Sidelines with John Clay

Arkansas’ road record; DeMarcus Cousins loves UK’s guards and more Big Blue Links

Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson yells at his players during his team’s 82-78 win over Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson yells at his players during his team’s 82-78 win over Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. Knoxville News Sentinel/Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Saturday:

Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader reports that emotions should run high, but not too high for Kentucky-Arkansas. “At Friday’s day-before-the-game news conference, UK Coach John Calipari acknowledged that Malik Monk would need to stay emotionally grounded. Monk, who played his last three high school seasons for a school only 26 miles from the Arkansas campus, chose to play for Kentucky. The decision caused a firestorm of negative feedback.”

Bob Holt of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that hunkering down has helped boost the road Hogs. “Arkansas’ basketball team has a winning record in its last 19 SEC road games. Let that sink in for a minute. The Razorbacks are 10-9 on the road in SEC play -- including an 82-78 victory at Tennessee Tuesday night -- since the 2014-2015 season after being a combined 16-81 the previous 12 years.”

Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader reports that Hamidou Diallo is expected to pick UK on Saturday, but will he play? “On the eve of five-star shooting guard Hamidou Diallo’s college announcement, Kentucky remains the favorite to land the promising basketball recruit. Diallo is listing six finalists — UK, UConn, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas and Syracuse — but only Kentucky and UConn have hosted him for official visits, and it’s become clear in recent days that he will pick one of those two schools during his announcement ceremony Saturday at 5 p.m.”

Jeff Goodman of ESPN reports that DeMarcus Cousins compares current UK backcourt to John Wall/Eric Bledsoe. “The way they play together is like watching John and Eric, all over again,” Cousins said Friday. “Individually, no,” Cousins added whether Monk and Fox are better. “Together? I think they are. They play with great chemistry.”

Alex Forkner of the Cats Pause reports the bigs behind Bam Adebayo are being pushed. “Yeah, it’s not at all how I planned it,” Isaac Humphries said. “We all have to face adversity at some point in our lives. This just happened to be my time and I’ve been dealing with that. I’m almost certain that I’m out of it – that little slump – and on the rise. It’s a more positive time of the season.”

Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal reports that Louisville is looking for its first ACC win on Saturday at Georgia Tech. “Which Georgia Tech shows up? Will it be the Yellow Jackets who stunned North Carolina with a 12-point upset to open ACC play? Or the Jackets who lost by a million (110-57) at Duke? In fairness to Tech, it was Duke’s last game with Mike Krzyzewski at the helm before he steps aside for back surgery and first game with its full complement of players. Tech is still a bit of an enigma: Josh Pastner’s team beat VCU and UNC and narrowly beat North Carolina A&T. The Jackets are the least efficient offensive team in the ACC, but they’re solid on defense. It could be close Saturday - or not.”

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes that super freshman Josh Jackson has developed a reputation among referees. “He is playing at Kansas out of necessity, but already has proven he is taking this forced apprenticeship seriously. He puts everything he has into games, and practices, which already separates him from other one-and-dones (including, it should be said, Andrew Wiggins). This is perhaps his best trait, the thing that endears him to basketball people even more than his long frame, superior athleticism, and growing vision. He is here to work on his feel, his jumper, his defense, his handle — and now his temper.”

Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News and Observer writes that the ACC season has gone against expectations. “As unpredictable as winter weather in North Carolina can be – and who knows if either of Saturday’s ACC games in the Triangle will even be played – the ACC has somehow managed to top that this season. Georgia Tech beats North Carolina and turns around and gets blown out of the building by Duke, which was soundly outplayed by Virginia Tech, which then proceeded to get thoroughly hammered by N.C. State, which looked completely lost at Miami. The two worst teams in the league, Georgia Tech and Boston College, both won their ACC openers.”

Adam Sparks of the Tennessean reports that Vanderbilt changed its offense and has hit a hot streak. “Vanderbilt basketball coach Bryce Drew scrapped some of his offensive plan just 10 games into his tenure, and the Commodores have benefited from it. Drew implemented his offense in the preseason for a roster he inherited from previous coach Kevin Stallings, who left for Pittsburgh in March. Admittedly, it was hit or miss.”

David Cloninger of The State on Duane Notice, who has helped South Carolina’s defense. “Nothing’s going in, but he’s not coming out. Duane Notice is locked into a funk bordering on the supernatural. While he’s usually been at his best as a bench player (2015-16 SEC Sixth Man of the Year), he was doing very well in a starting role this season.”

Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph reports Georgia is looking for a winning streak. “Georgia is in a familiar spot. Through 14 games last season, Georgia stood at 9-5. That’s exactly where the Bulldogs are now. None of Georgia’s five losses have been deemed bad: Kansas is the third-ranked team in the nation. South Carolina (31), Clemson (40), Marquette (73) and Oakland (99), the other four teams that beat Georgia, are all in the RPI top 100.”

C.L. Brown of ESPN reports that Theo Pinson is expected to return for North Carolina on Saturday. “North Carolina coach Roy Williams said junior Theo Pinson will make his season debut Saturday against NC State. Pinson was a probable starter entering the season, but broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot and had surgery in October.”

Chuck Culpepper of the Washington Post writes about a force that could tip the national title toward Clemson. “The first Alabama-Clemson national title game happened Jan. 11, 2016, but 28 days before that, a boost already had been given to the rematch. On Dec. 14, 2015, Wake Forest High in North Carolina held one of those assemblies at which a football player announces his college choice, and the lights went out. It served excellent effect, and the audience yelped and whatnot, and then when the lights came on, it yelped and whatnot still more because a giant human wore an orange cap with a white paw on the front.”

C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports Brandon Phillips may still be traded to the Braves. “Friday morning, former big-league second baseman Harold Reynolds said on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show that he talked to Phillips, who said he wasn’t approached about a possible trade to the Braves.”

Ken Pomeroy’s Top 20

  • 1. Kentucky
  • 2. West Virginia
  • 3. Villanova
  • 4. Duke
  • 5. Virginia
  • 6. Baylor
  • 7. Kansas
  • 8. North Carolina
  • 9. Gonzaga
  • 10. Wisconsin
  • 11. Louisville
  • 12. UCLA
  • 13. Florida
  • 14. Arizona
  • 15. Purdue
  • 16. Butler
  • 17. Cincinnati
  • 18. Saint Mary's
  • 19. Xavier
  • 20. Oregon


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