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SEC Goes 3-1 On The Court

First, Happy Thanksgiving.  Second, here’s your wrap of SEC hoops action from last night:

Tennessee 86, Chaminade 60

After coming up short against #6 Duke and #8 Memphis, the Volunteers went long to knock off Maui Invitational host Chaminade.  UT dropped 15 3-pointers on the Silverswords to move to 3-2 on the season.


Kentucky 88, Radford 40

Kentucky won its 35th straight home game under John Calipari last night, sweeping aside Radford with ease.  Freshman point guard Marquis Teague had his most efficient game of the season with 13 points, five assists and — more importantly — just two turnovers.

Alabama 82, Alabama A&M 45

Like Tennessee and Kentucky, Alabama also feasted on a pre-Thanksgiving turkey.  Five players hit double-figures for the Tide as Bama won its 23rd home game in a row.

South Alabama 79, LSU 75

Trent Johnson’s team dropped to 3-3 on the year with a homecourt, overtime loss last night.  The Tigers have now lost to Coastal Carolina, Northwestern and South Alabama… none of which will help Johnson keep his job at the end of the season.

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UT’s Martin To Face Brutal First-Year Schedule

Best wishes to new Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin.  This summer he’ll learn what sanctions his program will face due to the actions of his predecessor’s staff.  Then this fall he’ll take a rebuilt roster that lost its two top players from a year ago up against a schedule that includes some of the nation’s most dangerous programs.

“I think our guys will be ready for the challenges physically; it’s a matter of how quickly they pick up the things we want to do on the floor,” Martin told The Knoxville News Sentinel.  “Our returning guys want to prove some people wrong who think we won’t be competitive.  We lost some great players, but our guys continue to work to be champions.”

Championships might be out of reach in the short run.  UT learned yesterday that it will host Pittsburgh in the Big East/SEC Challenge, a year after upsetting the Panthers in their own home city.

That game is added to a nonconference slate that already features road trips to Memphis and Summit League champion Oakland.  The Vols will also play in the Maui Invitational against the likes of Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Michigan and Georgetown.  And, oh yeah, defending national champ UConn will visit Knoxville next season, too.

Tennessee fans will get their wish in seeing the Vols face a top quality schedule.  Whether or not their patient as Martin has to rebuild against said schedule remains to be seen.

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Barnhart applauds Champions Classic, Maui Invitational

Kentucky
Content provided by Jerry Tipton on UK basketball.

Although UK Coach John Calipari expressed as recently as Tuesday his reservations about returning to the Maui Invitational, Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart gushed about the experience the fan base had in Hawaii Thanksgiving week.

“You literally had people talking to you, ‘I planned for four years to come’ and ‘We cashed in all our Frequent Flyer miles to come back,’ ” Barnhart said.

He noted that UK fans travel far and wide to watch the Wildcats play.

But when asked if the trip to Maui held a special place in a fan’s itinerary, Barnhart’s eyes widened and he said with a smile, “I think they really enjoyed that (trip to Maui) based on what they said. They REALLY enjoyed that.”

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Connecticut Huskies @ Kentucky Wildcats (9): Open Game Thread

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats play for their third pre-season tournament championship in three years.  The first was the Findlay Las Vegas Invitational, last year it was the Cancun Challenge, and this year it is the Maui Invitational.  Their opponent is the Connecticut Huskies.  Details as follows, courtesy of UKAthletics.com:

Gameday Information
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Connecticut Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Weds., Nov. 24, 10:00 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: ESPN
Radio: BBSN
Online Audio
Live Video via ESPN3
Text Updates
Location Lahaina Civic Center
Maui, Ha.

 

Despite the lack of a ranking by their name, the Huskies have defeated the #2 team in the land, and one of the better mid majors in the land en route to the championship.  The tendency of the Wildcat faithful, after seeing the ‘Cats defeat the extremely talented and highly-ranked Washington Huskies.

More after the jump.

What UK needs to do to win:

  • Continue the outstanding offensive rebounding.  UK has been very effective on the offensive glass in this tournament, surprisingly so.  This is no time to stop.
  • Continue to attack the rim.  In the last two games, Kentucky has upped their game in the FTR% statistic.  That needs to continue.
  • Defend the Huskies primary scorer, Kemba Walker.  Because almost 40% of UConn’s offense is Walker and have limited other scoring options, face-guarding Walker would seem to be a wise choice defensively.
  • Keep the energy high.  I was pleased to see how hard the team played last night late in the game.  UConn is another team that has more depth, albeit young depth, than Kentucky, so they will need to continue to hustle when they are tired.

What UK must avoid:

  • Giving Walker open looks, or clear lanes.  If he gets his average, UK is in deep doo-doo.
  • Turning the ball over.  This is something that the Wildcats have done very little this year, but with athletic teams like UConn, the defensive pressure will be there.
  • Getting productive players in foul trouble.  Last night, we wound up with 40% of our scoring on the bench for the last 3 minutes of the first half.
  • Abysmal free-throw shooting.  This is likely to be a close game, and sooner or later, shooting 50% from the line is going to turn a victory into a defeat.

This is what we didn’t really expect, but had every right to hope for — a shot at the Maui Invitational crown.  This young, inexperienced and talented team has really impressed a lot of people.  If they can defeat another top-tier program like UConn, it will do nothing but enhance Kentucky’s reputation this year.

This is yet another huge game early for the ‘Cats.  Let’s cheer them on to a tournament championship.

This place is going to the dogs. Go, ‘Cats!


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Cal on Kemba: ‘I missed’

Kentucky
Content provided by Kentucky Wildcat sports beat.

When Kentucky faces Connecticut in tonight’s Maui Invitational final, the Wildcats’ top…

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Length of press conference signals success

Kentucky
Content provided by Jerry Tipton on UK basketball.

Host Chaminade had a 6-72 record in the Maui Invitational before beating Oklahoma on Wednesday.

It might have been only a seventh-place game, but not to Division I Chaminade, which hadn’t won in the tournament since 2007.

“It’s nice being in a press conference (that lasts) more than 20 seconds,” Chaminade Coach Matt Mahar said in remarks to close the post-game press conference. “It was cool.”

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Kentucky and UConn basketball media notes

Kentucky
Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

Using Google Docs, you too can be just as prepared as the media (almost) for tonight’s final of the Maui Invitational.

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Cal not entirely happy with victory over Washington

Kentucky
Content provided by Jerry Tipton on UK basketball.

Kentucky’s gut-check 74-67 victory over Washington in the Maui Invitational made Coach John Calipari happy. But not THAT happy.

“We had great individual performances, but the team is not there yet,” he said, an observation perhaps bolstered by the seven assists, a low for a Cal-coached UK team. “We got a little selfish.”

The Cats also wobbled a bit down the stretch. A five-point lead inside the final three minutes left got dicey when Washington’s Venoy Overton and Isaiah Thomas drove for three straight layups. Then Terrence Jones stopped the clock by needlessly fouling.

“Defensively at the end, it was layup, layup and then foul,” Calipari said. “That’s what happens with young guys.”

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Kentucky Holds Off Washington, Advances to Finals of Maui Invitational

Terrence Jones had 16 points and 17 rebounds, and Brandon Knight scored 24 points to help No. 8 Kentucky hold off No. 13 Washington 74-67 in the Maui Invitational semifinals Tuesday night. A 4.7 earthquake centered on the Big Island shook courtside tables and chairs with about 6 minutes left, but play continued and few people in the gym seemed to notice. They were too busy watching the back-and-forth action. Kentucky (4-0) had an abysmal night from 3-point range – 3-for-17 – but smothered Washington on the perimeter defensively and came up with all the big plays down the stretch. The Wildcats move on to the championship game against Connecticut, which knocked off No. 2 Michigan State in a rough-and-tumble first semifinal.
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Kentucky Wildcats (8) @ Washington Huskies (13): Open Game Thread

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

We have arrived at the first major test for the Kentucky Wildcats.  The ‘Cats and the Washington Huskies have a showdown at the Lahaina Civic Center tonight for the right to go on to the Maui Invitational finals.

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

Gameday Information
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Washington Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Tues., Nov. 23, 9:30 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: ESPN
Radio: BBSN
GameTracker
Online Audio
Live Video via ESPN3
Text Updates
Location Lahaina Civic Center
Maui, Ha.
Maui Invitational With a win, the Cats next face the winner of Connecticut-Michigan St. at 10:00 p.m. ET Wednesday in the Championship Game. With a loss, the Cats will face the loser of Connecticut-Michigan St. at 5:00 p.m. ET Wednesday for third place.

 

It goes without saying that the Wildcats must perform better tonight than they did last night versus Oklahoma.  Washington is a deep, powerful team that is highly ranked and torched Virginia last night.  The Wildcats are going to need their “A” game against the Huskies.

What Kentucky must do to win:

  • Share the ball;
  • Attack the rim at every opportunity.  The DDM should be very effective against the Huskies due to Kentucky’s bigger backcourt.
  • Defend.  UK defended very well against the Portland Pilots, but they regressed against the Oklahoma Sooners.
  • Continue to take care of the basketball.  Kentucky is averaging under 16% turnovers, which is really good for this young of a team.
  • Continue to win the battle on the offensive glass.  It is not a Washington strength.

What UK can do to lose:

  • Play pathetic transition defense like they did last night;
  • Lose their cool. I expect Washington will try to push the young Wildcats around.  How Kentucky responds to that will tell us a lot.
  • Fail to guard the three.  This is a very good shooting team, as the Virgina Cavaliers found out to their woe.

Here we go, ‘Cat fans.  A big game at last.  Win this, and Kentucky has to be considered a legitimate top-ten team.  Right now, it’s all guesswork as to how good this team is.

Go, ‘Cats!


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