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Cats Prepare To Host Hilltoppers

Posted by Alec McAfee on September 10, 2010

It’s always hard for a football team to open their season with arguably the biggest game on their schedule, especially for a team as young as the Wildcats.

It would almost be expected for many of the players to lose focus after playing in a game as emotionally and mentally draining as the UK-UofL game is, but the Cats aren’t buying it.

“It is not really a time to take it easy or take a day off,” said junior linebacker Danny Trevathan. “The season is a long road. We have eleven games left, so we need to take care of these eleven games.”

Not only will the Cats be approaching their game against Western Kentucky with the intent of simply winning, Head Coach Joker Phillips is expecting sixty full minutes of solid football.

“We just got to finish what we’re doing,” Phillps said about their second-half performance last weekend. “We just have to understand how to finish games.”

Although the Wildcats will be heavy favorites entering the game Saturday, they still have a tough task ahead of them.

The Hilltoppers star offensive player, Bobby Rainey, tourched one of the nation’s top run defenses last week when he ran for a career-high 155 yards at Nebraska.

“He’s shifty. He’s a strong guy,” Phillips said of the 5-foot-8 back. “But we just got to wrap him up. We can’t let him get started because he’s got that type of speed.”

Despite the problems that Western poses offensively, the Cats have their own little dynamo blossoming in their own backfield.

“Another thing I like is Moncel Allen,” Coach Phillips said of the junior out of New Orleans. “He did a really good job for us… he’s now convincing himself that he’s a fullback now.”

But the transition from halfback to fullback was not an easy one for Allen.

“(Coach Phillips) said my chances of playing this year were better if I played at fullback and that they could do different things with me,” Allen said of the switch. “…one of the hardest adjustments I have been trying to make, is all the angles and trying to block somebody.””

“Early on, he didn’t buy into it,” said Coach Phillips of his initial conversation with Allen regarding the position switch. “Once we started practicing, he did.”

With all the gameplanning that WKU will have to do for Randall Cobb and the complex passing attack the Cats implement, one thing is for certain—they won’t have to worry about Moncel Allen shrinking.

“I don’t worry about him getting shorter,” said Coach Phillps. “Usually fullbacks worry about hitting their head, going into the shoulder. He’s already there.”

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Cats Look To Continue Success Against Hilltoppers

Posted by Alec McAfee on September 7, 2010

Following an impressive win on the road against their most hated rival, the Wildcats are riding high.

In the first half of their nationally televised game, the Cats were clicking on all cylinders offensively, scoring on their second play from scrimmage, and reaching the end zone on three of their first four drives.

But a lackluster finish almost allowed the vastly outmatched Cardinals to claw their way back into the game.

The Cats were lucky enough to hold on for the 23-16 victory at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium, and left the River City feeling as though they had just finished an undefeated season. But as they prepare for another in-state foe, they must remain humble, especially after seeing Ole Miss blow a 21-point lead to Jacksonville State, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

Although it may seem a bit cliche, the Wildcats need to put their impressive victory over their most vaunted rival behind them, and focus at the game this Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

Against the Cards, Steve Brown and his defense were unable to stop the run, allowing nearly 200 yards on the ground to a Louisville team that ranked a mear 89th nationally running the football last season.

The Hilltoppers, on the other hand, ranked in the top 40 nationally and feature a running back, Bobby Rainey, that ran for 155 yards last week against Nebraska, a defense known for stopping the run.

Although Western poses some threats offensively, confidence has never been higher for the Wildcats.

Entering their opening game, there were many questions about how certain players, namely quarterback Mike Hartline, might perform. But after their resounding offensive performance, it looks as though the only team that can stop that Cats, is the team name on the chest of their jerseys.

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Daily news and notes

Posted by ibleedblue040 on February 9, 2010

– It looks like the Cats long-awaited new jerseys have been released, as they have been seen at local Dick’s Sporting Goods stores across Kentucky. Here are a couple pics:

– UK takes on Alabama tonight (9PM ET) in a matchup between two coaches who are in their first year with their respective teams. The biggest storyline though is DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe taking on their homestate school. Cousins personally has some bad blood with his home state so look for him to come out with a bag of chips on his shoulder.

– International big man Enes Kanter has been a hot commodity since coming to the United States, though his buzz went away for the most part after committing to Washington a couple months ago. Kanter has re-opened his recruitment and is considering the Cats. Kanter posted 50 points and 20 rebounds in his last game, so yeah he’s good.

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Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt Preview

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 30, 2010

Coming off their first loss of the season, the Wildcats look to rebound as they return home to face the pesky Vanderbily Commodores. Vandy is known for giving UK tough games and beating them on a semi-consistent basis.

Vanderbilt is off to their best start in school history and is looking to start 17-3 on the season with a win at Rupp.

Sophomore guard Jeffery Taylor leads Vandy in scoring at just over 14 ppg as well as averaging 5 rpg. One bright spot for the Cats concerning Taylor is that he is not a threat from behind the arc, a trait that scoring guards have dominated Kentucky with.

Big man AJ Ogilvy is the workhorse down low in the post for the Commodores, averaging 13 ppg and 6 rpg. Ogilvy has done pretty well in his career against the Cats, averaging 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in three games against the Cats, two of which have been wins.

For the Cats, Patrick Patterson has to be more effective and involved in the offensive sets that UK runs. Both Patterson and coach John Calipari are to blame for Patterson being non-existent for long stretches this season. Calipari has shown tendencies to defer to freshmen over the Wildcats’ proven scorer and leader.

Along with Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins needs to bang down low early and needs to STAY OUT OF FOUL TROUBLE, something that has plagued him more than any player that I can remember. If Patterson and Cousins can get AJ Ogilvy in some foul trouble early then UK should be able to feel comfortable.

Around the perimeter, along with Taylor, Vanderbily has a trio of solid guards that have become a staple for Kevin Stallings and his teams. Jermaine Beal, John Jenkins, and Taylor are all very involved in the scoring offense for Vandy. Brad Tinsley comes in for Vandy and gives them solid minutes, one of six players that plays 20+ minutes per game.

Two inconsistent players for the Cats—Darius Miller and Eric Bledsoe—are going to need to step up if Kentucky wants to play an efficient game. Miller and Bledsoe combined to shoot 2-9 from the floor with only 4 points, 6 assists, and 7 turnovers. When two of your starters do not produce it is hard for your team to be successful.

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Kentucky at South Carolina Preview

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 26, 2010

The Wildcats will travel east to face the always-dangerous South Carolina Gamecocks tonight on the road (9 P.M. ET, ESPN).

The ‘Cocks are led by senior guard Devan Downey, who comes into the game averaging 21.9 points, inculding 31.6 ppg in conference play.

USCjr’s second-leading scorer, Dominique Archey, is out with an injury he suffered in the first month of the season and Carolina only has one other double-digit scorer, Brandis Raley-Ross.

Projected Starters

G — John Wall vs. Devan Downey

This is sure to be Wall’s toughest individual matchup so far this season. He has not played against a guard with the speed, quickness, or scorers mentality that Downey has. Wall does have a large height advantage over the Cincinnati transfer—5-foot9 vs. 6-foot-4—which would allow him to see over the head of Downey and would limit his great ability to steal the ball—nearly 3.0 spg.

Advantage: Wall, UK

G — Eric Bledsoe vs. Brandis Raley-Ross

This is a matchup between Robins to Wall and Downey’s Batman. Both Bledsoe and Raley-Ross get severely overshadowed by their all-league backcourt mates, and for valid reasons.

Neither Bledsoe nor Raley-Ross have the scoring ability that their partner-in-crime has but they are both very important to the success of their team. I give Bledsoe the advantage simply because he is better in just about every single statistical category and seems to be on the same page as Wall at this point in the season.

Advantage: Bledsoe, UK

F — Darius Miller vs. Lakeem Jackson

This matchup is a no-brainer any way you look at it. Miller is superior shooting the ball, defensively, athletically, and is a much better passer than people realize. Not to mention that his confidence should be sky-high after a career day against Arkansas. Easy.

Advantage: Miller, UK

F – Patrick Patterson vs. Evaldas Baniulis

‘Mr. Consistency’, as I call him, should handle Baniulus pretty easily down in the post. In three career games against South Carolina Patterson has posted 22-9, 28-7, and 28-12 but only has a 1-2 record in those games.

Patterson has dominated other big men for the GameCOCKS and is going against a dreadful defender in Baniulis.

Advantage: Patterson, UK

F — DeMarcus Cousins vs. Sam Muldrow

Ok, this is BY FAR the easiest pick of the five matchups. Cousins has a full two inches on Muldrow and outweighs him by FIFTY-FIVE POUNDS! YIKES! Cousins has been dominating players that are AT LEAST his height and now he should have another double-double and could have his first career 20-20 game IF he stays out of foul trouble (a BIG if).

Advantage: Cousins, UK

Prediction

The Cats SHOULD come out with a lot of energy as they play their first game ranked as #1 since the 2002-2003 season. I think DeMarcus Cousins will come out and simply dominate from the get-go. Cousins should be able to stay out of foul trouble because South Carolina is predominately a perimeter scoring team and does not attack 6’11” guys too frequently.

81-69 Cats

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Kentucky vs. Auburn Preview

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 16, 2010

On Saturday afternoon UK hosts an Auburn Tigers team that is coming off an embarassing 81-55 loss at Tennessee thursday night but looks to rebound with an upset of the undefeated Cats tomorrow.

Led by senior DeWayne Reed (16.1 ppg), the Tigers are already 0-2 in the SEC and have the same record against ranked opponents this season. Auburn not only will come into the game with only one full day’s rest but is extremely undersized, starting only one player taller than 6’6 where as UK starts three.

Kentucky has been playing great as of late, winning at Florida handily earlier this week and recent victories over Louisville and Georgia at home. One key for the Cats has been the increased level of play by UK “role players” like Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton, who each had great games against Florida.

When Kentucky can have players other than Wall, Patterson, and Cousins step up, especially underclassmen, it makes them 10x more dangerous because it makes them impossible to guard defensively because you simply can not stop 4-5 guys all at once for an extended period of time. It has been great to watch Eric Bledsoe take over games when the defenses are geared to stop John Wall because ironically it opens things up on the court for Wall.

Projected Starting Lineups

G — DeWayne Reed vs. John Wall
Advantage: John Wall, UK
Why: Wall will have the advantage in every matchup he plays this season because he has simply been the best player in the nation. His combination of speed, athleticsm, and diversity offensively have NBA scouts salivating and college basketball fans shaking their heads in amazement.

G — Tay Waller vs. Eric Bledsoe
Advantage: Eric Bledsoe, UK
Why: In a matchup of #24’s Bledsoe gets the advantage largely because of his supporting cast. Bledsoe can allow the game to come to him without rushing his game because his team is far superior skill-wise. Bledsoe is coming off a career-high 25 points as opposed to Waller’s 7 point outing against Tennessee

G — Frankie Sullivan vs. F — Darius Miller
Advantage: Darius Miller, UK
Why:
Miller at 6’7 as a gigantic height advantage over the 6’2 Sullivan and I’m sure Coach Cal will have several ways to implement this mismatch into the gameplan. I would be surprised if you don’t see a breakout game by Miller against an opponent that he can shoot without worry against and can drive the lane at will.

F — Lucas Hargrove vs. Patrick Patterson
Advantage: Patrick Patterson, UK
Why: Pattrson has been the premiere big man in the SEC for the past season now and he will have a severe advantage at the upsettingly undersized Hargrove. Patterson has about two inches and thiry pounds on Hargrove and should be fed in the post several times early to expose Auburn’s lack of size.
F — Johnnie Lett vs. C — DeMarcus Cousins
Advantage: DeMarcus Cousins
Why: Big Cuz too will have a size advantage because he stands nearly seven-feet tall and two-hundred sixty pounds. Cousins has dominated every single game this season when he stays out of foul trouble and against a player who is four inches shorter than himself he should be able to avoid foul trouble by simply standing tall.

Notable Facts

– Kentucky is 83-17 all-time against Auburn
– Kentucky has won 10 straight meetings and is 24-1 in the last 25 meetings
– The most single-game points Kentucky has scored against Auburn is 119 (119-76 win) in 1975
– Kentucky is 169-24 all-time when ranked #2 in the country with the last loss coming in the NCAA Tournament to UAB in 2004
– The last game Kentucky played against Auburn while ranked was an 81-73 win in 2005

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Kentucky vs. Florida Preview

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 12, 2010

Tuesday night there is no question that Kentucky will face its toughest road test so far this season. For about three games per year the O’Connell Center in Gainesville can get rowdy and there is no question that the annual game against UK is one of those games.

Florida is coming off a loss in their SEC opener at Vanderbilt and has lost 4 of their last 7 games including losses to Richmond (“neutral site” in Florida) and South Alabama at home in back-to-back contests.

Projected Starters

Erving Walker vs. John Wall
The Verne Troyer of college hoops is averaging just over 11 ppg this season and is coming off his top scoring effort of the season against Vandy (22). Although just a sophomore, Mini-Me is leading the team in minutes per game and has started all 15 games this season. In the two games against the Cats last season, Walker averaged 8.5 points and 1.0 assists per game, not to shabby for someone that will stand a full 8 inches shorter than the opposing starting point guard.

Wall comes in as the front-runner for National POY and has a sickening advantage athletically and size-wise against Walker. Nothing more need be said.
Edge: John Wall, UK

Kenny Boynton vs. Eric Bledsoe
Even through this tough patch in the season Florida does have some players playing at a very high level. One of the best and most underrated freshmen in the nation, Kenny Boynton, has been tearing it up for the Gators averaging over 16 ppg over his last five, including a 28 point output against the Commodores. Odds are Eric Bledsoe will begin the game guarding Boynton to keep John Wall out of potential foul trouble and it is key he keeps his eyes on Boynton all over the floor.

Bledsoe is the laziest Wildcat in the starting lineup and could be pulled quickly if he does not come out with defensive intensity. He frequently goes under screens and almost assumes other players will pick up his man on screens and when his defender moves. Bledsoe has the length and quickness to contain Boynton but it is easier said than done.
Edge: Kenny Boynton, FLA

Dan Werner vs. Darius Miller
Werner has been the most disappointing Gator player so far this season. Granted, he was never very good, perhaps even bad, but he has gone down in almost every single offensive category even though his minutes have increased this season. Darius Miller has the pleasure of matching up against the Gators’ worst starter and will hopefully come out and dominate this matchup.

This matchup is pretty even in terms of size and importance to the outcome of the game. Miller is clearly the better player but has played perhaps his worst two games as a Wildcat in the last week, scoring 0 and 5 in his last two outings.
Edge: Push

Vernon Macklin vs. Patrick Patterson
Vernon Macklin has been one of the best transfers in the nation this season—his first since transferring from Georgetown. He is averaging 10.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game but also is second on the team in fouls. Macklin has started every game but one only shoots 67% from the free throw line, leading one to believe he won’t be on the court during crunch time.

Patterson is one of the best players in the country and is able to draw fouls at a terrific rate. He completely dominates players that are physically smaller than him and averaged a double-double in his two meetings with Florida last season. Being the emotional leader on the team, it is important that PPat stays out of foul trouble, something that he has greatly improved on this season over his previous two, and stays on the floor in the second half.
Edge: Patrick Patterson, UK

Alex Tyus vs. DeMarcus Cousins/Daniel Orton
Odds are DeMarcus Cousins will pick up two fouls before tip time so when he sits on the bench it will be up to the bigs on the bench—Daniel Orton and Perry Stevenson—to  come ready to play, something that they haven’t been doing lately. Alex Tyus makes his impact based off pure athleticsm and energy but against mountaints like Cousins and Orton it will be very tough to have the sort of results he is accustomed to. Cousins is easily the best rebounder in the nation, averaging over nine rebounds per game in only 2o minutes an outing.
Edge: DeMarcus Cousins


One of the most intruiging matchups this evening will be between the head honchos on the sidelines. Donovan will try to prove that he made the right decision by staying at UF when it was safely assumed he had first dibs at the UK job last year. Calipari has really nothing to prove accept that his young Cats can win on the road in a hostile environment.

In other (and more important) news it is being reported that Erin Andrews will be on hand to work the sidelines at her alma mater. Widely considered the cream-of-the-crop amongst ESPN sideline analysts, Andrews should more than triple the viewership of the game in the state of Florida to at least 24 people because of her “appeal”. If you are not familiar with Erin Andrews and her god-given talent it is time to get familiar.

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Kentucky @ Alabama: Preview

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 24, 2009

Kentucky comes into today’s matchup with Alabama winning 10 of 11 games and 15-4 (4-0) on the season. Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson have dominated opponents by combining for over 45 ppg this season, the second best duo in the nation scoring wise.

Alabama has not been as lucky, their most recognized player, Ronald Steele, has left the team for, really, unknown reasons. The Alabama sports department claims it was injury-related while Steele denies that report.

KEYS TO THE GAME

There is one area that Kentucky has struggled heavily at in their losses, three point shooting. Kentucky shoots nearly 36% on the year from behind the arc, but in their four losses they have shot a combined 21% (14/67) from the land of three. Obviously Jodie Meeks is the key from the three point arc but UK really will need someone else to step up and help lighten the load that Meeks will have to carry. Odds are Meeks will be the focus of much of the Bama defense so there will definitely be some opportunities for other players to step up.

Kentucky also needs to lessen the turnovers that they commit. Kentucky is last in the conference, and one of the worst in the nation, at turning the ball over so it is key that they don’t throw their way out of the ball game.

When all is said and done I think UK will leave Tuscaloosa with a 76-59 win. Alabama just does not have enough offense to score consistently on the best defensive team in the SEC. DeAndre Liggins and Michael Porter must play a solid game offensively and especially defensively and I believe that they will.


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UK vs. Mississippi State: Preview

Posted by ibleedblue040 on December 7, 2008

Coming off a very depressing loss at the hands of Miami (FL), UK looks to rebound today against Mississippi Valley State as they visit the once feared Rupp Arena. UK has a lot to improve upon from yesterday’s sad performance but it should be relatively easy against a mediocre Mississippi Valley State team.

KEYS TO THE GAME

The first key is to just simply not start Michael Porter. Porter has the single worst affect on a UK basketball team since Saul Smith. Obviously there have been worse players than him but they have not cost us games with their terrible play. Why Gillispie continues to start Porter over a future star in DeAndre Liggins is a complete mystery to me. Liggins needs as much experience as possible and why he has not started yet is flabbergasting.

The second key will be to establish Patrick Patterson early. Yes he finished with 19 points but he forced a few shots because he was frustrated with not getting the ball earlier. We need to be able to get the ball to him on 95% of our possessions, if we do that this will be over at halftime. Patterson is a top 10 player in the country in my opinion so it is unacceptable for him to get only a few shots in any half against any opponent.

The third key will to be more efficient shooting the basketball. Going into the game against Miami UK was ranked in the top 10 nationally in field goal percentage and then we managed to shoot under 40% from inside the arc and 2-23 total from outside of the three-point line. Jodie Meeks especially needs to shoot better because he is the leader when it comes to knocking down shots. Once he starts knocking down shots our team tends to follow him and start hitting theirs.

But I think the biggest key today will be to finally get out to a great start. In three straight games we have been down by at least 7 points in the first 5 minutes of the game. We managed to come back to win two of those but once we start playing quality teams we will not be able to keep trailing 16-7 and scores like that. That means guys like Darius Miller need to make an immediate impac

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UK vs. Miami (FL): Preview

Posted by ibleedblue040 on December 6, 2008

miamihurricanes1

Today Kentucky gets their first shot at a team that has, at one point in the season, been ranked. Miami (FL) is no longer ranked because a loss at Ohio State but do not let that fool you, they played the majority of the game without their best player, Jack McClinton, after McClinton felt it was necessary to punch a guy in the face and get himself ejected. Had he been in the game odds are they would have won so UK should look at Miami as a ranked opponent.

Miami is led by McClinton, who returns for the game, and Dwayne Collins, who is averaging 12.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Miami comes in pretty balanced scoring wise, having eight players averaging 6 ppg or more on the season as they are averaging 76 ppg this season as a team. Miami also has a highly recruited freshman out of New York named DeQuan Jones who, although he is averaging just 3.5 ppg, can really jump and could explode in a game.

KEYS TO THE GAME

The biggest thing Kentucky needs to do is to cut down on their turnover numbers. UK comes into this game leading the nation in turnovers per game with 22 tpg where as Miami is only averaging 13.2 tpg. With Michael Porter hurt, but still playing, look for DeAndre Liggins to start at point guard. Liggins, although turnover prone himself, does not throw the ball away as much as Porter, who commits about 3 tpg in only 18 mpg. Liggins helped lead the Cats to victories in Las Vegas over Kansas State and West Virginia with his big plays in the second half of those ball games. If UK can stay around even with Miami in terms of turnovers then we will have a good shot to win.

Another key will be to keep Patrick Patterson out of foul trouble. It seems as though in every game Patterson picks up two quick first half fouls and then has to sit for a long time and then will come in the second half and pick one up. Patterson is averaging less than 30 mpg. which is not good. With Miami having many guys that can come down low and score it is crucial that Patterson is in there to match them and to help prevent them from scoring. Patterson is the best player in the SEC and he will need to have an All-SEC performance today to help propel the Cats.

Prediction

I think that Gillispie is a very good coach, especially at putting the right lineups on the court at the perfect time and I think he does it again for the Cats. I think Patterson has a monster game and Meeks has another 18-22 point performance in helping the Cats to a 72-65 win over the Hurricanes. One very important factor will be the point guard play. I assume Liggins and Galloway will again get major minutes and with them both being new players to the program it is crucial that they play smart.

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