Category Archives: Brendon Miller

CATS Make HAMPTON Walk the Plank 79 to 56, to Stay Perfect and Advance to Third Round


The CATS turned it on after a slow start in a game that was never going to be a game, to

Photo by Tammie Brown - Midwest News and Sports
Photo by Tammie Brown – Midwest News and Sports

advance to Saturday’s NCAA Third Round game with Cincinnati. A Sea of Blue filled the KFC Yum Center

to watch their CATS continue the Pursuit of Perfection, and were not disappointed as the CATS easily

disposed of the Pirates. Slow starts have plagued the CATS throughout the season and this game was no

exception as the Pirates brought the intensity in the early going. The CATS only led 7 – 6 at the 15:29

media timeout, and 18 – 11 at the 11:05 mark. The CATS superior talent and physicality then took over

from that point forward and the CATS began to consistently feed Karl-Anthony Towns in the post. Towns

dominated the first half posting 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. The highlight play of the first half

was a Towns jumper on the break on a wonderful assist by Tyler Ulis at the 5:36. Towns went on to

convert the “and 1” to put the CATS up 26 to 14. From that point forward, the CATS went on to

outscore Hampton 15 to 8 to set the halftime margin of 41 to 22. The CATS shot 43.8% (14 for 32) and

held Hampton to 27.6% (8 for 29).

Hampton Head Coach, Edward Joyner, Jr., said post game that the CATS are “as good as

advertised,” and the CATS showed their might by extending their lead to 35 on three occasions, each on

dunks by Marcus Lee at 12:43 (63 to 28); Trey Lyles at 11:29 (65 to 30); and Towns at 10:25 (67 to 32).

As can be expected, the CATS put it on cruise from that point forward and the intensity loss allowed the

Pirates to outscore them 24 to 12 the rest of the game to set the final score.

This past week, Towns was named a Freshman All-American and he lived up to said billing by

posting a season-high 21 points and adding 11 rebounds. Three other CATS reached double figures with

Andrew Harrison posting 14, Ulis with 11, and Lyles with 10. Willie Cauley-Stein had a sub-par scoring

game only posting 7 points on 1 for 5 shooting and going 5 for 8 from the line, but still contributed 11

rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 assists. The CATS out rebounded the Pirates 51 to 31 and also continued to

share the ball by dishing 15 assists on 28 baskets. The CATS ended up shooting 45.9% (28 for 61) while

holding Hampton to 28.8% (17 for 59).

The CATS both started and ended slowly, and Cal stated that while he wasn’t happy with the

performance, same was understandable given the late start time and delay from the overtime of the

Cincinnati – Purdue game. Despite this not being the CATS best performance, in the NCAA tournament,

the objective is to survive and advance. Perfection is intact. 35 and 0, and on to the Bearcats on

Saturday we go!!


UK vs UCLA - Photo by Brendon Miller - Midwest News & Sports
UK vs UCLA – Photo by Brendon Miller – Midwest News & Sports

As performances go, Kentucky today was really something special.  Calipari attributed the Cats performance to the fact that his team was so excited to go home for Christmas that it showed on the court.  Wow, if that is what the Christmas season brings, Cal may either want to move the players families into Wildcat Coal Lodge the rest of the season, or simply stop the clock and leave the tree and decorations up for the next four months.  That excitement produced an 83-44 clinic that was an annihilation of one of college basketball’s other blue bloods, storied UCLA.  For Brantley Gilbert fans, the CATS today didn’t lay down a Small Town Throwdown on the Bruins, but a Big Town Beatdown in the Windy City.

The Cats really seem to show up in big time, big promotion games, and take it to another level when the lights are the brightest.  Today was just an example of what this team can be when they put it all together.  Defensively, this team is simply, phenomenal.  Just like the whip job they put on Kansas a few weeks ago in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis, the defensive numbers today were again historic.  24-0 to begin the game, 41-7 at the half,  and a field goal percentage of 8.1 % in the first half against an admittedly not great UCLA team, but a good team that was capable of putting some points on the board.  As what has now become the norm, it was difficult for UCLA to get a good shot, and when they did, it was contested, or ended up being one of 13 blocks.  The Cats defense is going be a constant from game to game, as UCLA Coach Steve Alford put it, ““I think this is a team (Kentucky) that if they were to shoot only 20% and only score 50 points, they will still hold you to 35 points and beat you.  They are just that good.”

When the Cats are clicking offensively, this is the result.  Shooting 50% from the field and 46.2% from 3Land means any opponent is in trouble.  UCLA tried to pack in a zone to start the game, but after Aaron Harrison hit a three just 15 seconds into the game and a second three minutes later it was 16-0 at the first timeout.  Devin Booker then went on an 8-0 run by himself with two threes and a dunk in less than a minute, nearly half of his team high 19, and the score was 24-0, at the 12:40 mark.  The result was decided.  Alford summed it up, “In my 24 years of coaching, this is the best team I’ve coached against.  This is a really, really, really good team.  If they continue to play at that level defensively, they have a chance to run this thing out.”

The challenge will be how Cal is able to keep this team “excited” for the balance of the season after next week’s showdown with Louisville.  The average margin of victory is now 29.1 points a game.  Devin Booker was asked the teams mentality when it dominates a team and get a lead on them like today, to which he stated the “We have to keep playing against ourselves.  Coach always stresses to us we’re not playing against the other team; we’re playing against ourselves.”  If Cal can continue to keep this group “excited” by “playing against themselves”, Cats fans will be the ones excited in April.


UK vs Kansas 11-18-14 (20)Brendon D. Miller, – Camen Media

INDIANAPOLIS – The Wildcats lit up the Champions Classic and a bitterly cold 15 degree night on the plains of Indiana by sending the fifth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks to a 72 to 40, 32 point demolition, the fourth-worst loss in the program’s storied history. For clarity, this is University of Kansas, the second most winningest program in college basketball history, not Fort Valley State. This was John Calipari’s milestone 600th win, and it will be remembered by the Big Blue Nation as an epic performance and bell weather that this edition of the Cats can be truly and historically special. Calipari entered the post-game press conference and spontaneously began, “No, we’re not that good”, before taking his seat. Thing is, this performance may have been the best defensive display seen by the BBN, in many a moon, if not ever.

No one in Banker’s Life Field House was left questioning the feasibility of Cal’s platoon system on this night as the continuous rotation of long, tall and talented Wildcats constantly turned up the defensive pressure on the Jayhawks. “We kind of bum-rushed them a little bit”, Calipari said. “And every time they looked, there were more tanks coming over the hill.” Tanks? More like bulldozers.

The defensive numbers tell the dominant story. 11 blocks and numerous other altered shots around the rim led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Marcus Lee with four each. This is tempered by at least four more blocks that were taken away by questionable foul calls. When the Jayhawks did get a shot up at the rim, very few were converted. Kansas shot 8 for 33 (24.2%) in the first and 3 for 23 (13.0%) in the second half for a total of 11 for 56 (19.6%) for the game. That is THREE field goals in the second half. THREE! Inclusive of going 0 for 7 from three point land. As great as those numbers are, the most telling stat of the night was Kansas going 3 for 21 (14.2%) from inside three feet. That is 14.2% on layups and shots at the rim, by major college, 5 star talents. No shot went uncontested by the Cats. Kansas had to earn 15 of its 40 points (37.5%) from the foul line due on those contested shots. The pressure was withering, and it was evident in the Kansas players. Those of us in the arena could see and feel the intimidation. Interestingly enough, Cal noted that he did intend to play some zone in the game, but “when I saw the way we defended, I said Nope, not playing any zone today.” No need.

The result could have been so much more lop sided if the Cats would have played better offensively. A major detractor of the platoon system is that it does not allow the players to get in an offensive flow during the game and affects consistent shooting. Kentucky, by no means, played their best offensive game, shooting 25 for 58 (43.1%) and only 6 for 18 (33.3%) from three point land, with most of those 12 missed threes in the first half being open looks. A few of those go down and the game was done by the 4:00 time out of the first half. Despite the shooting numbers, the offensive effort was impressive in the balance of the contribution of each of the players. All 10 of the platooners played between 17 and 21 minutes, each scored in both the first and second half, each scored between 11 and four points, led by Dakari Johnson’s 11, and each had at least 1 rebound, let by Willie Cauley-Stein’s 10. That is Balance.


Are Cal’s Cats as good as they looked on Tuesday Night? The hype this is now going to escalate to astronomic levels. The talk of an undefeated season will only mushroom and there is now evidence that it is entirely possible. The Cats will likely lose a game, or maybe two, somewhere during the grueling and pressure packed season to come. However, if they put on such a dominant defensive display and balanced offensive performance as they did here Tuesday night, they will not lose their last game of the season on April 6th, just down the street at Lucas Oil Stadium, back here in the plains of Indiana.


Arlington, Texas – April 5, 2014 – Brendon D. Miller, East Kentucky Media –

Kentucky overcame Wisconsin 74 to 73 in the second national semi-final on Saturday night before a crowd of 79,444, the largest crowd ever to see a Division 1 college basketball game, in an electric AT&T Stadium. In its fourth “instant classic” in a row these young “tweaked” Wildcats did what they hadn’t done at any point during this season prior to the SEC tournament, but has now become common place, be clutch when it is time to be clutch on the grandest of stages. “Aaron’s been doing that all tournament” said Wisconsin’s Sam Decker afterward, “He’s got that clutch gene. And props to him for hitting that shot. . . He came through big for his team and put them ahead.”

Aaron Harrison is not alone. The “Clutch Gene” is present in each of these young CATS and they have now developed that gene and have come of age and are now young men who have nerves of steel and have become Stone Cold Killers in a strictly basketball sense. Succeed and Proceed is the rule of this group and they are doing things that we have not seen in Big Blue Nation before. Of Kentucky’s 74 points, 66 were scored by freshmen, the most in a Final Four game since the Fab Five in 1992 who had 61. The Fab Five were only that – five, these CATS played seven freshmen in an eight man rotation on Saturday night, with all seven playing double digit minutes. For teenagers, that is CLUTCH.

The usual suspects were there with the five starters. Mr. Big Shot, Aaron Harrison with is third game winning dagger from deep to get the CATS into Monday night’s Championship Game will be the highlight we all will remember, but his 36 turnover free minutes were huge. Julius Randle going for 16 points and five rebounds in 27 minutes and two huge free throws with 3:48 left, all after rolling his ankle earlier in the game. James Young putting up 17 points and five rebounds, and after being turnover prone during the season, committing only one turnover in 37 minutes. Dakari Johnson posting 10 p0ints and 7 rebounds in 18 minutes while helping hold Frank Kaminsky to eight points. Andrew Harrison with a steady nine points, four assists, and only two turnovers, with the biggest assist getting his brother the ball for the game winner. All CLUTCH.

The CATS’ path to Monday’s National Final has been laid by their bench. Without Willie Cauley- Stein, the performances of Marcus Lee and Dominque Hawkins during this run have been outstanding. Lee followed up his breakout performance in the Midwest Regional Final with two dunks in 10 minutes while also helping defensively on Kaminsky. Hawkins, the only Kentucky native playing significant minutes, followed up this defensive displays in regional games with zero turnovers in 11 minutes. For two guys who got limited minutes throughout the year, simply CLUTCH.

The one non-freshman has taken time to develop his gene, but it has arrived. Alex Poythress played 29 crucial minutes highlighted by two sequences in the final 5:00. With Wisconsin ahead 67 – 65 Poythress was called for goal tending after menacingly swatting away a Frank Kaminsky shot in the lane, putting the CATS down 69–65. The next possession, Poythress drove the lane with 4:45 and finished with an aggressive, emphatic two-handed slam that sent the crowd into a frenzy and brought momentum back to the CATS side. Then with 2:34 left, and the score tied at 69 and Wisconsin in possession, Ben Brust fumbled the ball in the lane and Poythress saved the ball back in to Randle while falling out of bounds. Poythress then ran the floor and was able to make a difficult, athletic layup to put the CATS up 71-69. Calipari said in his Thursday Press conference that if the CATS were to do something special this weekend, it would be with Poythress making a difference. Stepping up when you get called out, CLUTCH.


Mr. Andrew Harrison Sr. - Photo by Brendon Miller - East KY Media
Mr. Andrew Harrison Sr. – Photo by Brendon Miller – East KY Media

After the game this reporter shook Andrew Harrison, Sr.’s hand, the man who, along with Ms. Marian Harrison, is the source of the clutch gene for Aaron and Andrew, and he held up his index finger and said “One More”. Dad is clutch too. Lets hope Monday Night the “Clutch Gene” present in these CATS, will bring the Bluegrass State “One More” which will be National Championship number Nine.