BBL: Kentucky women come through on Rocky Top

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Big Blue Links for Monday:

The H-L’s Jennifer Smith was in Knoxville and reports on the UK women’s win over the Lady Vols.

In front of a national television audience and a rowdy crowd of 15,664, Kentucky was able to grab an eight-point advantage midway through the second half on made free throws.

But then the Cats had to withstand a hefty 15-4 Lady Vols rally that had the crowd on its feet and had Tennessee up 67-64 with 4:30 to go.

“When this crowd starts getting on you,” Mitchell trailed off shaking his head. “(Our team) really, really fought back and made positive plays to quiet everyone back down.”

Related link: ESPN’s Charlie Creme on the UK win at Thompson-Boling

Rob Dauster of College Basketball Talk says Kentucky played better Saturday than score indicated.

Perhaps most impressive was the Wildcats defense. The final numbers aren’t all that impressive — Florida shot 44.0% from the floor, got to the line 28 times and only committed five turnovers — but that was a combination of Wilbekin hitting tough shots and Prather getting easy buckets in transition. When Kentucky was able to get their defense set, Florida struggled. The Wildcats gave the Gators a number of different looks (straight man-to-man, switching man-to-man, a 2-3 zone) and, for the most part, it was really effective.

The issue with Kentucky all season long has been their defense, and for 30 minutes on Saturday night, the Wildcats played terrific on that end of the floor.

Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun writes that Casey Prather was Florida’s catalyst.

Prather finished with 24 points, four rebounds and four steals in No. 3 UF’s 69-59 win over No. 14 Kentucky before 24,425 fans at Rupp Arena.

The 6-foot-6 senior from Jackson, Tenn., posted his sixth 20-plus point game of the season and his highest-scoring game since going for 27 points against Jacksonville on Nov. 25, 2013. Prather had scored just once in double-figures his previous four games since injuring his ankle Jan. 30 at Mississippi State.

Related link: My column on how recruiting hype has obscured fact this has been a senior season

Former UK baseball coach John Cohen recorded his 500th career win as Mississippi State beat Western Carolina on Sunday.

Jordan Baker Cohen wasn’t going to miss it.

So she hopped in her car and drove the 703 miles to see her father, Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen, pick up one of his biggest career milestones Sunday — win No. 500.

“My daughter drove all the way from Lexington, Va., … out of the 16 inches of snow there to surprise me. I was talking to Jeff Brantley and my daughter walked up,” John Cohen said in a news release. “It was great to see her. That was a lot of fun.”

A crowd of 8,061 in Starkville witnessed Cohen’s 500th career victory as Mississippi State’s offense drove in five runs with two outs in the third inning en route to a 7-2 series-clinching win against Western Carolina at Dudy Field.

Photo from Tennessee-Kentucky women’s game by Wade Payne/AP.

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