Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Vanderbilt drilled; Kentucky-Stony Brook tickets hard to find

Wichita State's Rashard Kelly goes to the basket against Vanderbilt's Luke Kornet, left, during the second half in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Wichita State advanced, 70-50.
Wichita State's Rashard Kelly goes to the basket against Vanderbilt's Luke Kornet, left, during the second half in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Wichita State advanced, 70-50. The Wichita Eagle

Big Blue Links for Wednesday:

Vanderbilt blown away in the First Four, reports Adam Sparks of the Tennessean. “Vanderbilt’s first NCAA Tournament trip in four years was over in 40 minutes. The Commodores lost 70-50 to Wichita State in a First Four game Tuesday at University of Dayton Arena. It marked the fourth time in Vanderbilt’s past five NCAA Tournament appearances that it lost its opening game.”

Wichita State puts on a shooting show, reports Paul Sullentrop of the Wichita Eagle. “Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet made the first one, early in the second half. Ron Baker made another 41 seconds later. Then VanVleet again and pretty soon everybody made three-pointers. Just like VanVleet said it would happen.”

Stony Brook-UK tickets not easy to come by, writes Neil Best of Newsday. “Stony Brook basketball fans interested in traveling to Des Moines for Thursday night’s NCAA Tournament game against Kentucky face two major challenges. The first is that Des Moines is more than 1,000 miles from Stony Brook. The second is that tickets for that location on the secondary market are more expensive than any other first- and second-round site.”

How does Tyler Ulis play so many minutes? asks Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “He can just play and play and play and play,” said Mike Taylor, who coached Ulis in high school. “But he did that for four years (in high school). When Tyler was a freshman, I didn’t take him off the floor.”

Only one man can break down UK-Stony Brook, writes Alex Smith of the AJC. “Dave Boff coached Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe at Roselle Catholic (N.J.) last year, and the three-time state champion also used to draw up plays for Stony Brook star Jameel Warney. This winter, he followed his former players closely, and the NCAA tournament selection committee happened to pit Briscoe and Warney against one another in the first round on Thursday in Des Moines (9:40 p.m. ET, CBS).”

Kentucky better worry about its first NCAA foe, says my notes column. “This might be Stony Brook’s first year in the tournament, but the Seawolves are not a one-year wonder. Steve Pikiell’s team has won 20 or more games five straight seasons. It suffered four consecutive heartbreaking defeats in its conference tournament before breaking through this year.”

Stony Brook’s pressure gauge has lowered, writes Greg Logan of Newsday. “To the rest of the nation, Stony Brook is the little guy with the quirky name and history. But over the past seven seasons in the America East Conference basketball wars as they averaged 22.3 wins and reached five title games, they have been the big, bad Seawolves — at least until March, when they failed to blow the house down four times before finally reaching the NCAA Tournament this year.”

Derek Willis is one unique guy, writes Reid Forgrave of Fox Sports. “ Derek Willis is sitting in the film room at Kentucky's practice facility when he lifts up his ash-gray Kentucky hoodie. He's showing off the biggest of his dozen or so tattoos: A sugar skull that's surrounded by a giant owl. The owl's spread-out wings stretch from one shoulder to the other, its tailfeathers reaching down to Willis' abs. It represents wisdom, Willis says.”

Stony Brook has a formula to stun Kentucky, writes Howle Kussov of the New York Post. “Senior power forward Jameel Warney is the reason the Seawolves are here, having carried the school to a conference championship with 43 points (18-of-22 shooting) in Saturday’s comeback win against Vermont. At 6-foot-8, Warney can’t match Kentucky’s size, but his experience could be the difference against a young frontline not nearly as intimidating as it was last year. Warney is patient and selfless, but he needs to set the tone early and again exhibit an alpha-dog attitude, while exploiting Kentucky’s rebounding issues on the offensive glass.”

Stony Brook will have to defend to beat UK, writes Mark Herrman of Newsday. “Fortunately for Stony Brook, this has been the hallmark of Steve Pikiell's teams. The Seawolves can be a pain in the neck for anyone -- beating then-13th-ranked Washington on the road, taking Vanderbilt to overtime -- because they can get all over you. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who watches games from everywhere in the nation, said on ESPN Monday, ‘You don't want to play Stony Brook, I don't think.’”

Indiana isn’t overlooking Chattanooga, writes Andrew Vailliencourt of Inside the Hall. “What we know about Chattanooga is that they have been battle tested,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “There is no question about that, not only in their league but from the very beginning. (First year coach) Matt McCall has got a great background at Florida with Billy Donovan and took over the job at Chattanooga with a veteran team and has done an outstanding job.”

Kentucky is who Indiana used to be and wants to be again, writes Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star. “Once upon a time, and this might hurt some folks, Indiana was Indiana. Once upon a time — and this will really sting — Indiana was Kentucky. You remember those days, don’t you? Oh, why am I even asking — of course you remember. IU fans are at once buoyed by the tradition of this magnificent basketball program, and discouraged by its inability to get there again.”

Tranghese hired to pump up SEC basketball persona, writes Ron Higgins of “Whitworth has done a credible job, especially policing Slive's charge at the SEC spring business meetings two or three years ago that all league members needed to upgrade their non-conference schedules to boost the overall RPI of the league. Most SEC schools have done that, but the problem is they are still losing a large majority of those games. This season, the SEC is 16-35 against Power 5 conference teams. Five SEC teams – LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri and Tennessee – failed to win a single game against Power 5 opponents.”

Kentucky vs. Stony Brook

When: Thursday, 9:40 p.m. (approximate)

Where: Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa

TV: CBS with Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson

Radio: UK Radio Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt

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