Kentucky is Number One!

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Box Score vs Arkansas

Cats blow out the Hogs to earn debut at #1 in 2010.

No. 2 Kentucky dominates Arkansas 101-70

LEXINGTON, Ky.(AP) Darius Miller had a career-high 18 points and DeMarcus Cousins got his 10th double-double as No. 2 Kentucky coasted by Arkansas 101-70 Saturday.

The Wildcats kept alive the nation’s only unblemished record and a near certain return to the top of the college basketball rankings.

Kentucky (19-0, 4-0 SEC) hasn’t topped The Associated Press poll since 2003, but that streak is almost certain to end Monday courtesy of its dominating victory over UK alumnus John Pelph

rey’s Razorbacks and top-ranked Texas’ loss to Kansas State earlier in the week.

This one was practically over by tipoff. Kentucky scored the game’s 10 points, stretched the lead to 30 by halftime, then added the first 14 points of the second half.

With that much margin for error, the Wildcats easily avoided the kind of second half letdown that made recent wins over Georgia and Auburn much closer than anticipated. Arkansas (8-11, 1-3) did make an 18-3 run midway through the second half, but by that time, Kentucky had plenty of cushion to withstand it.

The Wildcats’ largest lead was 46 after John Wall hit a jumper with 14 minutes left. The Razorbacks got it no closer than 92-62 with under 4 minutes to go.

Arkansas was led by Courtney Fortson ‘s 21 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with the Wildcats’ scoring barrage.

They ended the first half and began the second on a 21-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Ramon Harris at the halftime buzzer and later consecutive 3s by Miller.

Miller connected on four of six attempts from long range.

Cousins, who finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, secured his double-double just seconds into the second half. He probably would have gotten it even sooner but was sidelined for all but nine minutes of the first half with a minor injury.

Calipari tried to keep expectations low going into the Arkansas game, joking, ”What’s going to happen the next day, we go to the electric chair?”

One thing that did concern him was the Wildcats have been vulnerable against 3-point shooters this year, and Arkansas has one of the nation’s best of those in Rotnei Clarke . However, Clarke was just 2-of-9 from beyond the arc and the Razorbacks managed just one other 3.

It was Kentucky’s third 100-point effort of the season and first in SEC play.

Pelphrey has now lost all three meetings against his alma mater as an opposing coach.

Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/ncaa/men/gameflash/2010/01/23/58835_recap.html#ixzz0dTybSb3A

Kentucky should be ranked #1 on Monday.

Darius Miller was stroking it from the outside hitting 4-6 from the Trey.  Stevenson got in early and had a killer dunk.  Wall and Bledsoe played like Siamese Twins out there.  Cousins got a double double and lost a tooth.  Patrick Patterson had his normal outstanding game.

Kentucky remains undefeated.  Is soon to be ranked #1 and is on their way to the Top #1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Less than two months until the SEC tournament.  I can’t wait to get there and see it.  Live and in person.

GO BIG BLUE!

BONUS: Mich St defeats the Gophers in their house. TLT strikes again. Double Bonus: UL and UNC lost this week.

2009-2010 University of Kentucky Basketball Team

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Here they are folks.  This years Kentucky Wildcat Basketball Team.

Left to Right 2nd Row (Standing):

Jon Hood, Ramon Harris, Patrick Patterson, Daniel Orton, Demarcus “Big Cuz” Cousins, Josh “Jorts” Harrelson, Perry “Slim” Stevenson and Darnell “Ramel Bradley’s Twin” Dodson

Left to Right First Row (Seated):

Rod Strickland, Orlando Antiqua, Darius Miller, John Wall, Mark Krebs, Eric Bledsoe, DeAndre Liggins, John Calipari and Jon Robic

*Coaches in Black, Players in Blue

LEXINGTON, Ky. — John Calipari says he has felt like a political candidate during his first six months as Kentucky’s basketball coach, generating new hype with each campaign stop across the state even while trying to temper some lofty expectations.

“I’ve done enough,” Calipari said Thursday at the first official media day since leaving Memphis. “I’m waiting for election day. I was kissing babies, and I didn’t care if I won or lost the election. I just wanted it to happen.”

Calipari is well aware that the passionate UK fans care strongly about whether he wins or loses. They want wins — preferably in bunches.

The program’s recent buzz has been sparked not just by its energetic new leader but by his debut recruiting haul, a freshman class arguably the most touted since Michigan’s Fab Five.

Yet unlike that 1991-92 Wolverines team that reached the national title game with five freshman starters, Kentucky has plenty of experience to go along with the new blood. Patrick Patterson was an all-Southeastern Conference center last year during Kentucky’s National Invitation Tournament season. Kentucky’s roster is so deep, Calipari envisions Patterson playing some wing this year.

This is going to be a hell of a year.  Big Pat is back on the scene with a mission.  He’s got help from incoming Frosh John Wall, Big Cuz, Orton and Eric Bledsoe as well as Darius Miller and the remainder of the returning team.

Big things are expected and these guys can take care of business and meet those expectations.  I can see making Final Four this season.  Of course, everything will have to go right for the team.  Keep the injuries down.  Cohesion and Esprit de Corps will be important factors.  With the Cal DDS system, there should be plenty of PT for all of the stars that make up this team.  Cal has been to two Final Fours and I can see this being his 3rd with the possibility of going al the way to the Title Game and bringing home banner #8.

A year that doesn’t end in a National Championship will not be catastrophic.  Less than a Final Four would surprise me.  I see this team slicing through the SEC like a hot knife through butter.  I’m sure there will be challenges, but, I see enough talent to overcome a few bouts with youth and inexperience.

Everything I read about John Wall says that the kid will be an instant player for Kentucky and Coach Cal.  Big Cuz is supposed to be a monster.  Daniel Orton should be a beast down low.  Eric Bledsoe may be better than advertised which would be impressive as he’s supposed to be a future lottery pick.  Darius Miller can take care of spot duty at the point and become an assassin on the wings.  These things take place and it’s gonna be a huge year.

HUGE!

Bottom line is that Patrick Patterson didn’t come back for the hell of it.  The man came back to get his.  I’m hoping he gets it.  Patrick Patterson leads this team to a Championship this year and he will go down in history as one of  THE greats of Kentucky Basketball.  He could well supplant Dan Issel as THE GREATEST.

GO BIG BLUE!!!

* Kentucky Men’s Basketball Yearbook

 

Alphabetical

No. Name Pos. Ht./Wt. Cl./Exp. Hometown (Last School)
24 Eric Bledsoe G 6-1/190 FR/HS Birmingham, Ala. (Parker)
15 DeMarcus Cousins F 6-11/260 FR/HS Mobile, Ala. (LeFlore)
3 Darnell Dodson G 6-7/215 SO/TR Greenbelt, Md. (Miami-Dade CC)
55 Josh Harrellson F 6-10/265 JR/1L St. Charles, Mo. (SW Illinois College)
5 Ramon Harris G/F 6-7/218 SR/3L Anchorage, Alaska (West Anchorage)
4 Jon Hood G 6-6/195 FR/HS Madisonville, Ky. (North Hopkins)
12 Mark Krebs G 6-5/208 SR/2L Newport, Ky. (Newport Central Catholic)
34 DeAndre Liggins G 6-6/202 SO/1L Chicago, Ill. (Findley Prep)
1 Darius Miller G 6-7/223 SO/1L Maysville, Ky. (Mason County)
33 Daniel Orton F 6-10/255 FR/HS Oklahoma City, Okla. (Bishop McGuiness)
54 Patrick Patterson F 6-9/235 JR/2L Huntington, W.Va. (Huntington)
21 Perry Stevenson F 6-9/207 SR/3L Lafayette, La. (Northside)
11 John Wall G 6-4/195 FR/HS Raleigh, N.C. (Word of God)

Rolling through a Bracket near you…

Kentucky Express

Which team outside of the Top 25 can make a March Run?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a current topic in the sport.

This week’s question: Which team currently outside the top 25 has the best chance to make a long run in the NCAA tournament?

Greg Antony’s answer:

I’m going with Kentucky. The Wildcats started slow last season, but really came on under Billy Gillispie in the second half of the season despite losing Patrick Patterson late. This season, they’re younger, but I think they’re better defensively. And with Jodie Meeks emerging as one of the best players in the nation, they are explosive offensively. Perry Stevenson anchors the defense, and getting Ramon Harris back in the rotation gives them some experience in the frontcourt. Two things have to happen for the Wildcats to really be dangerous. First, they have to cut down on their turnovers. They can extend their pressure defensively and force teams to try and play in the half court, where their quickness and athleticism can be more of a factor. Second, some of their younger players have to become more consistent because depth always is important in the tournament. This is a team that features two players capable of carrying them offensively. The ‘Cats may be back!

Jason King’s answer:
Kentucky may not be one of the best teams in the country, but the Wildcats have two of the nation’s best players – and maybe its best coach. Well on his way to SEC Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive season, Billy Gillispie is someone opponents hope to stay away from in March. Along with being one of the best Xs and Os guys in college basketball, Gillispie’s teams always are disciplined. They play hard and they play smart. The favorite to win the SEC title, Kentucky should enter this season’s NCAA tournament high on momentum. The Wildcats may not be able match most of their opponents’ depth, but not many schools have two future first-round NBA picks in their starting lineup. Guard Jodie Meeks, who has eclipsed the 30-point barrier six times, is a national player of the year candidate. Forward Patrick Patterson is one of the most skilled big men in the country, and wing Perry Stevenson is no slouch. Still, the biggest difference-maker for Kentucky wears a suit and tie and stands on the sideline. With Gillispie, the Wildcats always have a chance.

Steve Megargee’s answer:
Conventional wisdom suggests you can’t go far in the NCAA tournament without an elite point guard, but it’s tough to ignore Kentucky’s dynamic duo of power forward Patrick Patterson and shooting guard Jodie Meeks. Kentucky’s 90-72 victory at Tennessee established the Wildcats as the class of the SEC this season, even though they haven’t cracked the national rankings. Since dropping their first two games of the season, against VMI and North Carolina, the Wildcats have lost just twice all season (at home to Miami and at Louisville). Kentucky enters the week with 11 wins in its past 12 games. And the one loss was a down-to-the-wire game on the road against a Louisville team playing as well as anyone in the nation. While the players on this roster have never advanced beyond the second round of the tournament, Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie reached the Sweet 16 two years ago in his final season at Texas A&M. Don’t be surprised if he’s back in the regional semifinals this season.

The Cats take on Marquette today

The Cats make the tournament in 2008 as an 11 seed in the West Region. A 12-4 run in the SEC regular season makes it possible.

First opponent: Marquette. 2:30 EDT in Anahem, California
UK has met Marquette in the NCAAs 9 times. This will be the 10th. Marquette has won the last two meetings with UK in the tournament. The last being the year that Dwayne Wade showcased his NBA Superstar potential and Bogans broke his ankle in the Wisconsin game. I haven’t seen any Marquette games this year. But from all I’ve read, UK is a slight favorite for an upset bid in round 1. If UK loses this game, it will be the first 1st round loss in over 15 years.

From the UK presser today, an interesting tidbit. Perry Stevenson was asked about UK fan expectations. Here’s the quote:

Or as Kentucky forward Perry Stevenson remarked when asked what Wildcats fans expect from their beloved basketball team: “Seven championships in six years.”

Hilarious and a nugget of truth as well.

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“We became a blue-collar team,” Stevenson said. “We come out and scrap and fight.”

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As you can see, Perry Stevenson is UK’s shot blocking phenom. Here’s to him swatting a dozen or so Marquette shots today. His emergence along with Jasper and Ramon Harris are the reasons that UK can still win minus Patrick Patterson. Perry really picked up his play though. A fairly amazing transformation from his Frosh campaign.

Perry has benefited from the loss of Patrick Patterson somewhat. Pat being out has given Perry room to grow and experience this year. I don’t think he would have been forced to grow as much if Pat was still in the game. Next year should see those two wreaking havoc down low and inside/out on teams. With the additions coming in, I think UK will be in fine shape for 2009.

But first this season must be played out:

GO CATS!!! BEAT MARQUETTE!!!

For all of you doubters, I’ll leave you with this:

“He just had so much belief in us,” Bradley said. “It was hard to doubt ourselves.”

Ramel Bradley on Coach Gillispie

I say the Cats advance in a bruiser.  Final Score:  Cats – 56  Golden Eagles – 50