Cardinals Rout Huskies on Senior Day

Senior Day games bring a lot of emotion for the players and fans alike.  Some teams start off with a wave of emotion early on and then the energy goes away which allows the other team to get back in the game.  It happened when Louisville went to SMU last Wednesday during the Mustangs’ Senior Day.  The Mustangs were up by 14 early in the game and then the Cardinals got right back in the game and took a 32 – 30 lead into halftime.

The 11th-ranked Cardinals made sure the 19th-ranked Huskies never got back into the game after taking an early 10 – 2 lead in route to an 81 – 48 victory.  It was one of the most complete games they have played from beginning to end this entire season.  The Cardinals clinched a tie for the AAC regular season conference title with Cincinnati.

Louisville coach, Rick Pitino, was worried that Russ Smith would be a bit too amped up for his last game in the KFC Yum center.  What he got was a Smith performance unlike any he has seen.  Smith finished the game attempting only two shots while dishing out a career-high 13 assists.  Pitino said, “I can’t ever imagine Russ Smith, knowing him, on senior night, would pass up all opportunities to score and get 13 assists. It shows you how much he has grown. If any pro scouts wondered tonight whether he can be a point guard, I think the thing is now closed. He can pass, he can handle, and he had an amazing performance by him.”

Pitino added about Smith, “I think he (Russ Smith) was trying to say, because we were making such a big deal out of it, was not getting carried away on Senior Day and stay focused. More than anything else, he got to play point guard and he knows the role of a point guard, which is pass before shot. So he moved over from the 2 to the point and that is why he had to do what he had to do.”

This was also the Senior Day for Luke Hancock, Stephan Van Treese, and Tim Henderson.  Together the Cardinals’ quartet of seniors helped become the all-time winningest class in the school’s prestigious history.  Hancock poured in 16 points.  Van Treese was all over the floor finishing with 6 points, 2 steals, and a season-high 13 rebounds.  Henderson started and scored the game’s first basket.

Louisville fans may have also witnessed the last game for sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell.  Harrell had another monster game for the Cardinals scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. and both have Harrell projected as the 25th pick of the first round.  That could change based on his performance of late.  Pitino said of Harrell, “His wing span is just phenomenal. He’s an incredible basketball player right now. He’s improved his passing. He’s improved his dribbling. He’s improved his one-on-one moves.”

Louisville’s defense was outstanding against the Huskies.  They held Connecticut to a season-low 48 points and an abysmal 29.4 shooting percentage.  Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, one of the AAC’s top backcourts, were held to a combined 4 of 24 shooting and committed 9 turnovers.

Huskies’ coach, Kevin Ollie, was not pleased with his team’s performance after the game saying, “I didn’t see anything like this coming. And I’m glad it came because now we know how tough we have to be to be a champion. [Louisville] is a champion. We weren’t tough enough. We weren’t together enough. [Louisville] took every opportunity to take advantage of it. That’s what champions do. That’s why they’re the champions.”

A coin toss was held after the game to determine the number one seed for the upcoming AAC conference tournament with Cincinnati winning.  The conference tournament begins this Wednesday.  Louisville will earned a first place bye and will play the winner of South Florida and Rutgers Thursday at 3:00.

U of L Senior Day - Photos by Jason Sheehan
U of L Senior Day – Photos by Jason Sheehan

UofL 2014 Senior Day (4) UofL 2014 Senior Day (3) UofL 2014 Senior Day (2)

Wildcats begin SEC Tourney play with impressive win

By Ricky Blair – Fear the tweak! After hearing all week about this big tweak of change the Wildcats had made since their last regular season game, all eyes were on the lookout to see what this big change could be. If the tweak was not obvious the change in attitude and hustle were evident. After a slow start to the game for the Wildcats, this young team showed some of the enthusiasm that they have been missing all year long. Led by James Young’s 17 points and Dakari Johnson’s 9 rebounds the Wildcats went to the locker room at halftime with a 42-32 advantage.

The Cats came out of the locker room and held the lead for most of the second half, but a run by LSU with 14 minutes to go closed the gap to six and challenged this young group to see if this new found confidence could stand this test. The Wildcats did steady the ship and cruised to an 85-67 win over the Tigers. Julius Randall who had missed several easy shots during the contest finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds, Young finished with 21 points.

Coach John Calipari said ‘this was not the tweak” after Andrew Harrison had said more team work and having fun had made a difference, so there may be more to come. The first step in tourney play was successful; hopefully this is just the beginning.

NCAA Seeding Slams Kentucky Teams

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.

James Young - Photo by Steve Harp - East KY Media
James Young – Photo by Steve Harp – East KY Media

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.

Series History

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).

40 and 0, YEAH RIGHT!!!

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.

James Young had a miserable night vs Florida. Photo - Steve Harp - East KY Media
James Young had a miserable night vs Florida. Photo – Steve Harp – East KY Media

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


Russ Smith: Louisville’s Newest Living Legend

Louisville Cardinals’ coach, Rick Pitino, has been blessed the past several years with tremendous senior leadership.  In their 2011 – 2012 season in which the Cardinals finished 30 – 10 and advanced to the Final Four, Pitino relied on seniors Chris Smith and Kyle Kuric to help lead the way.

In the 2012 – 2013 season the Cardinals relied on two of the best leaders in Louisville history in Peyton Siva and Gorgiu Dieng.  All they did was help the Cardinals win their third National Championship defeating Michigan in the title game.

All great teams in any sport have at least one common denominator:  leadership.  That leadership starts with the coaching staff and bleeds down to the players.  The Cardinals would not have advanced to the 2012 Final Four without Chris Smith or Kuric.  They most likely would not have won the championship last year if not for the leadership of Siva and Dieng.

Perhaps none of these teams would have advanced as far as they did without the help of Russ Smith.  Smith will be one of four seniors honored Saturday against Connecticut on Senior Day along with Luke Hancock, Stephan Van Treese, and Tim Henderson.

Smith was not a heavily recruited player when he decided to commit to Louisville.  The Louisville media guide has several schools he also considered, but Pitino has often jokes that Smith has made up some of the schools he was being recruited by.  If not for the urging of former Assistant Head Coach, Ralph Willard, Smith might have never put on a Cardinals’ uniform.  As the story goes, Willard and Steve Masiello was sent to Smith’s prep school in Connecticut to recruit a South Kent player.  That player was not Smith.   Smith was so intent on going to Louisville he even tried to commit before he was even offered.

Willard and Masiello had to convince Pitino that Smith would be a perfect fit for the Cardinals’ up-tempo style of play.  At first, Pitino was not sure Smith was big enough to play in the extremely physical Big East.

Smith was a part of a recruiting class that included Gorgui Dieng.  This class was not even ranked by any of the major recruiting services.  Four years later this class would become a five-star class by many experts and most certainly Louisville fans.

Smith’s freshman year did not go well.  Injuries (broken foot, concussion, strained foot, sore knee) limited him to 17 games.  He averaged a little more than five minutes of playing time per game.  Smith was not happy with his injuries and lack of playing time that he called his mom and told her he was coming home.  He had a change of heart and decided to stay.  The Cardinals would finish the season with a 25 – 6 record.  They entered the NCAA tournament as a number 4 seed and were upset by Morehead State in the second round.

More playing time would be on the horizon for Smith’s sophomore campaign.  He made the most of it by averaging 11.5 points per game.  He was a spark off of the bench for the Cardinals for most of the season as he started only 7 games.  Smith and Siva made it extremely difficult for opposing guards to get the ball up the floor as the two combined for 151 steals.  Smith recorded a Louisville single-season record for steals, previously held by the great Darrell Griffith, with 87.  The record would last for only a year with Siva breaking it the next season.  The Cardinals would win the Big East tournament and advance to their second Final Four under Pitino where they were defeated by arch-rival Kentucky.  Louisville would finish the season with a 30 – 10 record.

Smith’s sophomore campaign also brought about one of the best nicknames in all of sports.  Pitino gave him the nickname, “Russdiculous”, for the crazy and sometimes unorthodox way he plays.  According to an article in Sports Illustrated, Pitino gave Russ the nickname in January of his sophomore season.  It happened during practice when Smith threw up one of his crazy shots.  Pitino yelled at Smith saying, “That shot was ridiculous!  Only you would take that shot!  That shot was…Russdiculous!”

Louisville came into the 2012 – 2013 season with a ton of potential and experience.  Could they feed off of the experience of getting so close the previous year and bring the first championship to Louisville since 1986?  They proved they had it as they brought home the title.

The chemistry on the championship team was phenomenal.  You hear fans talk about the chemistry and the love that team had for each other.  Fans also talk about who was most responsible for the title.  The title could not have been one without the steady play and leadership of Peyton Siva.  It could not have been one without the inside presence of Gorgui Dieng.  It could not have been one without the timely shooting of Luke Hancock.  The Cardinals needed the solid inside play of Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell.  It needed Tim Henderson’s two huge threes against Wichita State.  With that being said, the Cardinals most certainly would not have won the title without the play of Russ Smith.

Smith led the Cardinals in scoring with 18.7 points per game.  He combined with Siva for a total of 183 steals.  Their defensive pressure made it difficult for opposing guards to get the ball up the court.  He scored a Louisville record 134 points in six NCAA tournament games at times proving to be unguardable.

The only question after the National Championship was whether Smith would return to Louisville for his senior season.  Louisville fans would have supported his decisions no matter what it was.  The fans would be excited when he announced he wanted to come back for one more year.

Pitino told Smith he needed to become a better passer in his final year.  He needed to improve his outside shooting.  His shooting has improved dramatically as he has increased his overall field goal percentage from 41.4 to 46.8 percent.  His three point shooting has increased from 32.8 to 39.6 percent.  His passing has improved.  He leads the team in assists with 4.5 per game.

There is still more to be written in the college career of Russ Smith.  Will he lead his team to a third consecutive Final Four?  Will the Cardinals be the first team since Florida in 2006 – 2007 to win back-to-back titles?  Where will Smith rank on the all-time list of Cardinals’ greats?

Smith may or may not be a great NBA player in the future.  However, I would not bet against him.  He has proven everyone wrong his entire life.  Whether it was being lightly recruited, being a 2-star high school player, to almost transferring away from Louisville, Smith has put himself on the list of all-time greats at Louisville.  It is a list that includes the likes of Darrell Griffith, Wes Unseld, Charlie Tyra, Pervis Ellison, Rodney McCray, Junior Bridgeman, Dejuan Wheat, Milt Wagner, Derek Smith, etc.

Cardinals’ fans will miss Russ for many reasons.  We will miss his attitude.  It is an attitude that says ‘I cannot be stopped’, whether it is one-on-one or one-on three.  With Russ it really didn’t matter if it was him against the entire team.  We will miss that smile that only Russ has.  The smile that tells you everything is going to be okay.  And yes, we will miss “Russdiculous”.  It drove us crazy at times for four years, but the good outweighed the bad.  How many times have we yelled at the top of our lungs “RUSS!!!”?  I will miss yelling it and I have a feeling coach Pitino will miss it too.

I finish by saying thank you to Russ for so many great times over the past four years.  Thank you for being so likeable.  Don’t ever change who you are as that is what makes you so special.  Whether it is the NBA or not, you will be successful in whatever you do.  That is what makes you Louisville’s newest living legend.

15 will compete in state Poetry Out Loud championship

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky’s 15 high school Poetry Out Loud champions will compete March 13 for the title of state champion and the opportunity to represent the Commonwealth at the national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C.
The state finals, which are open to the public, will be Thursday, March 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT at the Capital Plaza Hotel, 405 Wilkinson Blvd., Frankfort, Ky. The program is coordinated by the Kentucky Arts Council.
“The Poetry Out Loud state competition is an exciting day for the school champions and their peers who travel to Frankfort,” said Lori Meadows, arts council executive director. “It really is inspiring to see how these students come alive when they are reciting poetry and how their classmates respond to their performances. Poetry Out Loud is an outstanding example of arts education at work.”
Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to schoolwide competition, then to the state competition and ultimately to the national finals, April 29-30, in Washington, D.C.
School winners who will compete to represent Kentucky in the national finals are:

  • Titus Carter, Allen County Scottsville High School
  • Gabrielle Thompson, Boyd County High School
  • Trey Griffin, Butler Traditional High School, Jefferson County
  • Haley Sullivan, East Ridge High School, Pike County
  • Katelyn Taylor, Franklin County High School
  • Haley Reed, George Rogers Clark High School, Clark County
  • Haley Bryan, Grant County High School
  • Celeste Shearer, Hart County High School
  • Dorthea Acker-Hogg, Hazard High School, Perry County
  • Cayce Brockwell, Hickman County High School
  • Jodi Hooper, McCracken County High School
  • Cassie Gearles, Phelps Jr. and Sr. High School, Pike County
  • Taryn Syck, Pike County Central High School
  • Sydney Doose, South Warren High School, Warren County
  • Dove DeNigris, Western Hills High School, Franklin County

The winner of the state finals receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up receives $100, with $200 going to his or her school library.
Since starting in 2006, Poetry Out Loud has grown to more than 365,000 students competing in 2011-12. For a general overview of the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest visit
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.
The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, creates opportunities for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Kentucky Wins On Senior Night In Rupp

By: Tyrus York – Senior Night in Rupp Arena is a special time for Kentucky fans, players, and coaches.  On Tuesday, the #25/24 Kentucky Wildcats (22-8, 12-5) bid farewell to seniors Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson, two players that have been main-stays at this program for the last 4-5 years.

Jarod Polson - Senior Night - Photo by Steve Harp - East KY Media
Jarod Polson – Senior Night – Photo by Steve Harp – East KY Media

The Wildcats welcomed in an underperforming Alabama team (12-18, 6-11) that has struggled mightily this season.  Of course the Cats weren’t in much better shape recently coming off 2 straight losses, including a miserable performance at South Carolina.

Kentucky would rebound Tuesday night however and take care of business, defeating the Tide 55-48 in a sloppy battle between two teams that clearly weren’t on top of their game.

The offensive production from Kentucky has been putrid the last several games.  Against Alabama, they managed to shoot only 32.7% from the field and only 17.9% from three.  Defense kept the Cats in it holding their opponent to a season low 48 points.

Part of the outcome Tuesday was due to Alabama not being very good.  The other part was Kentucky’s ability lock down defensively when they had to and get the win.

Julius Randle led Kentucky as the only player to reach double digits in points or rebounds, going for 12 points and 11 rebounds to secure his 17th double-double of the season.

James Young and Dakari Johnson were your second leading scorers with 9 points each.  Young’s only make from the field was a 3 pointer with 4:10 to play that put Kentucky up by 6 points.  Before that 3, Young was 0-8 from the field with only 1 attempt coming from inside the 3 point line.

It upsets some fans to see Young firing shot attempts at will despite having an off night, but Coach Cal reminded the media after the game that if you don’t take the open shot then you’re not playing.  Young is a scorer and even though he had a tough night, he made the most important shot of the game to give Kentucky the victory.

Dakari Johnson continues to improve down low and has slowly become one of the most consistent players we have.  Game after game we see Dakari get a little more aggressive in the paint which will prove beneficial as Kentucky closes the season out at #1 Florida on Saturday.

Tuesday was a good win for the Cats who could not afford to drop a 3rd straight game including 2 in a row at home.  But the night belonged to Hood and Polson.

Both seniors received starting nods from Coach Cal and both took advantage early, each hitting a 3 pointer to give Kentucky their first 6 points of the game.

Kentucky locked up the #2 seed in the SEC tournament with the win against Alabama and will open the tournament on Friday March 14th.  But first, Kentucky has a date with #1 Florida at noon on Saturday in Gainesville where the Cats can possibly send a message to the nation that this young team is ready to grow up.

Louisville’s Newest 2014 Basketball Recruit

Louisville Cardinals’ coach, Rick Pitino, received a commitment Monday from a 7-foot-1 center, Anas Osama Mahmoud.  Mahmoud is a native of Egypt and has only been in the states since September of 2013.

Mahmoud is ranked No. 69 in the ESPN’s top 100 players for 2014.  He was one of only four unsigned top 100 players.

Mahmoud’s biggest weakness will be his strength as he weighs in at only 195 pounds.  He could possibly use next season as a redshirt to develop his strength as he will be one of two 7-footers for the Cardinals.  Incoming recruit, Matz Stockman, is the other 7-footer.  The Cardinals will also have Mangok Mathiang (6-foot-10) and incoming recruit Chinanu Onuaku (6-foot-10) making the Cardinals one of the tallest teams in the NCAA.

Pitino will love the versatility Mahmoud will give him.  Mahmoud has developed perimeter skills, as just a few years ago he was 6-foot-6 and playing guard.  He has range from the perimeter and can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket.  At 7-foot-1 he will also give the Cardinals a much needed shot blocker they have been lacking since Gorgiu Dieng.

Louisville now has six commitments for the 2014 class.  The class is ranked as high as fifth.  The Cardinals’ class is a balanced one consisting of point guard Quentin Snider, small forward Shaqquan Aaron, power forward Jaylen Johnson, and centers Onuaku, Stockman, and now Mahmoud.

Ricky Len Fugate Obit

Ricky Len Fugate
Ricky Len Fugate

NAME                                                     Ricky Len Fugate

AGE                                                         47
ADDRESS                                                Jackson
DAY & DATE OF DEATH                       Tuesday,  February 25
PLACE OF DEATH                                  Pikeville Medical Center – Pikeville
WIFE                                                       Jessica Fugate – Jackson
FATHER                                                  Matthew and wife, Ann Fugate – Lost Creek
STEPFATHER                                          Mac Frazier – Noctor
SPECIAL DAUGHTER                             Ashley Nicole (Chris) Howard – Jackson
DAUGHTERS                                          Dianna Reed – Jackson
                                                                Marilee Strong – Jackson
SONS                                                      Glen Hensley – Jackson
                                                                Curtis Feltner – Jackson
                                                                Clarence Reed – Jackson
BROTHERS                                             Michael (Cassie) Fugate – Noctor
                                                                Kevin Fugate – Lost Creek
                                                                Justin Fugate – Lost Creek
SISTER                                                     Joyce (Ed) Miller – Jackson
SPECIAL CAT BROTHER                        Nub
SPECIAL NIECES                                     Crystal “Sprout” Kelly, Amber “Little B” Fugate, Angel Robinson,
                                                                Rebecca Sizemore, Hannah Bartley
SPECIAL NEPHEWS                               Michael Fugate Jr., J.T. Fugate, Hunter Sizemore, Charles Hensley,
                                                                Ethan Hensley, Zach Hensley, Trenton Sizemore, Thomas Bartley
GREAT NEPHEW                                    Bailey Kelly
GREAT NIECE                                         Taylor Kelly
SPECIAL FRIENDS                                  Maxine Back, Bridgette Kelly, Charlotte Howard, A.B. Howard,
                                                                Cecil Howard, Tommy Kilborn, Doyle Turner
MOTHER                                                Bertie Frazier
MATERNAL GRANDPARENTS              Charlie & Katie Gillum
PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS               Troy & Polly Fugate                                                                                                         
SERVICES                                                Friday, February 28, 12:00 PM
PLACE OF SERVICES                              Breathitt Funeral Home Chapel
OFFICIATING                                          Rev. Cecil Howard & Rev. James Neace                         
BURIAL                                                   Gillum Cemetery – Frozen
VISITATION                                            Thursday, February 27, 5:00PM
ADDITIONAL SERVICES Thursday, February 27, 7:00PM

UK Hoops Claim Victory on Senior Day

By: Tyrus York – On the always emotional Senior Day in Memorial Coliseum, the #12/15 UK Hoops team sent their 4 seniors off with a victory over Vanderbilt 65-63.

The emotions of Senior Day can sway teams in a good or bad way.  For the Wildcats, they used that emotion to get off to a great start, leading the Commodores by as many as 17 points in the first half.

That emotion would wear off and Vandy would regain the lead halfway through the second half.  From that point on, the two teams battled hard until Kentucky finally came out on top after junior guard Bria Goss ended the game on 5-6 shooting from the free throw line en route to her 12 points for the game.

Senior DeNesha Stalllworth made the best of her last official home game by dominating in the paint with 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks.  Fellow senior Samarie Walker had only 2 points, but collected 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 block.

Kastine Evans, the third senior honored Sunday, had a respectable game with 5 points and 4 assists in 28 minutes of action.  Senior guard Bernisha Pinkett was in the starting lineup for the Cats and produced a rebound and an assist.

It was a rare game for the Cats to pick up the win despite being virtually even in the turnover column, 16 for Vandy and 15 for UK.  But Vandy was able to capitalize on Kentucky’s turnovers scoring 20 points from them while Kentucky only converted 14 points out of Vanderbilt’s turnovers.

The big story coming down the stretch to close out the regular season for UK Hoops was their ability to win 6 of their last 8 games and claim the coveted 4 seed in the SEC tournament which gives them a double bye.

It’s interesting how UK Hoop’s season has mirrored the men’s in that expectations were high but there have been several low points in the season.

The ladies however picked up huge conference wins as the season closed, defeating Tennessee in Knoxville and Texas A&M in College Station.

The Cats hope to carry their momentum into the SEC tournament which starts Wednesday in Duluth, Georgia.  Kentucky will play the winner of Florida and Missouri/Mississippi State on Friday at 2:30 pm.

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