves us – whenever that time is. Bam is a guy that comes in every day and just has a tremendous desire and thirst to be the best he can be, and then also have others around him be at their best.”

2. Mulder is “a little desperate”

Mychal Mulder scored 12 points on Saturday, the most he’s scored since the UT-Martin win back on November 25. Justus said Mulder improved a lot during Camp Cal and is now “playing maybe a little desperate.”

“Mychal had a tremendous Camp Cal. Over the break Mychal was more competitive. He was one of the most competitive guys in practice during that time, and it’s paying off. I believe that Mike is playing maybe a little desperate with his career coming to an end here in the next couple months. I’m happy for him, personally, with what he’s done. You see him putting in time. You see him getting to practice a little earlier, staying a little later. And by Mychal being better he’s making our team better.”

3. Hamidou Diallo was excited by his first game in Rupp

When asked how Diallo’s adjusting to college life, Justus said the newest member of the team was just excited to be in Rupp for a game on Saturday.

“A little bit of everything. I had asked him before – you know, sometimes kids are able to come to a game, whether it’s an unofficial or an official visit, before they get here. He’d been in Rupp Arena, but it was not for a game. For him to be in there, he was excited. That’s what I asked him. He had been to other college basketball games — been to great atmospheres. So I think for him it was neat to see it. Obviously I’m speaking maybe for him in that. But just in the short conversation that I had with him pregame, he was excited. You know, he’s here for the right reasons: to become his best version. He knows that it’s a process and you can’t skip steps. And sitting, watching and learning is a big part of that. Hami’s an extremely bright, inquisitive young man. I think these next couple of months are going to be critical for his development and being the best he can be.”

4. Quinndary Weatherspoon is Mississippi State’s Isaiah Briscoe

Justus called Briscoe the “straw that stirs the drink” for Kentucky, and when asked, said Weatherspoon — who won SEC Player of the Week earlier today — does the same for the Bulldogs.

“He’s a tremendous player. He’s obviously in a little bit of the same role as maybe as what we were just talking about with Isaiah, with a group of inexperienced players. He’s a guy that is able to provide maybe some stability for that group with (IJ) ready coming off the bench. You have a little bit of that with our seniors. So I would say that they’re a team that’s very similar to us. I would say he’s a guy who is a big part of their success and having that burden of success and failure is a big burden for college basketball players, especially at a young age. He seems to be handling it quite well.”

5. How did he explain this tweet?

Last night, Nick Richards, Quade Green, PJ Washington, and Jarred Vanderbilt were all named to the McDonald’s All-American Game, prompting this cryptic tweet from Justus. When asked about it today, he played coy.

“I’m not sure. I was just hungry last night. [Laughter] I hadn’t eat all day. We practiced and I was out of town for a little bit. I had a cup of coffee and a doughnut so I was hungry.”

Sure, sure.


UK opens as a 14-point favorite vs. Mississippi State

Vegas has spoken and the Cats opened as a 14-point favorite in tomorrow’s game in Starkville. Kentucky’s 12-5 vs. the spread this season, and tomorrow night’s game could be a tricky one for you gamblers. Mississippi State’s 3-1 in the SEC and got an impressive win at Arkansas last week. Whoulda thunk it after they lost to Central Florida, Lehigh, and ETSU earlier this year?

So…14 points. Do the Cats cover?


Shocker: Mississippi State having a White Out tomorrow

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Ready for some more news that won’t surprise you? Mississippi State is holding a white out for tomorrow night’s game at The Hump. That’s right, if you’re making the trip to Starkville, well, first of all, you are one hell of a dedicated fan, and second, you can get your very own white Mississippi State t-shirt.

Don’t everyone run to the car at once!


Ben Howland: Isaiah Briscoe is “the heart and soul” of Kentucky

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox may take home the most SEC weekly awards, but there’s no denying that Isaiah Briscoe is the leader of this team; on this morning’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said just that.

When I think of Kentucky, the heart and soul of that team is (Isaiah) Briscoe. Briscoe, to me, is the guy that if you (asked) me, who am I most worried about? I’m worried about him. He makes it happen. … They need a tough basket, he’s the guy that delivers. He’s just a winner. He makes everybody else better around him. You can’t say enough about Briscoe and what he does.”

Howland’s right. Briscoe’s knack for driving the lane to get a bucket has saved Kentucky in key situations this season, notably vs. Vanderbilt last Tuesday. I wrote all about this last week, but as Howland said, Briscoe delivers. Today, Joel Justus called Briscoe the “straw that stirs the drink” for this team.

“Nothing fazes him; Coach Cal doesn’t faze him. He’s embraced everything that is the day-to-day grind of Kentucky basketball. I think what we’re most proud of is he has been the guy that is the first guy talking and the last guy talking, whether it’s on offense, whether it’s on defense, whether it’s on timeouts. He is the guy that you could say the straw that stirs the drink with this group.”

“Personally, I believe the thing that he does the best is he drags us,” Justus added. “He’s a gatherer of guys that gets us to where we want to go.”

Watch Briscoe’s second half performance vs. Vandy, and then thank your lucky stars he’s in blue and white.

 


LIVE: Joel Justus previews Mississippi State

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John Calipari’s recruiting in Massachusetts, so assistant coach Joel Justus will meet with reporters to preview Kentucky’s road trip to Mississippi State this afternoon. Enjoy the live stream below courtesy of KyWildcatsTV or check the site afterwards for a full recap.


NBA reportedly adding two more teams; is Louisville in the mix?

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Is there new hope for an NBA team in Louisville? According to the NBA blog 16 Wins a Ring, the NBA is planning to add two new teams as early as the 2018-19 season, and Louisville is one of the possibilities.

“The front running cities in talks are Seattle and Mexico City, with Louisville still very much in the picture,” Adam Joseph and Keith P. Smith note, adding that Las Vegas and Vancouver have also been mentioned prominently, but “only Louisville is considered a serious contender as it stands right now. ”

The movement to bring an NBA team to Louisville has been going on for years, but UofL’s lease with the Yum Center has basically made that impossible. With the arena buried in debt and the Louisville Arena Authority facing an audit, there may be more pressure than ever for UofL to alter its lease to allow other tenants, such as an NBA team.

But, considering it’s UofL, I wouldn’t hold your breath, NBA fans.

[Sources: NBA Expansion Looming With Two New Franchises]