Archive for November, 2010

#9 Kentucky escapes #11 Washington 74-67

November 24, 2010 1:36 am

Kentucky came out again in the first half tonight and put on a clinic going on an 18-2 run early in the first half. The Cats managed foul trouble and a poor shooting night to pick up a hard earned early season win. Washington is going to hang around the top 15 all year and this win is the first of what I expect to be many that will make up a solid tournament resume come March. Kentucky will now tip it up with UConn who took down the 2nd ranked Spartans of Michigan State earlier tonight for the 2010 EA Sports Maui Invitational Championship. It’s late and I have to be up early so here are few quick notes:

  • Kentucky dominated the glass tonight winning the battle 44-33. This team was expected to be weak on the boards but with the effort of Harrellson and Jones this team may make rebounding a strength.
  • T-3 was once again a man tonight. He struggled shooting from the field (4-13) all night but still managed to end up with 16 points to accompany his 17 boards. What a night for #3!
  • Brandon Knight lit up the scoreboard leading all scorers with 24 points. The part of his game that struggled tonight were his turnovers. 0/8 was his assists to turnover numbers tonight, that won’t get it done but he still managed to run the offense well as he was desperately missed when he sat the last 9 minutes of the first half with 2 fouls.
  • Josh Harrellson had a very solid night. Yes he had a few plays were he just couldn’t seem to get control of the ball but overall his hustle plays which resulted in timely rebounds is what may have been the difference tonight.

Kentucky will now go for their 2nd Maui title tomorrow night, but win or lose this has been a successful tournament and we are really getting to see this team develop into the type of team that Coach Calipari would like to put on the floor every night. Of course we want this win though. Go Big Blue!

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#9 Cats Roll Sooners 76-64

November 23, 2010 1:20 am

The boys in blue came out once again firing on all cylinders scoring 21 points in the first 5:00 minutes of action leaving no doubt who the more superior team was. Oklahoma played tough and cut the UK lead numerous times to single digits but it never got closer than 6. Kentucky shot the ball well from the floor again and looked good getting to the rim at will against their most athletic opponent to date. A few quick individual notes:

  • Terrence Jones once again looked dominant. The 6’9 wing/forward took over in the second half scoring 17 of his 29 in the second frame. He also grabbed 13 boards which is his second “20,10” game of the season. T-3 really was a man-child out on the floor tonight and it’s performances like this that the Cats will need without Enes Kanter eligible to play.
  • DeAndre Liggins aka Mr Do Everything once again filled up the stat sheet to the tune of 12 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, and 3 stl. A solid line for DeAndre who injured his right shoulder late in the ball game but said afterwords that it was sore but he definitely expects to play Tuesday night.
  • Brandon Knight didn’t have his best game in a Kentucky uniform but luckily it wasn’t needed on this night. Knight had 5 turnovers to go along with 3 assists. The Dribble Drive Motion Offense keys off of the point guard putting it in to motion and Knight did a fairly decent job of doing that tonight, he just needs to stay under control in certain situations but in the key moments he did what was needed. Knight will always be compared to John Wall but the one aspect of Wall’s game that was underestimated I think was Wall’s ability to seal wins by hitting his free throws down the stretch of ball games. Knight was 1-4 from the charity stripe in that situation tonight. He is a good free throw shooter so hopefully this was an abnormality rather than a trend.

Kentucky improved to 3-0 tonight and will move on to the semi-finals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational to face the winner of Washington/Virginia at approximately 9:30 on ESPN. Overall a good night for the Cats and we’ll get to see them in the winners bracket for the remainder of the tournament. Go Big Blue!

The Oklahoma Sooners: 5:30 ESPN2

November 22, 2010 2:02 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cats roll into Maui today for game 1 of the EA Sports Maui Invitational after a smothering defensive performance against Portland. Up first for the Big Blue will be the Sooners of Oklahoma University. Jeff Capel, now in his 5th season with the Sooners will lead Oklahoma into Monday’s contest with a record of 3-0. This undoubtedly will be the easiest game of the tournament for the Cats as Oklahoma only returns 3 players from 13-18 (4-12) 2009-2010 campaign which was the first losing season in Norman since 1981. Statistically speaking, this Oklahoma team does not come into this game looking very impressive. The Sooners currently rank 110th nationally in rebounds per game and 126th in field goal percentage. Another thing to keep in mind is that with all the talk centering once again around the youth and inexperience for Kentucky, this is an Oklahoma team that has only one senior on the roster. Rest assured, this is not Blake Griffin’s Oklahoma team from 2 seasons ago. With that, here will be Oklahoma’s players to keep an eye on:

#2 Steven Pledger- After a solid freshman season for the Sooners, Steven Pledger has emerged as the leading scorer through 3 games for Oklahoma. At 6’4, Pledger playing in the lead guard roll has done a nice job putting the ball on the deck and getting to the free throw line. He is a much more athletic player than UK has seen so far this season and I once again would expect Kentucky’s best defender, DeAndre Liggins, to step up and slow Pledger down. He is also not shy about launching the 3-point ball as he attempted 10 shots from downtown in his last outing against Texas Southern.

#34 Cade Davis- The lone senior on the Oklahoma roster also represents the best 3-point threat for the Sooners. Davis comes into this game shooting 42% from behind the arch. Davis is also a very solid free throw shooter so keeping him from making frequent trips to the charity stripe should help keep the Sooners from scoring over 65.

This shouldn’t be too much of a contest for the Cats considering that Oklahoma represents one of the 6 major conferences. It may also give Coach Calipari some time to play with his new hybrid-zone defense that he has been working on. I have no idea what it will look like but it should be interesting to see if and  how well it works.

Prediction: Cats by 22

 

The Portland Pilots: 10:30 ESPNU

November 18, 2010 11:54 pm

After blowing out East Tennessee State, the Cats will take to the floor in the first of a four game west coast tour when the meet the Pilots of The University of Portland in the Rose Garden. Kentucky came out last Friday night firing on all cylinders showing what the Dribble Drive Motion Offense is supposed to look like. ETSU sat back in a 2-3 zone most of the night allowing plenty of looks from behind the arc and Kentucky took advantage of that shooting 10-17 from downtown in the first half. Shooting the ball was a problem that plagued last years team and one could make the argument that it eventually doomed them in the Elite 8 against West Virginia. That same problem shouldn’t follow this Kentucky team this year with the addition of Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb. I’m not predicting that the Cats will shoot 50% from the 3-point line all season, but I think it will only take a few trips down the floor this season before Kentucky can shoot teams out of a zone defense allowing the Dribble Drive to really get going. It wasn’t a perfect night though as the interior defense continues to look very weak. It will be up Josh Harrellson, Eloy Vargas, as well as Terrence Jones to control the paint as well as the glass on the defensive side of the ball if this team is going to make any noise in March. Luckily we have 115 days till Selection Sunday.

Now on to game 2 and the 3-0 Portland Pilots. The Pilots were picked preseason #2 in the West Coast Conference only behind #12 Gonzaga. Last season the Pilots were 21-11 (10-4) which included a trip to the College Insider.com Postseason Tournament (Yes, that’s an actual postseason tournament). Portland has also had a little success in the past few seasons upsetting some BCS Conference schools as they knocked off Washington in 2008 and #16 Minnesota as well as Oregon in 2009. This year the Pilots have an average margin of victory at 16 ppg over their 3 opponents which include Milwaukee Wisconsin, UC Davis, and Florida Atlantic. Who to keep an eye on:

#20 Jared Stohl- The 6’1 senior sharpshooter is not only the leading scorer for the Pilots, he is also the most prolific shooter in college basketball. He led the nation in 3-point percentage last season at 48% from behind the arc and is lighting it up at an even higher rate this season pouring it in at 57%. It will be imperative for Kentucky to not let Stohl find a rhythm. I believe they will do this with a combination of defenders probably starting off with DeAndre Liggins.

#43 Luke Sikma- Sikma leads the Pilots in both minutes played as well as rebounds pulling down 13 a game so far this season. The 6’8 senior is also very efficient shooting from the floor dropping it in at 56%. Attacking the rim offensively will be the first option for the Cats and if Sikma can defend the lane effectively without getting into foul trouble he may help Portland stay in this ball game.

This is the final tune-up before the EA Sports Maui Invitational when Kentucky will tip it up in round 1 against Oklahoma. Portland is an experienced team, playing in arguably their biggest game of the season. They have shooters and some effective post players that could cause problems for a young Kentucky team, but UK has the talent and athleticism.

Prediction: Cats by 16

One Last Look Back

November 12, 2010 6:30 pm

As the 2010-2011 edition of the Kentucky Wildcats is just minutes away from officially starting, here is one last look back at what was one of the most fun teams we have had at UK.

The East Tennessee State Buccaneers: 7:00 BBSN

November 11, 2010 5:20 pm

 

2009-2010:  20-14 (13-7) A-Sun Champions, NCAA Tournament 1st Round (L 100-71 #1 Kentucky)

The East Tennessee State Buccaneers will make their way up from Johnson City, Tennessee to take on the 10th ranked Wildcats in the home opener for John Calipari’s second campaign at UK. The Buccaneers will be looking for their 3rd strait A-Sun Conference Title as well as their 3rd strait trip to the Big Dance. With 4 returning starters, it appears head coach Murry Bartow’s team has a solid chance at achieving those goals. This will be the 4th match-up between the Cats and the Bucs with the last coming in last season’s NCAA Tournament 1st Round.

#33 Tommy Hubbard- The 6’4 senior led the Buccaneers in points and rebounds last season but due to knee surgery over the offseason he will not suit it up for the ETSU.

#30 Micah Williams- Another 6’4 senior who will look to pressure Kentucky early on trying to force the inexperience of the UK freshmen into careless turnovers. Williams shot the ball with pretty good efficiency last season going 47% from the field and 36% behind the 3-point stripe.

#3 Justin Tubbs- Tubbs a transfer from Alabama has spent some time playing against SEC caliber players. He is the 3rd returning starter from last season’s 20 win team that averaged double figures in scoring. At 6’3, Stubbs will be part of an undersized lineup looking to force the tempo and once again force turnovers against an inexperienced team. Stubbs is not afraid to pull the trigger from downtown as 67% of his 344 shots came from 3-point range last season.

This is a team that will play a small line-up with a lot of guards looking to force Kentucky into turnovers tomorrow night. Last season in the NCAA Tournament, John Wall and Eric Bledsoe were able to handle the pressure easily and allowed the massive size advantage that UK had take control of the paint. This year both Wall and Bledsoe are gone as well as the size advantage making this a much closer game than I think people will anticipate it being.

Prediction: Cats by 14