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BBL: Kentucky ready for today’s Maui test

Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

(H-L photo/David Perry)

(H-L photo/David Perry)

Herald-Leader photo gallery of UK fans visiting Pearl Harbor.

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Experience could mean sink or swim for Cats

“Obviously, Michigan State should win going away,” Calhoun said as a smiling (and wincing) Spartans Coach Tom Izzo sat nearby. “Tommy has one of the best teams I’ve seen in 20 or 30 years.” Calhoun did not mention experience – nor a favorite’s role – in a needling salute to Kentucky.
“John (Calipari) has got more talent than the Celtics,” the UConn coach said. “The rest of us scrap for the pieces.” (Jerry Tipton, Herald-Leader)

Kentucky to face Oklahoma today in Maui Invitational

The sky and the water are the brightest blue here in basketball paradise. The teams and coaches assembled for the Maui Invitational are first-rate, as usual. And yet University of Kentucky coach John Calipari sounded uncertain on Sunday whether his No. 12 Wildcats are in the right place at the right time. “If I’ve got a veteran team … this is a great tournament to go in,” Calipari said. “If you have a young team, it’s hard. I don’t know what we’ll look like. The hardest thing in this tournament is you’re going to learn, and does it knock you for a loop? We could be knocked for a loop.” (Brett Dawson, Courier-Journal)

Experience critical in challenging event

Kentucky comes in as arguably the youngest team (Oklahoma could give the Cats a run for their money in that area), which means Calipari is bound and determined to see what his inexperienced club can do under unique conditions. The Cats already survived a dangerous opener to the road trip, blowing out capable mid-major Portland on its home turf before jetting to the island. (Matt May, Cats Pause)

Dunlap leads No. 9 Cats past No. 12 Notre Dame 81-76

Maybe Kentucky just caught lightning in a bottle last season. Maybe it was all just a fluke. There were all sorts of conspiracy theories out there for how lowly Kentucky managed to advance to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight for the first time ever. The players for ninth-ranked UK heard all of the pre-season questions and went a long way toward answering them Sunday with an 81-76 win over No. 12 Notre Dame at Memorial Coliseum. (Jennifer Smith, Lexington Herald-Leader)

(AP photo/Ed Reinke)

(AP photo/Ed Reinke)

Ex-UK receiver Stevie Johnson has last laugh against Bengals

The Joker buffaloed Batman and Robin. Steve Johnson, the third-year receiver out of Kentucky, caught a career-high three touchdown passes Sunday to rally the Buffalo Bills over the Cincinnati Bengals, 49-31. All three of his scores came in Buffalo’s 35-0 second half. As if to add “POW! BAM!” to his first touchdown, Johnson lifted his jersey to reveal a message scrawled on his shirt: “Why so serious?” (Mark Maloney, Lexington Herald-Leader)

Ex-Lexington Catholic teammates stage tug-of-war at Memorial

Thing was, even though Novosel ended up with a career-high 21 points, Notre Dame never got closer. “I would rather have had zero points and won the game,” the former Lexington Catholic standout said afterward. Snowden scored 17. “But honestly,” said Notre Dame’s Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw, “I really thought that 4 won the game for them.” That No. 4 would be Snowden, herself a former Lexington Catholic standout. “I think UK won the game for UK,” said Snowden. (John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader.)

Calipari’s concerns valid

If you think John Calipari is just blowing smoke when he talks about taking a young team into a tough spot like the Maui Invitational, just look at what happened this past week to North Carolina at one of those types of events. The Tar Heels suffered back-to-back upset losses to unranked teams in Minnesota and Vanderbilt. (Tom Leach)

John Calipari likes Maui now

Nobody travels like Kentucky.Blue is everywhere. Maui tournament officials wouldn’t release details of tickets sold by each team, etc., but Kentucky is the only team said to have sold out their packages. Tickets are purchased through schools, through the tournament and through outside agencies. Anyway, fans have a lot to do with teams coming here, which tournament chairman Dave Odom pointed out. And, no, Odom was never upset with Calipari’s comments. (Mike Anthony, Hartford Courant)

Maui Invitational loaded with talent again

Terrence Jones? He didn’t come up until someone asked, and even then the down-to-the-last-second recruiting duel wasn’t an issue. “Honestly, we could make a big deal out of it, but it’s just going to be a game where you have a lot of respect for their program,” Romar said as waves crashed about 50 yards away. “All the teams we have a chance to play here, all our guys are going to look forward to it.” (John Marshall, AP)

Cats’ Hoops fend off No. 12 Irish 81-76

A mid-November game had the atmosphere, environment and play of an NCAA tournament game as the No. 10 UK women’s basketball team held on to defeat No. 12 Notre Dame 81-76. Although UK (4-0) and Notre Dame (3-2) women’s basketball teams have never played each other before, the intensity surrounding the game made it seem like a bitter rivalry. Thanks to a hometown crowd of 6,794 and senior forward Victoria Dunlap the Cats ousted the Irish. (T.J. Walker, Kentucky Kernel)

What fluke? UK Hoops squash notion with statement win

Faced with an NCAA Tournament-like atmosphere in front of a near-packed house of 6,794 fans at Memorial Coliseum, the No. 9/10 Kentucky women’s basketball team made a pretty significant statement to the rest of college basketball with an 81-76 win over No. 12 Notre Dame: Last season was no fluke. And this year’s team, still very much a work in progress, could be just as good, if not better, than last year’s team by season’s end. (Eric Lindsey, Cat Scratches)

UConn’s Jim Calhoun favors Michigan State in Maui

Of the eight teams in the field, the No. 2 Spartans (2-0) have the strongest mix of experience and talent. While other coaches said the tournament would be a learning experience for their newcomers, Izzo was able to discuss seasoned players like senior guards Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers, and junior forward Draymond Green. “Does anyone have any veteran players here?” Kentucky coach John Calipari jokingly asked the group. Izzo smiled slyly and raised his hand. (Shannon Shelton Miller, Detroit Free Press)

Michigan State the talk of the town at Maui Invitational

Led by all-Big Ten point guard Kalin Lucas, senior Durrell Summers and junior forward Draymond Green, Michigan State returns three starters and nine lettermen from the team that posted a 28-9 record last season and made its second consecutive trip to the Final Four. “I think experience does help,” Izzo said. “We’ve had four or five guys who have had Final Four experience, so they know what the big stage is like and playing in front of 75,000 people. And this is a big stage.” (Percy Allen, Seattle Times)



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