Just because we’re done with the Dirty Birds doesn’t mean the fun stops around these parts. With a few hours left in 2011, we’d like to interrupt your celebrations for a little bit of nostalgia. Maybe it’s because we’ve been drinking champagne since 2 p.m., but we’re feeling a smidge sentimental about the past year. From the Final Four to a summer full of NBA stars on campus to the big football win over Tennessee, 2011 was a great year to be a Wildcat fan. Let’s relive the memories before the clock strikes twelve:
Best Win: Kentucky over Tennessee, November 26th, 2011
Sure, there were many, many basketball victories (Ohio State and North Carolina in the tournament, North Carolina again back in December) that thrilled us over the past twelve months, but none more so than the football team’s streak-snapping, field-storming win over Tennessee. On the shoulders of the unlikeliest of heroes, Matt Roark, the Cats exercised 27 years worth of demons and salvaged an otherwise miserable season. The football program has its problems, yes, but on that glorious Saturday in November, none of them mattered.
Best fashion trend: Jorts
Sure, we’ve all known about Josh Harrellson’s penchant for denim for years, but for those who love a heartwarming basketball story, 2011 really was the Year of the Jorts. With DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton gone to the NBA and Enes in NCAA prison, Josh knew he had to step up for his team to make a postseason run. After an embarrassing Twitter feud with Coach Cal, Josh got his priorities straight, hit the gym, and dedicated himself to becoming a better basketball player. And he did. On the broad shoulders of the country boy from Missouri, the Cats won the SEC Tournament and made a return to the Final Four. Josh’s hard work and dedication to the game even earned him a spot on the New York Knicks’ roster. How long until we see Spike Lee in jorts?
Best story: Kentucky makes the Final Four
Who would have thought that Calipari’s first Final Four as Kentucky’s coach would come with his second team and not the first? After the Cats saw five players drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA draft, expectations for his next squad were tempered slightly. And rightly so; the 2010-2011 Cats were good, yes, but lacked the flash and style of its predecessor. With Enes Kanter sidelined by the NCAA, it was up to a pair of unlikely heroes (Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins) and a talented freshman point guard (Brandon Knight) to lead the way. Teamwork, tough defense, and heart got the Cats wins over Ohio State and North Carolina, and their first Final Four in thirteen years.
Best block: Anthony Davis over John Henson, Kentucky vs. North Carolina, December 3, 2011
Words can do it justice, so here’s a video:
Best ambassador: Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Back in April, Randall Cobb was drafted by the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers with the 64th pick. And on his first game in the league, he showed everyone why he could one of the most exciting players in the game one day, returning the opening kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown. Cobb is already a fan favorite up in Green Bay, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in the Big Blue Nation. Although he left early, Cobb helped put Kentucky football on the map in many ways; a new crop of kids grew up watching him play in the blue and white, and believe me, the coaching staff plays up Cobbâs impact during recruiting. The football program may currently be awash in uncertainty, but every time they mention that Cobb went to Kentucky during an NFL broadcast, it is a small step forward. Keep rocking, Golden Eyes.
Best 15 Seconds of Fame: Megan Dills
After being knocked down by Indiana fans rushing the court after their win over the Cats on December 10th, (204) 350-9373 took to Twitter to tell her tale. And, thanks to Larry Vaught, the Big Blue Nation (and the tabloids) heard her story. Megan Dills may have injured her foot in Bloomington, but that’s a small price to pay for 15 seconds of fame. Rock it, girl.
Best dunk: Darius Miller, Kentucky vs. St. John’s, December 1, 2011
Thanks to Anthony Davis, the list of candidates for this category was almost seven feet tall. However, I’m going to give this one to Darius Miller, who had a monster one-hand jam against St. John’s.
We’ll be back in the morning to talk more about the win over Louisville, swap hangover cures, and maybe even bat around a few New Year’s resolutions. Until then, party on and Happy New Year from all of us at Kentucky Sports Radio.
1.) Michael. Kidd. Gilchrist
We’re not just talking about Kidd-Gilchrist as the best freshman in America anymore; he could be the best player in America. MKG set career highs with 24 points and 19 rebounds to lead Kentucky.
After the game, Rex Chapman called it the best individual performance against Louisville in UK history. That says a lot coming from the guy who dropped 26 on the Cards in 1986.
2.) We’re going to need new whistles.
Tony Greene, Jamie Luckee, and Michael Stephens blew the life out of the ones used in today’s game. The foul calls were so frequent, I was even getting upset when they were called on Louisville. 52 total fouls isn’t fun for anyone and it takes the competition out of the game. Let ‘em play.
We were on pace for a Polson vs. Justice matchup at one point.
3.) This picture is strange.
That’s Russ Smith reaching in on an official.
4.) Jones rebounded well and did absolutely nothing on offense.
Jones was 1-for-9 from the field, 0-for-4 from the foul line, and found a spot on the bench yet again, late in a big game.
When do we just accept that this is who he is?
5.) Someone at Louisville should tell Chane Behanan to shut up.
After the game, Behanan said it would’ve been a different story had he not gotten into foul trouble.
Please get the microphone out of this kid’s face.
6.) Shabazz Muhammad was pulling for his “UK boys” to win.
Good luck to my UK boys today lets get this win !!!!!!
â shabazz muhammad (@phenom15balla) December 31, 2011
Just commit already.
7.) Tony Greene just called another foul.
Please stop. Nobody likes you.
8.) Rick Pitino didn’t enjoy the officiating, either.
Happy New Year!
Jorts is in the starting five for the Knicks tonight against Sacramento.
Two KSR favorites, head-to-head.
Good luck, boys.
Sitting close enough to trip a referee and looking directly at a dance team member, Jay Z was in the house for the UK-UL game on Saturday. Rumors began circulating about an hour before the game of his appearance and he entered the gym just moments before the opening tip. His seats were on the floor very close to my media seats and at a timeout, I stood in front of the cheerleaders to get the above (bad) shot. The man they call HOVA watched intently throughout the game, had a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist jersey in the second half and was part of the crowd that gave a standing ovation to Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer when he was introduced as the “Y” during one of the breaks.
At halftime, I saw him in the back media room and after being introduced, asked him if he had anything to say to the UK fans on KSR. Jay Z then told me that “I love the Cats” and kindly posed with my thumb for the picture below:
In terms of celebrities at Rupp Arena, Jay Z may have given the younger fans in the crowd the most excitement. He was introduced late in the game and those in the crowd that knew him gave him loud applause. But it was clear that some of the Blue Hairs had no clue who the man dressed in black was that walked on the court. For the student section however, Jay Z fever was rabid. I can also say that I have never seen Drew Franklin so excited in my life as the moment that he was able to shake the rapper’s hand after the game. He was like a 10 year old girl with Justin Beiber, shaking and asking for hugs in order to calm down. If Mr. Beyonce is ever worried about self-esteem or simply needs a pick-me-up, just make another trip to Lexington and I can guarantee he will feel good about himself again.
So let’s see…at UK games in recent years we have seen Jay Z, Drake, Ashley Judd, Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, Magic Johnson, Lebron James and Tracy McGrady…not to mention the famous alumni such as John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Rajon Rondo, Tayshaun Prince, etc. At Louisville games, occasionally Papa John comes. #LouisvilleDoesn’tExist
The man of the day, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist says he “loves physical games” and says the way he walks makes him look tired. The way he played today, he deserves to be tired. He left it all on the court.
Kidd-Gilchrist talks about his struggle growing up and what motivated him to become an elite basketball player.
Darius Miller says Kidd-Gilchrist’s “will to win” carried them through the game today. His impression rubbed off positively right away.
Caption this photo
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Amid a flurry of whistles, the Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Louisville Cardinals 69-62 in front of 24,387.
The first half opened with scrappy play on both ends and it didn’t go away for the full 20 minutes. We saw 28 fouls called on both sides, and rather poor shooting from the floor all-around. The Cats held a 15-point lead at one point, but saw the Cards close the half on a 17-5 run to cut the deficit to three. The story of the first half was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who shot 4-9, 2-2 from behind the arc, and had 16 points. Coming off the bench for Louisville was Russ Smith who went 5-9 from the floor with 13 points. He was the spearhead in the late charge back by the Cardinals. Louisville’s zone was making it very difficult for the Cats to get in the paint for easy points, but these ref’s weren’t shy to blow the whistle and the Cats kept themselves in it, going 17-23 at the free throw line.
The second half picked up right where we left off, more disjointed play which resulted in the officials calling an excruciatingly tight game. Whistles were rampant and it really disrupted the flow of the game on both sides for both teams. All-in-all it was an ugly game, but the Cats managed to score the most points. A huge factor in the game was Kentucky’s ability to convert from the free throw line, where they finished with an astonishing 74%.
– MKG, MVP. Good lord. He logged 39 minutes, stayed out of foul trouble, scored 24 points, knocked down a pair of three’s, collected 19 boards and sank eight free throws. Could he have played a better game? He is an absolute monster and no doubt was the player of the game.
– Anthony Davis was no slouch and really bounced back from a rather quiet first half. He finished with 18 points and six blocks. And, as a 60% free throw shooter naturally would, made 12 of 13 free throws. He was clutch down the stretch to seal the deal.
– Clark Kellog just fouled out.
– Many were anticipating the return of Terrence Jones to dominant form. Not so, today. He played 30 minutes and managed only 2 points on 1-of-9 shooting. His biggest contribution, however, was on the glass where he collected 11 rebounds. He seems to be on the way to his normal self, but still struggling with the aggression to the rim.
– Doron Lamb, where were you? Zero three pointers?
– Even on a terrible shooting day the Cats can score enough to win. Kentucky hit 30% from the field and 18% from three-point. If you told me that before the game I say there’s no way the Cats win. But they did. That’s a pretty nice thing to relish in going forward.
– Marquis Teague regressed a bit from his increasing performance over the last several games; only four points, with four turnovers and five assists. However, with his counterpart Peyton Siva playing so poorly it may have balanced out.
–Peyton Siva needs to shoot more. He was 2-13 from the floor for the Cards. Thanks for that effort!
– Twany Beckham logged two big minutes. His moment of glory came late in the first half during the big Cardinal run. He assisted Kyle Witjer with a little jumper, which was a big bucket to stymie the Cardinal run.
– The spread closed with Kentucky as a 9.5-point favorite. Obviously the seven point victory means the Cats failed to cover again, but Russ Smith’s garbage three at the buzzer was the difference. I feel the pain of those who lost money because of that shot.
– The Cats trailed for a whole 43 seconds in this one. After Darius Miller nailed a three with 19:17 in the first half they never looked back.
– Today’s attendance ranks sixth all-time on the Rupp Arena attendance records, just eleven people shy of the North Carolina crowd on December 3
– And finally, there’s this.
h/t to @johnny_pat for the pic.
Enjoy this win, Big Blue Nation and Happy New Year!
You know what goes great with champagne? Matt’s postgame show on WHAS. And boy, do we have a lot to talk about: horrible officiating, sloppy play, poor shooting, and the man that carried his team, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
The postgame show starts in five minutes on WHAS 840 (Louisville) and 630 WLAP (Lexington). No radio? It’s cool, stream the show here.
Call (502) 571-8484 and tell Matt just what you thought about the win over the dirty birds. Don’t worry, Tony Greene won’t be there.
In the longest game ever, the Cats finally defeated the Cards, 69-62. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continues to be the heart and soul of this team, with 24 points and 19 rebounds. Anthony Davis took over in the second half and finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocks. As we expected, the officiating as absolutely miserable and robbed the game of any pace or rhythm.
Still, and win is a win, and this one definitely calls for a celebration.
Postgame show starts in one hour.
We’re 45 minutes from tip-off, which means we’re also thirty minutes from the start of today’s LIVE BLOG. Before you start thinking of ways to outwit Carruth’s Entourage, let’s go over a few keys to the game for the Cats:
1) Keep emotions in check
The hype surrounding this game is huge. All week, Cal has been telling his players to think of today as “just another game” in hopes of keeping them focused. For the freshmen, who are getting their first taste of the rivalry, it will be more important than ever to keep emotions in check (remember the Boogie/Swopshire incident two years ago?). Senior Darius Miller has to step up to guide the Cats if the game gets out of hand.
2) Get physical, but not too physical
Louisville is one of the more physical teams the Cats have faced this year. Dare I say it, they might even be scrappy. Anthony Davis must get low, own the post, and not be afraid to finish. The Cats must defend the three better and handle UofL’s press (a huge task for Marquis Teague), all while staying out of foul trouble. That means you, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
3) Rise to the occasion
So far this season, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been the player who has stepped up when his team needs a spark. Today, someone else must help him and rise to the occasion. Who will it be? My money’s on Doron Lamb, but nothing would make me happier than a big game from Terrence Jones.
What else must the Cats do to ensure victory today?
It’s finally game day. Time to put on your best Kentucky shirt, give your hat’s bill one last bend, and get ready for the Cats to take down the Cards.
Put your goggles up and read these links:
– John Clay says the Cats may be a favorite, but never count out Pitino.
– Jerry Tipton (you have been warned) writes about the friendship between Louisville’s
Nostrabehanan Chane Behanan and our very own Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
– While we may think this is one of the biggest games of the year, 4407293866.
– In fact, the team says it’s “just another game” for them.
– Even if it’s “just a game,” Rick Bozich says Rick Pitino and John Calipari sure make it an entertaining one.
– Our friends over at A Sea of Blue have a reacknowledge.
– In a preview of today’s games, Gary Parrish says that 7084812326.
– Over at CoachCal.com, assistant coach John Robic has an incredibly detailed scouting report on the Cards.
WHAS’ Adam Lefkoe posted the third episode of “The Rivalry” just in time for today’s game. Watch. It. Now.
By the time this message reaches you, I’ll be returning from my cousin’s wedding and fighting NYE traffic on the car ride back to Louisville from Pikeville. Â Lexington just so happens to be a nice little pitstop on the way home from Coal Mine Country. Â It’s here - gameday is upon us and nothing suits the event like a proper ‘game faces’ fitting for the opponent. Let’s do this…
The man himself - Ricky Three Stacks, the man without a conscious or stamina - steps back into Rupp Arena for what will hopefully be a reminder of ‘what could have been’. Â If UK plays to their potential, the game shouldn’t be close. This Pacino comparison is a classic, and its been done many times (exhibit A, exhibit B, exhibit C, 3093542869). Â Expect Pitino to have his boys ready for a premature run down the leg, only to have Kentucky abort their plan and run them out of the gym.
In many ways, Kyle Kuric isn’t too far off from William Shatner. Â Technically, Kyle shares team captain duties with Siva and Smith - so let’s call him Captain Kuric. Â Like Shatner, he started off as a surprise star. Â Now, people are just wondering ‘what the eff happened to that guy?’ as he roams around the perimeter looking for open three balls. Â Let’s hope today isn’t Capt.’s re-coming-out party a la Boston Legal.
Remember that time you were a young teenager and you were dying to know what Rey Mysterio, Jr. looked like under that damn mask? Â After all those close calls of bad guys trying to rip it off, we now have the answer - he’s always been that pesky Peyton Siva. Â Expect Siva to run around the court like a chicken with his head cut-off, do a weird Euro-step in traffic, then fall to the floor like someone hit him with a ‘People’s Elbow’. Â After plenty of hype, Siva’s game (at least this year) looks about as real as pro wrestling.
Anthony Mackie has been a strong supporting actor in several solid flicks, such as Half Nelson, The Hurt Locker, and Million Dollar Baby. Â Russ Smith has starred in features like NO, NO, NO, NO…YES! - The Story of the Contested Jumper. Â Russ has provided UofL with an offensive spark early this season…which may or may not be their most depressing statistic. Â Any team who relies on ill-advised jumpers as their go-to offense is in a heap of trouble when they face good defensive teams like UK. Â He’s hit a lot of tough shots this year, but I expect him to fall off as Big East play rolls on. Â Like Mackie, Russ just isn’t made for the leading role.
Angel Nunez probably won’t make it off Pitino’s bench, but at least he still has that meth-shipping thing going for him like Gus from Breaking Bad? Â What’s that you say? Â In Season 4, Gus gets his _____ ______ ___?! Â OMG.
What do Tim Henderson and the amazing ‘White Mamba’, Brian Scalabrine have in common? Â When they take a lady back to their place, the first thing the girl says is, “Does the carpet match the curtains?”
Everyone who has seen South Park remember’s the Starvin’ Marvin appearance. Â In this photo, Rick appears a bit malnourished, but we all know that isn’t the case considering he lives his life ‘a qaurter-minute at a time’ inside Italian joints. Â He looks about the size of Marvin in comparison to the the massive Gorgui Dieng. Â This Senegalese big man is an interesting match-up for Anthony Davis, but I expect Davis to win out with superior offense.
Despite being injured, Mike Marra deserves a Game Faces mention. Â If you took all the ugliness/goofiness that is Good Charlotte and put it in a blender, you’d then have Mike Marra and his brilliant tattoo collection and clueless expression.
December 31st, 2011. A date which will live in infamy glory. An epic night of celebration lies ahead as we are prepared to view the spectacle to ring in the New Year: Your University of Kentucky Wildcats take on the University of Louisville Cardinals in Rupp Arena.
Here’s your last Friday Night Notes of 2011. Read up then get to bed early. We have a big day ahead of us.
– A pattern in this UK-UL series since 1997 has been Louisville wins two straight and Kentucky wins three. The Cats are currently on a two-game winning streak in the series. If the Number God’s are just, this one will surely go the Cats way.
– Tony Greene, Jamie Luckie and Michael Stephens were announced yesterday as the referee crew. In more number crunching fashion: The guys over at 6127154284 have a massive database of goodies, and part of it is official’s stats. I’ll save you the legwork and just say with this crew, history suggests we will see about 18 fouls called on Louisville and 16 fouls called on Kentucky. But the tension in this one will probably create a few extra whistles.
– Louisville lost to Georgetown on Wednesday. The last time the Cardinals lost a game prior to facing Kentucky was in 2008 against UNLV. The Cardinals followed up and beat the Cats on January 4, 2009 in Louisville by three. Kentucky’s starters for that game? Michael Porter, Jodie Meeks, Kevin Galloway, Patrick Patterson and Perry Stevenson. That seems like a lifetime ago.
– You may remember the Cardinals lost in the Belk Bowl to North Carolina State. Then they lost to Georgetown. How about we really ruin little brother’s weekend with another one? Throw ya L’s up!
– In other news, Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated writes a rather strange paragraph, saying Kentucky is “headed for a comedown” in 2012, and “it will be the worst team Calipari has had since he came (here) from Memphis.” This is referring to the 2012-13 season, but it’s hard to imagine if/when Calipari lands Shabazz, Kentucky will be that bad.
– Larry Vaught writes that Lamar had plenty of kind words for the Cats after Wednesday’s game. Coach Pat Knight said Kentucky is “the real deal” and “don’t have a weakness.” While two Lamar guards both agreed Kentucky is better and more athletic than two opponents the team faced earlier in the season, Louisville and Ohio State.
– The Cats opened as a 12.5-point favorite over the Cards. That’s a pretty big spread right there. It will surely go down before tipoff, but it’s a good indication of Vegas’ thoughts - which is rarely ever far off on their predictions - on the winner of this one.
A few quick hitters:
– The Media guide lists Darius Miller as a probable starter over Terrence Jones, so keep an eye on that.
– On New Year’s Eve, Kentucky is 12-4 all-time, and 2-1 against the Cardinals. Louisville is 3-6 on New Year’s Eve all-time.
– This is the first time in series history the two teams have met both ranked in the Top-5.
– This is only the second road game the Cardinals will play this season. The only other time they’ve left the Yum Center is traveling to Indianapolis to play Butler.
Sleep well, Big Blue Nation. Tomorrow we conquer the Cardinals.
As we move ever closer to tip time on the latest edition of Cats-Cards, one (kind of) national writer has said what many in the Bluegrass have believed for a long time…that UK-UL is the best rivalry in college basketball. In the interest of full disclosure, the writer is Mike Rutherford, and in addition to being the college basketball editor for SB Nation he manages the UofL site ‘Card Chronicle’. Some might say that his work in the state makes him biased on the subject, but what it really means is that he has experienced the rivalry firsthand and thus knows better than most in the media what this game means to the people of this state. It’s simply a bigger deal to us than any game is to any two fan bases, and combining that with two coaches who don’t like each other and its once-a-year occurrence makes it better than any other rivalry. Yes…even the one ESPN spends the entire season telling us about.
The article is pretty long but a great read, so I’ll give you a brief excerpt and then turn you loose on it to get you even more pumped than you were already, as if you needed the help.
Louisville vs. Kentucky is the best this sport has to offer.
The game might not get the “full circle” treatment, it might not garner a week of over-hyped advertising, and it may not feature a man on the television screaming like the fate of the Middle East is at stake, but it simply means vastly more than its top rivalry competition. It means more to the players involved, it means more to the coaches involved, it means more to the fans involved and it means more to the state involved.
Barring a meeting in the NCAA Tournament, the Cards and the Cats get just one crack at each other every year. Forty minutes for 12-months of bragging rights. Forty minutes to avoid embarrassment and harassment at work, in school, or in your own bedroom for 365 days.
If Duke drops the first of the minimum two meetings with North Carolina, then the Cameron Crazies can retreat to their dorms, talk about how they’ll get ‘em in a few weeks or in the ACC tournament, pop in season one ofÂ BattleStar Galactica (I know, nerd joke) and call it a night.
When the final horn blows in the Battle for the Bluegrass, an entire fan base is instantly forced to come to grips with the terrible truth that they will now be heckled unmercifully for an entire year by friends, co-workers, family, teachers, etc. whom they would undoubtedly stab in an exposed appendage if it weren’t so frowned upon.
Don’t get it twisted, there is no intended exaggeration or hyperbole in this post (except maybe the stabbing part…maybe). There are Kentucky fans who will still discuss the “shame” involved in the 1998 Wildcats falling - in Lexington - to a U of L team that would go on to finish the regular season 12-19. While the national championship > no postseason argument would seem like an effective retort to the uneducated outsider, being able to claim victory in this rivalry is like a one-year unlimited get out-of-jail free card.
The use of “hate” is excessive in almost any context, but this rivalry brings the utilization of the word closer to the cusp of appropriateness than any other.
As a Cat fan that has to live in Louisville, I couldn’t agree more. There’s nothing like the joy of beating the Cards, and nothing like the anxiety of knowing you’ll eventually have to face your friends and coworkers after a loss. And, as we’re reminded by the feeling this evening, there’s nothing like the night before this game. Only one more night’s sleep before we get it going again. I can’t wait much longer, and fortunately I won’t have to.
Go. Big. Blue.
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