Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Kentucky women’s basketball on a roll heading to league tournament

Janee Thompson had eight points and three assists in Kentucky's win at Texas A&M. Chloe Smith UK Athletics
Janee Thompson had eight points and three assists in Kentucky's win at Texas A&M. Chloe Smith UK Athletics UK Athletics

Big Blue Links for Monday:

Kentucky women upset No. 11 Texas A&M 71-58, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “Call it an inside job. That’s what Kentucky’s regular-season finale turned out to be. The No. 15 Cats won their sixth straight game, a 71-58 upset of No. 11 Texas A&M on Sunday, behind post players Evelyn Akhator and Alexis Jennings. “

Texas A&M women outmuscled on Senior Day, reports Robert Cessna of the Bryan/College Station Eagle. “In a battle of red-hot women’s basketball teams, the Aggies brought water guns, while the Kentucky Wildcats came with firefighter hoses to put a damper on Texas A&M’s Senior Day. The 15th-ranked Wildcats bullied their way to a 71-58 Southeastern Conference victory Sunday at Reed Arena, winning their sixth straight thanks to a 57-32 rebounding edge. Kentucky 6-foot-3 junior forward Evelyn Akhator and 6-2 sophomore Alexis Jennings combined for two more rebounds than A&M’s entire team.”

Alex Poythress still searching for consistency, says my column. “Saturday, the Tennessee native fouled out after 16 minutes. For the sixth time in his career, Poythress failed to score. For the first time in his career, Poythress failed to take a shot. Kentucky lost its eighth game of the season. “

Kentucky has toughest path on SEC title track, reports Courier-Journal. UK finishes up at Florida on Tuesday before returning home to bump heads with Ben Simmons and LSU.

SEC basketball results, schedule and leaders in a spreadsheet.

Derek Willis’ injury causing problems on offense, reports Kevin Erpenbeck of “When Willis was on the court, UK used the threat of the 3-point shot to its advantage. Head coach John Calipari knew defenders would follow Willis if he swung him to the corner, given the big man’s 43.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc this season. This left other areas on the court open and gave the Cats more spots to be effective shooters.”

Extended tourney stay for SEC unlikely, writes C.L. Brown of “Much has been made of the league-prompted investment in basketball. And eventually, hiring the likes of Avery Johnson at Alabama, Ben Howland at Mississippi State and Rick Barnes at Tennessee, not to mention the renovated coliseum at Mississippi, is more than likely going to yield big dividends. But it’s looking more and more like they won’t come this season.”

Count on LSU for the unpredictable, writes Ron Higgins of “With two games left in the regular season, there’s one conclusive fact about LSU’s basketball team. It will, if it already hasn’t, drive Las Vegas oddmakers to start drinking heavily and consider finding a less stressful line of work, like standing in front of a target for a blindfolded knife thrower.”

South Carolina women blow out LSU for a piece of history, reports David Cloninger of The State. South Carolina became just the second team in SEC women’s basketball history to go 16-0 in conference play.

Louisville looking for silver lining as season winds up, reports the C-J. The Cards are at home against Georgia Tech this week before traveling to Virginia for the end of their 2015-16 season. A post-season ban will keep U of L from playing in the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

Lane Kiffin and wife Kayla are divorcing, reports Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports. “After a lot of careful thought and consideration, Layla and I have mutually decided to divorce,” Lane Kiffin said. “We are fully committed to our kids’ future being our No. 1 priority. We will maintain an amicable relationship with respect for each other as we raise these three wonderful children. We will have no further comments and appreciate respect for our family’s privacy.”

Michigan kicks off spring practice in SEC country, reports Matt Murschel of Orlando Sentinel. “The Michigan football team will kick off a week of spring practice at IMG Academy in Bradenton today, following through with what has quickly become one of the most controversial moves this offseason. Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh kicked up a hornet’s nest when he announced he was bringing his football team to the Sunshine State for a week of football and fun back on National Signing Day in early February. It was the latest in a series of maneuvers by Harbaugh that upset many in college football circles, including commissioners of the SEC and ACC and NCAA president Mark Emmert.”

Kirby Smart open to new ideas at Georgia, reports Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph. “The first was hiring Jim Chaney to be his offensive coordinator. A big part of this decision was due to Smart’s experience game-planning against Chaney when he was the offensive coordinator at Tennessee and Arkansas. Smart previously said that preparing for Chaney’s offenses while Alabama’s defensive coordinator proved difficult, alluding to the fact he would like for other defensive coordinators feel what he felt going against Chaney. “

Soon-to-be No. 1 Kansas finds reasons for motivation, reports Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star. “Bill Self sees this as another test of his team’s toughness. Every year, the Kansas men’s basketball coach centers most of his regular-season attention on his team winning a Big 12 title. That leaves the Jayhawks in an awkward spot after overachieving. KU, which will visit No. 25 Texas at 8 p.m. Monday on ESPN, already has clinched a share of the league crown with two games remaining. “

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader