Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Ball-handling costs Tennessee in loss to Kentucky women

Janee Thompson helped the Kentucky women beat Tennessee 64-63 on Monday night at Memorial Coliseum.
Janee Thompson helped the Kentucky women beat Tennessee 64-63 on Monday night at Memorial Coliseum. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Tuesday:

Kentucky women hold off Tennessee 64-63, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “The No. 12 Cats trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half and by seven points at halftime. Against a bigger, quicker Tennessee team, UK missed 15 of its final 18 shots going into the locker room.”

Questionable to play, Janee Thompson closes out Tennessee, writes Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “The ball was in my hands, I was just taking open shots,” she said. “They were kind of switching and getting confused on defense. I was literally wide open a couple of times so I just shot the ball.”

Tennessee lost it in the third quarter, reports Dan Fleser of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “ During those fateful 10 minutes, the Lady Vols lost the remnants of a 10-point first-half lead and fell behind by five points before a reenergized crowd of 6,188 at Memorial Coliseum. While Wildcats guard Makayla Epps was scoring 14 of her game-high 23 points for No. 12 Kentucky (15-3, 4-3 SEC), Tennessee was managing just nine, missing its final nine shots from the floor.”

Ball-handling costs the Lady Vols, writes John Adams of the News-Sentinel. “Something else was obvious, too. Long before Kentucky guard Makayla Epps scored 14 of her game-high 23 points in the third quarter, UT missed opportunities to build a greater lead than the seven-point advantage it held at halftime. Turnovers were again its undoing. The Lady Vols had 12 of their 21 turnovers in the first half. That’s the third time in the past four games they have had 20 or more turnovers.”

Dominique Hawkins re-injures ankle, reports WKYT. “I don’t know how bad, but he hurt it again,” John Calipari said. “That high ankle sprain is ugly, and it’s one that just takes time to heal. Hopefully he didn’t try to come back too early.”

Missouri coach sees spark in Kentucky’s improved play, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “I thought from the get-go they did a great job forcing Vanderbilt to be uncomfortable,” Kim Anderson said, “and that’s similar to what they did against us last year when we came in there. They just didn’t let you do what you wanted to do, and I thought they did a good job of that against Vanderbilt.”

Top football commit re-affirms pledge to Cats, reports Ben Roberts of Next Cats. “Four-star defensive back Jordan Griffin — one of the top commitments in UK’s recruiting class of 2016 — took an official visit to Auburn over the weekend but made it clear Monday that he remains firmly pledged to the Wildcats.”

Willis rising, Lee falling, reports the Courier-Journal. Derek Willis has secured a starting spot and is making the most of it. Marcus Lee has been struggling of late.

UK and Louisville both ranked in Baseball America pre-season poll, reports H-L. “The Wildcats are rated No. 25. The Cardinals come in at No. 2, trailing only top-ranked Florida. Kentucky and Florida are among seven Southeastern Conference teams in the poll, joining No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 7 Vanderbilt, No. 11 LSU, No. 20 Mississippi State and No. 24 Ole Miss.”

Georgia is set for the challenge of LSU’s Ben Simmons, reports Cody Pace of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “He’s a very unique player,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “I don’t know if it’s a once-of-a-couple generation player, but he reminds me of early in my career when we played Jason Kidd, and he just impacted the game so many different ways. That’s what Ben Simmons does. He scores it, he rebounds it, he passes it, he does everything.”

LSU all about growth as Georgia comes to town, reports Sheldon Mickles of The Advocate. “As LSU nears the halfway point of its Southeastern Conference schedule, Jones and his team know continued growth is a key — especially in an 8 p.m. Tuesday matchup with Georgia in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Taking another step in that direction against Georgia is crucial for LSU (12-7, 5-2) considering the Tigers have a huge home date with No. 1-ranked Oklahoma looming Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.”

Missouri suspends quarterback Maty Mauk again, reports Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star. It’s the third time Mauk has been suspended in the last four months.

Kansas loses 85-72 at Iowa State, reports Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star. A lack of poise hurts the Jayhawks at Ames. Kansas returns home to face Kentucky in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge next Saturday.

Arkansas needs win over Texas A&M in worst way, reports Eric Bolin of Arkansas News. “Losers of three straight games, coach Mike Anderson’s team has gone from the league’s second-highest tier, behind only Southeastern Conference leader Texas A&M, to fighting to stay out of the second-lowest. A fourth straight defeat would see Arkansas above only the dregs of the fray, the one-win teams of Alabama, Mississippi State and Missouri.’

South Carolina trying to get back to better play, reports David Cloninger of The State. The Gamecocks play a Mississippi State team that is coming off its first conference win of the year.

Underachieving Vandy eager for a quality win, reports Adam Sparks of the Tennessean. Coming off a 76-57 loss at Kentucky, the Commodores play host to Florida on Tuesday night.

Rick Barnes wants Tennessee to move forward, reports Patrick Brown of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “"You really put it under the microscope and you see that there's still a lot of things that we can do better," Barnes said. "We showed some things that we did do better. But we showed some areas that we talked about wanting to do better that we didn't do better and that we have to continue to do that.”

SEC basketball this week

Tuesday, Jan. 26

  • 7:00 - Mississippi State at South Carolina (SEC)
  • 9:00 - Florida at Vanderbilt (ESPNU)
  • 9:00 - Georgia at LSU (ESPN)
  • 9:00 - Tennessee at Alabama (SEC)

Wednesday, Jan. 27

  • 7:00 - Auburn at Ole Miss (SEC)
  • 7:00 - Texas A&M at Arkansas (ESPNU)
  • 9:00 - Missouri at Kentucky (SEC)
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