BBL: Links and prose from Kentucky’s win over Vandy

(H-L photo/Mark Cornelison)

Big Blue Links for Sunday:

Todd Jones of the Columbus Dispatch on the Kentucky victory: “The name on the jersey is the same as the one worn by the opponent that left Ohio State chomping on a bitter, season-ending defeat 11 months ago. The same smooth-talking coach roams the team’s sideline, and its blue-and-white clad fans still roar with tribal ferocity. Little else, however, resembles the Kentucky Wildcats team that sent the Buckeyes home earlier than expected from last year’s NCAA Tournament.”

(H-L photo/Pablo Alcala)

Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader on the Kentucky win: “And Anthony continued being Anthony, which was plenty good enough to subdue a senior-laden Vandy team that could test but not best Kentucky for a second time in two weeks. Davis’ most memorable moment came after Vandy narrowed a 66-56 UK lead to a single point. Almost four minutes remained in the game, and only a tick or two on the shot clock. Calmly catching an impromptu pass from Marquis Teague, Davis turned and shot from the right post. The ball swished as the shot clock buzzed.”

My column on Kentucky winning its 45th SEC title: “And yet, obviously, it means something to the fans. When the final horn sounded Saturday, and Kentucky had completed an 83-74 victory over Vanderbilt to run its conference record to 14-0, and public address announcer Patrick Whitmer proudly pronounced that the school had just won its 45th SEC basketball title, the 24,388 in Rupp Arena roared their approval.”

David Climer of the Tennessean on Vandy’s loss: “Meanwhile, Vanderbilt appears to be better suited to cope with the unique pressure of postseason basketball based on the resilience the Commodores exhibited at Rupp Arena. Granted, it’s all about winning, and Vanderbilt didn’t do that. But it’s not like anybody has waltzed into this traditional SEC burial ground and beaten the Big Blue. The Wildcats have won 51 straight at Rupp Arena.”

Jeff Lockridge of the Tennessean on UK’s win over the Commodores: “Davis added 11 rebounds and six blocks and strengthened his case for national player of the year. His first miss of any kind came at 16:06 in the second half at the foul line, where he went 8-of-9. But it was the touch on his jump shot with the shot clock winding down on a couple of occasions that kept the Wildcats’ lead intact. ‘I’ve been holding him back. I’m trying to get him to stay in school another year,’ Calipari said jokingly.”

H-L report on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s post-game statement: “Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist set UK fans buzzing Saturday night with a comment about his future. ‘I’m graduating here. I’m not going nowhere,’ Kidd-Gilchrist was quoted as saying by Brett Dawson of and other reporters who were present at the time after Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt. ‘I’m staying at Kentucky.'”

Tipton’s notes onthe UK win: “With 3:17 left in the game, Vandy’s Jeffery Taylor missed a three-point shot, then collided with Marquis Teague hard enough to send both players stumbling backward. Replays showed Kidd-Gilchrist jockeying with Vandy center Festus Ezeli for rebounding position, then collapsing to the court. He clutched his left knee as medical personnel arrived. ‘ Banged knees,’ Kidd-Gilchrist said. ‘It hurt really bad.'”

(H-L photo/Mark Cornelison)

Matt May of the Cats Pause on the Kentucky victory: “Marquis Teague had the type of day that makes you wonder whether he’ll beat himself up for struggling for long stretches or be encouraged by the fact he righted himself enough to make important plays down the stretch. The freshman point guard had three turnovers in the first four minutes of the game, earning himself a seat on the bench to settle him down. He returned more under control but seemed a bit off all day before finding his rhythm in the second half, eventually finishing with 16 points, six assists, four rebounds and four turnovers.”

Brett Dawson of Cats Illustrated on UK’s freshman center: “But they weren’t the sort of shots Davis could have made earlier this season. Though Davis insists he never lost confidence in his jump shot, it didn’t drop earlier in the year. And there was a time this season when, if a defense collapsed and took away the lob pass to Davis, it could effectively take him out of the UK offense. Not anymore.”

Rick Bozich of the Courier-Journal on UK’s selflessness: “It’s the poise, persistence and complete focus on team ego from the first-year players on this UK team that had (Rex) Chapman shaking his shaved head. Freshmen aren’t supposed to act like upperclassmen –and they’re certainly not supposed to say they’re going to be here as upperclassmen, as Kidd-Gilchrist did after the victory.”

Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal on UK’s win: “The only thing scarier than a monster — which is how his University of Kentucky teammates describe freshman Anthony Davis, and an appropriate depiction of the top-ranked Wildcats as they thrash through the Southeastern Conference — is one that won’t stop growing. Saturday afternoon, against a Vanderbilt team determined and equipped to land an upset victory, Davis delivered the virtuoso performance of his young career.”

Aaron Smith of the Kernel on Anthony Davis: “Anthony Davis emerged from the locker room and moved toward the horde of reporters waiting to ask him about his latest feats of greatness. The group around the nearest chair motioned him over. Davis declined, opting instead for the chair in the back-left of the media room. It’s his customary spot, the one he’s gone to from the beginning. He’s not about to change now — even if everything else is, from his spot on the national scene to his own game. His 28-point, 11-rebound, five-block performance against Vanderbilt had the feel of a game from a future National Player of the Year.”

(H-L photo)

Brian Rickerd of the State-Journal on UK’s 14th straight SEC win: “No one is suggesting that senior forward Darius Miller is the best player on this University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball team. But he may be the most valuable…the glue for this UK team, if you will. During Kentucky’s march to a 28-1 record this winter (14-0 in the Southeastern Conference), Miller – as much as anyone not named Anthony Davis – seems to be able to make plays when his teammates are shying away from the moment.”

Jon Hale of KyForward on Davis’ career game: “After struggling for the first 30 minutes, Miller once again came alive to help the Wildcats pull away down the stretch. He converted his first basket with 9:59 left in the game and then scored seven points as part of an 11-2 UK run. With UK leading by five and less than a minute remaining on the clock, Miller was able to break the Vanderbilt press and find sophomore forward Terrence Jones for a dunk.”

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