The UK Wildcat football team is riding high after a hard fought victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks in Lexington. The Cats fought back on three different occasions to include trailing by 14 in the 4th quarter. JoJo Kemp nearly single handedly carried UK to their win. Kemp,
running the Wildcat offense, ran at will through the Gamecock defense. UK overcame a horrible call on a South Carolina fumble and a defense that allowed 500 yards in total offense and 282 yards rushing. South Carolina would go away from their running game when it mattered in the 4th quarter only to have UK intercept a SC pass for a pick 6 to take the lead for good. UK would intercept another pass in the waining moments of the game to seal the victory.
Kentucky is 4-1 and could easily be 5-0 if not for a missed call at Florida. It is still early on in the season, but the Wildcats have shown they have changed the atmosphere in Lexington in regards to their football program. Kentucky will now face UL Monroe before they start the true tough part of their schedule that includes 4 of their last 6 games on the road. Their remaining schedule has UK at #15 LSU, at Home against #12 Mississippi St., at #24 Missouri, home against #13 Georgia before traveling to Tennessee and at Louisville. Assuming UK can win next week at home against UL Monroe to go to 5-1, they would have to win at least one of their remaining 5 games to qualify for a bowl bid. Not bad for a team who hadn’t won an SEC game since 2011 and only won 2 games all of last year. Things are looking up for the Kentucky Wildcat football team and has fans throughout the State of Kentucky saying, WHY NOT KENTUCKY!!!
Fans who were disappointed in this years Wildcats, that is until they made their NCAA Tourney run, will have yet another Calapari team loaded with talent and high expectations from BIG BLUE NATION. UK was expected to lose as many as 6 players to the NBA this year, but only Randle and Young decided to forego their college careers and move on to the NBA.
The Harrison twins were the final piece to fall into place in next years star studded team filled with McDonalds All-Americans. Along with the “Twins”, Willie Cauley Stein, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee & Alex Poythress all are coming back. That coupled with big man Karl Towns, Guards Ulis and Booker along with Trey Lyles, Dominque Hawkins & Derek Willis, UK is as deep as anyone in the country and have the tournament experience to beat anyone in the Country.
Kentucky will be one of the biggest if not the biggest team in the country with Johnson, Stein and Towns up front and the Harrison twins in the back court. How many teams in the NCAA would like to have Ulis, Poythress, Lee, Booker, Hawkins, Willis or Lyles starting for them, lit alone coming off the bench? UK has at least 12 players than can start for 95% of the teams in the country.
Calipari’s biggest problem next season appears to be how to play everyone and who to fit in with Stein, Johnson and the twins. The Wildcats have been in 2 Championship games, won one of those, 3 Final Fours and one Elite Eight, all in 5 short seasons at UK. No other team in the Nation can even come close to those lofty achievements. Once again, UK is expected to make a deep Tournament run and quite possibly their 9th NCAA Championship.
Below are Press Releases for UK players making announcements on their future with the Wildcats.
Harrisons to Return for Sophomore Seasons
Freshman guards join Cauley-Stein, Lee, Johnson and Poythress among returnees
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, they announced Friday.
Aaron Harrison started all 40 games for the Wildcats during the 2013-14 season and averaged 13.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. He knocked down three of UK’s all-time most memorable shots in three consecutive games in helping UK past Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament to reach the national championship contest.
“I’m coming back for a second season in large part because last year’s title run was special, but we still have unfinished business,” Aaron Harrison said.
Andrew Harrison started 39 games for UK and poured in 10.9 points and added 4.0 assists per game. He dished out three or more assists in seven of UK’s final nine games. His-20 point performance led all Wildcat scorers in an upset of No. 1 seed Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m returning for my sophomore season because I want to win a national title.” Andrew Harrison said.
“I’m excited about Aaron and Andrew’s decision to return for next season,” head coach John Calipari said. “Their postseason play was a result of the improvement they made all season and displayed what they’re capable of doing on the court. I look forward to having the opportunity to work with them during the summer and watch them lead next year’s team.”
Sophomores Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress and fellow freshmen Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee have already announced their intentions to return for the 2014-15 season.
With the announcement of the Harrisons, Kentucky is set to return 67 percent of its assists (300), 65 percent of minutes played, 59 percent of its scoring (1,773) and 54 percent of its rebounds (872) produced from its Final Four squad.
Additional returnees include freshmen Dominque Hawkins, Derek Willis and EJ Floreal, who all saw action this season. The Wildcats will also welcome the No. 2 rated recruiting class in the nation that sports four McDonald’s All-America and Jordan Brand Classic players in Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyler Ulis.
Johnson to Return for Sophomore Season
Freshman center joins Cauley-Stein, Lee and Poythress among returnees
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman center Dakari Johnson will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, he announced Wednesday.
“After looking at the information provided to me by Coach Cal and the NBA committee, my family and I made the decision for me to return to UK for my sophomore year,” Johnson said. “Returning to school allows me to build on my leadership skills, improve my individual basketball strength and conditioning skills, and have another opportunity to accomplish one of my individual goals: winning an NCAA national championship in college.”
The 7-foot center started 18 of Kentucky’s last 20 games, averaging 5.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during that stretch. Johnson tallied nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds in UK’s postseason-opening win over LSU in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
“I’m happy to have Dakari back with us for next season,” head coach John Calipari said. “Despite being the youngest player on the team this season, he continued to improve every day on the court and it showed. We look forward to seeing his improvement over the summer and throughout next year.”
The Brooklyn, N.Y., native grabbed six or more rebounds four times during UK’s postseason run, while shooting better than 62 percent from the field during the NCAA Tournament.
Sophomores Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress and fellow freshman Marcus Lee have already announced their intentions to return for the 2014-15 season.
Poythress to Return for Junior Season
Sophomore forward joins Cauley-Stein and Lee among returnees
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Sophomore forward Alex Poythress will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, he announced Wednesday.
“Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine, but I want to make sure that I’m NBA-ready before I make that jump,” Poythress said. “By coming back, I’ll be so much closer to earning my degree in business and it will give me another year to prepare my game and my body for the next level.”
The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 5.9 points and 4.5 rebounds in helping lead the Wildcats to the NCAA title game. He shot better than 68 percent from the field in the NCAA Tournament, including an eight-point, seven-rebound performance in the Final Four against Wisconsin.
“I’m excited for Alex and the decision he’s arrived at,” head coach John Calipari said. “I’m proud of the work he committed to this past season, on and off the floor, and think he’s ready to take that next step and lead this team next season.”
The Clarksville, Tenn., native tallied a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds) in UK’s season-opener against UNC Asheville and pulled down 12 rebounds two games later against second-ranked Michigan State.
Fellow sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein and freshman Marcus Lee announced their intentions to return for the 2014-15 season last week.
Lee to Return for Sophomore Season
Freshman forward joins Cauley-Stein among returnees
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman forward Marcus Lee will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, it was announced Friday.
“I’ve really enjoyed my college experience and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop as an all-around player,” Lee said. “Playing in the Final Four was such an amazing feeling, but I want to come back and help win that final game this year.”
The 6-foot-9 forward was called upon in Kentucky’s Final Four run and he answered the call with a 10-point, eight-rebound, two-block performance in the Elite Eight against Michigan. He finished the tournament shooting 70 percent from the field and was named to the Midwest Regional All-Tournament team.
“I’m excited for Marcus and think he’s barely scratched the surface of what he’s capable of,” head coach John Calipari said. “In addition to his athleticism and the energy level he brings, the experience he gained in the NCAA Tournament this year will be immeasurable for us next season.”
The Antioch, Calif., native tallied 17 points in UK’s season-opener against UNC Asheville and pulled down a then-career-high six rebounds against Northern Kentucky.
The NBA Early Entry deadline is at 11:59 p.m. ET Sunday, April 27.
Since Calipari has arrived at UK, he has made it to the Final 4 three of the last four years and also throw in an Elite Eight. Last years debacle not withstanding, the Calipari led Wildcats have made it deep in to the NCAA Tourney every year.This years team was supposed to go 40-0. At seasons end, they were thought to be an early exit. Unfortunately for most people filling out their brackets, Kentucky has managed to bust everyones bracket. It took awhile, but these young Cats have rounded in to form and look like a favorite to win another Title. UK will face a good Wisconsin team and have eyes set on a Championship game against either UConn or Florida. How sweet would it be for the Cats to avenge three losses to Florida this season with a win in the National Championship game over the Gators? Apparently the SEC isn’t as weak as most experts thought. All three SEC teams made the Sweet 16 and two made the Final Four. GO BIG BLUE!!!!!
UK was the team that was supposed to be undefeated going in to the NCAA Tournament, not Wichita. UK was supposed to be the favorite this year, not Wichita. After a so so season by Kentucky standards, the young Wildcats appear to have hit their stride after beating Kansas State Friday, then defeating #1 seed and undefeated Wichita State in a thriller.
UK will continue the gauntlet, called the Midwest Region by taking on in State and bitter rival, Louisville in Indianapolis next weekend. In what has been the worst Region seeding in a long time, the Midwest was loaded with such powers as Michigan, Duke, Louisville, Kentucky, Kansas State, Undefeated Wichita State and a red hot Tennessee squad.
For UK to make the Final Four, they will still have to beat Louisville and either Michigan or Tennessee. Kentucky fans are ready for another run to the Final Four and it will have to continue by beating the hated Cardinals.
The NCAA must have been spending a lot of time recently in Colorado in a weed shack. I don’t disagree with the UK Wildcats getting an 8 seed with their 10 losses. They will be playing in the MidWest Region with their first game in St. Louis, Mo. against Kansas State. If they win, the would likely face South #1 Seed and undefeated Wichita State. Louisville, a 4 seed in the MidWest as well. Should they win their first two games and UK wins their first two, the two Kentucky powers would have to play each other.
Louisville is 29-5 and ranked number 5 in the AP poll. Kentucky is 24-10 and dropped out of the rankings. By contrast, Duke was unbelievably ranked #7 with a 26-7 record and an absurd 3 seed, also in the MidWest Region. Kansas was a 2 seed in the South with a record of 24-9. Again, the people doing this years seeding have got to be Colorado High. The selection committee did get the #1 seeds right with Florida, Virginia, Arizona and Wichita State.
This year’s selection committee proved there is a love affair with Duke and Kansas and an innate hate for UK and Louisville. My hope is the Wildcats continue to keep their momentum and or Louisville remains hot and one or the other brings the NCAA Title home to Kentucky for the 3rd straight season.
Hey Selection Committee, ease up on the Colorado Purple Passion, Your seedings lead me to believe you may be high.
From UK Athletics:
Kentucky Makes Record 53rd NCAA Appearance
Wildcats, seeded eighth in the Midwest Region, to face Kansas State Friday
LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the 53rd time in program history the Kentucky Wildcats are among the field for the NCAA Tournament, it was announced Sunday evening. Kentucky claimed an at-large bid following a 61-60 loss to No. 1-ranked Florida on Sunday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship.
Kentucky, seeded eighth in the Midwest Region, is set to travel to St. Louis, Mo. and will take on ninth-seeded Kansas State in the second round of NCAA Tournament. The game is set for Friday, March 21st. Time and television information will be announced later in the evening. The winner of the UK-KSU matchup will play the winner of No. 1-seeded Wichita State and the winner of the 16-seed First Round play-in game between Cal Poly and Texas Southern.
Kentucky is 8-0 all-time against Kansas State, with two postseason meetings. UK downed KSU 68-58 in the national championship game in Minneapolis, Minn., to claim the program’s third NCAA title. The two schools also met in the 1976 NIT, where UK pulled out an 81-78 win.
UK has never played Wichita State, but the Wildcats own an 11-4 record all-time against Missouri Valley opponents. Kentucky has also never played Cal Poly and is 1-0 against Texas Southern, with an 83-35 win in 2007.
NCAA Tournament History
Kentucky is 42-10 in tournament openers and has won 20 of its last 21 second round (previously first-round) tournament games. The Cats won their opener during the 2012 title run against Western Kentucky, 81-66.
UK has claimed a 14-5 record in the second round since 1992.
Since 1992, UK is 107-31 (.781) in postseason play (SEC, NIT and NCAA).
Before the season started, everyone in the nation who did their preseason polls, had UK 1 or 2 and some had UK even going 40 & 0 with a National Title. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Despite having the best recruiting class ever, at least on paper, & despite having Poythress and Cauley-Stein coming back from a disappointing season last year, UK has fought to be mediocre by Wildcat standards.
UK has 9 losses, that include two spankings by Florida, a home loss in overtime to Arkansas, disappointing road losses to Arkansas and South Carolina. In the Florida loss Saturday, a must win for UK, Wildcat players stood around for what seemed like several minutes, as the ball was passed around the perimeter. With players like Randle, Johnson and Cauley-Stein down low, it is amazing UK simple does not feed the post every trip down the court. This team has entirely too much talent to have more than 1-2 losses, yet they find themselves looking at a 7-12 seed depending on who you ask.
USA Today, has UK as a 7 seed in the East playing a 10 seed. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the bracket guru, has KY as a 7th seed in the South at Raleigh North Carolina. The unfortunate part is that he also has Florida as a #1 in the South as well as Michigan, Cincinnati and #2 seed Virginia. UK could make it to the South Region Final and possibly avenge two beat downs to Florida.
The only thing that will be considered a saved season will be a Kentucky run to the Final Four. Without it, this season will be considered on of the worst UK has seen in some time, even eclipsing last seasons debacle. Only time will tell, but believe this, BIG BLUE NATION is not happy with this years team. Maybe some of the players
By Ron Hamblin – Let’s face it folks, the Cats are a work in progress. They have played five really tough teams, Michigan State, Baylor, Providence, Boise State & North Carolina. They lost to Mich. St., & Baylor on neutral courts, and lost to N.C. in their first true road game. The defeated Providence on the road and beat a solid Boise State team at home. Should we really be worried about the North Carolina loss? Not really. The UK Wildcats are finding out just how tough it is to have a team filled with promising stars.
Kentucky will go as Julius Randle goes and let’s face it, he did not show up at N.C. No one can deny Randle’s heart. It just seems that he is letting opponents double and triple teaming to cause him to fade in to the background. He has been steady in his offensive numbers since being in beast mode to begin the season. Against North Carolina he was a no show compared to games past. There is no doubt U.K. players will start to jell sooner than later, they are too good not to. Julius Randle should touch the ball 2 out of every 4 trips down the court and with the Cats other talented players coming together, should ease the double and triple teaming of Randle.
A look at Kentucky’s schedule so far shows they have been in every game and with a few free throws and about 4-5 fewer turnovers, the young Wildcats are still number 1 in the nation and undefeated, but that is why we play the games. Against Michigan State, they were dominated in every category, yet only lost by 4 points. Against Baylor, they blew a late 9 point lead only to fall by 5 points. At North Carolina, in what I still think was the worst officiated game in recent memory and with no Julius Randle, U.K. loses by 5 on the road.