Posted December 18, 2014, 6:00 pm
Watch Coach Cal's pre-UCLA game interview below.
Posted December 13, 2014, 5:02 pm
Even without Alex Poythress, the Cats easily disposed of the #21 ranked Tar Holes in front of a rowdy crowd at Rupp Arena. Kentucky's second unit came in to give the Cats a huge boost with Tyler Ulis and Devon Booker knocking down three triples to give the Cats an early cushion. Aaron Harrison got hot as well, scoring 11 points in the first half and nearly draining a Tayshaun Prince ranged three at the buzzer. It rimmed out, but the Cats took a 15 point lead into the break and never really looked back.
Ole Roy's boys put up a decent fight in the second half, cutting the lead to single digits a few times, but Willie Cauley-Stein was the best player on the floor once again and the Tar Holes just had no answer for the Cats. Tyler Ulis played an outstanding game, dishing out eight assists, and Devon Booker added 15 points off the bench as well.
I was hoping Alex Poythress would be the "Y" but that honor went to Julius Randle.
Here are some highlights from the big win.
Posted December 12, 2014, 10:37 am
If you haven't already heard, Alex Poythress will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL yesterday. Since Alex had missed two games this season while being sick, he is technically under the 30% threshold requirement for a medical redshirt. So in theory, he could get a medical redshirt and play next year AND the following year. But that scenario seems highly unlikely since Alex is set to graduate this year. While he recovers he will need to weigh his options and decide if he wants to return for next season or not.
How much will the loss of Poythress impact the team moving forward? Statistically speaking it's not a huge loss as Alex's plus / minus rating is about the same. However, he is our highest percentage free throw shooter and he provides huge matchup problems for certain teams. He had also emerged as a strong leader and his athleticism is unmatched. He was probably the one guy who could shut down Montrez Harrell when we whoop up on Loserville.
Based on all the players' Tweets, Alex's teammates are really upset and shell shocked right now. Will they falter like they did when Nerlens went down, or will they rally like they did when Willie got injured in the tourney last year? We will find out tomorrow when the Tar Holes roll into town.
Our prayers go out to Alex. We wish him a speedy recovery and the best of luck in whatever he decides to do.
Posted December 6, 2014, 1:16 am
In the second biggest test of the regular season thus far, and the biggest home game on the schedule, the Cats defeated the Longhorns by a score of 63-51. It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty, but Kentucky managed to escape with the 12 point win. Don't let the final margin of victory fool you, Texas had an open three pointer barely miss in the closing minutes that would have trimmed the UK lead to just 3 points. Luckily, it bounced up and over the backboard and the Cats were able to hit free throws down the stretch to pad the lead.
Of course it's fun to beat down a team like Kansas by 32 points, but there are going to be games when the Cats will have to grind out a win. This was one of those games and Texas did not back down. They had the height and the strength to bang with our big guys down low and they took the fight right at us. Texas won the battle of the boards 42 - 31.
The refs were atrocious and even got multiple mentions on Sports Center about how terrible they were for both sides. By calling so many fouls it was hard for either team to get into a rythm on offense.
In our quest for #9 and possibly an undefeated season we will take wins any way we can get them. That's why it didn't hurt my feelings that Texas was without their starting point guard. He would definitely have helped their cause. The Longhorns turned the ball over 22 times compared to just 8 for Kentucky. Those turnovers led to 19 points, a crucial stat in the game.
The Longhorns got close several times down the stretch but Kentucky had an answer to keep them at bay. Andrew Harrison sank a dagger three pointer with just under three minutes to extend the lead to nine. His three pointer kept the 27 year, "907 games with at least one three pointer" streak alive for Kentucky as they hit just 1 - 12 from behind the arc.
The star of the show was clearly Willie Cauley-Stein. Willie was everywhere doing everything. He put an exclamation point on his awesome night with a thunderous Anthony Davis-like alley oop slam from an Andrew Harrison lob. Willie ended up with a career high 21 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals, and 3 blocks. He was the difference maker in the game. Coach Cal realized it early on and extended Willie's minutes over Marcus Lee's, abandoning the platoon system at least for this one game.
Kentucky needed a game like this and they will be better because of it. Alex Poythress said after the game, "We showed great poise out there and down the stretch. We’re going to need that when it’s tournament time. Every game is going to be close in the tournament. There’s not going to be any blowouts. We need to show that we can win a close game.”
With Kansas and Texas defeated by a combined 44 points, and with UNC stumbling out of the gate, it looks like the biggest hurdle for the Cats will be the showdown with the Filthy Cards on December 27th. Hopefully we will dominate UCLA and anybody else in our path over the next three weeks, and hopefully Lousyville will continue to rise in the rankings so the Smacketh Downeth will be that much sweeter. 32 down, 8 to go. GBB!
Posted November 28, 2014, 3:40 pm
The Cats' second real test of this young season will come Sunday when they take on the 5-0 Providence Friars (6-0 after they beat Yale today). Providence's backcourt is banged up which should make this a relatively easy win for the Cats. See Cal's pre game press conference below.
Posted November 10, 2014, 4:02 pm
For the second straight exhibition game the Cats absolutely demolished their opponent. After a sluggish start, the second platoon came in and gave the Cats a spark, and then the first platoon came back in and went on a 16-0 run to put the game away early. From there it was simply a highlight reel for the Cats. Aaron Harrison was the player of the game with 17 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Dakari Johnson had a double-double and actually looked pretty good at the free-throw line. There were lots of memorable moments including back to back threes by Trey Lyles. The play of the game came at the buzzer when Derek Willis finished off the game with a reverse slam that brought the house down. Check out the highlights below.
Posted November 3, 2014, 3:37 pm
We all knew this game would be a blowout, but I was surprised and impressed at how overwhelming Kentucky actually was. They played at such a feverish pace it made me winded just watching them.
The Platoon that started the game consisted of Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl Anthony Towns. The theme of the game was get the ball out and sprint down the floor as fast as possible. The Cats played smothering defense around the rim and if a shot was blocked or if a shot was missed they quickly corraled the ball, turned and fired it to an outlet man flying down the court. It was dunk after dunk after dunk with some awesome auto lobs mixed in. If it so happened that somebody missed a shot we gobbled up the miss and put it right back in. The Cats had such high percentage shots they were actually shooting 80% for the majority of the first half.
Here's a breakdown of the starters' stats:
Andrew Harrison: 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 9 assists in 19 minutes
Aaron Harrison: 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in 19 minutes
Alex Poythress: 12 points and 3 rebounds in 20 minutes
Willie Cauley-Stein: 10 points and 6 rebounds in 19 minutes
Karl Anthony Towns: 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 18 minutes
Willie Cauley-Stein said after the game, "We're trying to kill people this year."
The Second Platoon consisted of Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson, and Trey Lyles. Cal started them in the second half to mix things up a little bit, and they did not disappoint. Devin Booker really impressed me with his speed down the floor as well as his ability to stop on a dime and drain a three. Here's a breakdown of Platoon 2's stats:
Tyler Ulis: 6 points and 4 assists in 18 minutes
Devin Booker: 16 points and 3 assists in 16 minutes
Marcus Lee 8 points, 8 rebounds and 1 block in 19 minutes
Dakari Johnson: 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 16 minutes
Trey Lyles: 11 points, 8 rebounds and 1 block in 20 minutes
Even the subs played well with E.J. Floreal getting 2 points and an assist and Derek Willis grabbing 2 rebounds, 2 blocks and throwing down a mean lean from the baseline to electrify the crowd. Dominique Hawkins went 0-3 from the field but managed a rebound and two assists, including the one to Willis that brought the house down.
The Cats absolutely crushed UPike in every aspect of the game. It will be interesting to see how UPike fares against Tennessee this week for comparison's sake. I watched a bit of the Loserville vs Barry game and I was unimpressed with Lousy. They won the game easily but actually got outrebounded by Barry. I had never even heard of "Barry" in my life so for Loserville to get beat on the boards by them makes me think our matchup in the YUM Center is going to be a lot of fun next month.
The Cats will square off against Georgetown Sunday at Rupp Arena at 7:00 ET in their final exhibition game.
Posted November 1, 2014, 2:54 pm
Here's a great video of the John Calipari Era at UK, where we came from, where we are, and where we are going.