UKmadness

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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Rondo makes the All-Star team

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 28, 2010

Congratulations to Rajon Rondo for making his first career All-Star game.

Rondo is averaging 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 9.7 assists per game this season and is considered one of the premiere on-ball defenders in the league (2.5 SPG).

Rondo becomes the first Wildcat to make an All-Star team since 2003 win Antoine Walker represented the Big Blue for the Eastern Conference.

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It had to happen some time…

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 26, 2010

Kentucky picked up their first loss tuesday night as all 9,000 South Carolina sports fans seemed to be in USC’s arena to see the Gamecocks knock off their first ever #1 team with a 68-62 win over UK.

Devan Downey finished with 30 points (9-28 FG; 2-5 3PT), most of which came in the second half when it appeared UK could not guard him.

The Cincinnati transfer, who shot less than 33%  against the Cats, was completely shut down in the first half and had the belief that if he kept taking bad, contested shots over-and-over then it would all work itself out, and he was right. When it seemed that Downey was playing H-O-R-S-E with the entire UK team he began to knock down shots when his teammates were not able to.

Why It Happened

– The biggest reason UK was upset by the Gamecocks was obviously the great second-half by Devan Downey. Even the casual fan had to assume with the dreadful way he played in the first half that he would come out with a vegence in the second-half. Coach Calipari through many players at Downey to try to find a quality matchup and no one could do it. DeAndre Liggins, Eric Bledsoe, and John Wall were all inable to do a good job on the 5-foot-9 Downey when it mattered most.

– If you watched the game you noticed Jimmy ‘Human Replay Film’ Dykes constantly saying that UK had ALL of their second-half points from freshmen and the lack of diversity really cost the Cats. Patrick Patterson finished with only 5 points and 8 rebounds, failing to sink any type of basket in the last 20 minutes.

– It seems that relying heavily on John Wall finally caught up to the Cats in a game, as Wall, who did manage to score 19 points, was not very effective in the second-half until it was too late. A late and-1 layup brought the game to a one-point contest, but UK was not able to do ANYTHING with the USCjr guards late in the game.

– The bench once again failed to show up for the Cats. Darnell Dodson nailed a nice three-pointer early in the first half but converted only a run-out dunk the rest of the game, even missing a crucial wide-open layup after stripping one of the USC players. Dodson failed to block out at all and allowed his man to consistently beat him off the dribble. If Dodson is not hitting jump shots he has absolutely no value in the UK rotation because he is a liability on the defensive end.

Daniel Orton was once again unable to convert point-blank lay-ins against undersized defenders. Obviously the drunken, uniformed crowd was one reason for no fouls being called underneath on him by Orton had plenty of opportunities to convert key plays offensively and did not.

What We Liked

– There was really only one thing. Big Cuz.

DeMarcus Cousins was there in the post EVERY TIME the Cats needed him. Unfortunately Eric Bledsoe and John Wall chose to over-penetrate and throw up wild shots than take the odds in the post. Cousins had his best game of the season, finishing with 27 points and 12 rebounds against the under-sized Gamecocks.

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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 flies by Arkansas in 101-70 victory

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 23, 2010

Sophomore forward Darius Miller poured in a career-high 18 points to lead Kentucky (19-0) in a 101-70 victory over Arkansas (8-11) in Rupp Arena.

Miller made a career-high four three-pointers against the Razorbacks and was helped in the game by a trio of freshman as John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and DeMarcus Cousins combined for 42 points, 24 rebounds, and 14 assists to join Miller in the scoring parade.

Using a 10-0 run to start the game, the Wildcats led by less than double digits for only 1:44 of the game.

Lost amongst the acrobatic moves by John Wall and the long bombs of Darius Miller was the play by the UK bench. Often harrassed by coach John Calipari in press conferences, the Wildcat bench scored 32 points for the Cats and showed the Rupp Arena crowd their great hustle on the defensive end of the court when the starters needed a short rest.

Notes

– The 31-point win for the Cats is the largest SEC victory since January 16, 2007 (38-point win over South Carolina)
– Kentucky moves to 23-7 all-time against Arkansas with the win saturday
– The Wildcats’ 31-point win is the largest victory over Arkansas since 1948
– With 16 points and 14 rebounds against the Razorbacks, DeMarcus Cousins tallied his 10th double-double of the season
– Patrick Patterson had scored in double-figures in 13 consecutive games before finishing with 9 points against Arkansas

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Bledsoe a “one-and-done”?

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 21, 2010

The internet has been abuzz with news that Chad Ford and Bill Simmons of ESPN.com saying that many GMs are coming away from Kentucky games and practices raving about Eric Bledsoe. Both Ford and Simmons have said that multiple front office personel have projected Bledsoe as the second-rated point guard in the 2010 NBA Draft—behind John Wall.

If both Wall and Bledsoe bolt to the draft after this season it would once again prove John Calipari’s ability to develop guards like no other coach in the country. In the past two seasons Calipari has sent Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans to the league after just one season in college. Rose won Rookie of the Year in 2009 and it looks like Tyreke Evans is the front-runner for the same award this season.

The only downside to consistently bringing in All-American guards is the pain in losing them many at a time after just one-to-two seasons. It was expected since his senior year in high school that John Wall would be  a one-and-done but if Bledsoe leaves it would be a shock considering he was recruited to be a two-to-three year player at least.

Next season, if Bledsoe goes pro, the rotation will look much different assuming Wall, Patrick Patterson, and DeMarcus Cousins go pro as well.

Returning Players

Sr. Josh Harrellson
Jr. Darnell Dodson
Jr. DeAndre Liggins
Jr. Darius Miller
So. Daniel Orton
So. Jon Hood
Fr. Stacey Poole

That would leave only six scholarship players returning next season and leave sixopen scholarships for the 2010 class after already signing Stacey Poole, a 6-foot-4 guard out of Florida.z

Recruiting Trail

Currently Kentucky is heavily recruiting many unsigned seniors, particularly diverse inside-outside forwards like Terrence Jones and CJ Leslie. As you can see by looking at the returning players, the Cats have a bunch of guards returning but lack legitimate post threats aside from Daniel Orton. Assuming UK lands CJ Leslie, a player that many believe is Kentucky’s to lose, along with another dual-threat guard like Doron Lamb and a point guard like Josh Selby, that will still leave UK very thin in the front court.

Projected 2010 Roster
Starters

G Josh Selby (FR)
G Doron Lamb (FR)
G Darnell Dodson (JR)
F Darius Miller (JR)
C Daniel Orton (SO)

Bench

F CJ Leslie (FR)
G DeAndre Liggins (JR)
G Stacey Poole (FR)
F Josh Harrellson (SR)
G Jon Hood (SO)

It seems pretty obvious that UK will add more players to their roster because teams never leave three scholarships unfilled but as of now it appears this is what the roster will look like. Hopefully Bledsoe returns so the depth can be that much better but it appears that is going to be a smaller issue than the severe lack of front court depth that the Wildcats will have next season.

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Kentucky to #1 news, notes, and more

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 19, 2010

With the Texas loss at #9 Kansas State last night, it appears—with a win saturday vs. Arkansas—that Kentucky will move up to the #1 ranking next monday when the rankings are released. What John Calipari has done is obviously remarkable, on the verge of being the first coach to lead two different teams to the #1 overall ranking in consecutive seasons, and he has shown to merge egos as well as skills together in incredible fashion.

If Kentucky is able to beat the Razorbacks this weekend here are some interesting stats by UK while ranked #1:

– Kentucky is 153-23 (.869) all time when ranked #1
– Kentucky has lost 2 of their past 5 games when ranked #1, the last one being to a junior by the name of Dwyane Wade
– Kentucky has lost by double digits in each of their last 5 losses at #1

On other news here is a great blog by ESPN.com’s Andy Katz disccusing UK possibly moving to #1 and Calipari’s conversation with coaching legend John Wooden

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Cal to see Knight, Selby drops 52

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 17, 2010

– According to Adam Zagoria Coach Cal is going to see Brandon Knight, the top unsigned high school senior, play monday in Ohio. Knight is considering UK, Florida, Miami (FL), and Kansas among others.

Check out this video of high school All-American Josh Selby dropping 52 in a game last week. Many insiders believe UK will most likely land Knight OR Selby for the 2010 class.

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Kentucky vs. Auburn Post Game

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 17, 2010

Kentucky had a less-than-stellar outing tonight vs. Auburn in their second SEC road game of the season, pulling out a 72-67 victory over the 9-9 Tigers at Beard-Eaves-Memoiral Coliseum.

Leading the Cats was DeMarcus Cousins who recorded his ninth double-double of the season—16 points and 11 rebounds.

I was very surprised with the activity inside the paint tonight by the Wildcats. Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins combined to only shoot 12 shots while John Wall and Eric Bledsoe shot 16. UK had a serious advantage in the paint and did NOT take advantage of it as I would have hoped. The rebounding margin was only +5 for the Cats and should’ve been at least +15.

Notes

– Kentucky attempted 35 free throws against Auburn, tying the season-high set earlier this year against Cleveland State in Cancun.
– The Cats shot over 50% from the field for the 11th time this season
–  UK had four players—Wall, Bledsoe, Patterson, and Cousins—play 30+ minutes for the first time since November 25th against Stanford
– In their last 26 games against the Tigers, Kentucky is now 25-1
– The 9 offensive rebounds that Kentucky had tonight were the fewest of the season, marking the first time UK has posted single-diget offensive boards all season

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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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