Big Blue Links for Friday:
Jerry Tipton of Herald-Leader details Kentucky’s second overtime loss to Arkansas this season. Two free throws by Rashad Madden tied it with 29.6 seconds left. Now wise about Kentucky’s drive-drive-drive attack, Coty Clarke came over as a help defender and blocked Andrew Harrison’s — what else? — driving shot.”
Mark Story of Herald-Leader says there is little evidence that John Calipari’s magic will take hold of this young team this season. “Kentucky fans invested hope that the current Cats, like the 2011 Wildcats of Brandon Knight, Josh Harrellson and Co., could jell late and make a Final Four run. Given the uncertainties of March Madness, that could still happen. But after a disappointing Thursday night in Rupp Arena, let’s be blunt: There’s no tangible sign at this point that John Calipari’s 2014 Cats have a magical march through March in them.”
Kentucky’s women fend off a Mississippi State upset bid to win 81-74 in overtime in Starkville. Bria Goss scored eight of her 20 points in overtime.
The Kentucky men’s loss Thursday night means that Florida has now clinched the SEC basketball title outright. The Gators have now won six conference titles under Billy Donovan.
Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal writes that Arkansas spoiled UK’s rally. “The Cats’ comeback — then collapse — came after perhaps their ugliest 20 minutes of the season in the first half. Arkansas used an early 19-4 run to take a 26-15 lead with 8:10 to go before the break. That lead grew as big as 12 points and was seven at halftime.”
T.J. Walker of Cats Illustrated calls the loss a stunner. “Arkansas players said UK looked tired and that might have contributed to its poor free throw shooting, but the Cats said that wasn’t the case. UK finished just 12-of-22 from the line.”
South Carolina won its first SEC women’s basketball title, reports David Cloninger of The State. The Gamecocks beat Georgia 67-56 to take the crown.
David Paschall of the Chattanooga Times Free Press writes that Georgia is looking for a song to energize its football fans. “We don’t have a go-to song,” AD Greg McGarity said. “We don’t have a song right now that our fans, when they hear it, act like some of the fans of other schools when they hear their songs. We’ve never really had a go-to song or something people hear that makes them react in a certain way.”
Georgia’s basketball attendance has improved this season, but it’s far from impressive, reports Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph. “Georgia’s increase can be attributed in part to the team’s performance in SEC play. But student attendance has seen a noticeable increase as well, thanks to the recent change to let students in free of charge. The average student attendance turnout this year is 1,047 per game, according to UGA. Last year the average was 762.”
Ryan Black of the Columbus Ledger-Enqurier writes that the more Gus Malzahn wins, the better is it for high school coaches. After all, the Auburn coach first made his name as a high school coach in Arkansas before leading Auburn to the national title game.
- Herald-Leader photo gallery from Kentucky-Arkansas
- Running some numbers from Cats-Hogs
- So much for happy talk, and more from UK loss