Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky basketball at crunchtime of games, plus links

Kentucky forward PJ Washington (25) blocks a shot from Mississippi State Bulldogs Lamar Peters (1) during UK’s 78-65 win at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.
Kentucky forward PJ Washington (25) blocks a shot from Mississippi State Bulldogs Lamar Peters (1) during UK’s 78-65 win at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.

To start your Friday morning, a day before Kentucky takes on West Virginia in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, let’s take a look at how this young UK squad has done in the final five minutes of conference games.

Jan. 31, Georgia

▪ Score with 5 minutes left: Georgia 53, Kentucky 51

▪ Last 5 minutes: Kentucky 15, Georgia 8

▪ Final: Kentucky 66-61

▪ Note: Down 53-49, UK went on a 7-0 run take a 56-53 lead with 4:10 left. Georgia was within one point at 58-47, but UK scored six straight points -- Gilgeous-Alexander on a drive, Gabriel on a three and a free throw from Gilgeous-Alexander -- for a 64-57 lead with 37 seconds left. That was enough breathing room for John Calipari’s club to win its conference opener.

Feb. 3, Kentucky at LSU

▪ Score with 5 minutes left: Kentucky 62, LSU 60

▪ Last 5 minutes: Kentucky 12, LSU 11

▪ Final: Kentucky 74, LSU 71

▪ Note: Duop Reath’s three-pointer actually put LSU in front 65-64 with 3:29 remaining. The game was tied at 67 with two minutes remaining. Then UK outscored the Tigers 7-4 with the Cats scoring on their final four possessions.

Feb. 6 at Tennessee

▪ Score with 5 minutes left: Tennessee 66, Kentucky 57

▪ Last 5 minutes: Tennessee 10, Kentucky 8

▪ Final: Tennessee 76, Kentucky 65

▪ Note: Not much changed in the final stretch as UK failed to get the stops needed to get back i n the game.

[SEC basketball results, schedules and game leaders in a Google Doc]

Feb. 9 Texas A&M

▪ Score with 5 minutes left: Texas A&M 63, Kentucky 59

▪ Last 5 minutes: Kentucky 15, Texas A&M 10

▪ Final: Kentucky 74, Texas A&M 73

▪ Note: Down 67-65 with 2:55 left, Kentucky scored the next seven points to take a 72-67 lead with 56 seconds remaining. The visiting Aggies rallied to within a point and had a chance to win it after UK’s PJ Washington missed two free throws with 3.9 seconds left. The Aggies couldn’t get off a final shot when Tyler Davis may or may not have been fouled by UK’s Wenyen Gabriel.

Feb. 13 at Vanderbilt

▪ Score with 5 minutes left: Tied 59-59

▪ Last 5 minutes: Kentucky 15, Vanderbilt 8

▪ Final: Kentucky 74, Vanderbilt 67

▪ Note: Kevin Knox scored five straight points -- an old-fashioned three-point play followed by a basket inside -- to give UK a 64-59 lead. Wenyen Gabriel’s rebound basket made it 66-59 with 2:06 remaining and Vandy never got closer than four points the rest of the way.

Feb. 16, at South Carolina

▪ Score with 5 minutes left: Kentucky 65, South Carolina 60

▪ Last 5 minutes: South Carolina 16, Kentucky 3

▪ Final: South Carolina 76, Kentucky 68

▪ Note: South Carolina went on an 11-0 run for a 69-65 lead as Kentucky went six straight possessions without a point. UK did pull to within 69-67 with 2:03 left, but the Gamecocks’ made eight of nine free throws over the final 1:55.

[Kentucky basketball individual game-by-game stats in a Google Doc]

Feb. 20, Florida

▪ Score with 5 minutes left: Kentucky 56, Florida 53

▪ Last 5 minutes: Florida 13, Kentucky 8

▪ Final: Florida 66, Kentucky 64

▪ Note: Florida went on an 11-2 run to take a 64-58 lead as UK scored just one field goal between the 5:36 mark until just 32 seconds remained. As with the Texas A&M game, it all ended with a controversial no-call, only this time it did not benefit the Cats.

Feb. 23, Mississippi State

▪ Score with 5 minutes left: Kentucky 64, Miss State 59

▪ Last 5 minutes: Kentucky 14, Miss State 6

▪ Final: Kentucky 78, Miss State 65

▪ Note: When the visiting Bulldogs cut UK’s lead to 68-63 with 3:14 left, the Cats scored on their final six possessions to pull away for the win.

To the links:

▪ West Virginia’s pressure relentless will be a challenge for Kentucky on Saturday, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “The numbers suggest the Mountaineers do this well. WVU ranks No. 31 nationally in field-goal defense (opponents shooting 40.2 percent), No. 7 in steals (9.3 per game), No. 3 in opponents’ turnovers (19.1 per game) and No. 2 in turnover margin (plus 7.0).”

▪ Is there a better near-rivalry than Kentucky-West Virginia? asks Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. West Virginia knocked John Calipari’s first Kentucky team out of the NCAA Tournament in 2010 with an upset in the Elite Eight.

▪ John Calipari is considering returning to a platoon system. Jerry Tipton of the H-L explains why Cal is looking at using more rotations than on-the-spot substitutions.

▪ Not all Kentucky basketball players need to leave early, NBA draft analyst Jonathan Givony tells Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. “Isaiah Briscoe, right now, is, I think, playing in Estonia. Did he make the right move? Just because you came into Kentucky thinking you’re one and done, it doesn’t mean you have to leave after one or two years.”

▪ The Big 12/SEC Challenge takes place this Saturday. Here’s a history of the event and the television schedule, as provided by the Herald-Leader.

▪ John Calipari said Thursday he thinks the SEC and the Big 12 are the two best college basketball leagues right now, reports Kyle Tucker of SEC Country. Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings rates the SEC fourth behind the Big 12, ACC and the Big East.

▪ Kentucky women rolled over Alabama 79-54, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. Playing against type in recent games, UK shot 64.7 percent from the floor.

▪ Kentucky football’s spring game will be held on Friday the 13th -- April 13th, to be exact, reports the Herald-Leader. It will be a 6:30 p.m. start.

▪ Alabama coach Nick Saban is happy former Madison Southern star Damien Harris is returning to Alabama for his senior season, reports Matt Zenitz of “ “I think that Damien wanted to finish his education. I think he likes college. He likes school,” Saban said.

▪ After a junior season filled with controversy, Duke’s Grayson Allen is having a quiet senior season, writes Matt Norlander of CBS Sports. Here’s the lede: “Where have you gone, Grayson Allen? A nation is not turning its hateful eyes to you.”

▪ Andrew Ramspacher takes a look at what South Carolina has to do to get back in the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks, who reached the Final Four last season, picked up a big win at Florida on Wednesday night.

▪ Missouri missed a chance at improving its resume with home loss to Auburn, reports Alex Schiffer of the Kansas City Star. Mizzou is now 13-7 overall and 3-4 in the SEC.

▪ Contrasting styles of Virginia and Duke have never been more compelling, says David Teel of the Daily Press. Duke is averaging in the 80s. Virginia routinely holds teams to the 50s. They play Saturday at Duke.

SEC men’s basketball schedule Saturday

  • 12:00 - Texas Tech at South Carolina (ESPN2)
  • 12:00 - Baylor at Florida (ESPN)
  • 2:00 - Ole Miss at Texas (ESPN2)
  • 2:00 - Georgia at Kansas State (ESPNU)
  • 2:15 - Oklahoma at Alabama (ESPN)
  • 4:00 - Tennessee at Iowa State (ESPMU)
  • 4:00 - TCU at Vanderbilt (ESPN2)
  • 4:30 - Texas A&M at Kansas (ESPN)
  • 6:00 - LSU at Auburn (SEC)
  • 6:00 - Oklahoma State at Arkansas (ESPN2)
  • 7:00 - Kentucky at West Virginia (ESPN)
  • 8:30 - Missouri at Miss State (SEC)

SEC men’s basketball standings






















South Carolina



Ole Miss












Miss State



Texas A&M






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