Big Blue Links:
▪ Former UK player and ex-Louisville assistant Steve Masiello calls this generation “fraudulent,” reports Sam Blum of the Saratogan.
After his team’s loss to Siena on Sunday night, the Manhattan coach went on an epic postgame rant.
▪ Tennessee basketball is back up again, writes Mike Strange of the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
“When they’re hot, they’re hot. And when they’re not ... well, go away for a while and wait for them to get hot again.
“Because eventually they will. For a while, and then, well, the cycle starts over again.
“‘I’m sitting here and I have no idea what’s going to happen the next game,’ Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said Saturday night. ‘I’d like to think this and think that. But to be brutally honest, I don’t know what’s going to happen next.’”
▪ Kentucky women win a stormy game at Auburn, 64-60, reports Jennifer Smith of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
“First the game was delayed by a tornado near campus and then Kentucky had to weather several more storms before walking away with a 64-60 victory over Auburn.
“’It was just toughness down the stretch,’ senior Makayla Epps said after the Cats won their fourth straight game. ‘A minute to go on the road? It’s hard to come out with a win like that. Just toughness from the team.’”
▪ Was Louisville’s NCAA resume boosted by loss to Florida State?, asks Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal.
“The crazy thing about how this all works, the NCAA tournament selection process, is that sometimes losses can help resumes.
“That’s the case for Louisville. The Cards (16-4, 4-3 ACC) split their games last week, blasting Clemson at home and losing a close game on the road at Florida State. The result? U of L’s strength of schedule and RPI numbers both improved.”
▪ Florida State has emerged as the favorite in the ACC, says Andrew Carter of the Charlotte Observer.
“If a trend now six seasons old continues, we already know which team will win the ACC’s regular season. Well, check that: We know that one of three teams — Florida State, North Carolina or Notre Dame — will go on to finish first.
“I know, I know. That’s really going out on a limb.
“After the third weekend of conference games, the Seminoles, Tar Heels and Fighting Irish are all 6-1 in the league, all tied for first place. But here’s the point: in each of the past six seasons, the team that has gone on to finish first in the ACC also won at least six of its first seven league games.”
▪ Arizona provided the blueprint on how to beat UCLA, says John Gasaway of ESPN.
“Before we go any further, let there be no misunderstandings about Saturday’s game. There might be some accounts saying the Wildcats “slowed the game down,” but the bottom line is the contest clocked in at 73 possessions — right at the Bruins’ average tempo (74) in Pac-12 play coming into the showdown.
“Nevertheless, a game’s number for total possessions is just a proxy for what we’re really trying to describe. Did UCLA run up and down the floor and score on a succession of dunks and open 3s? Against Sean Miller’s Arizona team that answer, for the most part, was no.
“The Bruins still operated their offense at an accelerated pace against the Wildcats, but during the balance of the contest, Arizona was able to at least deny UCLA’s first run toward the rim and/or close out on their first 3-point look. Even though the ensuing possession might have lasted a very short time, the fact that the Bruins had to operate in a half-court offense of sorts lowered their chances of success.”
▪ Eric Bledsoe scored a career-high 40 points in Phoenix win, reports H-L.
“Former University of Kentucky star Eric Bledsoe scored a career-high 40 points and dished out 13 assists in the Phoenix Suns’ 115-103 win against the host Toronto Raptors. His previous career best was 35 points earlier this season against the Denver Nuggets.
“’When you’re feeling hot, anything will go in,’ Bledsoe told Fox Sports Arizona after the game. ‘It’s all about the feel. Everybody in this league is good.’”
▪ Mike White is still trying to turn up the heat at Florida, writes Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel.
“He still hates losing, as evidenced by the look of total disbelief on his face after the Gators’ frustrating 68-66 loss to Vanderbilt Saturday. And, yes, he is still waiting for the ice to thaw on the nuclear winter that many critics predicted for UF’s basketball program after living legend Billy Donovan left for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder two years ago.
“It appeared the sun was starting to shine on White’s program this season after the Gators started out 14-2, 5-0 in the SEC, but — just that quickly — the sun has gone back behind Billy’s shadow once again. The 19th-ranked Gators have now lost two in a row and have looked abysmal in the process.”
▪ Greg Sankey opposes recruiting reform package, reports Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN.
“SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Friday at the NCAA convention that he is not in support of the sweeping changes to the college football recruiting model proposed by the NCAA Division I Council and Football Oversight Committee.
“Earlier this week, the oversight committee and Division I Council amended changes in NCAA Proposal 2016-16 that would have created early signing periods in late June and mid-December. The changes eliminated the June signing period and focused entirely on the mid-December date and allowed prospects to take visits paid for by the school starting on April 1 and continuing through the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June. Currently there is only one signing day in college football, occurring on the first Wednesday in February, and prospects are not allowed to take official visits until the start of their senior years in high school.”
▪ The Atlanta Falcons just became America’s team, writes Mark Bradley of the AJC.
“The Atlanta Falcons aren’t just going to the Super Bowl. They’re going as the choice of everyone who isn’t a New England fan, and why would you be a New England fan if you don’t, you know, live in New England? Maybe the folks in New Orleans will root against the Men of Quinn — the way Atlantans did against the Saints when they lucked up and won that Super Bowl — but those in Texas and Tennessee and California and Colorado and both Carolinas?
“They just became Bird-lovers.
“Because the Patriots, as great as they have been and are, aren’t revered. They’re reviled. There’s that lingering suspicion that their coach and their franchise quarterback cheated along the way. Lose to Pete Carroll and you tip your hat. Lose to Belichick/Brady and you want to chew nails.”
Kentucky men’s basketball 2016-17
Stephen F. Austin
vs. Michigan State
vs. Arizona St.
vs. North Carolina