Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Rare air for Makayla Epps; Malik Monk gives Arkansas the bad news

Kentucky’s Jamal Murray makes a layup during UK’s 74-63 win over Duke in the Champions Classic on Nov. 17, 2015 in Chicago.
Kentucky’s Jamal Murray makes a layup during UK’s 74-63 win over Duke in the Champions Classic on Nov. 17, 2015 in Chicago. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Thursday

Makayla Epps' triple-double leads UK women to romp over Morehead, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. "The only women’s player in school history to do it was Leslie Nichols, who had 18 points, 13 rebounds and 11 steals against Louisville in 1986. Chris Mills remains the only men’s player at UK to do it with his 19 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in 1988."

Malik Monk commits to Kentucky, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. "John Calipari pulled off one more shocker on the final day of the national signing period, nabbing a commitment from five-star combo guard Malik Monk in what could be the final addition to a recruiting class that will rank among UK’s best ever."

Monk rebuffs Arkansas to pick UK, reports Eric Bolin of Arkansas News. "A common question was why he chose to make the decision before playing his final season at Bentonville and facing potentially hostile crowds. Wednesday was the final day of the early-signing period. 'When you know, you know,' Malik Monk said via text message."

Kentucky's backcourt game was on point against Duke, writes Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News. "Oh, sure, Kentucky won 38 in a row last season, and it reached the Final Four in both 2014 and 2015. But remember the player to whom Calipari handed the ball before each of those games, hoping more than trusting his faith would be rewarded. In Andrew Harrison’s place now are three point guards Calipari can believe in."

But remember the player to whom Calipari handed the ball before each of those games, hoping more than trusting his faith would be rewarded. In Andrew Harrison’s place now are three point guards Calipari can believe in.

Mike DeCourcy

Hold your applause and your jeers on Kentucky-Duke, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. "After Kentucky beat Duke on Tuesday night, it was hard to tell the winners from the losers in the postgame news conferences. Kentucky Coach John Calipari repeatedly cited areas where his team needed to improve. He seemed more eager to embrace Christian Laettner than a victory that surely put Final Four thoughts in the minds of UK fans."

Coach K's praise of Kentucky shows what Duke lacks, writes Laura Keeley of the Raleigh News and Observer. "After Kentucky beat Duke 74-63 Tuesday night, Mike Krzyzewski graciously praised the Wildcats’ two most effective players, sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis and freshman Jamal Murray. How he chose to praise them, though, was noteworthy. Krzyzewski chose to highlight the qualities they have that his Blue Devils currently lack."

Labissiere is hard to compare to UK's other big men, says Jamie Vaught of KyForward. "Even though he didn’t play well against a tough Duke team in Chicago Tuesday night because of foul trouble, getting only seven points and four rebounds in 13 minutes, UK’s Skal Labissiere is still going to be one of the nation’s most exciting big men in college basketball this season."

Charles Walker is making most of his walk-on role at UK, reports John Lewis of WDRB. "(UK receivers coach Tommy) Mainord has helped me out greatly with that. At St. X, I was mostly a running back and I was out in the slot a little bit, so my route running was not that good when I first got here," Walker said.

A new-look Kentucky handled Duke easily, writes Gary Parrish of CBS Sports. "It wasn't anywhere close to as big as the hypothetical national championship game most college basketball fans wanted last season (until Wisconsin stepped in and altered history). Different stakes, obviously. But it was still Duke-Kentucky. Still Coach K vs. Coach Cal. Still lots of pros. So a capacity crowd of 20,917 filed into the United Center here Tuesday for the first half -- and, on paper, better half -- of the fifth Champions Classic."

Kentucky men’s basketball next five games

  • Nov. 20 Wright State (8:00/SEC)
  • Nov. 24 Boston U (9:00/SEC)
  • Nov. 27 @South Florida (5:00/ESPN)
  • Nov. 30 Illinois State (7:00/ESPN2)
  • Dec. 3 @UCLA (9:00/ESPN)
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