Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Wrapping up Kentucky basketball’s loss at Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt outrebounded Kentucky 39-37 as Vanderbilt defeated Kentucky 74-62 on Saturday February 27, 2016 in Nashville, TN.
Vanderbilt outrebounded Kentucky 39-37 as Vanderbilt defeated Kentucky 74-62 on Saturday February 27, 2016 in Nashville, TN. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Sunday:

Jamal Murray’s brillIance not enough, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “Kentucky lost despite Murray scoring 33 points and because, as Calipari said, its forwards and centers did not contribute anything. As a result, Kentucky fell into a tie for first place in the Southeastern Conference going into the final week. UK and Texas A&M, which won at Missouri, sit atop the standings at 11-5.”

Are the minutes catching up with Tyler Ulis? asks my column from Nashville. “Tyler had a tough one; he couldn’t make a shot,” Kentucky Coach John Calipari said. “How are we going to win if he’s not (making shots)? That’s the first dud he’s had. I say dud and he had six assists and one turnover.”

Kentucky’s rivals are in turmoil, writes Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “Louisville’s athletics department was already no stranger to sex scandals. Rick Pitino/Karen Sypher. Bobby Petrino/Jessica Dorrell/the motorcycle at Arkansas. Just last week, former Cardinals football coach Charlie Strong was mentioned in a provocative manner in an affidavit filed in the divorce suit of prominent Louisville booster Jonathan Blue and his wife, Tracy.”

Fans storm the court as Vandy beats UK, reports Adam Sparks of the Tennessean. “Vanderbilt’s Matthew Fisher-Davis claimed he never heard a sound from the blue-clad Kentucky fans at Memorial Gym on Saturday afternoon. By the time Vanderbilt knocked off No. 14 Kentucky 74-62 and much of the sellout crowd stormed the court, he and the Commodores had indeed quieted the Wildcats.”

Calipari wondering if UK frontcourt can ring the bell, reports Rick Bozich of WDRB. “Here’s the truth: Losing the game was not a big deal for Kentucky. The Wildcats (21-8 overall and 11-5 in the league) remain tied for first in the Southeastern Conference with Texas A&M. Good teams lose every weekend in college basketball – and the Wildcats remain a Top 20 team, ranked 10th by Ken Pomeroy, 11th by Jeff Sagarin Predictor and 14th in the Ratings Percentage Index. This is what is a big deal for the Wildcats: John Calipari’s frontcourt played as if they were already on spring break.”

Kentucky’s frontcourt a non-factor at Vanderbilt, reports Alex Forkner of the Cats Pause. “We can’t be in and out of games like that,” Lee said of his position group. “We can’t have foul trouble, we can’t totally zone out in the first half and that’s something we did today. For us to be successful, we have to get on point, big-wise, the whole game.”

Murray’s performance can’t get UK a win, writes Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal. The freshman’s 33 points tied his output against Ohio State back in December. Murray scored a career-high 35 points in UK’s win over Florida. Murray scored 21 points in the first half on Saturday.

Murray should make opposing coaches tremble, writes Josh Ellis of the Kentucky Kernel. “After hanging 18 points, seven rebounds two assists and three steals in the first meeting between UK and Vanderbilt on Jan. 23., the freshman sharp-shooter went for 33 points and nine rebounds in the rematch on Saturday. Murray dropped 21 points in the first half of Saturday’s meeting, the most first-half points by a Cat in the John Calipari era.”

Vanderbilt enhances its resume, reports Gary Parrish of CBS Sports. “The Commodores have at least two future NBA Draft picks -- Damian Jones and Wade Baldwin IV -- who are finally playing like NBA Draft picks, and that has changed the direction of this team. Jones got 15 points and eight rebounds against a UK frontcourt that was completely overmatched. Baldwin added 14 points and six assists in 36 minutes.”

Antonio Blakeney’s big night leads LSU over Florida, reports Sheldon Mickles of The Advocate. “Led by freshman Antonio Blakeney’s career-high 32 points, LSU’s guards combined for 62 points in a 96-91, must-have, Southeastern Conference win over Florida in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for LSU, which had dropped four of its past five going into the matchup with Florida, just three hours after a statue for two-time LSU All-American Bob Pettit was unveiled.”

Mississippi State plays spoiler again, writes Michael Bonner of the Clarion-Ledger. “Craig Sword received a pass in the backcourt late in the first half when the senior noticed Gavin Ware trailing and tossed the ball off the backboard. Ware caught it off the glass and slammed it through the net as a highlight play in Mississippi State’s 68-58 win over South Carolina on Saturday.”

Texas A&M manhandles Missouri, reports Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star. “Two weeks ago, the sky was falling on No. 21 Texas A&M. The Aggies were mired in a four-game losing skid and had lost five consecutive Southeastern Conference games. The latest evidence that A&M has righted the ship came Saturday at Mizzou Arena, where Missouri got thumped 84-69 behind Aggies senior swingman Jalen Jones’ 20-point, six-rebound performance.”

Georgia snaps three-game losing streak, reports Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph. “Thanks to some hot shooting, Georgia was able to get back in the win column. The Bulldogs shot 45 percent from the field and put away Mississippi late in the second half with an 80-66 victory Saturday. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Georgia.”

Arkansas hits threes to beat Tennessee, reports Grant Ramey of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “Apparently the Vols didn't get the message. Dusty Hannahs scored 17 points and Bell added 16, with the two combining to go 7-for-13 from the 3-point line, as Arkansas shot past Tennessee in the second half, winning 75-65 in front of an announced crowd of 14,413.”

Nothing ugly about Alabama’s win over Auburn, writes Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News. “There are no ugly wins on the last weekend in February. There just aren't. Not when your NCAA Tournament hopes flash before your eyes down the stretch in front of a sellout crowd on your home floor against your biggest rival. So don't discount, downplay or otherwise try to put a damper on Alabama's 65-57 must-win over Auburn.”

Have Kentucky’s women reached a turnover turning point? asks Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “Only 10 turnovers is a miracle for us right now,” UK’s Matthew Mitchell said after his team dropped Tennessee at the end of January. “If you don’t believe in God, you need to check that out. It’s like he’s walking on water right there with just 10 turnovers.”

SEC men’s basketball standings

Team

W

L

W

L

Kentucky

11

5

21

8

Texas A&M

11

5

22

7

South Carolina

10

6

23

6

Vanderbilt

10

6

18

11

LSU

10

6

17

12

Ole Miss

8

8

18

11

Alabama

8

8

17

11

Florida

8

8

17

12

Georgia

8

8

15

12

Arkansas

8

8

15

14

Miss State

6

10

13

15

Tennessee

6

10

13

16

Auburn

5

11

11

17

Missouri

3

13

10

19

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