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SEC Headlines – 12/23/11

1.  A Rob Chubb dunk with 3.9 seconds to play gave Auburn a 65-62 win over Hawaii last night in Honolulu.

2.  Nick Saban told reporters that he was scared of Santa Claus as a boy, but Tide D-lineman Damion Square thinks his coach got it backwards.  “I think Santa Claus was scared of him.”

3.  Through film study, Alabama and LSU know each other quite well.

4.  Rickey Scott awoke from his slump to lead Arkansas past Louisiana Tech 77-63.

5.  The SEC’s scheduling issues are wearing on Arkansas AD Jeff Long.

6.  With a road victory at North Texas last night, LSU has run its win streak to six games.

7.  The Tiger football team weathered off-field drama this year thanks to its “unity council.”

8.  Arnett Moultrie — a transfer from UTEP — registered his seventh double-double of the season as Mississippi State downed Northwestern State 82-67 last night.

9.  That’s 11 wins in a row for the 12-1 Bulldogs.

10.  Ole Miss forward Murphy Holloway is dealing with a high ankle sprain, not a break.

11.  Hugh Freeze will be taking a page out of Ed Orgeron’s recruiting book in Oxford.  (Hopefully that doesn’t mean a 50% wash-out rate.)

12.  Florida routed Florida State 82-64 last night thanks to the Gators’ defense.

13.  It looks like six true sophomores will start for UF in the Gator Bowl.

14.  Former Georgia tailback Jasper Sanks can relate to Isaiah Crowell and he hopes he can bounce back from a rough season off the field.

15.  Mark Fox’s basketball team will be looking or its third win in a row when the Dawgs host Furman tonight.

16.  Freshman Kyle Wiltjer led a slow-to-wake Kentucky team to an 87-63 win over Loyola (MD) yesterday.

17.  This writer believes Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been UK’s pre-Christmas MVP.

18.  As South Carolina wraps up the pre-Christmas portion of bowl practice, the Cocks got word that safety DJ Swearinger will return for his senior season.

19.  Left tackle Kyle Nunn might be healthy enough to play in the Capital One Bowl… but if he does he won’t be eligible for a medical hardship waiver.

20.  Five-star forward Jarnell Stokes — who committed to Tennessee yesterday — could start playing for the Vols next month if cleared by the NCAA.

21.  Cuonzo Martin wants his current Volunteers to handle ETSU’s “funky” zone tonight.

22.  Meanwhile, a UCLA commit made national news yesterday when he said ex-UT coach Bruce Pearl sent a beautiful “groupie” to recruit him to Knoxville.

23.  A pair of Vandy football players will feel right at home at next week’s Liberty Bowl.

24.  Mike Slive talks expansion, scheduling and plus-one plans for football with Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News.

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Kentucky Wildcats (12) @ Portland Pilots: Open Game Thread

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats travel to Portland, Oregon to take on the Portland Pilots in the Rose Garden.

Game details are as follows, courtesy of UKAthletics.com:

Kentucky @ Portland
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Portland Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Fri., Nov. 19, 10:30 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: ESPNU
Radio: BBSN
GameTracker
Online Audio
Text Updates
Location Rose Garden
Portland, Ore.

 

As you can see by the preview of a couple of days ago, Portland is a serious team that cannot be taken lightly.  Yes, the University of Portland is a small Catholic school, but they get good basketball talent and have upset their share of BCS conference teams.

One of  the things working against the Pilots is that they are very young off the bench, and not in the same way as Kentucky.  Kentucky is young, but they are talented far beyond their years.  These young Portland reserves are not in the same universe with Kentucky’s talent, although their older players are quite accomplished and they are probably superior to Kentucky in the team concept at this point in the season.

This will be a test very much in the same vein as ETSU, except it will be a long way away.  The further one travels from home, the tougher the game is, and Kentucky’s maturity is in for an early test.

What UK needs to win:

  • Good communication on defense.  That has been a weakness so far.
  • Run, run, run.  UK forced ETSU to fear their open-court game and  get back fast on defense and eschew offensive rebounding.  Kentucky needs to prove early and often that they are going to push the pace, and Portland might react the same way.
  • Rebound, rebound, rebound.  Kentucky has to find a way to get on the offensive glass and dominate it.
  • Make open shots.  If UK can continue to shoot well, lack of size will not matter nearly as much.

What can cause an upset:

  • Turnovers.  The ‘Cats have done a good job of taking care of the ball, and if they continue to do that well, it will be tough to beat them.
  • Giving Portland open threes.  Portland has some guys who can really shoot.  Kentucky must deny them open looks from three and force them to shoot on the move.
  • A lack of intensity.  Terrance Jones has been bringing plenty of emotion, and that has helped this young team play with passion.
  • Getting out-hustled.  This is an underdog playing at home, and you can bet that they will try to out-effort Kentucky.  We have seen that happen before, and it can turn a should-be blowout into a competitive game, and a competitive game into an upset.  DeAndre Liggins could be pivotal in the role of energy guy.

There is a lot that can go wrong on this trip.  Kentucky must use effort, focus and determination to overcome distance, a hostile arena, and an upset-minded team with talent and skill.  This will be a good test for this young group.  We’ll see how much progress they’ve made in a week.

Go, ‘Cats!


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ETSU Buccanneers 65, Kentucky Wildcats 88: Postmortem

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

And then along came Jones ...

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Ed Reinke – AP

And then along came Jones …

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It’s basketball time in the Bluegrass!  The season has finally begun, and the Kentucky Wildcats faced off against a worthy foe in last year’s NCAA first-round opponent, the East Tennessee St. Buccaneers.

Congratulations to the Buccaneers for giving an excellent account of themselves and coming into Rupp Arena as fearless and determined as any team ever has.  ETSU has an outstanding coach in Murray Bartow (son of Gene Bartow, John Wooden’s successor at UCLA and former coach of UAB), and his experienced and talented players gave a strong performance against the young Kentucky Wildcats. But the Wildcats did not get the #1 recruiting class in the nation for nothing, and even though the Bucs were much more experienced, they were not as talented.  The result was a convincing Kentucky victory.

I must say that it is hard to judge teams when they shoot the ball as well as UK did.  The old axiom is that good shooting makes up for a bunch of mistakes, and that proved to be the case more often than not tonight.  It isn’t that the Wildcats played poorly — to the contrary, as a team they played very well, arguably their best game of the season so far.  But that does not mean that they played flawlessly.

For once, let’s take the observations in a good/not-so-good/so-so format.  First, the good:

  • Terrance Jones backed up an excellent performace against the Dillard Bleu Devils with an even better one tonight — a double-double in his first official game, 25 ponts, 12 rebounds 2 blocks 3 steals and a couple of assists.  No turnovers.  As they used to say in  Mortal Kombat, “flawless victory.”  Game ball.
  • Brandon Knight did exactly what he must do every game — take care of and distribute the basketball, and score when needed.
  • Doron Lamb just amazes me.  He is so quiet, so casual, and yet he will suddenly do something amazing.  The guy reminds me of Gerald Fitch — he seems to cruise along, and you look up and he has 20 points and 5 rebounds.
  • Nice work tonight by Josh Harrellson.  Despite having some foul difficulties, he did a lot of good, hard dirty work that we desperately need now that Kanter is not an option.  Forget his points.  He got some rebounds, 7 in limited minutes, and turned the ball over only once.
  • DeAndre Liggins led the team in assists with 6 and scored 14 points.  Overall, not a bad outing, but he only managed 3 rebounds.  We need more than that from him, and his defense was not as impressive as it has been.
  • How well did this team shoot?  Pretty well from 2, outstanding from 3.
  • 10 turnovers?  Did Kentucky ever manage so few last year?  I’ll have to think about that a long time …
  • Kentucky defended the three rather well.
  • Darius Miller had 11 rebounds.  That was the good.
  • 18 assists.  That was good.  Not great, but good.  This group of ‘Cats should rarely have fewer than 20.
  • 19 offensive rebounds?  I don’t feel like trying to calculate OR%, but that number looks pretty good to me.
  • ETSU got 7 points off turnovers, and UK got 15.  That’s good, not great.
  • From where I sat, I thought UK hustled pretty well tonight.  Several scums on the floor encouraged me, but we have to be stronger when we get rebounds.

The not-so-good:

  • Darius Miller disappeared in the second part of the first half, and John Calipari made him disappear for about 8 minutes in the second.  He has got to assert himself more on offense, and play better defense.  Overall, an unacceptably weak performance from UK’s leading returning scorer.
  • Eloy Vargas is out of shape, out of wind, and simply not a factor.  He has a long way to go to be able to contribute.  If he were not 6’10″ and 260#, he would have ridden the pine as long as Jarrod Polson.
  • Kentucky’s team defense was not good.  The ‘Cats gave up far too many easy shots, as evidenced by the fact that ETSU shot 50% in the first half.  On most nights, they would have been within single digits.
  • Free throw shooting has to improve, particularly Terrence Jones.
  • Only six steals? That could have been better.

The so-so:

  • The Dribble Drive was so-so.  It had its moments, but overall, I thought that Kentucky could have run it better.
  • Second chance points — 16-9 UK.  Not great.

Overall, this was a good effort by a young team against an experienced and athletic opponent.  I am very satisfied, overall, with how Kentucky performed.  Yes, the defense was not very good, but at this point in the season, it was about what I would expect.  I thought the rebounding, given our lack of real size, was quite satisfactory overall.

All in all, a good start.  This was not a victory that could be taken for granted, ETSU has been a tournament team the last two years and will likely be again this year.  It’s hard to be disappointed in a 23 point win against a team of that quality.


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A 5-spot from Kentucky’s win over ETSU

Kentucky
Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

(H-L photo)

(H-L photo)

A five-spot from Kentucky’s 88-65 win over East Tennessee State.

Most impressive was Terrence Jones, who had 25 points and 12 rebounds. His was the first debut double-double by a UK freshman since Jules Camara in the 1998-99 season. Without Kanter, Jones is an obvious key. He was aggressive without being sloppy. In 35 minutes on the floor, he didn’t commit a turnover. Jones is only the second freshman in UK history to get a 20/10 in his first game. Sam Bowie had 22 points and 17 rebounds on Nov. 17, 1979 vs. Duke.

Jones had 25 and Brandon Knight 20, marking the first time in school history UK has had two freshmen score 20-or-more points in the season-opening game.

The most surprising statistic was Kentucky’s 51-33 edge on the boards. The Cats had 19 offensive boards, compared to East Tennessee’s 26 defensive boards. Jones had five offensive rebounds. Josh Harrellson had four in just 16 minutes. Doron Lamb hit the defensive board, grabbing five.

ETSU coach Murry Bartow: “Last year’s Kentucky team — there’s a lot of talent on this year’s Kentucky team, too — but last year’s Kentucky team, those guys just don’t come around here every day. Wall is so special, Cousins’ so big, Patterson’s so big. But John’s teams always get better. I’ve played teams at Memphis, his teams always get better and better. There are very few coaches in the country that every year figure out a way to win 30 games, and he’s one of them.”

Kentucky committed 10 turnovers. Last year, with John Wall, the Cats had 24 turnovers in the opening game, a win over Morehead State.

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East Tennessee St. Buccanneers @ Kentucky Wildcats: Open Game Thread

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Tonight, we get a rematch with our first-round opponent from last year’s NCAA tournament as the first game of the season as the Kentucky Wildcats welcome the East Tennessee St. Buccaneers into Rupp Arena.

First of all, the game particulars courtesy of UKAthletics.com:

ETSU @ Kentucky
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | ETSU Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Fri., Nov. 12, 7:00 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: FS South / SportSouth / BBSN
Radio: BBSN
GameTracker
Online Audio
Text Updates
Location Rupp Arena
Lexington, Ky.

 

This is an ETSU team that has been to the NCAA tournament the last two years and looks like a lock to be heading for a third trip in a row out of the Atlantic Sun Conference.  ETSU is a skilled basketball team with many mature players who will be a serious challenge for the young and untested Kentucky Wildcats.

The Wildcats come into tonight’s game on a bit of a downer after Enes Kanter was declared permanently ineligible yesterday.  That means that Coach Cal will have to decide how much of the DDM UK can play this year, and whether or not their size will force a defensive change later on.  Obviously it won’t force one tonight, but it will be interesting to see his personnel mix coming out of the gate.

First, a look at the ETSU roster:


East Tennessee St. Buccaneers Basketball Roster

# Pos. Notes W H College
Isiah Brown 41 F Fourth-year junior, 11 in NCAAT 210 6-8 junior
Sheldon Cooley 5 G - 180 6-3 sophomore
Tommy Hubbard 13 G - 210 6-4 senior
Anthony Johnson 15 F - 235 6-7 junior
De`Shaud Johnson 10 G - 165 5-9 senior
Josh Johnson 52 F - 210 6-10 freshman
Jarvis Jones 25 G - 190 6-2 junior
Lukas Poderis 34 F - 230 6-8 sophomore
Mike Smith 1 F Fifth-year senior 225 6-6 senior
Adam Sollazzo 43 G Scored 14 in NCAAT 200 6-6 junior
Justin Tubbs 3 G Fifth-year senior, 15 in NCAAT 205 6-3 senior
J.C. Ward 44 F - 235 6-6 sophomore
Curtis Wilkinson 45 F - 220 6-8 junior
Micah Williams 30 G Fifth-year senior, 19 in NCAAT 220 6-4 senior
Ryan Woumn - G - 170 6-3 freshman

ETSU is a talented team that will run the floor and defend.  They are athletic at every position and even though they don’t have a size advantage on Kentucky, they do match up with us very well both size-wise and athletically.  These are talented, vastly experienced college players who are capable of pulling an upset against major Division I competition.

What Kentucky must do to win:

  1. Rebound the basketball.  ETSU had an OR% of 36% last year, and they return almost everybody;
  2. See #1 above;
  3. Defend the perimeter.  ETSU wasn’t a great 3-point shooting team last year, but they got better as the year went on;
  4. Create turnovers.  ETSU turned it over a lot last year.
  5. Take care of the basketball.  ETSU was 14th in the nation in creating turnovers last year.

What Kentucky can do to lose:

  1. Jack up a bunch of threes.  UK needs to get to the line a lot, and to do that, they must drive the ball;
  2. Fail to defend the dribble.  UK so far has been very weak at defending the dribble, and they must do so versus ETSU;
  3. Play passive on defense.  ETSU’s weakness is taking care of the ball.  UK needs to force them to turn it over;
  4. Allow ETSU’s pressure defense to push them away from the basket.  UK needs to force ETSU onto their heels with quickness and intensity;
  5. Go late into the shot clock.  Kentucky must get into their offense early to take advantage of mismatches and draw fouls.
  6. Be thinking about how they need Kanter.  Forget him, at least for now.

This is actually quite a good early test for Kentucky, and we’ll see just how far Coach Cal has brought them over the last week.  He worked wonders between Pikeville and Dillard.  Now, let’s see what a little more time can do.

Go, ‘Cats!


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SEC Headlines – 11/10/10 Part Two

1.  It’s a challenge for Florida to get three quarterbacks practice reps.

2.  Matt Patchan’s season is likely over (before it began).

3.  Whoever leaked info about Cam Newton’s academic history at Florida likely violated federal law.  (Not sure why a Florida paper would even report on this since we all know no one at UF would ever be complicit in such an unsavory act.)

4.  Georgia hasn’t won five in a row against Auburn since the 1940s.

5.  UGA players know they’ll need to score big to win on The Plains.

6.  Basketball star Trey Thompkins is “a long way away from playing” on his high ankle sprain.

7.  Kentucky star Randall Cobb says he’ll consider leaving Lexington for the NFL after this season.

8.  Derrick Locke could return to the field this weekend against Vandy. 

9.  Dick Vitale told John Calapari that he doesn’t think he’ll “win a national championship with reloading a roster year after year.”

10.  Eloy Vargas is questionable for the Cats’ opener with ETSU on Friday.

11.  Steve Spurrier says some of his freshmen might not know that he played and coached at Florida.

12.  This writer says Carolina will win “and it might not be close.”

13.  The last time USC had a shot at a division title, Spurrier and his Gators whipped ‘em 41-21 in 2000.

14.  Tyler Bray’s instincts keep him out of trouble in Tennessee’s pocket.

15.  Bruce Pearl says UT’s basketball team isn’t “there yet.”

16.  This writer says the Vols shouldn’t be written off after this week’s loss to a Division II school.

17.  Vandy’s so banged up that a linebacker has been moved to second-string tailback.  (But he did play RB in high school.)

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