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December 16th, 2017

Quade Green says the sunglasses are here to stay

Good news: Quade Green’s sunglasses are here to stay.

Green sported the shaded specs today to protect his eye, which was poked during the Monmouth game last week. After his 17-point, five assist performance, he says he plans to sport them the rest of the season. 

“Oh yeah. All season. All season. I need them because I can’t get poked in my eye again.”

Green’s eye swelled shut last Saturday, and although he can open it now, he needs the shaded lens because it’s still very sensitive to light. John Calipari said he felt so bad the freshman had to wear them that he offered to wear a pair as well, but backed out at the last minute.

“I don’t know why he didn’t wear them,” Green said. “He said he was, though.”

Kevin Knox thinks the whole team should sport glasses this season.

“I say we all get glasses. Coaches, players, everybody.”

You know what they say; the future’s so bright we’ve gotta wear shades.


Takeaways from Kentucky’s win over Virginia Tech

Saturday’s Kentucky-Virginia Tech game in Rupp Arena lived up to the billing as the two teams battled back and forth the entire afternoon. It was the Cats’ first real home test of the season and they passed it with an A+ grade, edging out the Hokies, 93-86, in a very entertaining contest.

Here are some takeaways from the action…

 

Virginia Tech is very good.

First and foremost, let’s commend the visiting Hokies because they played well in their first true road test of the season. They’re a top-20 team with some very good players I wouldn’t want to see again. It took everything Kentucky had to eek out the win in front of an energetic home crowd, and it was a big victory for the resume and for the team’s confidence moving forward. Great win for UK. Lots of fun those who saw it.

Calipari asked for more threes, and got more threes.

It was a little over one week ago when Calipari said he wanted to see his team take more three-pointers. “We’re trying to get to instead of 14 or 15, we want to get to about 18, 19, 17, maybe 20 every once in a while,” he said. “We don’t want more than that because that’s not who we are, but we need to have that.”

Today he got 22 three-point tries, which was well above the season average of 13 attempts per game. Even better, the Cats shot 50 percent, hitting 11 of those 22 shots from outside.

Virginia Tech is the best three-point shooting team in college basketball basketball, and they were outshined at their own game as they hit 10 of their 22 tries.

Kentucky has a triple scoring threat in Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo and Quade Green.

The trio combined for 58 of the Cats’ points and did most of the scoring in the second half to earn the victory in the end. We knew all along that Diallo and Knox would be go-to guys, but the addition of Green to the scoring group has been a very pleasant surprise. As it stands now, those are three players Kentucky can count on to get a basket.

Quade Green’s sunglasses are awesome.

Once we learned Quade Green would wear dark-tinted sunglasses in the game, it was easy to doubt his ability to hit shots with the new eyewear. I didn’t expect him to take many shots at all; turns out, the glasses did not hold him back as he went 6-for-12 from the field and made two big three-pointers.

When asked about the glasses after the game, Green said, “My glasses are a little dark but I see better in the dark.”

Also of note: Green had five assists to only one turnover.

Nick Richards and Sacha Killeya-Jones could’ve done better.

Kentucky didn’t get the best out of its two big men, but Calipari isn’t too worried about it. He noted they’re “not machines” and bad games happen from time to time.

Richards played 22 minutes to Killeya-Jones’ seven in the game, and gave up some easy buckets and surrendered some rebounds that were his to grab.

Hamidou Diallo hit a huge shot to seal it.

Let’s give a special bold sentence and section to Hamidou Diallo’s three-pointer with under a minute to go. Virginia Tech had just cut the lead to two with a three of its own, but Diallo fired right back with a dagger from the corner to put the game out of reach.

Diallo has been great these last couple games and his outside shot is looking much better. He and Knox are playing like superstars.

P.J. Washington and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also played well.

The light is coming on for Washington, who has now had two straight good games. Gilgeous-Alexander did what he’s done all season, and sent his cousin home with a loss, as he promised earlier in the week.

Up Next: UCLA and Louisville.

Buckle up, BBN!


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[FLASH SALE AT THE KSR SHOP!]


Calipari almost wore sunglasses today too

Quade Green’s sunglasses were a big hit today but John Calipari told reporters he felt so bad the freshman point guard had to wear them during the game that he almost did too.

“Just so you know, because I kind of felt bad for him, I was going to wear sunglasses too. I told the team I was going to. I thought if he had to do it, I’ll do it with him, we’ll both have sunglasses.”

Well, why didn’t he?

“I didn’t want to be a — it would have been a national story. There he is, that guy wears jeans on the plane, this bum, this guy. Where does he think he is? He thinks he’s at the beach. Who is this guy? That’s why I didn’t do it.”

Calipari, basically:

Calipari said he wasn’t sure if Green has to wear the glasses going forward, but judging by today’s performance, maybe he should. Green had 17 points, five assists, and only one turnover.

“I see better in the dark,” Green quipped afterwards.

“He was really good,” Cal said. “I thought Quade, I put him in quick. I like the rotation of him starting and Shai coming off the bench. Score baskets, kid, Score baskets, that’s what you do.”


Billy Gillispie Needs a Kidney Transplant “ASAP”

The health of former Kentucky head basketball coach Billy Gillispie has dramatically declined.  He told the Dallas Morning News today that he needs a kidney transplant “ASAP.”

“She was hoping that things would have changed from two weeks ago when I was in the hospital, but they haven’t,” Gillispie said.

Gillispie said the doctor told him he is in kidney failure due to years of chronic high blood pressure.

“The next thing she said was, ‘Do you have a donor?’ ” Gillispie recalled. “I said, ‘Well, I didn’t know I needed one.’

“As you can imagine, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, asking questions and all of those things you do when you start feeling life-threatening things.”

Gillispie stepped away from coaching Ranger Junior College in the middle of last season due to health concerns linked to high blood pressure.  After seeing improvements, he returned this year but has been absent from the court for the last three games.

[Dallas Morning News]


Quade Green: “We’re going to beat Louisville.”

Quade Green was cocky and confident in his postgame interview with the UK Sports Network. He told Mike Pratt and the show’s listeners that he likes the glasses because he can see better at night, and then thanked the fans for bringing the energy that willed the Wildcats to victory.

But things got real fun when Pratt asked Green if there is anything he would like to say before Christmas, to which Green told the Rupp Arena crowd, “We’re going to beat Louisville. That’s my Christmas present for y’all.”

Hear Green’s entire interview from the UK Sports Network’s pregame show below:


LIVE: John Calipari on the Virginia Tech game

John Calipari is ready to address reporters about his team’s win over Virginia Tech. Watch below courtesy of KyWildcatsTV:


Kentucky Takes Down Virginia Tech 93-86

As expected, Kentucky’s match-up with Virginia Tech turned into a shootout.  The Cats out-gunned the Hokies 93-86 in their most difficult challenge at Rupp Arena to date.

The secret to Kentucky’s success was the second half perimeter defense.  Playing against one of the nation’s best three-point shooting teams, Virginia Tech didn’t make a three from the 1:48 mark in the first half until the 2:40 mark in the second half.  The late threes made it a nail-biter, but it was too little too late.

Offensively, Kentucky’s aggressive play in the paint opened up opportunities on the perimeter.  A Kevin Knox layup in the final 1:30 was followed by Hamidou Diallo’s decisive three-pointer from the corner to take down Virginia Tech.

More from Rupp Arena is on the way.


HALF: Virginia Tech 47 Kentucky 41

Well, we knew it would be a high-scoring game. After 20 minutes, Virginia Tech leads Kentucky 47-41 at Rupp Arena. The Hokies came into the game with the second best three-point shooting percentage in the country (46.8%), but so far, both teams are burning it up from the outside, with seven threes each.

Quade Green leads Kentucky in scoring with ten, followed by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo with seven each. And yes, Quade is still rocking those awesome shades.

Better defense in the second half, please.


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Pregame Scouting: Virginia Tech Hokies

Today’s game between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Virginia Tech Hokies marks the beginning of what will be a very telling three game stretch for the boys in blue. Virginia Tech, then UCLA next Saturday, and then Louisville the following Saturday is the heart of the non-conference schedule for Cats.

The Cats and the Hokies are facing off for the fifth time ever and Kentucky has won three of the first four, but today will be the first time since the 1996 NCAA Tournament. The Hokies come into today’s game sporting an impressive 9-1 record on the season. While their schedule hasn’t exactly been full of world-beaters, they’ve been imposing their will on most teams, with the exception of their loss to St. Louis.

Head Coach Buzz Williams is in his fourth season at the helm for Virginia Tech, following his six seasons at Marquette. Williams has the Hokies playing a very high level of basketball, as the highest scoring team in the country with 96.2 points per game and the second best three point shooting team in the country at 46.8%. Let’s take a look at the potential starting lineup for Virginia Tech today.


#10 Justin Bibbs, Senior Guard, 6’5″

Justin Bibbs is in his fourth year as a starter for this Virginia Tech program. While he’s been a solid contributor for the first three years, Bibbs has really stepped up his efforts this season, scoring the ball with extreme efficiency. Bibbs missed the first two games of the year, but has been the best player for the Hokies since he returned.

As was mentioned earlier, Virginia Tech is the highest scoring team in the country, and Justin Bibbs is the high scorer on this team with 17.5 points per game, to go along with 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Bibbs is shooting it extremely well from all over the court, hitting 60% of his shots overall, but also 47.6% of his 3’s and 94.7% of his free throws.

What Virginia Tech lacks in height across the roster, they make up for in high quality guards. Starting three guards at 6’5″ and one guard at 6’2″, the Cats will surely have the height and length advantage, but the question is who will match up with who. Essentially, the three 6’5″ guards, including Bibbs, will match up with the trio of PJ Washington, Hamidou Diallo, and Kevin Knox today, but I won’t venture to guess the specifics.

#13 Ahmed Hill, Junior Guard, 6’5″

Ahmed Hill has been a starter since stepping foot on campus a few years ago. He started all but three games his freshman season, but had to sit out his sophomore year due to an off-season knee surgery, but he was able to use a medical redshirt that year. Since then, he’s started 38 of 43 games, and similar to Bibbs, has seen a big jump in contributions this season.

While Bibbs may be the highest scorer on the team, Hill is not far behind. Hill is scoring 16.6 points, pulling down 4.6 rebounds, and dishing out 1.3 assists per game. His shooting numbers contend with Bibbs’ numbers as well. The junior is shooting 56.7% from the field and 50% from three point range, one of the top-20 shooters in the country.

The second of three 6’5″ starters for Buzz Williams, Hill is another force from the outside that the Cats will have to try to run off the three point line. This team really presents match up problems that the Wildcats have never seen this season. Most of these young Cats have never played against a team where every player on the team can fill it up, like this Hokie squad can.

#4 Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Freshman Guard, 6’5″

Nickeil Alexander-Walker is the cousin and former high school teammate of Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. There’s been some friendly trash-talk going back and forth between the two freshmen, and it’ll be really fun to see the two match up from time to time in today’s game. Alexander-Walker was actually a higher ranked recruit coming out of Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Canada than Gilgeous-Alexander was.

Alexander-Walker has been about as solid of a first-year player that you can ask for out of a guy that isn’t a top 10 player. He’s averaging 14.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 asssits per game, while shooting 47.7% from beyond the three-point arc.

The third starter standing at 6’5″ shoots over 47% from deep like the first two do, making that three-headed monster a tough match up for any team. What I haven’t mentioned is how Virginia Tech will manage to defend UK though. The way their starting lineup shakes out, if the Hokies don’t play zone, they’ll have a 6’5″ player guarding both Kevin Knox and PJ Washington, giving a huge size advantage that the Cats should be able to utilize today.

#24 Kerry Blackshear, Jr., Sophomore Forward, 6’10”

Kerry Blackshear, Jr. was nothing more than a role player in his first season at Virginia Tech. He used a medical redshirt last season as a leg injury kept him on the sidelines for the entirety of the season. But now he’s back and he’s started every game this season for Buzz Williams. He is the son of Kerry Blackshear, who is the all-time leading scorer in Stetson history.

Blackshear is the largest player on the roster for Virginia Tech, so he’ll be manning the paint against the Wildcats. The fourth starter averaging double-figures in scoring per game, Blackshear is averaging 13 points, a team-leading 7.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and a team-high 1.2 blocks per game. He’s shooting over 66% from the field and can also step away and knock down a jump shot as well, hitting 3 of his 5 attempted threes on the season.

With the height and length that Kentucky brings to the table, Blackshear is going to have to shoulder the load in the paint and on the glass for Virginia Tech to be able to not let the Cats use that to their advantage. He will match up with Nick Richards, but Richards will have to avoid foul trouble, as the Hokies will most likely get him involved in some on-ball screens, forcing Richards to try to defend shorter, quicker perimeter players.

#5 Justin Robinson, Junior Guard, 6’2″

Justin Robinson is in his second year as a full-time starter for Coach Williams and Virginia Tech. He is the floor general for the most high-powered offensive attack in the country, so he is certainly a force to be reckoned with at the point guard position.

The junior guard is just shy of making every starter a double digit scorer, sitting at 9.9 points per contest. He’s the team’s leading passer with 5.8 assists per game, to go along with 2.3 rebounds and a team-high 1.9 steals per game. He can stroke from the outside, like most of the team can, hitting 45.8% of his three point attempts on the young season.

At 6’2″ and 190 pounds, Robinson comes in with a two inch height and 10 pound weight advantage to his counterpart Quade Green. Green is expected to play after being poked in the eye so badly in last Saturday’s win over Monmouth that he couldn’t open his eye for a day or two. If Green doesn’t go, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will take over, giving the Cats another size advantage.


I don’t think it could be stressed any more, how well this Virginia Tech team shoots the ball and fills it up from all over the court. They have quick possessions and will try to get fast and easy points in transition. Kentucky will need to focus on playing their own game and not let the shooters for the Hokies catch fire early. Virginia Tech is certainly a team that can come into Rupp and upset the Wildcats. With this being the first major talent that Kentucky has played, outside of the Kansas game, early struggles will not be surprising. It will be how the Cats overcome early struggles that determines how this game will play out.

Go Cats. Beat Hokies.

@BrettBibbinsKSR


WATCH: Australian News Report Prepares the BBN for New UK Punter Max Duffy

The Big Blue Nation knows very little about Dean Hood’s latest Australian sensation at punter.  When Max Duffy committed to Kentucky in November we knew two things: he’s a former professional Australian rules football player who was named the top punter at the Ray Guy Kicking Camp.

A report from Paddy Sweeney at 9-News in Perth, Australia has shed a new light on Kentucky’s next punter.  The 24-year old kicker has been kicking 1,500 balls a week to prepare for the next four years at Kentucky.  “I just can’t wait to get over there and be a part of the Big Blue Nation,” Duffy said.

The quotes from Duffy aren’t the best part of the report.  Hearing an Australian newsman describe Kentucky football from thousands of miles away is a perspective nobody has ever heard.  Described as the “U.S. sporting heartland,”  the report tries to capture the scope of UK football by saying, “The Kentucky Wildcats are so big, they’ve even got their own TV station.”

Watch the two-minute report and you will want to watch the fascinating piece again, again and again.


SEC Basketball Storylines: Recap of the First Month of the Season

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

The College Basketball season is now over a month old, and the SEC has provided basketball with several talented players and teams. Here are the major storylines from the first month of the season as the conference heads towards league play.

1. Collin Sexton’s World

Through one month of the season, Sexton has bar-none been the best player in the SEC, and I’m not sure if any other player has been a close second.

He leads the SEC in scoring as a freshman with 21.8 points per game while he also averages around four assists and four rebounds a game. He came into Tuscaloosa as a five-star recruit who had all the hype in the world and he has lived up to it.

Moving forward, Sexton will have to get better as every team will now be keying in on him especially once conference play begins.

His favorite moves and tendencies will be scouted out and his game will have to evolve if Alabama wants a shot at winning the SEC this season. However, as of right now Sexton is the superstar that the SEC deserved and needed to showcase to the rest of the college basketball world.

2. Florida’s Backcourt

The Gators have been one of the most curious teams in the conference this year. One week they are beating Gonzaga and taking Duke down to the wire, but then the next week they are dropping games to Florida State and Loyola-Chicago.

Despite their inconsistencies as a team, the backcourt of Florida has arguably been the best in all the SEC as Jalen Hudson, Chris Chiozza, and Egor Koulechov have all had great seasons thus far.

Hudson is third in the conference in scoring at 19.1 points per game, Koulechov is eighth in scoring at 16.1 point per game, and Chiozza is second in the SEC in assists per game at 6.1.

These three are the Gators top three scorers, and they are lethal from behind the three-point line where they are all shooting at least 39%.

Florida will only be as good as they are this season, but for the time being Hudson has been one of the biggest surprises of the year. Things didn’t work out for him at Virginia Tech, but his transfer down to Gainesville has done wonders for his game.

3. Kentucky’s Point Guard Play

Every season it seems that John Calipari and the Wildcats are led by a world class point guard. However, this season is a bit different for Kentucky.

I am not suggesting that freshmen Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander won’t be star point guards, but through one month of play they are still trying to find their footing as college basketball players.

Gilgeous-Alexander is a lockdown defender and Green has proven to be a capable offensive threat, however Green’s weakness is his defense and Gilgeous-Alexander’s weakness seems to be his offensive game.

It’s a peculiar situation for Calipari whose system begs for star point guards that go high in the NBA Draft, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with these two now.

However, both Green and Gilgeous-Alexander have plenty of time to mature and refine their games before the NCAA Tournament arrives. How much they will improve will determine just how far Kentucky will advance.

4. Tennessee’s Quick Start

Head Coach Rick Barnes has the Volunteers off to a surprising 7-1 start on the season. Their start has included wins over Purdue, NC State, Georgia Tech, and a close loss against Villanova.

Spearheading the Volunteer effort on the year has been sophomore big man Grant Williams. Williams currently is averaging an impressive 16.1 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Another huge reason why Tennessee has had such a successful season thus far is because of their efficiency from three-point land. The Volunteers lead the SEC in three-point shooting percentage at 41.2%.

One reason why they have been so efficient from behind the arc is due to the play of sophomore guard Jordan Bowden who is shooting 59%.

The country will see just how for real the Volunteers are this season when they play No. 7 North Carolina on December 17th in Knoxville.

5. Vanderbilt’s Rough Start

While one SEC team from the state of Tennessee got a great jump to their season, the other SEC team from the state has struggled mightily. The Commodores have the worst record in the entire conference at 3-6 with loses against Belmont and Middle Tennessee.

(Jim Brown-USA Today)

The big problem for Vanderbilt this season is that they have a very hard time scoring the basketball. The Commodores are dead last in the SEC in scoring at a paltry 68.7 points per game.

The main reason why they just can’t score is because they have a limited number of true scorers on the team. Only three players are in double digits in points per game, and Jeff Roberson leads the team in that category with an average 14.2 points per game.

In his first year as head coach, Bryce Drew led the Commodores to a respectable 19-16 record. With lesser options on this team, Drew will have to work his magic when SEC play gets here, or it will be a very long season for Vanderbilt.


LISTEN to the KSR Pregame Show

The Virginia Tech Hokies are about to take the floor at Rupp Arena, Kentucky’s greatest home-court challenge of the early 2017-18 season.  Matt Jones, Ryan Lemond and Drew Franklin have everything to prepare you for UK’s match-up with the nation’s top-ranked scoring offense.

Hear how they believe today’s game will go down by turning your radio dial to 630 WLAP.  You can also stream it online and on your phone with the iHeart Radio app.


Former UK Great Joey Couch has Passed Away

With great sadness, I regret to inform you that former Kentucky football defensive lineman Joey Couch passed away suddenly at 49.

One of the best football players Eastern Kentucky has ever produced, Couch was an All-State linebacker who also played tight end and fullback at Paintsville High School.  A two-sport star, Couch scored 2,000 points while sharing the basketball court with Unforgettable John Pelphrey.  He is the only player from the state of Kentucky to play in the Kentucky-Tennessee All-Star football game and the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star basketball game.

For Couch, choosing to play for Kentucky was an easy decision.  “Because that’s our University. The state’s school,he told KSR “I wanted to be a Wildcat. I wanted to play where Cawood Ledford would call my name on the radio.”

Cawood frequently called Couch’s name.  One of Jerry Claiborne’s most tenacious defenders, the Kentucky head coach moved him from linebacker to defensive line.  Couch thrived in the trenches.  He became a three-year starter, an All-SEC selection, a Street and Smith All-American and in 1991 he was voted a Team Captain.

The loss of Couch hits close to home.  Couch was Freddie Maggard’s Kirwin/Blanding roommate.  Their fathers, Big Fred and E.A. Couch, were teammates on the legendary 1956 Carr Creek State Championship team.

Couch’s passing is a tragedy.  KSR’s prayers are with his young family and all of his friends.