UK Women's Basketball

Mark Story: Kentucky fans got an early Big Blue Christmas

Kentucky guard Darius Miller (1) reacts to hitting a shot as #1 Kentucky played #5 North Carolina in the first half   on Saturday December 3, 2011  in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky guard Darius Miller (1) reacts to hitting a shot as #1 Kentucky played #5 North Carolina in the first half on Saturday December 3, 2011 in Lexington, Ky. ©2011

Fast-break points from an early (Big) Blue Christmas:

21. Eight days of nirvana. If Kentucky Wildcats fans ever wondered what heaven is like, they have gotten a glimpse in an eight-day window that ended Sunday.

20. Beat Tennessee. UK did it in football two Saturdays ago to snap a 26-game losing streak against the Rocky Toppers.

19. Beat North Carolina. UK did it in men's basketball one Saturday ago in a game with the Wildcats ranked No. 1 and the Tar Heels No. 5, and it went to the buzzer.

18. Beat Louisville. UK did it in women's basketball one Sunday ago in a game in which both teams were ranked in the top 12 (U of L 10th, Kentucky 12th).

17. OK, Cats fans: Those eight days are the best stretch of Kentucky Wildcats sports since (fill in the blank)? Ever?

16. North Carolina. Were I a backer of the baby blue, what would concern me coming out of Saturday's loss in Rupp Arena is that the Tar Heels, as the more experienced team, would not figure to have as much room to improve over the rest of the season as UK does.

15. Harrison Barnes. "The fact we couldn't execute down the stretch (against Kentucky) is kind of alarming," the North Carolina forward said Saturday.

14. Roy Williams. Kentucky Coach John Calipari spoke at length Saturday in his post-game news conference about how nice the North Carolina head man had been to him across the years and how much Calipari does not enjoy coaching against people he likes.

13. Rick Pitino. After Cal's spiel on not liking to compete against people he likes, I half-expected him to announce plans to start playing Louisville three times a year.

12. Indiana. Tom Crean's team is off to an 8-0 start, including a victory over Butler and a win at North Carolina State. IU fans have a powerful, pent-up desire to see the Hoosiers re-emerge as an elite program and will be stoked for top-ranked UK. Which is why this coming Saturday shapes up as a difficult "trap" game for Kentucky.

11. Cats vs. Cards. There's still much work to be done — for UK, the trip to Indiana; for U of L, home games with Memphis and Georgetown — but it is possible that Kentucky and Louisville could both be undefeated when they play at high noon in Rupp Arena on New Year's Eve.

10. BCS National Championship Game. I think Louisiana State and Alabama are the two best teams. But I do think that LSU and Oklahoma State would have boasted more entertaining story lines.

9. Heisman Trophy. I don't have a vote but, if I did, I would cast it for Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.

8. Jerry Jones (but not that Jerry Jones). I asked Jones — who has been analyzing the NFL Draft since the 1970s (Drugstorelist.com) — his opinions of the pro stock of two now ex-Kentucky Wildcats.

7. Winston Guy. "He was coming up as a free agent," Jones said of the ex-Cats safety. "But I think now (after Guy's productive senior season), he's still in the game as a late-round guy. He'll wind up at the (NFL Draft) combine. If he does a good job there, I think he can really help himself."

6. Danny Trevathan. "I think he makes plays and makes plays and makes plays," Jones said. "And he's not playing in a candy conference, either. ... I have him as the 12th-rated outside linebacker in the draft. That projects into being drafted in the sixth or seventh round. I think his size makes (NFL teams) nervous. Meanwhile, he's tackling 14 guys a game."

5. Matt Roark. The hero of Kentucky's streak-busting victory over Tennessee said Friday he is thinking of signing with former Wildcat Oliver Barnett as his agent. Because he is such a good special-teams player, Roark hopes to get invited to an NFL camp as a free agent.

4. Bill Ransdell. As of two Saturdays ago, the mid-80s-era Kentucky standout is no longer "the last UK quarterback to beat Tennessee."

3. Ransdell not at game. The quarterback who led the Cats to a 17-12 victory over UT in Neyland Stadium in 1984 was driving home from visiting his in-laws in Texas for Thanksgiving and listening to what became UK's 10-7 win over the Volunteers on satellite radio. "I'm high-fiving my wife," Ransdell said. "She's telling me to watch the road."

2. Ransdell on the end of The Streak. "It just extended ridiculously long. I was happy when we beat them (in 1984) but, after two or three years, it got old then. ... Hopefully, we can get a rivalry back going again."

1. Still the last UK QB to beat Florida. The Cats haven't beaten the Gators since Ransdell directed a 10-3 win in 1986. "Next year," Ransdell said. "Hopefully, that one is over next year."

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