Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky proves it’s more than Malik Monk; more Big Blue Links

Arkansas forward Trey Thompson (1) reacted to drawing a foul call as Kentucky defeated Arkansas 97-71 on Saturday January 7, 2017 in Lexington,Ky.
Arkansas forward Trey Thompson (1) reacted to drawing a foul call as Kentucky defeated Arkansas 97-71 on Saturday January 7, 2017 in Lexington,Ky. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Sunday:

Here’s a look from the other side at UK’s 97-71 win over Arkansas on Saturday night. Bob Holt of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports on Arkansas’ loss at Rupp Arena. “It wasn’t the Malik Monk show Saturday night in Rupp Arena. Kentucky’s freshman guard, who starred at Bentonville High School and scored 47 points against North Carolina and averaged 30 in his first two SEC games, was held to 12 by Arkansas. Monk failed to hit a three-point basket for the first time this season, going 0 of 5, and was 4 of 10 from the field after being 19 of 27 in SEC play. But No. 6 Kentucky has a lot more firepower than Monk.”

Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader reports that UK didn’t need a big game from Monk to keep rolling in conference play. “Kentucky’s 97-71 victory over Arkansas Saturday night brought a new dimension to how Malik Monk’s at-times spectacular scoring this season should be judged. It can be memorable, thrilling and – ask North Carolina – historically good. Monk struggled against his home-state school. For the first time this season, the freshman from Lepanto, Ark., failed to make a three-point shot (0 for five). His 12 points were his fewest since scoring 10 in the season’s opener against Stephen F. Austin. “

De’Aaron Fox had a career night for the Cats. Fletcher Page of the Courier-Journal reports, “The freshman point guard had a career-high 27 points, six assists and six rebounds to lead the Wildcats to their 21st consecutive Southeastern Conference victory at home. Senior forward Derek Willis and sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe each chipped in 15 and freshman forward Bam Adebayo 11 as Kentucky (13-2, 3-0) steadily pulled away by shooting nearly 70 percent from the field in the second half.”

Hamidou Diallo will join the UK basketball team next week. Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader reports, “Diallo announced — to an approving roar from those gathered — that he was committing to the Wildcats and will enroll in classes at UK next week. His plan is to join the team for the second semester, work out and practice with the current Kentucky players, but not actually play in a game for the Cats until next season. “

Makalya Epps is finding fun on the floor again, Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader reports. “She has a huge heart; she needs connection with people,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said of the guard, who didn’t seem like herself in recent losses at Duke and Tennessee. “She needs some time where we can just spend and talk.” The Kentucky women host Texas A&M at 2 p.m. Sunday on the SEC Network.

Next up for Kentucky is a Tuesday night trip to Memorial Gym in Nashville to play Vanderbilt. The Commodores blew a 12-point lead and lost at Alabama on Saturday night. The AP reports, “Alabama junior Ar’Mond Davis helped the Crimson Tide prepare for its Southeastern Conference home opener against Vanderbilt, taking the role of the Commodores' Matthew Fisher-Davis on the scout team. Davis played as himself on Saturday night, coming off of the bench to lead Alabama (9-5, 2-0 SEC) to a 59-56 victory over Vanderbilt (8-7, 2-1 SEC). “

Florida is a perfect 3-0 in SEC play after its win Saturday over visiting Tennessee. Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun reports, “The Gators struggled through a turnover-filled first half against Tennessee and their two centers, Kevarrius Hayes and John Egbunu, failed to stay on the court due to foul trouble. But a dash of hot shooting in the second half from sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen and some unexpected contributions allowed the Gators to remain unblemished in SEC play with an 83-70 win over the Volunteers before a sellout crowd of 10,843 at the O’Connell Center.”

South Carolina off to a 2-0 start after win over Texas A&M. David Cloninger of The State reports, “Sindarius Thornwell thinks he let his teammates down. He’s done doing that. South Carolina’s senior guard took over the final seven minutes of the Gamecocks’ 79-68 win over Texas A&M on Saturday, scoring 11 of his 16 points with three rebounds. Trailing 59-58 when the Aggies scorched another of their 11 3-pointers, Thornwell brushed aside an unproductive game. “

Tempers flared at Stegeman Coliseum, helping Georgia to beat Missouri. Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph reports, “Georgia had just played one of its worst halves of the season as a missed Missouri shot at the first-half buzzer fell into Yante Maten’s hands. There was some wonder as to how the Bulldogs would regroup after a sluggish start to the game. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, Missouri guard Jordan Geist came running in to take the ball out of Maten’s hands following the buzzer. Maten didn’t relinquish control and the two got tangled into a brief shoving match. “

Amile Jefferson injured his foot in Duke’s win over Boston College. Steve Wiseman of the Durham Herald Sun reports, “Jefferson, the 6-9 forward who’s averaging a double-double, injured his right foot during the first half and didn’t return to the game. It’s the same foot Jefferson broke in December 2015, an injury that caused him to qualify for a medical redshirt. He’ll have tests on the foot to determine the extent of the injury. The injury came as the Blue Devils, having seen seven other players miss games due to injury this season, were finally able to have a complete roster for the first time on Saturday. “

Kansas’ defense shuts down Texas Tech. Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star reports, “Kansas’ basketball team claimed all-time victory No. 2,200 on Saturday night, thanks in part to the return of Bill Self-style defense. It was improved defense — that is, at least for one half.”

Will Kentucky football be a feel-good story in 2017? Mark Story of the Herald-Leader writes, “Resolution for 2016: Beat Florida, Tennessee and/or Georgia. For UK to ever be taken seriously as an SEC football program, the Cats have to fare better against SEC East foes Florida (lost 30 in a row), Tennessee (lost 31 of 32) and Georgia (lost 24 of last 29).”

SEC men’s basketball scores and schedule

Saturday’s scores

  • Kentucky 97, Arkansas 71
  • Florida 83, Tennessee 70
  • Georgia 71, Missouri 66
  • South Carolina 79, Texas A&M 68
  • Ole Miss 88, Auburn 85
  • Miss State 95, LSU 78
  • Alabama 59, Vanderbilt 56

Tuesday's games

  • Auburn at Missouri
  • Kentucky at Vanderbilt
  • Florida at Alabama
  • Miss State at Arkansas

Wednesday's games

  • South Carolina at Tennessee
  • Georgia at Ole Miss
  • LSU at Texas A&M
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