Friday, February 26, 2010

Kentucky vs Tennessee.....Preview 2

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Kentucky vs Tennessee...Preview 2
2/27/10 Saturday at NOON-EST/11AM-CST (CBS)


Location-Knoxville, Tenn.

Head Coach-Bruce Pearl
Career Record-415-121(77.4%) 17 seasons
At Tennessee-98-37 (72.6%) 4 seasons

2008-09 Record-21-13
2008-09 SEC Record-10-6
2008-09 Postseason-0-1 NCAA

2009-10 Record-20-7
2009-10 SEC Record-8-5

Tennessee 83 Austin Peay 54
Tennessee 124 UNC Ashville 49
Tennessee 105 East Carolina 66
Tennessee 57 DePaul 53
Purdue 73 Tennessee 72
Tennessee 86 College of Charleston 69
Tennessee 78 East Tennessee St. 66
Tennessee 75 Middle Tennessee 54
Tennessee 77 Wyoming 58
USC 77 Tennessee 55
Tennessee 99 North Carolina A&T 78
Tennessee 66 Memphis 59
Tennessee 88 Charlotte 71
Tennessee 76 Kansas 68
Tennessee 81 Auburn 55
Tennessee 71 Ole Miss 69 (OT)
Tennessee 63 Alabama 56
Georgia 78 Tennessee 63
Vanderbilt 85 Tennessee 76
Tennessee 61 Florida 60
Tennessee 59 LSU 54
Tennessee 79 South Carolina 53
Vanderbilt 90 Tennessee 71
Kentucky 73 Vanderbilt 62
Tennessee 69 Georgia 60
Tennessee 63 South Carolina 55
Florida 75 Tennessee 62

Tennessee Stats / UK Stats

PPG-74.9 / 80.5
FG%-45.6% / 48.0%
3 Point%-33.0% / 35.8%
FT%-66.0% / 67.6%
Rebounds-36.6 / 42.5
Assists-14.7 / 15.2
TO’s-13.1 / 15.0
Steals-8.4 / 7.3
Blocks-3.7 / 7.1

Probable Starting Lineup

Renaldo Woolridge F-6’8” So. (PPG-3.8)
Wayne Chism C-6’9” Sr. (PPG-12.9)
Bobby Maze G 6’3” Sr. (PPG-9.4)
J.P. Prince G-6’7” Sr. (PPG-8.3)
Scotty Hopson G 6’7” So. (PPG-12.9)

Other Key Players

Skylar McBee G-6’3” Fr.. (PPG-4.0)
Kenny Hall F-6’8” Fr. (PPG-4.5)
Melvin Goins G-511” Jr. (PPG-5.4)

Four of the Vols five SEC losses have come on the road at UK, Vandy, Georgia and Florida…..their one loss at home was to Vandy. Tennessee is always tough at home and they proved that in spades this season by defeating #1 ranked Kansas in Knoxville. Overall, Tennessee is a top 20 team that starts 3 seniors and has a very talented starting 5. Despite dismissing senior Tyler Smith from the team early in the season, the Vols have adjusted nicely and had a solid season. Sophomore Scotty Hopson along with Wayne Chism lead the team in scoring. Hopson is the Vols leading 3 point shooter hitting 42-111 for 37.8% while Chism is the leading rebounder at 6.9 PG and shot blocker… addition, for a big man….Chism is a good 3 point shooter and has hit 26 for the season thus far. J.P. Prince provides excellent defense and leads Tennessee in steals with 44. Coach Pearl is not shy about going to the bench with several players getting meaningful minutes.

Wayne Chism who has been playing with some hip problems, took a nasty fall in the Florida game and hurt that same hip. Chism because of foul difficulty and the fall….only played 15 minutes against Florida. Chism was in obvious pain after the fall and his physical condition for the UK game has not been discussed, although the best guess is that Chism will play if at all possible. In the first meeting, coach Pearl had the Vols slow the game down using a lot of clock on most possessions and Tennessee trailed UK by only 60-56 at the 6:13 mark…..but, after that….the Cats stretched the lead and won by 11 points. Whether Pearl will employ the same strategy or speed the game up is not known, but playing at home in Knoxville might encourage Pearl to change strategy. This game, coach Pearl will have the services of 6’10” Brian Williams who is now off of suspension, so that might influence Pearl’s game strategy. You can bet that Tennessee and the home crowd will be sky high in an effort to defeat the #2 ranked Cats.

UK comes to Knoxville less than 48 hours after defeating South Carolina at Rupp arena. The Cats got tremendous play from Patterson who had 23 points and 8 rebounds….and Cousins who added yet another double double with19 points and 11 rebounds. Darius Miller also played a solid game with 7 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks and zero TO’s. Super talented John Wall has struggled from the field the past 3 games hitting only 13-42 for 30.9%.... and 3-16 from 3 point range over the past 5 games….but, importantly Wall contributes in so many ways by directing the Cats offense, playing solid defense and making a great play when it’s needed.

Unfortunately, UK, as a team, continues to struggle from the perimeter….the past 6 SEC games…..UK is 25-103 for a pitiful 24.2%. This is a definite concern going forward… Jimmy Dykes pointed out at halftime….all 5 recent NCAA champions were excellent from 3 point range averaging around 39%-40%. The Cats 24.2% pales in comparison. The Cats got out of Nashville with a win by playing great defense….but with poor shooting from the field and free throw line. It will be difficult to get road wins or NCAA wins with subpar shooting from the field or free throw line. Hopefully, UK will regain their shooting touch ASAP.

Bruce Pearl’s orange coat won’t be enough to overcome these super talented Cats who will looking for their 28th win of the season. Cats win by 5-7 points. GO CATS!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kentucky vs South Carolina.....Preview 2

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Kentucky vs South Carolina...(Preview 2)
2/25/10 Thursday at 9PMEST/8PMCST (ESPN2)

South Carolina

Location-Columbia, SC

Head Coach-Darrin Horn
Career Record-132-58- (69.5%) 6 seasons
At South Carolina-21-10 (67.7%) 1 season

2008-09 Record-21-10
2008-09 SEC Record-10-6
2008-09 Postseason-0-1 NIT-1st Round

2009-10 Record-14-12
2009-10 SEC Record-5-7

South Carolina 88 Alabama A&M 50
South Carolina 90 Georgia Southern 66
South Carolina 78 LaSalle 68
South Carolina 69 South Florida 66
Miami, Fl. 85 South Carolina 70
South Carolina 97 Jacksonville 93
South Carolina 74 Western Ky. 56
Clemson 72 South Carolina 61
South Carolina 76 Richmond 58
Wofford 68 South Carolina 61
South Carolina 81 Furman 57
Boston College 85 South Carolina 76
Baylor 85 South Carolina 74
South Carolina 88 Longwood 58
South Carolina 80 Auburn 71
South Carolina 67 LSU 58
Vanderbilt 89 South Carolina 79
Ole Miss 66 South Carolina57
Florida 58 South Carolina 56
South Carolina 68 Kentucky 62
South Carolina 78 Georgia 77
Tennessee 79 South Carolina 53
South Carolina 77 Florida 71
Georgia 66 South Carolina 61
Arkansas 92 South Carolina 79
Tennessee 63 South Carolina 55

South Carolina Stats / UK Stats

PPG-72.8 / 80.4
FG%-41.7% / 48.0%
3 Point%-32.8% / 36.0%
FT%-64.9% / 67.3%
Rebounds-35.5 / 42.3
Assists-9.9 / 15.3
TO’s-12.5 / 15.1
Steals-8.7 / 7.2
Blocks-6.4 / 7.1

Probable Starting Lineup

Lakeem Jackson F-6’5” Fr. (PPG-6.7)
Evaldas Baniulis F-6’7” Sr. (PPG-2.6)
Sam Muldrow F 6’9” Jr. (PPG-9.9)
Devan Downey G-5’9”” Sr. (PPG-22.7)
Brandis Raley-Ross G 6’2” Sr. (PPG-11.4)

Other Key Players

Ramon Galloway G-6’2” Fr. (PPG-7.1)
Stephen Spinella G-6’5” Fr. (PPG-1.5)
Austin Steed F-6’8” Jr. (PPG-3.3)
Johndre Jefferson F-6’9” Jr. (PPG-2.3)

South Carolina which suffered an early season embarrassing loss to Wofford….did catch lighting in a bottle once this season..….when they upset #1 ranked and undefeated UK at Columbia. That’s pretty much all the Gamecocks have had to cheer about all season. After defeating UK, South Carolina has lost 4-6 SEC games and are barely above .500 with a 14-12 overall record.

In fairness to coach Darin Horn, who is a solid coach, the Gamecocks lost senior 6’7” Dominque Archie to a early season ending injury. Archie was the 2nd leading scorer and leading rebounder….plus 6’7” junior Mike Holmes was dismissed from the team. Still, the Gamecocks start three seniors and a junior….plus they have the SEC’s leading scorer in guard Devan Downey who is averaging 22.7 PPG. The 5’9”Downey is a quick and clever guard with a great ability to get to the basket or get open for a shot. Downey has taken an incredible 491 FG attempts thus far this season which is 19 per game. In contrast, UK’s John Wall, who leads the Cats in FG attempts, has taken only 307 or 184 fewer shots. Needless to say, the Gamecocks heavily depend on Downey’s scoring. In addition, Downey’s 167 FT attempts is evidence that he is very successful at drawing fouls while penetrating to the basket….and importantly, Downey is a superb FT shooter hitting 83.2% while also leading the team in assists at 3.5 PG.

Although, Downey is South Carolina’s go to player and leading scorer….senior guard Brandis Raley-Ross is 2nd in scoring and the best perimeter shooter for the Gamecocks hitting 56-147 for a solid 38.6%. The other primary scorer is junior forward Sam Muldrow who leads the team in rebounds. Unquestionably, having two starting senior guards with the talent and experience of Downey and Raley-Ross is a huge plus for South Carolina, but the Gamecocks do not have a great frontline…especially after losing Archie….nor are they a deep team off the bench.

However, the fact is that these same Gamecocks have handed UK it’s only defeat of the season. Obviously, South Carolina would love to catch lighting in a bottle a second time, but there is a big difference in playing UK at Rupp arena vs in Columbia. Still, the Gamecocks will be sky high playing relaxed with nothing to lose…and they are still dangerous.

In contrast, UK is fresh off two huge victories on the road against a tough Mississippi St. team in Starkville and an equally tough Vandy team in Nashville. These were truly great wins at two of the most difficult away venue’s in the SEC. Importantly, the Cats played great defense in both games….and Patrick Patterson stepped up with two tremendous games. Against Miss. St., Patterson scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds….while against Vandy…Patterson had 13 points and 13 rebounds. However, the Cats not only struggled shooting in these two games, but overall in the past 5 games.

Against LSU….UK was 44.8% from the field…5-17 for 29.4% from 3 point range and 16-23 from the FT line for 69.6%.

Against Alabama….UK was 45.8% from the field…..3-16 for 18.8% from 3 point range and 19-31 from the FT line for 61.3%

Against Tennessee….UK was 44.4% from the field….7-19 from 3 point range and 18-30 from the FT line for 60.0%

Against Mississippi St…..UK was 42.4% from the field…. . 4-24 from 3 point range for 16.7% and 21-31 from the FT line for 67.7%

Against Vanderbilt….UK was 35.8% from the field….3-16 from the 3 point line for 18.8% and 17-30 from the FT line for 56.7%

The totals for these past 5 SEC games are as follows….FG%-42.7%....3 Point shots-22-92 for 23.9%......FT%-91-145 for 62.7%

These stats are not intended to take away from UK’s recent wins, but only to point out danger areas in shooting that must be significantly improved on if the Cats are to make a deep run in the NCAA. Although FG % is down 5% from the season’s average, it’s the 3 point shooting and FT shooting that are the most worrisome. In 3 of the 5 games, UK has shot under 20% from the perimeter and hitting only 23.9% in the recent 5 games is a horrible shooting percentage. As coach Cal has said, the Cats are much better 3 point shooters than they have recently shown….it’s a matter of good shot selection and confidence. Certainly, FT shooting is often critical in games and not infrequently determines the winner….the Cat’s are shooting a terrible 62.7% over the past 5 games including a dismal 56.7% against Vandy.

Yes, UK did get 5 important SEC wins, but it was due primarily to the Cats very solid defense, some very key plays and a great will to win…..but, shooting as poorly as the Cats have in the past 5 games means they are living on the edge.

In addition, the 3 position held by committee is also struggling offensively. Over the past 5 SEC games….Dodson is 2-15 from 3 point range….Miller 2-9……and Liggins 5-16 for a combined 9-40 or a very poor 22.5%.

Yes, the Cats are an amazing 26-1 and they have faced every team’s best effort and hostile sold out crowds on the road….and these young super talented Cats have prevailed except at South Carolina…..but, these recent stats should be a wakeup call for UK to really focus on improving their shooting from the field and FT line as much as possible.

UK is now down to their final 4 SEC games before the SEC tourney starting with South Carolina. Hopefully, the Cats will continue their vastly improved defense, work on reducing TO’s and increase their shooting percentages. Certainly, the Cats will be anxious to pay back the Gamecocks for the loss at Columbia. I look for a very focused UK team that takes the Gamecocks to the woodshed and wins by 12-15 points. GO CATS!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kentucky vs Vanderbilt......A Preview..Part 2

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Kentucky vs Vanderbilt..A Preview..Part 2
(2/20/10 Saturday-6PMEST/5PMCST)


Location-Nashville, Tn

Head Coach-Kevin Stallings
Career Record-312-191 (62.0%) 16 seasons
At Vandebilt-189-128 (59.6%) 10 seasons

2008-09 Record-19-12
2008-09 SEC Record-8-8
2008-09 Postseason -None

2009-10 Record-20-5
2009-10 SEC Record-9-2

Vanderbilt 95 Lipscomb 73
Vanderbilt 72 St. Mary’s (Calif) 70
Cincinnati 67 Vanderbilt 58
Vanderbilt 68 Chaminade 41
Vanderbilt 84 Arizona 72
Vanderbilt 89 Missouri 83
Vanderbilt 67 DePaul 54
Illinois 79 Vanderbilt 68
Western Ky. 76 Vanderbilt 69
Vanderbilt 84 Tennessee St. 71
Vanderbilt 99 Mercer 59
Vanderbilt 86 Manhattan 48
Vanderbilt 82 Southern Miss 46
Vanderbilt 73 Middle Tenn. St. 53
Vanderbilt 95 Florida 87
Vanderbilt 65 Alabama 64
Vanderbilt 89 South Carolina 79
Vanderbilt 82 Auburn 74
Vanderbilt 85 Tennessee 76
Kentucky 85 Vanderbilt 72
Vanderbilt 75 Mississippi St. 72
Georgia 72 Vanderbilt 58
Vanderbilt 90 Tennessee 71
Vanderbilt 77 LSU 69
Vanderbilt 82 Ole Miss 78

Vanderbilt Stats / Kentucky Stats

PPG-78.4 / 81.3
FG%-48.4% / 48.4%
3 Point FG%-36.7% / 36.6%
FT%-70.5% / 68.8%
Rebounds-36.3 / 42.6
Assists-13.3 / 15.6
TO’s-14.0 / 15.2
Steals-6.2 / 7.2
Blocks-5.8 / 7.2

Probable Starting Lineups

Andre Walker F-6’7” So. (PPG-6.0)
Jeffery Taylor F-6’7” So. (PPG-13.9)
A.J. Ogilvy C-6’11” Jr. (PPG-13.3)
Jermaine Beal G-6’3” Sr. (PPG-14.8)
Brad Tinsley G-6’3” So. (PPG-7.7)

Other Key Players

Lance Goulbourne F-6’8” So. (PPG-3.8)
John Jenkins G-6’4” Fr. (PPG-10.4)
Steve Tchiengang F-6’9” So. (PPG-3.2)

Vanderbilt in defeating Ole Miss has now won 14 of their last16 games….with only away losses to UK and Georgia. The Dores have a season record of 20-5 and are 9-2 in the SEC East…...2nd only to UK. Importantly, Vandy is currently ranked 17th in the AP and 19th in USA Today. This very good record is not a shock for a team that spent 10 days in Austraila in August and returned every starter from last season. Vandy over the years has often been an over achieving team…...fundamentally sound in executing it’s offense and defense….typically having some good perimeter shooters…..but, not having overall great talent or being a great athletic team. Coach Kevin Stallings, who has coached the Dores over the past 10 years, is recognized as one of the best coaches in the SEC.

Vandy is led in scoring by Sr. Jermaine Beal who is shooting a nifty 39.2% from the perimeter hitting 56-143 shots. Brad Tinsley and Beal lead the team in assists with 73 and 70 respectfully. Jeffery Taylor and A.J. Ogilvy are both scoring in double figures and are shooting 50% plus from the field……in addition, Taylor and Ogilvy are the Dores leading rebounders.

Vandy has always been tough to beat in Nashville and this season is no different…..currently, the Dores are 13-0 at home including a 5-0 SEC record on their home court. When UK comes calling..…it is always a huge game….and Vandy is encouraging all their fans to wear gold…..arrive early….and make a ton of noise!
The Dores will be wanting to even the score after losing to the Cats in Rupp Arena 85-72.

UK, the survivor of a an extremely hard fought OT win in Starkville against Miss. St. will likely be going from the fire into the frying pan in Nashville. Although, as rabid as Vandy fans have been, it is very doubtful that they repeat the recent classless actions of some Bulldog fans.

Horrible shooting from the perimeter….4-24…. by UK against Miss. St. made the game a lot closer than it needed to be. In fact, in reviewing 3 point shooting the past 4 games…..UK was 3-16 against Alabama…..7-19 against Tennessee….5-17 against LSU …..and 4-24 against Mississippi St. The overall total for the past 4 games is a very poor 19-76 for only 25% from long range. Obviously, the Cats will be facing more and more varying zone defenses….packing it in to take away touches for Cousins or Patterson….and daring the Cats to make 3 point shots. Hopefully, UK is only in a temporary shooting slump from long range, because to win the remaining SEC games and be successful in the NCAA….the Cats need to hit at least 33% from the perimeter and likely more.

On the plus side, DeMarcus Cousins continues to be a beast in the paint..….Patrick Patterson is now much more aggressive on the offensive and defensive ends…..while John Wall is hitting on all cylinders with great play….only excepting a few too many TO’s at times. It was great to see Darius Miller finally put together a solid game and DeAndre Liggins remains a consistent solid contributor off the bench.

UK is obviously getting everyone’s best game and most hostile crowd on the road. The Vandy game in Nashville has been historically rough on the Cats as UK has lost their last 4 games in Nashville. In reviewing the UK win over Vandy in Lexington….UK was smoking hot from 3 point range hitting 12-23 while Vandy was 5-15. While I don’t expect UK to repeat that torrid 3 point shooting, they will need to shoot a decent percentage from long range. Also, the Cats out rebounded Vandy by a huge number…41-22….again, I don’t expect a repeat of that huge rebounding advantage, but it will be important for the Cats to significantly out rebound the Dores….especially on the offensive boards.

As coach Calipari has said…..all the remaining games will be very tough and challenging…..perhaps none more than the Vandy game. It will be critical for these young Cats to play with intensity….take care of the ball… solid defense…..and shoot a good percentage from the field and free throw line. In short, UK needs to bring their A game against the Dores! This will be a very close game…..but, I see UK winning by 3-5 points. GO CATS!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kentucky vs Mississippi St.......A Preview

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Kentucky vs Mississippi State...A Preview
2/16/10 Tuesday at 9PMEST/8PMCST (ESPN)

Mississippi State

Location-Starkville, Miss.

Head Coach-Rick Stansbury
Career Record-231-128 (64.0%) 11 seasons
All at Mississippi St.

2008-09 Record-23-13
2008-09 SEC Record-9-7
2008-09 Post-season-NCAA-0-1

2009-10 Record-18-7
2009-10 SEC Record-6-4

Rider 88 Miss. St. 74
Miss. St. 82 SE Louisiana 67
Miss. St. 67 Bethune-Cookman51
Miss. St. 75 Texas-Pan American 50
Richmond 63 Miss. St. 62
Miss. St. 69 Old Dominion 55
Miss. St. 105 St. Bonaventure 53
Miss. St. 76 DePaul 45
Miss. St. 72 UCLA 54
Miss. St. 80 Wright St. 69
Miss. St. 70 Houston 64
Miss. St. 88 Centenary 51
Miss. St. 73 Miss. Valley St. 45
Miss. St. 77 San Diego 68
Western Ky. 55 Miss. St. 52
Miss St. 80 Ole Miss 75
Miss. St. 82 Arkansas 80
Alabama 62 Miss. St. 57
Arkansas 67 Miss. St. 62
Miss. St. 67 LSU 51
Vanderbilt 75 Miss. St. 72
Florida 69 Miss. St. 62
Miss. St. 71 Ole Miss 63
Miss. St 85 Auburn 75 (OT)

Miss. St. Stats / UK Stats

PPG-73.3 / 81.3
FG%-43.4% / 48.6%
3 Point%-36.5% / 37.8%
FT%-68.0% / 67.8%
Rebounds-41.4 / 42.2
Assists-12.6 / 15.6
TO’s-13.3 / 15.3
Steals-5.7 / 7.3
Blocks-8.2 / 7.0
Probable Starting Lineup

Kodi Augustus F-6’8” Jr. (PPG-8.8)
Jarvis Varnado F-6’9” Sr. (PPG-13.3)
Ravern Johnson G/F 6’7” Jr. (PPG-13.7)
Dee Bost G-6’2” Soph. (PPG-12.0)
Barry Stewart G 6’2” Sr. (PPG-11.4)

Other Key Players

Phil Turner G-6’3” Jr.. (PPG-6.0)
Romero Osby F-6’8” Soph. (PPG-5.1)

Mississippi St. returns all 5 starters from last season including senior Jarvis Varnado….the human fly swatter. Coach Rick Stansbury has been at Starkville for 11 years and had the Bulldogs in the NCAA 6 times. After suffering early season disappointing losses to Rider and Richmond, Miss. St. has had an overall good preseason. With the exception of the opening loss to Rider at home, the Bulldogs have won every home game since….for an 11-1 record on their home court. It’s been the road games in the SEC that have been difficult for Miss. St… all 4 losses in the SEC have come on the road.

The Bulldogs have 4 starters scoring in double figures…led by Ravern Johnson at 13.7 PPG and Jarvis Varnado at 13.3 PPG. Importantly, both Johnson and Varnado are hitting over 50% from the field. Johnson is the team’s leading 3 point shooter….hitting 65-151 for an excellent 43.0% from the perimeter…..while Varnado leads the Bulldogs in rebounds with 11.3 per game. However, what sets Varnado apart from other centers is his incredible shot blocking ability. He has surpassed Shaquille O’Neal as the all time leading shot blocker in SEC history. This season, thus far, Varnado has an amazing 125 block shots….while UK’s leading shot blocker….DeMarcus Cousins…has 44 blocked shots. Dee Bost and Barry Stewart both shoot a lot of 3 point shots….and are hitting a solid 34.1% and 36.4% respectively. Bost leads the team in assists with 130 or a very good 5.2 per game.

Mississippi St. is a veteran team starting 2 seniors, 2 juniors and a sophomore….they have proven to be exceedingly tough on their home court….11-1 over at home and 5-0 in the SEC. The Bulldogs will be a very tough team to beat in Starkville.

UK arrives in Starkville with a big win over 12th ranked Tennessee at ESPN Gameday in Lexington. The Cats are now 24-1 and lead the SEC East with a 9-1 record. UK found the Vols zone a tough nut to crack and certainly the Tennessee game plan of running the shot clock down and slowing the Cats down worked for ¾ of the game. It is always frustrating for UK’s speedy freshmen to have to deal with half court delay zones, but they are likely to face this strategy frequently in future games. Importantly, super guards Wall and Bledsoe took the game over in the final 10 minutes with Wall getting a number of key baskets and Bledsoe nailing 2 critical 3 pointers. Wall totaled 24 points and Bledsoe pitched in 16 points…..great job by both guards. Hats off to DeAndre Liggins for another great game off the bench….Liggins contributed 7 points…4 rebounds….4 assists….and 2 big steals….while continuing to play terrific defense! DeMarcus Cousins had an off game offensively….missed 7-8 free throws…..but, importantly, the big fella hauled down 12 rebounds. Poor free throw shooting continues to be a serious problem….with UK hitting only 18-30….that’s two straight games UK has hit a very poor 60% from the charity line. Needless to say, in close remaining SEC games and certainly in the NCAA…..shooting only 60% from the free throw line could easily cost the Cats games.

UK now embarks on their final 6 SEC regular season games….4 of which are on the road….and all promise to be huge challenges. It starts Tuesday against a veteran Bulldog team that rarely losses at home. Miss. St. averages nearly 25 perimeter shots per game and they shoot a very decent 36.5%. The Cats will need to do a solid job in defending the 3 point shot…..while minimizing TO’s. UK is virtually down to a 7 player rotation as Darius Miller’s minutes continue to erode. It’s now Liggins and Orton who garner almost all the bench minutes.

I see a very focused UK team that plays a solid game in Starkville and wins number 25 by 8-10 points. GO CATS!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Kentucky vs Tennessee......A Preview

WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Tennessee……A Preview
2/13/10 Saturday at 9PMEST/8PMCST
ESPN College Gameday Rivalry Week


Location-Knoxville, Tenn.

Head Coach-Bruce Pearl
Career Record-415-121(77.4%) 17 seasons
At Tennessee-98-37 (72.6%) 4 seasons

2008-09 Record-21-13
2008-09 SEC Record-10-6
2008-09 Postseason-0-1 NCAA

2009-10 Record-18-5
2009-10 SEC Record-6-3

Tennessee 83 Austin Peay 54
Tennessee 124 UNC Ashville 49
Tennessee 105 East Carolina 66
Tennessee 57 DePaul 53
Purdue 73 Tennessee 72
Tennessee 86 College of Charleston 69
Tennessee 78 East Tennessee St. 66
Tennessee 75 Middle Tennessee 54
Tennessee 77 Wyoming 58
USC 77 Tennessee 55
Tennessee 99 North Carolina A&T 78
Tennessee 66 Memphis 59
Tennessee 88 Charlotte 71
Tennessee 76 Kansas 68
Tennessee 81 Auburn 55
Tennessee 71 Ole Miss 69 (OT)
Georgia 78 Tennessee 63
Vanderbilt 85 Tennessee 76
Tennessee 61 Florida 60
Tennessee 59 LSU 54
Tennessee 79 South Carolina 53
Vanderbilt 90 Tennessee 71

Tennessee Stats / UK Stats

PPG-76.7 / 82.6
FG%-46.1% / 48.8%
3 Point%-33.1% / 37.8%
FT%-66.3% / 68.2%
Rebounds-37.2 / 42.3
Assists-15.0 / 15.8
TO’s-12.8 / 15.3
Steals-8.6 / 7.4
Blocks-3.7 / 7.1

Probable Starting Lineup

Renaldo Woolridge F-6’8” So. (PPG-4.0)
Wayne Chism C-6’9” Sr. (PPG-13.1)
Bobby Maze G 6’3” Sr. (PPG-8.8)
J.P. Prince G-6’7” Sr. (PPG-8.1)
Scotty Hopson G 6’7” So. (PPG-13.1)

Other Key Players

Skylar McBee G-6’3” Fr.. (PPG-4.6)
Kenny Hall F-6’8” Fr. (PPG-4.9)
Melvin Goins G-511” Jr. (PPG-5.5)

There is no question that coach Bruce Pearl has made the Vols basketball program a force in the SEC and on the national scene. In four years, Pearl has won the most SEC games, 46,…..won three SEC East titles….finished ahead of UK in the SEC for four straight years….reached a #1 ranking in the nation…..and been to four straight NCAA’s. Pearl might be thought of as a clown at times with his demeaner and actions, but the fact is…..Bruce Pearl has been a highly successful college basketball coach. Before Pearl stepped foot on the Tennessee campus, he had garnered 415 wins for a tremendous winning percentage of 77%.....and in his four years in Knoxville, Pearl has won at a terrific 73%. Still, despite the Pearl’s success in the regular season and the SEC, he has never won the SEC tourney nor advanced past the NCAA Sweet 16.

This season, the Vols have a huge signature win over #1 ranked Kansas and lost an early season game to top 10 ranked Purdue by only one point. However, the Vols did have an ugly 22 point loss to an unranked USC team. Tennessee has lost three SEC games… to Georgia at Athens and two to Vandy….including a recent blow out loss in Nashville. This loss will undoubtedly drop Tennessee in the rankings, but they will still be a top 20 team when they face the Cats in Lexington.

The Vols, of course, were hurt by the loss of starter Tyler Smith early in the year due to his criminal actions, but they still have a very talented starting lineup which includes three seniors. Tennessee is lead in scoring by Wayne Chism and Scotty Hopson. Chism, who seems to have been in Knoxville forever, is shooting 49% from the field plus hitting 35.6% from the perimeter. In addition, Chism leads the team in rebounds and blocks while garnering 30 steals. UK fans are very familiar with native Kentuckian Scotty Hopson who is proving to be a very good college player….as everyone expected. Hopson, is the leading 3 point shooter on the Vols…hitting 38-95 for a very solid 40%. J.P. Prince is shooting 50% from the field while leading the Vols in assists and steals.

Tennessee has good size, but have not proven to be a great rebounding team. Prince and Hopson are both 6’7” with good length and can be difficult to shoot over. The Vols are very athletic and average nearly 9 steals PG. Make no mistake, this a very good Tennessee team that will very likely be more than ready to make up for a poor performance in Nashville. Count on Pearl to be wearing his orange jacket and having devised a game strategy that he hopes will result in an upset win in Rupp arena.

UK is coming off a lackluster performance against a decent Alabama team. The Cats simply didn’t exhibit the overall tough defense that coach Cal wanted and the offense seemed out of sinc at times. Unfortunately, TO’s remain a problem with guards Wall and Bledsoe contributing 9 of the 16 TO’s. Still, the Cats did win and improved their fabulous record to 23-1. Cousins added another double double, but he didn’t play with his usual intensity. Despite the TO’s, Wall played a solid 2nd half and finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. The 3 position continues to lack the needed consistency in offense as Miller and Dobson finished with zero points….however, Liggins continued his solid defense while adding 8 points and 7 rebounds.

The Cats hit only 19-31 free throws and free throw shooting remains a problem. UK’s big men are struggling from the FT line…..Cousins has hit 110-168 for 65.5%......Patterson has hit 55-88 for 62.5% and Orton 25-47 for 53.2%. Admittedly, Cousins has improved some from the FT line from early in the year…..but overall….the Cats frontline definitely need to improve their FT shooting….which could be critical come NCAA tourney time.

Saturday’s game with Tennessee will be huge as ESPN Gameday will be at Rupp arena and the game is on ESPN. This game will get a lot of national attention. The Cats have two games with the Vols and a win at Rupp arena is a must because UK will have to play Tennessee in Knoxville where they are extremely tough on their home floor.

I look for a highly motivated UK team taking the floor against a dangerous Tennessee team looking to bounce back from their embarrassing performance in Nashville against Vandy. This looks to be a tough close game, but I see the Cats prevailing by 5-7 points. GO CATS!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Kentucky vs Alabama......A Preview

WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Alabama 2/9/10
Tuesday at 9PMEST/8PMCST on ESPNU


Location-Tuscaloosa, Ala

Head Coach-Anthony Grant
Career Record-76-25- (75.2%) 3 seasons
This is Grant’s 1st season at Alabama

2008-09 Record-18-14
2008-09 SEC Record -7-9
2008-09 Postseason-None

2009-10 Record-13-10
2009-10 SEC Record-3-6

Cornell 71 Alabama 67
Alabama 86 Jackson St. 69
Alabama 84 Providence 75
Alabama 79 Baylor 76
Florida St. 60 Alabama 51
Alabama 68 Michigan 66
Alabama 73 North Florida 51
Alabama 74 Louisiana-Monroe 46
Purdue 73 Alabama 65
Alabama 60 Samford 45
Kansas St. 87 Alabama 74
Alabama 90 Mercer 71
Alabama 77 Tennessee St. 65
Alabama 67 Toledo 50
Alabama 66 LSU 49
Vanderbilt 65 Alabama 64
Arkansas 71 Alabama 59
Tennessee 63 Alabama 56
Alabama 62 Mississippi St. 57
Alabama 57 LSU 38
Auburn 58 Alabama 57
Florida 66 Alabama 65
Ole Miss 74 Alabama 67

Alabama Stats / UK Stats

PPG-68.2 / 82.3
FG%-45.2% / 48.9%
3 Point%-35.1% / 38.6%
FT%-64.0% / 68.6%
Rebounds-33.7 / 42.3
Assists-14.4 / 15.9
TO’s-12.5 / 15.3
Steals-7.9 / 7.4
Blocks-4.3 / 7.1

Probable Starting Lineup

Tony Mitchell F-6’6” Fr. (PPG-9.2)
JaMyhal Green F-6’9” So. (PPG-14.7)
Chris Hines F 6’8” Jr. (PPG-3.3)
Mikhail Torrance G-6’5” Sr. (PPG-15.9)
Senario Hillman G 6’1”” Jr. (PPG-7.6)

Other Key Players

Anthony Brock G-5’9”” Sr. (PPG-5.7)
Justin Knox F-6’9” Jr. (PPG-6.0)

Alabama’s new coach, Anthony Grant, was an assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida before taking over as head coach at Virginia Commonwealth. At VCU, Grant was very successful posting a 76-25 record in 3 years….going to the NCAA twice and the NIT once. Unquestionably, Grant is one of the nation’s finest young coaches, but will obviously need time to recruit his players and put his stamp on the Alabama program.

Thus far, the Crimson Tide are 3-6 in SEC play, but that record is deceiving. Alabama has been competitive in each loss…..including three one point losses to Vandy, Auburn and Florida. The Tide did garner early season wins over Baylor and Michigan while losing competitive games against ranked Purdue and Kansas St.

The Tide are led in scoring by senior guard Mikhail Torrance who has hit 48.8% of his FG attempts and 36.4% from long range……Torrance also leads the team in assists with 128 or 5.5 assists PG. Forward JaMyhal Green is the 2nd leading scorer hitting a very good 51.2% of his FG’s while leading the Tide in rebounds. In evaluating the Crimson Tide’s stats for the year….their one primary weakness appears to be rebounding where they have slightly been out rebounded for the year. The Tide have decent size in the paint, but not great size or bulk.

UK is coming off a solid win over a poor LSU team. DeMarcus Cousins continues his tremendous play in the paint….scoring 19 points and hauling down 13 rebounds while playing only 20 minutes. Cousins has simply been totally dominating in the pivot and is rapidly establishing himself as the best big man in college basketball. Patrick Patterson was more assertive and aggressive….hitting 6-13 for 16 points. Importantly, Wall and Bledsoe had only 2 TO’s each……Wall, although struggling some from the field, still did a nice job in directing the offense and handing out 4 assists. Bledsoe played well adding 10 points. Once again, DeAndre Liggins turned in another very solid performance. Liggins hit both of his 3 point attempts and pulled down 8 rebounds in 18 minutes while continuing to play tough defense. The one sided win over LSU allowed coach Calipari to clear the bench and provide some decent playing time for a number of key reserves.

UK now embarks on the 2nd half of their SEC schedule….8 games that will likely prove much more difficult than the 1st 8 SEC games. The Cats must face nationally ranked Tennessee twice….a ranked Vandy team in Nashville….as well as away games against a tough Mississippi St. and Georgia. Home games against Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida will not be easy. However, it all starts at Rupp arena with a 13-10 Alabama that is clearly better than their record.

I look for the Cats to exploit their advantage over Alabama in the paint and get the ball into Cousins and Patterson as often as possible…... also, Cousins and Patterson will need to control the boards. I expect an Alabama team to play the Cats a competitive game, but UK should pull away for a 10-12 point win. GO CATS!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Kentucky vs LSU....... A Preview

WT Administrator

Kentucky vs LSU 02/06/10


Location-Baton Rouge, La.

Head Coach-Trent Johnson
Career Record-186-129 (59.0%) 10 seasons
At LSU-27-8 (77.1%) one season

2008-09 Record-27-8
2008-09 SEC Record-13-3
2008-09 Postseason-1-1 NCAA

2009-10 Record-9-13
2009-10-SEC Record-0-8

LSU 82 Louisiana-Monroe 62
LSU 56 Indiana St. 45
LSU 71 Western Ky. 60
U Conn 81 LSU 55
Arizona St. 71 LSU 52
LSU 66 Louisiana Lafayette 58
LSU 73 Northwestern St. 62
LSU 77 Southeastern Louisiana 60
LSU 63 Nicholls St. 60
LSU 65 Rice 61
Washington St. 72 LSU 70 (OT)
Xavier 89 LSU 65
Utah 61 LSU 59
LSU 83 McNeese 60
Alabama 66 LSU 49
South Carolina 67 LSU 58
Florida 72 LSU 58
Auburn 84 LSU 80
Ole Miss 73 LSU 63
Alabama 57 LSU 38
Mississippi St. 67 LSU 51
Tennessee 59 LSU 54

LSU Stats / UK Stats

PPG-63.5 / 82.4
FG%-41.7% / 49.1%
3 Point%-28.4% / 39.0%
FT%-68.4% / 68.5%
Rebounds-36.7 / 41.9
Assists-11.5 / 16.1
TO’s-12.9 / 15.3
Steals-5.6 / 7.4
Blocks-3.8 / 7.1

Probable Starting Lineup

Tasmin Mitchell F-6’7” Sr. (PPG-17.9)
Denis Harris F-6’10” Fr. (PPG-4.5)
Storm Warren F 6’7” So. (PPG-12.8)
Chris Bass G-6’0” So. (PPG-2.6)
Bo Spencer G 6’1” Jr. (PPG-14.5)

Other Key Players

Aaron Dotson G-6’4” Fr. (PPG-3.5)
Zach Kinsley F-6’9” Fr. (PPG-3.5)
Eddie Ludwig F-6’6” Jr. (PPG-2.3)

Last season, LSU won 27 games….won the SEC regular title….and played NCAA champion North Carolina very tough before losing. Unfortunately, the Tigers fortunes this season have gone the other direction…… as losing 3 starters, including leading scorer Marcus Thornton, have proved too much to overcome. LSU is mired in an 8 game SEC losing streak after their last loss to Tennessee. So, an LSU team that last year finished it’s SEC season with a very good 13-3 record is now 0-8 thus far this season in the SEC.

LSU does have a terrific player in Tasmin Mitchell who surprisingly returned for his senior season. One suspects that Mitchell now wishes he would have opted fpr the NBA draft. Still, Mitchell is having a good year leading the team in scoring, rebounds and steals. Soph Storm Warren and junior Bo Spencer have provided some help in scoring with both in double figures, but the Tigers have gotten very little help from anyone else. Mitchell and Warren are shooting well from the field, but overall, the Tigers are only hitting 41.7% and only a paltry 28.4% from the perimeter.

Bottom line…the Tigers have had great difficulty scoring this season…..averaging only 63.5 PPG. Certainly, second year coach, Trent Johnson, will be trying his best to stop the losses and get the Tigers back on a winning track. Obviously, defeating UK in Baton Rouge would be a huge win for these struggling Tigers and one that could start reversing their basketball fortunes. Right now, barring a significant turn around….LSU won’t even qualify for an NIT bid!

UK has rebounded nicely from their upset loss at South Carolina with home victories over Vandy and Ole Miss. In UK’s recent win over Ole Miss….the Cats let some big leads slip away with some matador defense at times and some careless ball handling. However, offensively….UK shot well hitting 50% from the field and 47.4% from 3 point range….in addition, the Cats outrebounded Ole Miss and handed out 21 assists. Individually, DeMarcus Cousins once again had a double double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Cousins is simply playing tremendous basketball and has significantly improved over the year. Speaking of improving….kudo’s must be given to Liggins who is playing the best consistent defense while also contributing some nice offense. Certainly, it was great to see Dodson light it up from 3 point range and he has made 8 perimeter shots in the past 2 games. Unquestionably, when Dodson is hitting from the outside, it makes the Cats a much tougher team to guard. Wall and Bledsoe did a great shot of dishing the ball off with 7 and 8 assists respectively, but once again they contributed too many TO’s….11 between them. It was great to see Orton reveal some nice strong moves on offense and contribute only one foul.

The Cats must improve their intensity on defense and be consistent…… and they still must work on valuing each possession….far too many TO’s in most games. Still, this young team has improved over the year, but to be a force in the NCAA….defense and ball handling must get much better.

The Cats now head to Baton Rouge to face the struggling LSU Tigers. Last season, LSU handed the Cats two defeats, but as everyone knows…..this is a far more talented UK team then last season…..and these Cats will be looking to pick up SEC win number 7.

I look for a 10-14 point win for the Cats in Baton Rouge. GO CATS!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Kentucky vs Ole Miss......A Preview

WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Ole Miss…..A Preview 2/2/10
Tuesday at 7PMEST/6PMCST (ESPN)

Ole Miss

Location-Oxford, Miss.

Head Coach-Andy Kennedy
Career Record-62-52- (61.2%) 4 seasons
At Ole Miss-61-39 (61.0%) 3 seasons

2008-09 Record-16-15
2008-09 SEC Record-7-9
2008-09 Postseason-None

2009-10 Record-16-5

Ole Miss 92 Arkansas-Little Rock 64
Ole Miss 90 Alabama St. 53
Ole Miss 89 Indiana 71
Ole Miss 84 Kansas St. 74
Villanova 79 Ole Miss 67
Ole Miss 73 Texas A&M-Corpus 58
Ole Miss 79 Arkansas St. 57
Ole Miss 81 Southern Miss 79
Ole Miss 83 McNeese St. 67
Ole Miss 91 UTEP 81 (OT)
Ole Miss 108 Centenary 64
West Virginia 76 Ole Miss 66
Ole Miss 90 Jacksonville St. 75
Ole Miss 84 UCF 56
Mississippi St. 80 Ole Miss 75
Ole Miss 80 Georgia 76
Tennessee 71 Ole Miss 69 (OT)
Ole Miss 66 South Carolina 57
Ole Miss 73 LSU 63
Ole Miss 84 Auburn 74
Arkansas 80 Ole Miss 73

Ole Miss Stats / UK Stats

PPG-81.3 / 82.2
FG%-47.0% / 49.1%
3 Point%-37.4% / 38.5%
FT%-66.8% / 68.4%
Rebounds-39.2 / 42.0
Assists-14.7 / 15.9
TO’s-12.5 / 15.2
Steals-7.8 / 7.4
Blocks-6.0 / 7.1

Probable Starting Lineup

Terrance Henry F-6’9” So. (PPG-5.2)
DeAndre Cranston F-6’9” Sr. (PPG-4.8)
Eniel Polynice G 6’5” Jr. (PPG-10.4)
Terrico White G-6’5” So. (PPG-15.4)
Chris Warren G 5’10” Jr. (PPG-16.7)

Other Key Players

Reginald Buckner F-6’8” Fr. (PPG-5.0)
Murphy Holloway F-6’7” So. (PPG-9.5)
Zach Graham G-6’6” Jr. (PPG-10.2)

Last season, coach Kennedy must have felt snake bitten as the Rebels lost 3 of his best players to knee injuries. This season the Rebels are healthy and playing well. Ole Miss brings a solid 16-5 record including a 5-3 SEC record into Lexington. A look at Ole Miss’s losses is very revealing….they have lost away games at highly ranked Villanova, West Virginia and Tennessee….and to a 16-5 Miss St. team. In short, the Rebels do not have a single bad loss this season with the exception of their latest loss to Arkansas. . They do have a signature win over highly ranked Kansas St.

Ole Miss is led in scoring by small guard Chris Warren who is shooting a very good 40.8% from 3 point range….Terrico White is the 2nd leading scorer and hitting 36.3% from the perimeter….. while Eniel Polynice leads the Rebels in assists and steals. Although Holloway is the leading rebounder, the team seems to rebound by committee as several players have good rebounding numbers. Ole Miss loves the 3 point shot and is averaging nearly 24 per game and hitting a solid 37.4%. .

UK answered the question as to how they would respond to the disappointing loss at South Carolina by soundly defeating a very good Vandy team. Once again DeMarcus Cousins led the way with another great performance…..21 points and 10 rebounds. Importantly, Patrick Patterson had a solid game hitting 3-4 three pointers and finishing with 12 points. The 3 position has been a problem production wise too often this season, but against Vandy….Dodson played, perhaps his best game at UK, scoring 16 points on 4-8 from long range while grabbing 7 rebounds and committing zero TO’s. Also, Liggins continues to make a strong case for more playing time at the 3 position…..playing solid defense while adding 9 points, 2 steals and zero TO’s. Unfortunately, Darius Miller came up with a goose egg in only 8 minutes of play. No one questions the talent of Miller, but he still struggles with being consistent and appears to have a confidence problem. The Cats need Miller’s talent and hopefully the young man can turn things around very soon. It was great to see Bledsoe cut his TO’s to just one for 33 minutes of play while contributing 13 points along with 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Freshman sensation John Wall had a solid game with 9 assists and 13 points hitting a couple of 3 pointers, but once again had difficulty with too many TO’s at seven.

The Cats really hustled on the boards outrebounding Vandy 39-21 including garnering 18 offensive rebounds to Vandy’s 3. Importantly, UK hit 12-23 perimeter shots and overall dominated the Dores with great defense and great effort.

The Cats now must face an 18th ranked Ole Miss team with good size. UK will need to continue the intensity and effort that they exhibited against Vandy as Ole Miss is one of the better teams in the SEC. The Cats will need to deny Ole Miss good looks from long range as the Rebels have several good 3 point shooters..….and the Rebels are not shy about putting up the long ball.

I look for coach Cal to have the Cats ready to garner win #21 over the Ole Miss Rebels……. UK by 12. GO CATS!

SEC Men's BB Standings 2/1/10

Kentucky 5-1 20-1
Vanderbilt 5-1 16-4
Tennessee 4-2 16-4
Florida 4-3 15-6
South Carolina 4-3 13-8
Georgia 1-5 9-10

Mississippi St. 4-2 16-5
Mississippi 4-3 16-5
Arkansas 3-3 10-11
Alabama 3-4 13-8
Auburn 2-5 11-11
LSU 0-7 9-12