Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: South Carolina’s rally tops Kentucky women’s basketball

South Carolina Gamecocks guard Tiffany Mitchell (25) pulled a rebound over Kentucky Wildcats guard Taylor Murray (24) as #2 South Carolina defeated #9 Kentucky 73-62 on Thursday January 13, 2016 in Lexington, Ky.
South Carolina Gamecocks guard Tiffany Mitchell (25) pulled a rebound over Kentucky Wildcats guard Taylor Murray (24) as #2 South Carolina defeated #9 Kentucky 73-62 on Thursday January 13, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Friday:

South Carolina women beat Kentucky 73-62, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “They had A’ja Wilson and we didn’t,” Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said Thursday night. “She was tough to stop in there.”

South Carolina shows UK what a Final Four team looks like, writes Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “However, if UK is going to break through and make the school’s first-ever Final Four, the powerful Gamecocks are the kind of team the Wildcats may well have to beat. Final Four teams can take a foe’s best punch, and not go down for the count.”

Kentucky still looking for defense and consistency, writes Metz Camfield of CoachCal.com. “The Alabama game, I just think mentally we were ready to play that game,” junior forward Derek Willis said. “We came out and got it done. And in the last game, I don’t know if we went back to being comfortable or what it was. But I don’t think we had the same mindset, and that’s why the game kind of dragged out.”

Calipari says change in draft rule will make for better decisions, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “Let them get the right information from the NBA,” Calipari said. “Just about every player on your team should declare for the draft to see if they’re invited to the Combine.”

Numbers say new rule unlikely to affect recruiting, writes Ben Roberts of Herald-Leader. “Recent numbers say UK’s recruiting targets have not been waiting for current players to make their stay-or-go decisions, meaning the new process should have little to no effect on UK’s recruiting efforts. In his past six recruiting classes, 25 of Calipari’s 32 signees have actually signed with Kentucky during the early period in November, months before current players make their NBA decisions public.”

Just like old times as Louisville beats Pittsburgh, writes Eric Crawford of WDRB. “I feel like my long-lost best friend came back tonight,” Rick Pitino said. “I’ve been waiting for a long time to see defense like that.”

Louisville stifles Pittsburgh, reports Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal. “Pitt came into the game with the nation’s second-most efficient offense. The Panthers made 79.3 percent of their free throws, tops in the nation, and they were very effective as a halfcourt offensive team. Louisville took Pitt (14-2, 3-1) out of its rhythm early by disrupting the Panthers’ sets and limiting their offensive rebounding. It felt like Pitt’s possessions were a lot of challenged jumpers and one-shot trips. The final stats: 14 of 49 shooting (28.6 percent) and 19 turnovers for a 29.7 turnover percentage.”

UK’s football offense is about to get intense, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “It doesn’t happen overnight,” continued Darin Hinshaw, the Cats’ new co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “There’s some things that are going to have to change here and we’re going to get that done — and we’ve already started. We’re working on it right now.”

Kirby Smart can now focus on Georgia job, writes Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph. “I cannot explain how well I slept last night,” Smart said on Wednesday. “No. 1, we won the national championship and to finish that the right way was a relief. Obviously, we didn’t perform the way I wanted to perform but we won the game. To know those players achieved what they wanted to achieve, and to get into this room yesterday and meet with this team, now the University of Georgia team – my team – everybody told me that when you got to do that finally and it was the only thing you had to worry about it would be a great relief, burden off your shoulders.”

Dominique Hawkins returns to practice, reports Alex Forkner of the Cats Pause. “Because I think he’ll – right now, we need that one guy (off the bench) that’s going to play,” Calipari said. “Mychal (Mulder) gave us a lift and did some good stuff and then last game, he just wasn’t there. Now all of a sudden, you’re like, ‘Wait a minute, who is the next?’ You need another guy.”

Iowa beats Michigan State for second time, reports Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News. “I wish I had magical words,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “There will be a lot of blame tomorrow but today I’m going to give a lot of credit to Iowa. They did everything they could do. They made shots, got rebounds. When you have 13 or 14 turnovers in the first half and they get 17 points off them … the tougher team won. That’s what usually happens. That’s been a bit of my frustration.”

Tennessee women lose in Arkansas for first time since 1996, reports Dan Fleser of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “Tennessee was its own worst enemy Thursday night. A season-high 24 turnovers undermined the Lady Vols and Arkansas took advantage for a stunning 64-59 SEC women's basketball victory before a sparse crowd of 1,108 at Bud Walton Arena.”

Ben Simmons gets a shout-out from the president, reports The Advocate in Baton Rouge. “As President Obama spoke to a crowd of 1,000 Thursday at McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, he made special mention of one member of the audience: LSU's star basketball freshman Ben Simmons.”

SEC men’s basketball standings

Team

W

L

W

L

Texas A&M

4

0

14

2

Kentucky

3

1

13

3

LSU

3

1

10

6

Arkansas

3

1

9

7

South Carolina

2

1

15

1

Ole Miss

2

2

12

4

Florida

2

2

10

6

Georgia

2

2

9

5

Alabama

1

2

9

6

Missouri

1

2

8

8

Vanderbilt

1

3

9

7

Tennessee

1

3

8

8

Auburn

1

3

7

8

Miss State

0

3

7

8

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