Cat Scratches
Interactive Twitter Facebook

Recently in men's basketball Category

Video: Champions Classic shootaround

| No TrackBacks | Add a Comment
By Nick Jones, UK Athletics

The NBA Developmental League tipped off on Friday, giving a few more familiar faces a stage to showcase their abilities on the court.

There are currently four former Wildcats suiting up full time for D-League teams with the hopes of signing NBA contracts before the end of the season. Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague, who played significant roles in bringing Kentucky its eighth NCAA title, got off to very different starts over the weekend.

Lamb has established his role as the first scoring option for the Texas Legends, who started the season with a 2-0 record. The smooth shooting guard is averaging 22 points while shooting 63.6 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in his first two games.

Teague, on the other hand, is still finding his way into a consistent rotation for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder's D-League affiliate. The former first-round draft pick is logging 19.2 minutes through two contests and is averaging eight points and four assists in the two games.

Another member of the 2012 national championship team at Kentucky, Eloy Vargas, has landed a spot in the D-League after competing in Spain's professional league last season

Vargas was drafted by the Los Angeles D-Fenders with the 17th overall pick in the annual D-League draft but was deactivated last Thursday leading up to the start of the season.

Ramon Harris, who graduated from Kentucky in 2010, is off to a very solid start for the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants. Although his team has dropped to 0-2 after the opening weekend, Harris has done an excellent job for the Mad Ants. The small forward is averaging 11 points and a team high 11.5 rebounds in his first two games.

James Young has spent the early portion of his professional career battling a host of minor injuries and dealing with an undisclosed illness in his family. In order to gain some real-time game action and work his way back into playing shape the Celtics have assigned Young to their D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

Young did not disappoint in his first game, scoring 21 points and grabbing five rebounds in all the minutes he could handle. The plan for Young is to get his legs back under him and to make an impact on the Celtics roster during the remainder of his rookie season.

NBA spotlights in week three (All stats through Sunday, Nov. 16)


Anthony Davis kept up his streak of domination in week three in the NBA. The All-Star forward is leading the way in MVP talks through the first 10 games of the season. Aside from a blowout victory over the Timberwolves on Friday in which he spent much of the second half on the bench, Davis led the Pelicans in nearly every statistical category.

The former Cat averaged 28 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three steals and four blocked shots while seeing over 38 minutes of action per game.

DeMarcus Cousins posted three double-doubles in as many games this past week as he continues to make a strong case for All-Star honors in the Western Conference. Cousins, who is has entered the conversation for the top center in the league, is largely responsible for the turnaround in Sacramento. The Kings above .500 after the first 10 games this season for the first time in 10 years.

It comes as no surprise that point guard Rajon Rondo is leading the league in assists through the first three weeks of the season, averaging 11.6 dimes per game. Rondo posted a single-game mark of 16 assists on Friday, which stands as the current season high for the entire league.

Rondo averaged 13 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds in week three, coming dangerously close to a triple-double in two of the three games for Boston.

Week four TV Schedule


Tuesday: New Orleans (Anthony Davis, Darius Miller) @ Sacramento (DeMarcus Cousins) 10:00 p.m. on NBA TV

Wednesday: L.A. Lakers @ Houston (Terrence Jones) 9:30 p.m. on ESPN

Thursday: Chicago (Nazr Mohammed) @ Sacramento (DeMarcus Cousins) 10:30 p.m. on TNT

Friday: Cleveland @ Washington (John Wall) 8:00 p.m. on ESPN
Chicago (Nazr Mohammed) @ Portland 10:30 p.m. on ESPN

Saturday: Dallas @ Houston (Terrence Jones) 8:00 p.m. on NBA TV

Sunday: Charlotte (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) 6:00 p.m. on NBA TV

Updated stats (through Sunday, Nov. 16)

Player (Team)

Games   Played

Games Started

MPG

PPG

RPG

APG

BPG

SPG

Eric Bledsoe (Suns)

10

10

31.2

13.3

5.0

5.4

0.6

1.0

DeMarcus Cousins (Kings)

10

10

30.1

22.4

11.1

1.6

1.4

1.2

Anthony Davis (Pelicans)

8

8

36.1

24.5

11.8

2.1

4.1

2.2

Archie Goodwin (Suns)

4

0

5.8

1.5

0.8

0.8

0.0

0.0

Chuck Hayes (Raptors)

4

0

9.3

0.5

1.8

0.8

0.0

0.2

Terrence Jones (Rockets)

4

4

14.0

7.5

1.5

1.8

1.0

29.3

Enes Kanter (Jazz)

11

11

24.1

12.6

5.8

0.4

0.3

0.3

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Hornets)

6

6

23.3

9.8

5.5

1.3

0.8

0.2

Brandon Knight (Bucks)

10

10

32.5

18.3

6.0

6.4

0.1

1.3

Darius Miller (Pelicans)

2

0

10.5

1.0

0.0

1.0

0.0

0.0

Nerlens Noel (76ers)

7

5

27.7

7.0

5.9

1.9

1.6

1.6

Patrick Patterson (Raptors)

10

3

25.3

8.0

5.3

1.4

0.4

0.9

Tayshaun Prince (Grizzlies)

 

6

4

20.3

5.8

2.2

0.7

0.0

0.5

Rajon Rondo (Celtics)

7

7

33.3

10.1

8.1

12.0

0.3

1.9

John Wall (Wizards)

9

9

35.6

19.4

3.9

9.1

0.4

2.3

James Young (Celtics)

2

0

4.5

4.5

0.5

0.0

0.5

0.0


Video: Get hyped for Kentucky-Kansas

| No TrackBacks | Add a Comment

Kansas matchup offers kind of challenge UK needs

| No TrackBacks | Add a Comment
Trey Lyles will return to his hometown for UK's Champions Classic matchup with No. 5 Kansas on Tuesday in Indianapolis. (Elliott Hess, UK Athletics) Trey Lyles will return to his hometown for UK's Champions Classic matchup with No. 5 Kansas on Tuesday in Indianapolis. (Elliott Hess, UK Athletics)
Kentucky is for a step up in competition on Tuesday.

It's no slight to Grand Canyon or a Buffalo team that outplayed UK for 20 minutes, but Kansas is at a different level.

Entering the test against the Jayhawks, John Calipari sees two ways it can go.

"If we play like we did in the first half last game we will get smashed," Calipari said. "If we play like we did in the second half we have a chance because you have to fight on every possession."

UK got a lesson in exactly that in the aforementioned matchup with Buffalo.

The Cats (2-0) went into the break down 38-33, needing halftime to refocus after a first half in which Coach Cal said they were "disconnected." UK would overcome the slow start with a dominant second half, holding Buffalo to 14 points in four field goals in a 71-52 win.

Ahead of Tuesday's matchup with No. 5 Kansas (1-0) at approximately 9:30 p.m. in Indianapolis, the Cats know what's in store for them if they pull that Jekyll and Hyde act again.

"It is not like they didn't come to play; it was just that the other team came like a pack of hungry dogs," Calipari said. "Well, then you can't just say this is good enough. We are learning that. When we play with great energy and match the other team or go beyond the other team, we are long and athletic. But if they are blowing us out of the water with their energy it is going to look like it did."

Though Kansas doesn't match UK's depth, eight Jayhawks played 16 minutes or more in a season-opening 69-59 win over UC Santa Barbara, three of them freshmen and three sophomores. Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor, both juniors, provide the experience for Kansas, while freshman Devonte' Graham came off the bench and led the Jayhawks with 14 points in 26 minutes.

"They are running their stuff," Calipari said. "They are doing a terrific job of doing what they do. I mean, they play a style and they play it well. They are playing hard and pressing and denying. They are pushing up on defense and trapping randomly at times. They are trapping pick and rolls. They are being very, very aggressive."

This marks the fourth edition of the State Farm Champions Classic and the second UK-KU matchup in the event, which Kentucky won 75-65 en route to the 2011-12 national title. Each of the last three years, Coach Cal talked of the Champions Classic game being too early for his young team. This year, he's singing a new tune.

"We are in a little different position than we have been in the past, where we have a brand-new team and trying to get your team together," Calipari said. "This team needs to be challenged to see where we are. This is going to be one of those kinds of games."

The stage, as well as the opponent, will dictate that.

The game will follow a matchup between No. 2 Duke and No. 19 Michigan State in a doubleheader played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the home of the Indiana Pacers. It should come as surprise that both will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

"It's going to be crazy," Dakari Johnson said on Sunday. "I'm thinking it's going to be a big crowd. But we can't focus on the atmosphere. We have to go out there - it's two teams playing on the court - and we just have to compete."

Doing that will be even more of a challenge for freshmen Trey Lyles, who will be returning to his hometown to play in just the third matchup between ranked teams in college basketball this season and the first between top-five squads. Lyles will also be playing in the same building where he led Arsenal Tech to the first state title in the high school's history.

"It's been on my mind," Lyles said. "It's going to be fun. I get to play in front of family and friends. It's going to be a good time."

Managing emotions will be a challenge for Lyles, who's coming off a game in which he sparked a big second half with five points within a minute after halftime against Buffalo. He'll want to duplicate that effort on Tuesday without overdoing it.

"I just gotta go out there and do whatever is best for the team, playing defense and all that kind of stuff, whatever Coach asks of me," Lyles said. "It's just another game and we gotta approach it that way and approach it with a lot of energy."

UK lacked that energy in last year's Champions Classic, which led to a 10-point deficit within four minutes against Michigan State. The Cats return seven players who saw the floor in that game, but there's still no guarantee that translates.

"We could start out 10-0 the same way and it wasn't 10-0 we were up, it was 10-0 I had to call two timeouts to get it settled down," Calipari said. "I would hope these veterans understand what they are walking into, but teams are going to play like their life depends on it and we have to do the same."

As 2013-14 proved, these things don't happen overnight.

"Last year was, what, March 1 when we answered questions," Calipari said. "It took that long! There were five freshmen. 'Oh, but they're really good. You just roll out the balls. They should just win.' This stuff's hard, man. This stuff is hard. Now, I love it. I wouldn't want it any other way. I wouldn't it any other way for our kids."

Trey Lyles had 12 points, four rebounds and three assists in UK's 71-52 win over Buffalo on Sunday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Trey Lyles had 12 points, four rebounds and three assists in UK's 71-52 win over Buffalo on Sunday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
After a lackluster first half, Kentucky trailed Buffalo by five points. The buzz on social media was that the platoon system that's defined the start of the season had met its end.

Even one of his assistants said it.

"Stop," Calipari told him, not revealing the coach's identity. "We're playing the way we play and we're figuring it out."

It was a good thing he stuck to his guns.

Coach Cal opened the second half with his second platoon as he has in two exhibitions and the season opener and the group responded. Riding a shot of energy from Trey Lyles, the Wildcats dominated the second half and moved to 2-0 with a 71-52 win over visiting Buffalo (1-1), allowing just 14 points on 4-of-19 shooting after the break.

Lyles got it started with a 3-pointer from the left wing. Moments later, he intercepted a pass near midcourt and raced to the rim for a thunderous dunk. In a matter of 42 seconds, he had erased that halftime deficit and breathed energy into the Rupp Arena crowd of 22,175.

"I just wanted to go out there and playing with energy in the second half and just try pick the team up, pick the spirits up," Lyles said. "That's what the second platoon was trying to do at the start of the second half."

For the game, Lyles would tie for the team high with 12 points, adding four rebounds, three assists and steal. The 6-foot-10 freshman came to Kentucky with a reputation as a rebounder and adept post scorer, but he's shown off a diverse game after returning from a foot injury that forced him to miss the summer and UK's Big Blue Bahamas tour.

"He's just learning to play fast, yet be in control," Calipari said. "He is a skilled 6-10, three/four. He can post you; he can make a jump shot. He's a pretty good passer."

Lyles was a power forward by trade before arriving in Lexington, but Kentucky's incredible post depth has moved him into more of a perimeter role. Working with and going up against a veteran teammate every day in practice, Lyles is finding his way.

"It's been an adjustment in practice and stuff like that, but I'm becoming more comfortable with it, me and Alex (Poythress) both," Lyles said. "Coach is really helping us and me and him are helping each other with playing it."

It's players like Dakari Johnson who have bumped Lyles to the three.

Johnson, along with Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns, is one of the Cats standing 6-11 or 7-foot, and he joins Lyles on the second platoon. On Sunday, he also joined Lyles in providing a boost when his team badly needed it.

In spite of the new platoon system, Johnson played 26 minutes. He played more than that just once as a freshman. All the while, Johnson worked tirelessly, something he acknowledges he would not have been capable of before transforming his body this offseason.

"It just feels like while I'm out there I'm not getting tired as fast and I just try to get the crowd hyped and get my teammates hyped up, and that's what we did in the second half," Johnson said.

Johnson had nine points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, three assists and a steal, finishing a made free throw shy of what would have been his second double-double in as many games. He shot 3 of 6 from the charity stripe, leaving just one area for the sophomore to address.

"He fights," Calipari said. "He tries. He runs hard. He's giving everything that's in his body, and that's all you can ask as a coach."

The same can be said for another Wildcat who's pretty much Johnson's polar opposite when it comes to body type. Standing 15 inches shorter than Johnson, Tyler Ulis deftly ran the point, scoring 12 points, dishing six of UK's 17 assists and committing no turnovers.

Devin Booker, meanwhile, scored eight of his 10 points after halftime, meaning UK's top four scorers on Sunday came from the second platoon. That serves as proof that the platoon system is flexible enough to adjust on a game-by-game basis even though Calipari isn't going away from it.

If someone else is not playing well, they're going to be taken out," Calipari said. "If a unit is not playing well, I'll take them out. Every one of these kids had a chance. Now, if I had stuck with those first guys you never would've seen Trey, Devin, and Tyler do what they did. They all three played well today."

That wasn't the case for every Wildcat. Towns, for example, fouled out and scored just three points in 10 minutes of action, while Andrew and Aaron Harrison combined for 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting and one assist.

Those three figure to be among the players Coach Cal said he will summon for sit-downs before the Cats head to Indianapolis for an early-season marquee matchup with No. 5 Kansas. The conversations will be candid, with Calipari asking them to assess how they played and what they learned from it.

But unlike in prior seasons, the talks won't have as much urgency about them, not with the way Coach Cal's group is built.

"It's a great team for all these guys to just play hard," Calipari said. "Even if you don't play well, we're all right. Someone else will step in and be better the next game. Learn from it."

Air Force Senior Master Sergeant James A. Allegrezza was reunited with his wife and two children at Kentucky's game on Sunday. Allegrezza was born in Williamsport, Pa., and graduated from Woodford County High School in Versailles, Ky., in 1994. He enlisted in September 1995 as a Medical Services Apprentice.

Here's video of the reunion at Rupp Arena.


Video: Highlights from UK's win over Buffalo

| No TrackBacks | Add a Comment

Recent Comments

  • Berdj Rassam: Booker will be a key part of whether or not this team will be successful this season. read more
  • Tom Moore: Since Tubby 98 and 2003-2004 team which should've won it all, Kentucky fans ( I am true blue ) have read more
  • John Mylant: Kentucky verses Kansas I am a UK fan but bringing this into perspective, this was just one of those games. read more
  • Catherine: We have the Blue Platoon and the White Platoon, I say we should name the rest team "The Closers"! read more
  • Sandy: Great game. I couldn't take my eyes off in the second half. Proud of all of you. I thought Epps read more
  • Jeff Schrembs: I just wanted to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to the parents, guardians, relatives, etc. of each of the players. read more
  • D.K. West: I am sooooooo ready for the Big Blue. I loved the effort of last years squad, especially in the tournament read more
  • Nah: Please can we run more than 2-4 offensive plays? As a spectator, I'm seeing the team gain more ground in read more
  • Paige Keller: Congratulations for all of your hard work. You deserve this award. You guys work hard to provide use with a read more
  • larry: our first test will be kansas read more