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Best of Blue Weekly Awards (week of Dec. 5)

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Thumbnail image for best of blue logo_web.jpg It can be hard to keep up with everything going on in the University of Kentucky's 22 varsity sports. With that in mind, we will highlight the best from around Kentucky sports each week. We'll recognize the best performances from Wildcat teams and players, we'll show you the coolest videos and photos that you may have missed and we'll mix in some new stuff along the way. Here are your award winners for this week:

Team of the week - Volleyball advances to Sweet 16

There was some serious competition in this category over the past seven days. In a normal week, men's basketball's wins over No. 5 North Carolina and St. John's or UK Hoops' 74-54 defeat of Louisville would take team of the week honors, but volleyball gets the nod for coming up huge in postseason play.

Craig Skinner and the Wildcats got a bit of a surprise when they found out they would be traveling to College Station, Texas for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament because they had a strong case to host themselves. However, the Cats responded in a big, big way.

UK won a first-round thriller over Dayton, falling behind two sets to one before rallying in the final two games for the win. The Cats also overcame a pair of match points in the fifth before winning the last four points and the match. The victory earned them the right to face off against host and No. 16 national seed Texas A&M and UK turned it arguably its best performance of the season. With a 3-0 sweep of the home-standing Aggies, UK advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons.

"We're just really excited, not just because we won the match, but because of how we performed tonight," Skinner said after the win. "It was a heck of a team effort. For whatever reason I had a feeling on the way over here on the bus that we were pretty focused and ready to go, and the team definitely proved that thought right."

Now, the Cats return to Lexington to play in a regional being hosted on their home floor of Memorial Coliseum. UK will take on No. 1 national seed Texas at 7 p.m. on Friday with a match between No. 9 UCLA and No. 8 Penn State immediately before at 5 p.m. Both games will be carried live on ESPN3.com.

VISIT TOURNEY CENTRAL FOR COMPLETE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS WEEKEND'S REGIONALS

Player of the week - A'dia Mathies scores 20 in win against Louisville

UK Hoops had revenge on its mind with archrival Louisville coming to town on Sunday. A season ago, the No. 10/11 Cardinals handed the Cats their most lopsided loss of the season. No. 12/10 UK flipped that around this weekend, leading the visitors by double digits for the final 26 minutes en route to a 74-54 win that's expected to vault Matthew Mitchell's bunch into the top 10 of both polls this week entering a showdown with No. 6 Duke in Rupp Arena on Thursday.

Leading the way for the Cats was Louisville native A'dia Mathies. The junior guard played 32 minutes in the win, scoring 20 points and hitting a career-high four 3-point baskets. She didn't make a field goal from inside the arc all afternoon, but was aggressive in attacking the rim as she earned 11 foul shots, hitting eight. Mathies also four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.

Game of the week - Men's basketball bests North Carolina in classic

Coming into the week, Kentucky-North Carolina was billed as the best game of the regular season in college basketball this year. After watching No. 1 UK's 73-72 win over the No. 5 Tar Heels, I can attest that every ounce of hype the game had coming in was lived up to and if there's a better game this season, I look forward to watching it.

For a game taking place less than a month into the season, both teams played at an exceptionally high level. Neither the Cats nor Heels led by more than nine points all game and both teams made big plays and big shots throughout. UK hit 14-of-26 (56.0 percent) shots in the second half against a solid UNC defense while holding the Heels to 10-for-29 (34.5 percent) to overcome a five-point halftime deficit. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played the best game of his young collegiate career, scoring 17 points and pulling down 11 rebounds in a marquee matchup with Harrison Barnes (14 points). UK got contributions from all eight players who saw the floor on Saturday, but we may be talking quite a bit differently about the game if not for our play of the week.

Play of the week - Anthony Davis' block saves the game



With 21.5 seconds remaining and his team clinging to a one-point lead, freshman point guard Marquis Teague stepped to the foul line to shoot a one-and-one. His shot would hit the back of the rim and land in the waiting hands of Barnes, who handed the ball to point guard Kendall Marshall to set up the potential game-winning shot.

After bleeding some clock, Marshall fed big man Tyler Zeller in the post with 10 seconds left. As they had been doing all day, the Cats sent a double team at Zeller, who fumbled the ball directly to forward John Henson where he appeared to have a wide open shot to win the game from 10 feet out with seven seconds to go. Anthony Davis had other ideas, leaping to contest the shot and improbably getting a piece of it. He corralled the rebound and threw forward to Teague, who ran out the clock to give UK a big early season victory.

Photo of the week - Darius Miller throws down against St. John's


Darius Miller had this rim-rocking dunk in UK's win over St. John's on Thursday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Darius Miller had this rim-rocking dunk in UK's win over St. John's on Thursday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)

Alumnus/alumna of the week - Masthay's punts help Packers stay unbeaten

Former UK punter Tim Masthay has followed a strong rookie campaign with an even better second season as the Green Bay Packers have an unblemished record through 12 games in 2011. The Packers' stiffest test to date came this weekend on the road against the New York Giants. Green Bay won 38-35 on a field goal on the last snap of the game, but may not have even been in that position if not for Masthay.

Masthay punted five times on the game with an average of 44.2 yards per punt. Four of his five efforts pinned the Giants inside their own 20-yard line, including a 49-yarder late in the third quarter that was downed at the New York one-yard line.


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