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November 20th, 2017

LIVE: John Calipari after Kentucky’s win over Troy

John Calipari is about to address reporters about his team’s 70-62 win over Troy. Watch below courtesy of this live stream from KyWildcatsTV:


Kentucky fights off late Troy comeback to win, 70-62

Things were going so well and Kentucky was coasting to a blowout victory over Troy, but Troy had other plans. The visiting Trojans clawed back from a 21-point deficit with only eight minutes to go in the game, and might’ve been able to do the improbable if they had a little more time.

Kentucky won in the end, 70-62, for yet another unimpressive final score.

See the numbers and discuss below:


WATCH: Calipari jokes that sideline reporter grabbed his arm

Leave it to John Calipari to poke fun at himself. After the media leapt on Cal for grabbing Maria Taylor’s arm in the halftime interview of the Kansas game, Cal joked that SEC Network’s Stormy Buonantony grabbed his arm during tonight’s game vs. Troy.

“You had my arm there a second ago, you know that?” Calipari quipped at the start of Buonantony’s interview. “Why did you do that?”

Buonantony took it like a champ, quipping back, “Was it too hard?”

Clearly, Cal is in a great mood. Also, kudos to Buonantony for being such a good sport, especially on what is apparently her first day working the college basketball sidelines.


HALF: Kentucky 41, Troy 25

After Friday’s alarming first half vs. ETSU, it was good to see the Cats handle an opponent easily from the start. After 20 minutes of play, Kentucky leads Troy 41-25.

Eight Cats scored, led by Wenyen Gabriel with eight points and Kevin Knox with seven. Even better, Hamidou Diallo has a team-high seven rebounds, a promising stat that earned him some praise from John Calipari at halftime. After some criticism about his performance in the first four games, Nick Richards even got off to a hot start, grabbing four rebounds in the opening minutes of the game.

All that being said, Kentucky had a pretty long scoring drought towards the end of the half and, for some reason, Brad Calipari went in at the 10-minute mark. Did Cal forget to tell Ellen the team was coming over for Thanksgiving or something?

Here’s the box score:


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Karl Towns named Western Conference Player of the Week

Congratulations to Karl Towns, who was named Western Conference Player of the Week today, the third time KAT has won the award.

Last week, the former Cat and nicest human being alive averaged 20.3 points and 12.3 rebounds, leading the Timberwolves to three wins and one loss. He shot 55.4% (31-56) from the floor, including 9-16 from three-point range. His best game was on Wednesday, when he put up 26 points and 16 rebounds in a win over San Antonio, snapping the Timberwolves’ 12-game losing streak to the Spurs.

Through 16 games this season, Towns is averaging 20.8 points and 11.4 rebounds while shooting 53.8% from the field, including 37.9% from three. He has 12 double-doubles, eight of which are 20-point/10-rebound performances.

Pass the time until tipoff with highlights from KAT’s big week:


WATCH: John Calipari shows off UK locker room construction

This slipped under the radar on a busy sports weekend, but on Friday, John Calipari gave fans a tour of the renovations to the locker room of the Joe Craft Center. Construction is still underway on what is being called the “Marksbury Players First Suite” (of course that’s the name), but the video gives you a good idea of the layout, and Cal is so entertaining it’s worth going over regardless.

“I’m having to coach like I’m 35 again”

Calipari came straight from practice to film the tour, and if his wild hair wasn’t indication enough, you could tell he was in a swaggy mood when he hopped up while saying, “I’m having to coach like I’m 35 again”:

He also gave us our official Calipari “LET’S GO” GIF:

That one will get a lot of use.

The main room will be split into a film area and a lounge

It will be paneled in dark wood

The entire lounge and locker room area will be paneled in dark wood, similar to Calipari’s recently renovated office.

“If you know me, you know I like dark wood,” Cal said. “Power, strength.”

As the daughter of an interior designer and also as someone with two eyes, I can tell you the wood in the renderings is not that dark, so hopefully the crew has plenty of stain to get it powerful and strong enough for Cal’s liking.

The mural will feature all of UK’s NBA players

Man, that rendering is outdated.

There will be a small kitchen for snacks

Just in case the players are too tired to walk the 15 steps to the Lodge.

The locker room will be “futuristic”

Cal said the locker room is being designed so that it won’t look outdated in ten years.

“It’ll be computerized, it’ll be the top things — I want this locker room, ten years from now, to be relevant. And so what you’ll see is, whatever we put in it, we’re thinking futuristic. What’s it look like ten years from now.”

I’m guessing that means USB charging ports.

There will be a hot tub, cold tub, and massage room

And maybe even a barber chair “if they allow us” (“they” being the NCAA).

Private showers and private bathrooms

The bathroom will include four individual showers, each designed for seven-footers.

“Kids don’t — there’s no more communal showers with the nozzles up there and the water goes — no. They will either shower by themselves or go back to the Lodge and shower.”

Even the bathroom stalls are designed with more privacy in mind, with doors that go to the floor.

Calipari will have his own steam shower

“I put in the steam shower for me. Not for them. They won’t go in the steam shower. I’ll go in the steam shower. I need to be in the steam shower to let off steam. To, instead of going nutty — as you get old, you get cranky. You get old and cranky. I don’t want to be that old, cranky guy.”

Cal has a steam shower in his office too, so he plans to use each every day so he “can be like a normal human being.”

We can’t embed the video here, but you can watch it at CoachCal.com and check out a 360-degree view of the lounge and film room here.


Pregame Scouting: Troy Trojans

A two day break from Kentucky basketball ends tonight with the game against the Troy Trojans. Tonight will be the first ever match up between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Trojans. Troy finished last season at 22-15 with a loss to Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Head Coach Phil Cunningham is in his fifth season at Troy, winning the school’s first ever Sun Belt Tournament Championship, and reaching the NCAA Tourney for just the second time ever. Cunningham actually has Kentucky roots, being a native of Paducah, KY, giving Troy two coaches from the Bluegrass State with Neal Brown manning the sidelines as the head coach of the football team.

The Trojans bring a 2-2 record to Rupp Arena tonight, with wins over Brewton-Parker and Arkansas Pine-Bluff, but losses to North Dakota and Hawaii. Let’s take a look at the potential starting lineup for the Trojans in tonight’s game:


#23 Jordon Varnado, Junior Forward, 6’6″

Jordon Varnado is one of three returning starters for Coach Cunningham this season. Varnado was Troy’s best player last year, and is continuing that role this year as well. Varnado was the first player named to the All-Sun Belt First Team since 2010. His name may sound familiar as he is the little brother of former Mississippi State Bulldog and NCAA career shots blocked record holder, Jarvis Varnado.

When I mentioned that Varnado was the best player for the Trojans last year, we have the numbers to back that up. Varnado led the team in points, rebounds, and blocks last season, and also leads the team this season in points and rebounds. Through four games he is averaging 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block per contest. His one deficiency is shooting from deep, as he’s only shooting 23% from 3 on the year.

The junior is the second biggest player in the starting five for the Trojans, playing the power forward position. At 6’6″, he matches up with PJ Washington for the Cats, a guy that we’re all still waiting to really break out with all the summer hype we heard about him. Another smaller player to match up with Washington should mean he should be able to play bully ball in the post.

#3 Wesley Person, Senior Guard, 6’3″

Wesley Person, the second of three returning starters from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is now a four year starter for the Trojans. Person has been a staple at the two guard position, and has been just behind Varnado as the leading contributor for Coach Cunningham. He’s racked up awards at Troy, including All-Sun Belt Third Team, All-Sun Belt Second Team, and Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year.

Person is a bonafide scorer and a fantastic shooter. He has led Troy in 3-pointers made in every season he’s been there, and is the school’s all time leader. He’s averaging 17 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal per game. He’s shooting 42.4% from 3 on the year and just under 77% from the free throw line.

At the stereotypical shooting guard position, Person will most likely be guarded by Hamidou Diallo for the majority of tonight’s game. While Diallo has the edge in athleticism and overall talent, Person has the advantage of being a four year starter in college basketball. Diallo will need to do a good job of running Person off the three point line, because he doesn’t like to step inside that arc. Out of the 51 shots Person has attempted this season, only 18 have been 2-point field goal attempts.

#30 Alex Hicks, Junior Forward, 6’8″

Alex Hicks redshirted his freshman season at Troy, but followed that up by starting the first 16 games of his sophomore campaign. Hicks was a three-star recruit coming out of high school, but had to spend a season at Walters State Community College before playing for the Trojans.

After losing his starting spot in the second half of last season, Hicks has earned it back this season and is putting up the numbers to keep it. Hicks is averaging 10.8 points, a share of the team high with 8.3 rebounds, and a team leading 1.8 blocks per game. However, Hicks total stats don’t tell the whole story, as he went for 26 and 10 in the opening game of the season, but has been contributing less and less in the following games. In the most recent game, Hicks had season lows in points with 1 and rebounds with 7.

Despite being only 6’8″ and 215 pounds, Hicks is the resident big man in the lineup for Coach Cunningham. The Trojans have a few other players at that height coming off the bench, but no one larger. For comparison’s sake, the Cats start three players at or taller than 6’8″. Hicks will match up with the tandem of Nick Richards and Sacha Killeya-Jones for Kentucky.

#0 Kevin Baker, Senior Guard, 6’2″

Kevin Baker is the third returning starter for Phil Cunningham’s Trojan squad. Last year was Baker’s first season at Troy, as he played at Pensacola State College where he was named First Team All-Panhandle Conference for his efforts.

The senior is the quarterback of the offense at the point guard position, leading the team in assists last season. He also led the team in steals both this year and last year. He is currently averaging 7.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.5 steals through four games. He’s had a rough start to the season shooting the ball, hitting only 23% of his field goals, 22.7% of his 3’s, and 58.8% of his free throws.

As the point guard, you’ll see Baker match up with Quade Green on both ends of the floor. Yet another senior guard for the freshman for Kentucky to take on. It has been documented that Green has struggled with on-ball defense in this early part of the season, but it is perfect for the Cats that he is getting to gain experience against multiple experienced guards so often.

#24 Shawn Hopkins, Junior Forward, 6’5″

Shawn Hopkins is a native of Nokia, Finland and helped the Finnish national team to a gold medal at the FIBA U20 European Championship. Hopkins started 10 games in his freshman season, but sat out a good portion of last season due to an injury. His father was actually drafted in the 1979 NBA Draft by the Washington Bullets, but spent his career playing professionally in Finland.

Hopkins is usually overshadowed in the stat columns by his fellow starters, but that doesn’t make him a slouch by any means. Hopkins is averaging 5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. He has hit 4 of 10 three point attempts on the year, as well as both free throws he’s attempted.

The junior is a starter at the small forward position for the Trojans, meaning he will be matching up with Kevin Knox. Hopkins gives up a four inch height differential in this match up, meaning that Knox should be able to shoot over him at any point necessary, as will be the case with most people that are slated to defend Knox on the season.


With three returning starters taking the floor for Coach Cunningham tonight against Kentucky, it will be another case of experience vs talent. The debate has surrounded almost every Coach Cal team since his Memphis days. Obviously, every coach wants experienced talent, but if he had to choose between the two, Cal is taking talent every time.

Go Cats. Beat Trojans.

@BrettBibbinsKSR


The Depth Chart Podcast: Louisville

The Depth Chart Podcast is here a few days early to provide a Thanksgiving treat to all of our travelers across the Big Blue Nation.  After Kentucky’s loss to Georgia, Freddie has everything you need to be prepared for Rivalry Week.

As the Cats search for their second consecutive Governor’s Cup victory, Mark Ennis of 93.9 The Ville joins the program to share intimate insight on the Cardinals’ late-season resurgence.  Highlights:

—  Why the Georgia loss disappointed Freddie more than any other loss.

—  Are any UK underclassmen ready for the NFL?

—  How UofL’s offensive line has improved.

—  Is UofL’s defense still that bad?

—  How do you contain Lamar Jackson?

—  A Salute to Seniors.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


5 Things to Know About The Troy Trojans

Tonight, your University of Kentucky Wildcats will take on the Troy Trojans in Kentucky’s second game of the Adolph Rupp Classic. We’ve already told you a little about Troy, but here are five more things you need to know.

This is Troy’s first game in the Rupp Classic

Kentucky played its first game of the Rupp Classic on Friday night vs. East Tennessee State, but this will be the first game in the event for Troy, which started its season in Hawaii. The Trojans went 1-2 in the Rainbow Classic, beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff but losing to North Dakota and Hawai’i. On Thursday, they routed Brewton-Parker — which is a college in Mount Vernon, Georgia, not a UNC alum turned investment banker — 106-71.

After playing Kentucky tonight, the Trojans continue their run in the Rupp Classic with East Tennessee State on Wednesday, Delaware State on Monday, and UIC on Wednesday. In related news, I do not understand the Rupp Classic; how are Kentucky and Delaware State both in it if they don’t play each other?


They visited Shadwell Farm this weekend

@TroyMensHoops

Troy arrived in town on Saturday, and made the most of their trip to Lexington with a visit to Shadwell Farm, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai. I doubt they got to meet the Sheikh, but they did get to meet Mohaymen, the son of Tapit that finished fourth in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

@TroyMensHoops


They lost to Duke in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament

Troy won the Sun Belt Tournament last year, which earned them only their second NCAA Tournament berth in program history. Unfortunately, they drew Duke in the first round and lost 87-65, but there were some exciting moments, such as this dunk by Wesley Person in the second half:

With four starters returning from last year’s squad, Troy will not balk at the bright lights of Rupp tonight.


Two familiar names

As Drew mentioned earlier, Wesley Person Jr.’s father is…you guess it, Wesley Person, a 14-year NBA vet. Person Jr. is Troy’s all-time leading scorer and three-point shooter, averaging 17 points through four games. Given opposing guards’ tendency to go off in Rupp, something tells me he’ll get more than that tonight.

Another name that might be familiar to you is Jordan Varnado. Troy’s junior guard is the younger brother of former Mississippi State star Jarvis Varnado, who actually won an NBA Championship with the Miami Heat in 2013. He’s now playing overseas.


Their managers beat Kentucky’s managers yesterday

@TroyMBBManagers

At the very least, Troy will take home one W from this trip. Last night, their managers beat Kentucky’s managers 70-61 in the Manager Games, earning a little love from Jay Bilas:

Time to up your game, UK managers.


After Action Review: Georgia

PIC BY HISTORY.ARMY.MIL

An After Action Review is an Army method utilized to analyze an intended action. Let’s apply a version of this process to the Kentucky vs. Georgia football game to determine what caused the final outcome as well as addressing the Cat’s need to sustain and improve:

WHAT WERE INTENDED RESULTS

-Win the football game.

WHAT WERE ACTUAL RESULTS

-Lost the football game 42-13.

WHAT CAUSED OUR RESULTS

Line-of-Scrimmage

-Kentucky stood toe-to-toe with Georgia for the first quarter and for the greater portion of the 1st half. That changed as the game went on as the Cats were beaten up front on both sides of the line-of-scrimmage in the second half. 

-Some of this can be attributed to the game’s scoring dynamic which took Kentucky’s necessity to run the football out of the equation.

-UK accumulated just 262 total yards, UGA-504.

-Losing Quinten Bohanna to injury significantly altered the defense’s up-front talent level. Bohanna has the potential to be special.

-Kentucky registered one tackle for loss and quarterback sack. Did not affect across line-of-scrimmage action for the Georgia offense.

-The Cats allowed three quarterback sacks and three tackles for loss.

Tackling

-Georgia rushed for 381-yards. A large portion of yardage gained was a result of missed tackles by Kentucky defenders.

-Gap integrity was not an overbearing deficiency especially in the early onset of the game. Break downs occurred later, especially on the edge. Poor tackling became obvious.

-Missed tackle for loss opportunities limited UK from getting the UGA offense off the field. In other words, extended drives.

-Credit Georgia and its two senior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. UGA is 2nd in the SEC in rushing and 10th in the nation.

Missed Opportunities

Two dropped potential touchdown passes are not the recipe for an upset road win.

-Missed opportunities for scores with overthrown passes.

-See above for tackling reference.

-Block/Tackle/Pitch/Catch.

-Special team’s errors.

WHAT WILL WE SUSTAIN–IMPROVE?

SUSTAIN

Benny Snell’s Heart

22 carries for 94-yards and a score vs. a defense that allows 103 rush-yards per game.

-Snell’s yardage would have been higher if the game’s score hadn’t skyrocketed out of control.

-Benny Snell’s effort and desire are the standard that the Kentucky Football team needs to emulate if it wants to beat Louisville.

Kicking and Punting

Matt Panton averaged 42-yards per punt and placed two inside the 20-yard line.

-Austin MacGinnis was perfect for the game, 2/2 FG’s and kicked 2/4 touchbacks. He was averaging 37% touchbacks for the season.

IMPROVE

Run Defense

-Allowed 381-yards, 5 rushing touchdowns.

-Georgia averaged 8.7 yards per carry.

-Four UGA running backs accumulated over 40-yards.

-See tackling comments.

Red-Zone TD Efficiency

-Kentucky 3/3 in Red-Zone, 1 touchdown.

-Georgia 3/3 in Red-Zone, 3 touchdowns.

Special Teams

Georgia averaged 20 yards per punt and 30.5 on kickoff returns. Must be noted UGA only returned one punt which led to the 20-yard average.

-Roughing the punter/kicker call changed the game’s early momentum in favor of the opponent.

-When facing a superiorly talented team on the road, special teams must be special to pull off an upset.

What does all this mean?

Mark Stoops is 3-0 coming off losses in 2017. Kentucky is a better football team than it showed in Athens. Film study and game review will not be a comfortable experience; as is shouldn’t be. The Wildcats will need to vastly improve this week in practice in order to have a chance to retain the Governor’s Cup. Late-season health is also an issue. Key players such as Quinten Bohanna, CJ Conrad, and Mike Edwards sustained injuries in Athens. QB Stephen Johnson has been beaten up for a while now.

The Cats are 7-4.


More Proof Benny Snell is the Best

God Bless Benny Snell.

Every time you think you’ve seen the best from Benny Snell, he does something even more awesome.  That happened again today when he clapped back at former Georgia running back Keith Marshall.

BENNY DOES WHAT HE WANTS WHENEVER HE WANTS.

Benny earned the right to clap back after coming up just six yards shy of his fourth consecutive game over 100 yards.  Against the nation’s No. 5 rush defense, Snell fought for 94 yards on 22 carries and Kentucky’s only touchdown.  Almost all of those yards came after contact.

“I saw a lot of tough yards, I really did.  You have to admire how hard he has run the football,” Mark Stoops said today.  “He has been running the football like those yards a personal to him.  I appreciate that about Benny.  He’s been getting some tough yards. He’ll be the first one to tell you that obviously he’s getting some good o-line play and tight end play and so on, but he’s also running exceptionally hard.”

Unfortunately, Kentucky’s deficit took Snell out of the game.  He’s still second in the SEC in rushing with 1,107 yards, tied for first in rushing touchdowns with 16, and first in clap-backs for the haters.


Bol Bol is going to Oregon

(Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

Bol Bol has committed to Oregon.

The five-star big man and son of Manute Bol announced his commitment to the Ducks via a piece in The Players’ Tribune on Monday.

In the following excerpt, Bol admits growing up a Kentucky fan, but it was the Oregon coaching staff’s vision for him that was the deciding factor in the end:

About a week after I made my official visit to Eugene, I knew that that was where I wanted to go.

Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a hard decision. It came down to Oregon and Kentucky — which is kind of funny that it was those two schools. Because when I was a kid, after my family moved to Kansas, everyone on my AAU teams and school teams was a Jayhawks fan. As someone who likes to do his own thing — and yeah, troll a little bit — I always rooted for Kentucky. In Kansas, cheering for the Wildcats is like against the law. So I started telling telling people that I was cheering for Kentucky because I wanted to go to school there. Then when I got older, as a recruit, I really liked how Coach Calipari went about developing young players. That speaks for itself. Kentucky had been in my mind my whole life, so it was a little mind-blowing to me that I was offered an opportunity to be a Wildcat.

Oregon was just the opposite, in a way. I didn’t know much about the school until I started getting recruited by Oregon’s assistant coach, Tony Stubblefield. And then later by Coach Altman. Before that, I knew they had a lot of jerseys, a lot of different shoe combinations, but that was about it. But it was really those first few meetings with Coach Stubblefield that impressed me the most. He was accessible. He got to know me. He was really real with me.

And he was honest about the fact that Oregon has never really gotten a top recruit when it was between the Kentuckys and Dukes. He didn’t shy away from that. What he did was lay out the vision they had for me.

He also wrote, “Kentucky had been my dream school ever since I was a kid. I respect Coach Calipari a ton.”

Read the entire explanation of why it was Oregon here.


Troy’s best player is son of former NBA star

When Troy brings its basketball team to Rupp Arena tonight, the Cats will want to keep a hand in the face of Wesley Person Jr., the son of 14-year NBA veteran Wesley Person.

Wesley Person is considered one of the best three-point shooters of all time. His son, Wes Jr., inherited the shooting gene and just recently became the Troy program’s all-time leader in three-point field goals made. He is also the program’s all-time leading scorer in general.

So far this year, Person Jr. averages 17 points per game through four games. He’s already hit 14 threes on 33 attempts in those games, so Kentucky will need to shut him down to prevent a shocking defeat at home.

The Cats will also have to contain Jordan Varnado, who averages 20 points and eight rebounds, and is the younger brother of former Mississippi State star Jarvis Varnado.


There’s Some Good UK Football Injury News Too

The Kentucky football team received some devastating injury news when it was discovered that C.J. Conrad will miss the rest of the season following foot surgery, but it wasn’t all bad news.

Mark Stoops expects safety Mike Edwards to be ready to play against Louisville.  Kentucky’s leading tackler (84 on the season, 12 more than Courtney Love and Darius West) limped through the second half of the Georgia game with a hip pointer.

In the trenches, the Kentucky defensive line took a step back when an ankle sprain took out Quinton Bohanna.  Luckily, tests revealed it was just a low ankle sprain.  High ankle sprains can be a severe, lingering problem, but this prognosis leaves room for Bohanna to potentially return on Saturday to help slow down UofL’s rushing attack.

Maybe most important of all, Stephen Johnson will be good to go against the Cards.  The Bulldogs beat him up, but Stoops believes Johnson can take just about anything.

“He’s like Gumby,” Stoops said with a laugh.

I didn’t know Gumby could throw a football or beat Lamar Jackson.  Johnson will get a chance to do both one more time in his final game at Kroger Field this Saturday.