Off its upset win over Butler on Sunday, Tennessee travels to North Carolina State, which highlights the college basketball games on television for Wednesday night.
Big Blue Links for Wednesday:
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes about John Calipari and the success of Kentucky’s platoon system. “Calipari called Joe Gibbs, Mike Tomlin and Bill Parcells to ask them how to manage two units – offense and defense, for football coaches – into a cohesive team. They told him the same thing: Show them how one side helps the other as often as possible. Be harder on the more successful unit.”
The great Mark Whicker writes for the Los Angeles Daily News that it could be a long year at UCLA if the young players don’t grow up quickly. “No, it hasn’t been a great beginning for the Bruins, whenever they poke their heads out of the Cal State portion of their schedule. They have played three teams of note — Oklahoma, North Carolina and Gonzaga — and lost to all three, although very few teams are going to beat or even compete with these Zags. It’s what happens when three of your 2013-14 players get taken in the first round of the NBA draft, but that happens at the Kentuckys and Dukes, and the tank gets refilled quickly.”
College basketball on television tonight:
- 7:00 – Oral Roberts at Oklahoma (ESPNU)
- 7:00 – North Carolina at UNC-Greensboro (ESPN2)
- 9:00 – Oakland at Arizona (Pac-12)
- 9:00 – Alabama at Wichita State (ESPN2)
- 9:00 – Middle Tennessee at Oklahoma State (ESPNU)
- 9:00 – Arizona State at Marquette (Fox Sprots 1)
- 9:00 – Western Carolina at Vanderbilt (SEC)
Looks like new Florida coach Jim McElwain has made his first significant hire, luring Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins out of Starkville.
Collins, 43, put together a defense that ranked 10th nationally this season in points allowed, but the Bulldogs were 80th in total defense.
MSU coach Dan Mullen reportedly went off on his defensive staff after the Bulldogs’ loss to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. Now his DC is headed to a conference rival.
Despite a 6-5 record that got head coach Will Muschamp fired, Florida was ninth nationally in total defense under D.J. Durkin, a Youngstown, Ohio, native who will be the Gators’ interim coach for Florida’s Birmingham Bowl game with East Carolina.
Tom Izzo plays Jingle Bells on his accordion. https://t.co/fIowVQjik7
— Kevin Pauga (@KevinPauga) December 16, 2014
Big Blue Links for Tuesday:
C’mon UK backers, don’t you feel a little sorry for Indiana basketball fans? asks Mark Story of the Herald-Leader.
ESPN analyst says Alex Poythress injury makes UK even more dangerous, reports Jerry Tipton of Herald-Leader.
Kentucky women’s Bria Goss out four to six weeks with broken thumb, reports Jennifer Smith of Herald-Leader.
Connection with John Schlarman sold Drake Jackson, reports Larry Vaught of Danville Advocate-Messenger.
Danny Trevathan’s season over after latest injury, reports AP.
Kentucky basketball coaches are on the recruiting trail this week, reports Ben Roberts of Next Cats.
Tyler Ulis gets the praise, but Andrew Harrison gets it done, writes Glenn Logan of Sea of Blue.
Steve Spurrier Jr. could be a candidate for UK offensive coordinator position, reports Nation of Blue.
SEC links for Tuesday:
Dan Mullen hasn’t had contact with Michigan, reports Michael Bonner of Clarion-Ledger.
Todd Grantham says he’s proud of time at Georgia, reports Seth Emerson of Macon Telegraph. Grantham is now defensive coordinator at Louisville, which plays Georgia in the Belk Bowl.
Alabama heads back to practice for unique challenger in Sugar Bowl, writes Michael Casagrande of AL.com.
Tennessee’s Donnie Tyndall may be worth the risk, writes Mark Wiedmer of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates declares for NFL Draft, reports Ryan Black of Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.
Ole Miss unveils stadium upgrade plan, reports Parrish Alford of NE Mississippi Daily Journal.
Rebels optimistic despite loss of offensive guard, reports Alex Scarborough of espn.com.
Vandy’s Riley LaChane is a good dirty basketball player, reports Adam Sparks of the Tennessean. LaChance led the Commodores to win over Purdue on Saturday.
LSU’s Josh Gray is receiving aggressive treatment for his ankle injury, reports Sheldon Mickles of The Advocate.
Ticket sales are slow for South Carolina in Independence Bowl, reports Josh Kendall of The State.
With many schools in final exams week, there is a light basketball schedule this week. Only two games on television Monday:
- 7:00 – Elon at Duke (ESPNU)
- 10:00 – Grambling State at Oregon State (Pac-12)
Running some numbers on Kentucky’s 84-70 win over North Carolina on Saturday:
Kentucky shot 56.3 percent, its fourth-highest shooting percentage of the season. The Cats shot 57.6 vs. Boston, 56.9 vs. Eastern Kentucky and 56.6 vs. Texas-Arlington.
UK’s shooting percentage was by far the highest against North Carolina this season. UCLA held the previous high at 38.6.
Kentucky made seven of 15 three-pointers. That’s the most threes that UK has made in a game since going eight of 18 from three against Texas-Arlington. The 46.7 was the highest three-point percentage for a game in which the Cats attempted at least 15 three-pointers since UK was nine of 16 for 56.3 percent against Georgia in last season’s SEC Tournament.
Aaron Harrison had made just 10 of 44 three-pointers this season. He made three of seven on Saturday.
Booker had made just one of 13 threes in his last two games. He made five of eight on Saturday.
UK was 23 of 31 from the foul line for 74.2 percent. That’s the highest free throw percentage for a game in which UK shot at least 30 free throws since UK was 33 of 42 for 78.6 percent in that loss at South Carolina last season. That’s the game John Calipari got tossed in the second half.
Kentucky averaged 1.259 points per possession, the fourth time this season the Cats have topped 1.2. UK averaged 1.250 vs. Grand Canyon, 1.215 vs. Montana State, 1.284 vs. UT-Arlington.
The 1.259 was the high by a North Carolina opponent this year. The previous high was 0.984 by Davidson.
North Carolina shot 45 percent, the first team to shoot 40 percent or better against Kentucky this season. Boston had come the closest, shooting 38.5 percent.
North Carolina averaged 1.049 points per possession, easily the best against the Cats this season. Columbia held the previous high at 0.904.
North Carolina’s offensive rebound percentage was 58.1, the best by a Kentucky opponent since Tennessee last season claimed 62.5 percent of its offensive rebounds against the Cats way back on Feb. 6, 2013.
That 58.1 offensive rebounding percentage was a high for North Carolina’s season to this point. Its previous high was 52.6 vs. Robert Morris.
Even with that high ORP, North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks saw his double-double streak stopped at three. Meeks had 18 points and 13 rebounds against Florida, 15 and 12 against Iowa and 12 and 11 against ECU. He managed just 10 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes against Kentucky.
The Tar Heels had made just five of 30 three-pointers before making six of 13 Saturday against UK at Rupp.
J.P. Tokoto turned it over a season-high six times in his 26 minutes. Marcus Paige had six assists but turned it over four times.
Dakari Johnson had a career-high three steals for Kentucky.
This was the second-slowest game North Carolina has played this season. The numbers gave the Heels just 66.7 possessions. North Carolina got just 62.1 possessions in its 60-55 home loss to Iowa.
Foul trouble limited North Carolina freshman Justin Jackson to a season-low 18 minutes. Jackson scored a season-low four points and grabbed just one rebound.
After scoring 19 points and grabbing a career-high 17 rebounds in a win over ECU, Brice Johnson scored 15 points, but had just four rebounds against Kentucky.
After missing the previous two games, Tyler Ulis had eight assists. The freshman has 33 assists in nine games this year.
Big Blue Links for Monday:
Bench bails out UK women in 71-55 win over Belmont, reports Jennifer Smith of Herald-Leader. “We just don’t seem to really try to play our best,” UK coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It just seems like we kind of play for whatever the situation’s asking. I don’t like that. I don’t think that’s a great policy in life.”
East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley answers questions about the Kentucky job, reports Nation of Blue.
Rick Pitino simmers as Louisville struggles with UNC-Wilmington, reports Adam Himmeslbach of the Courier-Journal. “Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s postgame press conference lasted one minute and 46 seconds. He gave an opening statement, he took two questions, and then he cut the session short and stepped down from the podium. He was simmering.”
Quinton Baker says Kentucky is still his top choice, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. Baker had recently decommitted from the Cats, saying it was too early.
UK players know how much they will miss Alex Poythress, reports Larry Vaught of the Danville Advocate-Messenger. “Everyone has to step it up more, I’d say. With Alex’s absence, he does things that no one else do. All those blocked shots that he gets, all those dunks, no one else can do that. So everyone else has to up their game, I would say,” Devin Booker said.
Herald-Leader has NFL notes regarding Kentucky football players on Sunday.
Kentucky football target commits to Southern Miss, reports Ben Roberts of Herald-Leader.
Azia Bishop’s double-double helps guide UK women, writes Kevin Erpenbeck of the Kernel. “Bishop lost her starting spot against Middle Tennessee State on Friday after starting the first nine games of the season. She said coming off the bench actually helps her feel more comfortable because she can see the flow of the game from the sideline.”
After turning it over a season-high 28 times on Friday, UK turned it around tonight with just 11 turnovers.
— Jen Smith (@jenheraldleader) December 15, 2014
Guy Ramsey of Cat Scratches also wrote on Bishop’s play. “Starting, it really doesn’t affect me like that, but just coming off the bench is more comfortable for me just because I get to see the flow of the game and know what I have to come in and do,” Bishop said. “And I think that’s given me the extra push and the extra oomph to go out there and play harder.”
Pitino nearly speechless, Montrezl Harrell plenty perturbed, writes Rick Bozich of WDRB. “When we came out in the first-half, we came out unprepared on offense and defense,” Harrell said. “Guys were just walking around like they didn’t want to play, not prepared to play this game today. We got to lay it on the line for 40 minutes. All the little off to the side court stuff, all the stuff we go through, all the little stuff we go through off the court, don’t bring that onto the court.”