With No. 1 Kentucky Looming, Cards win tune-up, 80 – 55

Rick Pitino said in his post-game press conference that he was “feeling sick tonight”, but one guy that definitely wasn’t feeling sick was Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear.  He led the Cardinals with a career-high 31 points on 11 of 17 shooting and 6 of his 11 three-point attempts as No. 4 Louisville rolled over Cal State Northridge, 80 – 55.

Blackshear has been a streaky shooter his entire career, but tonight he was on from the beginning.  He hit his first seven shots and scored the Cardinals’ first 13 points.  He nearly outscored the Matadors by himself in the first half scoring a career-high 23 points.  Louisville led 36 – 25 at the half.

The Matadors, coached by former Louisville assistant Reggie Theus, kept the game close up until midway through the second half in which they trailed by only eight points.  Louisville then closed the game on a 29 to 12 run.

Coming into the season, rebounding was considered to be one of the Cardinals’ weaker areas.  Through the first 10 games Louisville ranked 10th in the nation in rebounding margin at 10.3 per game.  The absence of Montrezl Harrell (one game suspension for fighting) was surely felt in the rebounding area as the Matadors tied the Cardinals with 36 rebounds.

Three-point shooting has been a significant cause for concern through the first 10 games.  The Cardinals came in to the game shooting only 27.5 percent.  They were 11 for 27 against the Matadors.

Blackshear was not the only hot shooter from outside for Louisville.  Surprisingly, rarely used sophomore David Levitch, came off of the bench to hit three of four from three-point range and finish with a career-high 9 points.  “David Levitch was unbelievable. He gave us a big lift in terms of what we were doing. He made the shots and that was nice but he knew what to run, said Pitino.

Anas Mahmoud continues to see more and more playing time and seems to be putting it to good use mainly on the defensive end.  He blocked three shots and altered several others.  He also corralled seven rebounds.

Louisville sits at 11 – 0 and can now start thinking and preparing for No. 1 Kentucky coming in to the KFC Yum Center this Saturday for a 2:00 showdown.  This will be perhaps the most anticipated regular season showdown in the series’ history.

KENTUCKY RIVER MEDICAL CENTER NAMES NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

JACKSON, Ky., – December 22, 2014 – Kentucky River Medical Center has appointed John Ballard as Chief Executive Officer, effective January 5, 2015. Most recently, Ballard has served as CEO of Parkway Regional Hospital, a 70-bed hospital in Fulton, Kentucky.

John Ballard KRMC CEO“I am committed to supporting the physicians, employees and volunteers of Kentucky River Medical Center who provide patients with quality, compassionate care,” Ballard said. “It is an exciting opportunity to help strengthen and enhance the hospital’s service to the community and patients who count on us for care.”

During his time at Parkway Regional, The Joint Commission named the hospital a Top Performer on key quality measures for the fourth consecutive year. The hospital also achieved strong employee and physician satisfaction scores which led to strong HCAHPS measures of patient satisfaction.

“On behalf of the entire board, we welcome John to Jackson and our organization,” said Dan McIntyre, Chairman, Kentucky River Medical Center Board of Trustees. “His dedication to quality patient care will benefit the hospital and our community.”

Prior to Parkway Regional, Ballard was Assistant CEO of Moberly Regional Medical Center in Missouri and served in leadership roles with multi-specialty physician clinics in New Mexico, Florida and Mississippi. He completed his undergraduate degree at Louisiana State University, and received his MBA from Alcorn State University in Natchez, Mississippi. He also holds a Ph.D. in Public Health and Epidemiology from Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Verda Mae Farler Obit

Verda Mae Farler Obit
Verda Mae Farler Obit

Verda Mae Farler, 86, Jackson passed away Sunday, December 21, at the Kentucky River Medical Center in Jackson.  She attended the Baptist Church.  She was the widow of the late Bill Farler and the daughter of the late Verdia & Hester (Godsey) Francis.  She was also preceded in death by one son, Billy Farler; one daughter, Pamela Marlene Farler; one brother, Willie Edgar “Bill” Farler.  She is survived by one daughter, Darlene Gail Farler of Jackson; three brothers, Alfred Francis of Hazard, Arlis (Carole) Francis of Leslie County; James David (Fran) Francis of Hazard; four sisters, Faye Patrick of Hazard, Louise Chaney of Shelbyville, Indiana, Betty (Gene) Kelly of Tampa, Florida, Louyvone Halter of Cincinnati, Ohio; special family, Kay & Paul Hale, Andrew Hale, Tiffany Clair, Samuel Crette Mayelyn Clair; special fur baby, Precious; host of nephews and nieces.  Funeral will be Wednesday, Dec. 24, 11AM at the Breathitt Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Clell Miller officiating.  Burial in the Riverside Cemetery at Hazard.  Serving as pallbearers will be family.  Breathitt Funeral Home in charge of arrangments.

UK continues to roll with win over Louisville

UK vs UL Boxscore

Louisville Can’t Solve Kentucky’s Defense, Lose 58 – 50 – So far this season No. 1 Kentucky has won all 13 games it has played.  None of the Wildcats’ opponents have been able to solve the suffocating defense Kentucky has played.

No. 4 Louisville became the latest victim.  Kentucky held Louisville to 25.9 percent shooting and just one assist.  The Cardinals made only one of their 14 three-pointers.

Neither team set the nets on fire during the first half.  Kentucky was just 10 of 27 and Louisville 6 of 28.  Kentucky led 22 – 18 at the half.

The referees seemed to let the teams play in the first half calling a total of 11 fouls.  This seemed to cater to Louisville, but the Cardinals just couldn’t make enough shots.  They were in Rick Pitino’s words, “offensively challenged”.

“I’ll tell you the truth. We missed about eight to ten easy shots. That’s a credit to them, but also we’re a little offensively challenged. We’ve had this problem the whole year. We’re working very hard at it.” Pitino said after the game.

The starting backcourt for Louisville, which many considered their biggest strength, struggled to get anything going.  Terry Rozier and Chris Jones were 2 of 13 in the first half.  Jones missed all six of his shots in the half.

The second half would not get any better for Rozier and Jones.  They combined to make only 8 of their 33 attempts for the game.

With a number of NBA scouts in attendance, many wanting to see how Louisville junior forward Montrezl Harrell would perform against NBA caliber opposition, Harrell did not have his best game.  Harrell scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Pitino made his game plan clear saying, “We wanted to go in to Montrezl Harrell as much as possible, but they did a very good job denying it. Their length is pretty incredible.”

This was a matchup of the two top defensive teams in the country.  Kentucky’s defense was great the entire game.  Louisville’s was just as solid for most of the game however, Kentucky’s depth wore the Cardinals down.  Pitino said, “We’re an excellent defensive team, although we had 18 deflections in the first half, only seven in the second half and they shot 47 percent. Their size really wore us down. We don’t have much of a bench right now. Getting (freshman forward) Shaqquan (Aaron) back, that’ll help us. They don’t have to worry about foul trouble, they’ve got a bench that can wear you down with their size. I think they wore down our defense in the second half.”

As is the case in a number of rivalry games, the stars you expect to shine are not always the ones to shine.  With Harrell’s and Willie Cauley-Stein’s struggles (five points and four fouls), Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis was the star of the game.

Ulis controlled the game in a way starting point guard Andrew Harrison could not.  Harrison scored three points and committed six turnovers.  Ulis, on the other hand, scored a season high 14 points and committed no turnovers against a tough Louisville defense.

Pitino gave glowing reviews after the game on Ulis saying, “I think he’s a great basketball player. He’s probably, you know, because they have so many bigs, but he’s a true point guard who makes people better. I’ve loved him from the moment I started watching him. I do think he’s a great point guard. That’s a program that you can build around having a great point guard.”

This was Louisville’s first loss of the season in 12 games.  It is not the end of the world as some fans would believe.  It is a tough loss, but the season is still early.  Where do they go from here?  Only time will tell.  They have questions to answer just as all teams have when they lose a game.

The Cardinals return to the KFC Yum Center on Tuesday December 30 to face off against Long Beach State.  Game time has been moved up to 4:00 to accommodate the football team’s bowl game against Georgia at 6:30.

NOTES

*The attendance for today’s game of 22,812 was the third largest in the KFC Yum Center’s history.

*Louisville’s total of one assist was the lowest of a ranked team in 19 years.

*The game’s total of 108 points was the fewest in the modern day portion of the series.

Rick Pitino Post Game Comments 

Kentucky Stays Perfect in 58 – 50 Win – Prior to Kentucky’s top five matchup against in-state rival Louisville, coach John Calipari made sure to let us know that this was the Wildcats’ first true road game of the season.  And this is just not any road game, this is the road game of Kentucky’s most hated rival – Louisville.  There would be 22,000 plus, the majority of which would boo and yell at anything in blue.  How would his young team handle the vitriol that comes with this rivalry?

They handled it pretty well in front of the third largest crowd (22.812) in the history of the KFC Yum Center.  Fans saw the top ranked Kentucky Wildcats suit up against the No. 4 ranked Louisville Cardinals in a matchup of heavyweights.  It was Kentucky that would hold on the longest and deliver the knockout punch in a 58 – 50 slugfest.

The young guys and the most unexpected were the ones to handle it the best.  Tyler Ulis and Devon Booker combined to play 54 minutes and not commit a single turnover against Louisville’s vaunted pressure defense.  They combined to score 23 points.

Ulis’ performance was made even more important with the struggles of starting point guard Andrew Harrison (three points and six turnovers).  Ulis made several big shots in the second half, but more importantly controlled the game for the Wildcats.  Calipari said of Ulis, “He was really good today. That’s the best I’ve seen him play since I’ve coached him.”

The physicality of the game was evident in the first half as Ulis took an inadvertent elbow from Chris Jones.  Ulis patched it up with two thin bandages and then led the Wildcats to victory.  Calipari had this to say on what attracted him to Ulis coming out of high school, “His competitiveness. He can make a difference in the game even at his size, and that’s what you want. He wasn’t afraid of the challenge.”

Devon Booker was known simply as a scorer in high school.  He certainly wasn’t known for any type of defense and according to Calipari, “I did not think Devin Booker could guard the way he’s guarding. In high school, he shot every ball. He didn’t guard much and I thought that would be the Achilles heel.”

Booker helped lead a Kentucky defense hold Louisville to a season-low 25.9 percent from the field.  They held the Cardinals’ starting backcourt of Terry Rozier and Chris Jones to 8 of 33 shooting.  Even the shots that went in for the Rozier and Jones were not easy ones.

Numerous NBA scouts were on hand to see Montrezl Harrell and Willie Cauley-Stein.  Neither of them had their best game.  Harrell finished with nine points and eight rebounds while Cauley-Stein was saddled with foul trouble and finished with only five points.

Trey Lyles and Karl-Anthony Towns were also not fazed by the crazed atmosphere.  Lyles finished with six points and four assists.  Towns scored ten points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence was on hand to watch this matchup from Tom Jurich’s suite at center court.  She knows a thing or two about good acting (Chris Jones), as well as a good performance all together.  This was not Kentucky’s most complete game, but it did show that this defense can take this team very far.  Will it take them to perfection on the season?  Who knows.  They have certainly solidified themselves as the number one team in the country.

Kentucky will be off until it returns to Rupp Arena on January 6 to face off against Mississippi at 7:00.

Coach Calipari Post Game Comments

Battle of the Bluegrass, and the Emmy goes to……

UK vs UL

The Battle of the Bluegrass was everything it was expected to be. #1 U.K. Wildcats vs in state rival and #4 Louisville Cardinals. Both team tops in the Nation defensively, both crowned National Champions in past 3 years. U.K. has been beating it’s opponents by an average of 29.1 points per game and hasn’t allowed any team closer than 10 points. This also included beat downs of Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA. UK would end up winning the game 58-50 ending their double digit win streak. This was after Kentucky, twice, fouled three point shot attempts by U of L late in the game to give the Cardinals a chance to get the final tally under 10.

Louisville at times, must have thought there were judges for TV Emmy’s in the crowd as Cardinal players put on performances worthy of an acting award. The best “FLOP” was when Wildcat center Dikari Johnson was trying to clear space after a rebound and U of L player Chris Jones fell as if he were shot with an elephant gun. Several angles on replay showed Jones was no where near Johnson’s elbow. To compound this acting job, Jones carried on for several minutes as if his jaw were broken. This if nothing else was an absolute embarrassment to college basketball as a whole.

“EXCITED” WILDCATS PUT BIG TOWN BEATDOWN ON UCLA

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.

Harrell gets ejected, but Cardinals hold on to win 76 – 67

The Louisville Cardinals first played Western Kentucky in 1926 when the Hilltoppers won 28 – 27.  Today’s game was the 78th game between the two games with Western Kentucky surprisingly holding a 39 – 38 advantage in the series.  Western has won only three times in last 26 games against Louisville dating back to 1961.  It would be hard-pressed to find a more intense game between the two teams that what we saw in front of a packed house in E. A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.

The No. 4 ranked Cardinals came in winners of their first nine games and playing their first true road game.  They knew this would be a difficult test and that is exactly what they got.

Montrezl Harrell was in control of the game in the first half, scoring 14 of his team’s 28 points and grabbed six rebounds.  However, he was ejected from the game with 38 seconds remaining in the first half for throwing an elbow at a Western Kentucky player follow a loose ball scramble on the floor.  After the officials reviewed the play, Harrell was assessed a Flagrant-2 foul.

Assistant coach Kenny Johnson filled in for Rick PItino after the game said this about the Harrell ejection, “Anytime you – you always talk about keeping a level head, no matter what the environment may be. Montrezl owned up to his part in the mistake. That’s what happens in life as well as basketball, you make mistakes. In his mind, he was trying to protect himself so he could stand up properly. He owned up to it, and we had to fight without him.”

After all of the dust settled, it was Terry Rozier who showed up in a big way.  Rozier was seemingly unstoppable in the second half finishing with a career-high 32 points to go along with his five rebounds and three steals.

At one point in the second half Rozier scored 17 consecutive points during a 10 minute and seventeen second stretch.

Several players had strong games in Harrell’s absence.  Anas Mahmoud played 23 minutes off of the bench and finished with six points, grabbed five rebounds, and blocked three shots.  One of his biggest plays of the came after Western Kentucky scored to make it 69 – 64.  Mahmoud cut down the lane and received a pass from Anton Gill and slammed it home to put the Cardinals up 71 – 64, showing why coach Pitino sees huge potential in him.

Anton Gill’s shot still is not where it needs to be, but Pitino has stressed that he needs to do the other things well to get more playing time.  Today’s game was case-in-point.  Gill scored only five points, but grabbed two rebounds and blocked a shot in 15 minutes of action.  His three-pointer with 6:45 remaining pushed Louisville’s lead to 10.  He made two big free throws down the stretch after making only three of his first nine on the season.

Free throw shooting has been Louisville’s achilles heel this season so far.  Today they finished well above their season average 60.4 percent, hitting 26 of their 30 attempts for 86.7 percent.

  1. J. Price led Western Kentucky with 24 points, but made only 7 of his 19 attempts. D. J. Clayton was the only other player for the Hilltoppers to score in double figures scoring 14 points off of the bench.

With the loss, Western Kentucky falls to 5 – 5 while Louisville improves their record to 10 – 0.

Louisville returns to the KFC Yum Center Tuesday night at 7:00 to take on Cal-State Northridge.

NOTES:

*Terry Rozier’s 32 points were a career-high.

*Rozier’s 11 free throws made and 13 attempts were both career-highs.

*Shaqquan Aaron dressed for his first collegiate game, but saw no action.

*This was Rick Pitino’s 950th game coached in college

Louisville Struggles in 68 – 57 Win

UL vs UNCWRick Pitino heaped high praise for his former assistant Kevin Keatts before the game and even more after the No. 4 ranked Louisville Cardinals 68 – 57 win over visiting UNCW Seahawks.  Pitino said, “I’m real proud of Kevin Keatts, for his team.  You like to see that.  They really deserved a better fate than that because they really outplayed us.”

Pitino was not in the mood to talk after the game.  His post-game press conference lasted less than two minutes.  His most telling statement, “I’m really disappointed in our basketball team, but they made us look bad so you’ve got to give all the credit to them.”

The game started slow for the Cardinals as UNCW jumped out to a 4 – 0 lead.  The slow start led to Pitino calling a quick timeout.  Wayne Blackshear then scored Louisville’s first basket 3:14 into the game.

Montrezl Harrell’s strong inside play helped push the Cardinals’ halftime lead to 32 – 24.  Harrell scored nine first half points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

The second half started out much better than the first half with Louisville pushing their lead out to a game-high 17 points with 11:42 remaining.  The Cardinals looked to be in control leading 52 – 45, but the Seahawks would not go down easily.

The Seahawks fought back, eventually getting to within two points with just under seven minutes remaining.  They outscored Louisville 15 – 0 over a five plus minute stretch.

Terry Rozier then scored six of the next eight points to push Louisville’s lead to 60 – 52.  Rozier finished with 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals, but Pitino was not happy with his performance saying, “he turned the ball over too much and he didn’t have an assist in the game. He didn’t play well at all.”

Montrezl Harrell finished with his fifth consecutive double-double.  He tied Rozier with a game-high 19 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds.

Louisville’s poor performance came just five days after one of their more impressive offensive performances against the Indiana Hoosiers.  They put up a season-high 94 points and 15 assists.  Against the Seahawks they finished with only seven assists.  The assist total is what Pitino has said is keeping this season’s Cardinals from becoming a great team saying, “We didn’t pass the ball like we did against Indiana. We hunted points and we paid the consequences of hunting points rather than hitting the open man.”

UNCW was led in scoring by senior guard Freddie Jackson who finished with 16 points.

Louisville’s next game will be their first true road game as they travel to Bowling Green to face Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

NOTES:

*Freshman Shaqquan Aaron will be eligible to play against Western Kentucky after being suspended for the first nine games of the season.

*Montrezl Harrell’s 17 rebounds against UNCW is a career-high.

Louisville Struggles in 68 – 57 Win

Rick Pitino heaped high praise for his former assistant Kevin Keatts before the game and even more after the No. 4 ranked Louisville Cardinals 68 – 57 win over visiting UNCW Seahawks.  Pitino said, “I’m real proud of Kevin Keatts, for his team.  You like to see that.  They really deserved a better fate than that because they really outplayed us.”

Pitino was not in the mood to talk after the game.  His post-game press conference lasted less than two minutes.  His most telling statement, “I’m really disappointed in our basketball team, but they made us look bad so you’ve got to give all the credit to them.”

The game started slow for the Cardinals as UNCW jumped out to a 4 – 0 lead.  The slow start led to Pitino calling a quick timeout.  Wayne Blackshear then scored Louisville’s first basket 3:14 into the game.

Montrezl Harrell’s strong inside play helped push the Cardinals’ halftime lead to 32 – 24.  Harrell scored nine first half points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

The second half started out much better than the first half with Louisville pushing their lead out to a game-high 17 points with 11:42 remaining.  The Cardinals looked to be in control leading 52 – 45, but the Seahawks would not go down easily.

The Seahawks fought back, eventually getting to within two points with just under seven minutes remaining.  They outscored Louisville 15 – 0 over a five plus minute stretch.

Terry Rozier then scored six of the next eight points to push Louisville’s lead to 60 – 52.  Rozier finished with 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals, but Pitino was not happy with his performance saying, “he turned the ball over too much and he didn’t have an assist in the game. He didn’t play well at all.”

Montrezl Harrell finished with his fifth consecutive double-double.  He tied Rozier with a game-high 19 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds.

Louisville’s poor performance came just five days after one of their more impressive offensive performances against the Indiana Hoosiers.  They put up a season-high 94 points and 15 assists.  Against the Seahawks they finished with only seven assists.  The assist total is what Pitino has said is keeping this season’s Cardinals from becoming a great team saying, “We didn’t pass the ball like we did against Indiana. We hunted points and we paid the consequences of hunting points rather than hitting the open man.”

UNCW was led in scoring by senior guard Freddie Jackson who finished with 16 points.

Louisville’s next game will be their first true road game as they travel to Bowling Green to face Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

NOTES:

*Freshman Shaqquan Aaron will be eligible to play against Western Kentucky after being suspended for the first nine games of the season.

*Montrezl Harrell’s 17 rebounds against UNCW is a career-high.

Jolene Campbell Obit

Jolene Campbell Obit
Jolene Campbell Obit

Jolene Campbell, 38, War Creek passed away Friday, December 12, at the Hazard Appalachian Regional Hospital. She was a member of the Pentecostal Workers Church.  She was preceded in death by her mother, Mary Louise Campbell. She is survived by her daddy, Don Baker; her mom, Geneva Baker; two sisters, Tammy (Marvin) Reed and Rushie Mae Thompson; two nieces, Danielle Rose Miller and Alleah Rickelle Reed; three nephews, Mark Edward McIntosh, Daniel Ronin Thompson, Odin Ripley Thompson; special cousin, Kathleen Swartz; special friend, Becky Miller. Funeral services Wed., Dec. 17, 1:00 PM at the Breathitt Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Ruth Kilborn and Rev. Clyde Kilborn officiating.   Burial in the Campbell Cemetery at Clayhole.  Breathitt Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.

Sports Coverage for the Bluegrass