Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Kentucky basketball opens league play; SEC teams roll in bowls

Missouri's Wes Clark, right, tries to push past Mississippi's Stefan Moody, left, and Martavious Newby during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, in Columbia, Mo. Mississippi won 67-47.
Missouri's Wes Clark, right, tries to push past Mississippi's Stefan Moody, left, and Martavious Newby during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, in Columbia, Mo. Mississippi won 67-47. The Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Saturday:

Kentucky has found its path as SEC play begins, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “If Kentucky (10-2) stays on this path, the Cats might shoot more three-pointers (although Calipari doused any thoughts of a free-wheeling shooting gallery), stifle the impulse to showboat and – stop reading if you’ve seen this at least 50 times already this season – outhustle/out-compete the opposition.”

Calipari talks Skal Labissiere’s timetable, reports Tipton. “Labissiere’s unproductive play contributed to UK’s tendency to start games slowly, Calipari said. So starting a front-court tandem of Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress gave the Cats a better chance to get off to a better start.”

Ole Miss faces formidable Kentucky, reports Daniel Pauling of the Clarion-Ledger. “As a coach, there would be other venues I would rather open SEC play in,” Kennedy said. “We know going in our guys are super excited because this is the Mecca. The guys that were in that game (last year), guys that have experienced that, my hope is that they’ll go in with some confidence knowing that they were close and that we have an understanding of how well you have to play to give yourself a chance to win in that building.”

Jordan Smith will sing National Anthem on Saturday, reports the Herald-Leader. “After winning the television singing competition, Smith, a senior at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., was celebrated with a parade in his hometown on Dec. 21. He was named Harlan Countian of the Year, and at a ceremony following the parade, Smith was given the key to the city, named a Kentucky Colonel and an honorary Harlan County coal miner.”

Calipari expecting another dogfight, reports Keith Taylor of KyForward. “Kentucky’s biggest task will be stopping Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody, the league top scorer, who is averaging 23.8 points per game. Moody had a career performance against the Wildcats last year, scoring 25 points and knocking down five 3-pointers before getting cramped up down the stretch, hindering the Rebels’ chances for an upset.”

Cats close out Camp Cal, reports Alex Forkner of the Cats Pause. “Gosh, I don’t even think we saw daylight, really,’ Derek Willis said of the week between the Louisville win and UK's SEC opener against Ole Miss. “We were in the gym pretty much the whole day. Woke up, in the gym, took a little hour nap, come back, go to dinner, all that stuff.”

UK commit Kash Daniel is named Mr. Football, reports Gary Graves of the AP. “Paintsville High School linebacker Kash Daniel was hard to get around or through on defense, and a pretty tough quarterback to bring down as well.Brandon Smith coached South Warren to a perfect season and state championship behind a similarly dominant mix of stifling defense and high-octane offense.”

In-state basketball prospect visits UK, reports Next Cats. “Christian County High School basketball standout Jaylen Sebree was on the University of Kentucky’s campus Friday for an unofficial visit. Sebree — a 6-foot-6 small forward — is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 100 overall prospect nationally in the junior class.”

The last word on Louisville will belong to NCAA, Louisville, writes Rick Bozich of WDRB. “I was neither surprised nor upset Friday that University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino singled me out for criticism when he vented about the coverage of the Katina Powell sex scandal as well as his post-game behavior following U of L's loss to Kentucky in Rupp Arena last Saturday. I’ve known Pitino was quite angry about my opinions since Saturday night. It’s one reason I attended the press conference on a holiday. I was prepared to hear from the coach.”

Tennessee’s bowl victory was enough for two seasons, writes John Adams of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “The only significant distinction in UT's 45-6 Outback Bowl victory over Northwestern on Friday at Raymond James Stadium: the offense was slower out the gates than in the 45-28 victory over Iowa in last year's TaxSlayer Bowl. The result was the same, though. UT fans had a one-sided victory to celebrate and — with the large majority of starters due to return — another reason to look forward to next season.”

Michigan routs Florida 41-7 in Citrus Bowl, reports Kyle Hightower of the AP. “I would say this was the best game we’ve played all year,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen our offense play better. Our defense was magnificent. ... The three and outs, the stops, the play on third down, everybody playing great team defense. It was really good.”

Chad Kelly throws four four touchdowns as Ole Miss routs Oklahoma State, reports Parrish Alford of the NE Mississippi Daily Journal. “In the process, the Rebels erased the painful memories of their first New Year’s Six bowl game opportunity with a 48-20 win over Oklahoma State on Friday night. The Rebels’ revamped defensive front stuffed the struggling OSU run game and occasionally got pressure on Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph with only a three-man rush.”

Ole Miss basketball results

11/13

Northwestern St

90

76

W

1-0

11/16

Ga Southern

82

72

W

2-0

11/18

vsGeorge Mason

62

68

L

2-1

11/20

vsTowson

76

60

W

3-1

11/22

vsSeton Hall

63

75

L

3-2

11/25

Georgia State

68

59

W

4-2

11/28

@Bradley

67

54

W

5-2

12/5

@Umass

74

64

W

6-2

12/12

@SEMO

75

64

W

7-2

12/15

Louisiana Tech

99

80

W

8-2

12/18

@Memphis

85

79

W

9-2

12/22

Troy

83

80

W*

10-2

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