Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Oct. 16:
Men's golf: Joseph Barr
Junior Joseph Barr carded a career-best round of 66 (-5) in the first round of the Bearcat Invitational on Oct. 10.
Barr followed up his first round 66 with a 2-under par 69 in the second round to hold the lead entering the tournament's final round.
Barr finished the tournament in a tie for third, his best result of the season thus far, and helped lead Kentucky to a second-place finish.
Volleyball: Whitney Billings
Sophomore Whitney Billings continued her dynamic play in Southeastern Conference action. Billings was the difference maker in UK's upset of No. 18 Tennessee - its first loss of the SEC schedule. Billings struck for 15 kills, the highest total this season, on a sizzling .367 hitting percentage. She was the only UK attacker to post an above .350 attacking percentage in the victory. Billings' all-around play continues as she also notched a squad-high six blocks and added four assists in the win. Against Mississippi State she totaled her 10th match of the season with 10 or more scoops with 14 digs in the three-set match for an average of 4.67 scoops per stanza. Furthermore, Billings was served at 24 times for the week and she did not commit an error.
Women's soccer: Natalie Horner
Natalie Horner netted the golden-goal in Kentucky's 1-0 double-overtime upset of 14th ranked Tennessee Friday night. It was Horner's second goal of the season and her first in conference play.
Men's soccer: Matt Lodge
Junior forward Matt Lodge shined in a shellacking of UK rival Tulsa on Wednesday, assisting on a school-record three goals in the 3-1 win over the Golden Hurricane ... Lodge's three assists are the most in a single-game in school annals, marking the fourth time in UK history a player has accomplished that feat and the first since Barry Rice in 2006 ... Now owns 10 assists on the year, the second-most assists in UK single-season history, just three shy of Jamal Shteiwi's school-best 13 in 2003 ... Has added seven goals and 62 shots, with his shot total ranking as the second-most shots in UK single-season history ... 16 games deep into his junior season, Loge owns 17 goals and 15 assists (49 points), ranking among the career leaders in points (seventh), goals (eighth), assists (fifth), shots (137; fifth) and game-winning goals (six; seventh) ... With 24 points in 2011, Lodge ranks fifth in UK single-season history ...A Rossington, England, native and a 2009 Freshman All-America honoree, Lodge ranks among the C-USA leaders in shots (first, 62), points (fourth, 24), points per game (sixth, 1.50), goals (sixth, 7) and assists (first, 10).
Volleyball: Jackie Napper
Freshman Jackie Napper has been the epitome of consistency for the Wildcats with seven or more digs in six consecutive matches for the Louisville, Ky., product. Napper put together one of her best performances of the season in the upset victory over No. 18 Tennessee. Napper charted eight scoops, but it was her demeanor on the receiving end of serves that helped propel UK to the win. Napper was served at an astounding 42 times in the match and did not make a single error. Napper then went on to post seven scoops in three sets of action, for 2.33 scoops per set, well above her season average.
Cross country: Luis Orta
Luis Orta earned his fourth top-10 finish in as many races this season.
The junior from Caracas, Venezuela finished in fifth at the Panorama Farms Invitational, crossing the finish line at the 8,000-meter race in 24:29.74.
Orta has led UK in every race this season and has been named Southeastern Conference Men's Runner of the Week three times already.
Men's soccer: Charles Pettys
Junior midfielder Charles Pettys notched his first career two-goal game, in leading UK to a 3-1 beatdown of Conference USA powerhouse Tulsa on Wednesday ... Pettys notched both of UK's two goals to start of the game, getting his first in the 13th minute and adding his second in the 27th frame ... On the year, Pettys owns three goals and seven assists, ranking fourth in the league in assists and ninth in the conference in points (13) ... Pettys' first career two-goal game marked the 57th all-time two-goal outing from a UK player in program history ... In his two-year UK career, Pettys - a native of Los Angeles, Calif. - has played in 29 games with 20 starts, posting four goals and eight assists.
Women's soccer: Kayla Price
Freshman Kayla Price notched her fifth shutout of the season in the upset of Tennessee. She currently second among all-time UK freshmen in shutouts and her 1.19 GAA is the third lowest among freshmen in program history.
Women's tennis: Jessica Stiles and Khristina Blajkevitch
Junior Jessica Stiles and sophomore Khristina Blajkevitch have paired up for doubles play at the USTA/ITA Women's Tennis Ohio Valley Regional's and have yet to lose a match. Their impressive play has earned them a spot in the semi-finals in the main draw.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Oct. 2:
Women's golf: Ashleigh Albrecht
Won the Bettie Lou Evans Fall Invitational by one stroke.
This is her second career collegiate win, first being at the UCF Challenge in Feb. 2011.
Finished the invitational with 12 birdies and an eagle.
Volleyball: Whitney Billings
Sophomore Whitney Billings was simply the impact-player of the week for UK in two road victories. Billings has been a defensive ace for the Wildcats in helping UK to a 14-3 overall start and a 5-1 mark in league play. This week, Billings averaged 3.29 digs per set (Only UK's libero ranked higher with 3.43) and she also posted 1.14 blocks per set - meaning she contributed on the defensive side in both ways. Kentucky averaged 15.57 digs per set and 3.00 blocks per set in the two wins combined, with only Billings ranking in the top-two on the team in both digs and blocks per set. Her 15 scoops in the win at Arkansas were a season-best and ranked as the highest mark in the match. Her six blocks at LSU was a season-high mark and was the best on the floor as well.
Football: Winston Guy
Had another fantastic game with 12 tackles, including two tackles for loss. Guy ranks second in the SEC in tackles this season53 stops, while sitting first on the team in tackles for loss with six and a half and interceptions with two.
Volleyball: Christine Hartmann
Junior setter Christine Hartmann directed the Wildcat offense to a pair of victories at Arkansas and at LSU this weekend. For the weekend, Hartmann passed out 86 assists and moved into 10th place all-time in the UK record books with 1,534 career assists. In both matches she topped 40 assists, including a career-high 41 for a three-set match. In the win vs. LSU, Hartmann found six players for five or more kills and the offense had a .385 hitting clip. She also contributed six kills of her own. She notched 45 assists in the win at Arkansas with Ashley Frazier posting a career-high 18 kills in the match. Hartmann is in charge of an offense that leads the SEC in kills and assists per set.
Women's soccer: Caitlin Landis
Caitlin Landis netted her fourth goal of the season on Friday night in Kentucky's 1-0 win at South Carolina ... It was UK's first win against USC since 2006 and it's first win in Columbia since 2005 ... Landis' goal was her game-winner this season ... She finished with a team-high three shots in 85 minutes of action ... It was also her third goal in league play this season, tied for second most in the league.
Men's golf: Cody Martin
Finished in fourth at the rain-shortened Inverness Intercollegiate Invitational with an even-par round of 71.
Has finished in the top five in each of Kentucky's first three tournaments this season.
Has a season stroke average of 70.14, the lowest on the team.
Of the seven rounds of golf he's played this year, five have been even par or better.
Volleyball: Lauren O'Conner
Freshman Lauren O'Conner had an all-around weekend in helping guide UK to a 2-0 record on the road. O'Conner posted 3.29 kills per set on a team-high .435 hitting percentage. She totaled 10 or more kills in both victories, including 13 on a career-high .545 hitting clip at LSU. For the week, she took 46 swings and committed a mere three hitting errors. Her all-around game has continued to improve with five digs and a four blocks this weekend - which are both above her average for the season.
Cross country: Luis Orta
Finished in 10th out of 240 runners at the Greater Louisville Classic on Saturday in Louisville, Ky.
Led the men's cross country team to an eighth place finish out of 29 competing teams.
His time of 24:17.72 is also is his collegiate-best time.
Has finished in the top 10 overall in each of Kentucky's first three races this season, including back-to-back wins in each of UK's first two races.
Women's soccer: Kayla Price
Kayla Price earned her first career SEC shutout Friday, in helping to lead Kentucky to 1-0 win at South Carolina ... It was UK's first win against South Carolina and its first win in Columbia since 2005 ... Price is currently tied for fourth in league games in saves with 19 and tied for second in shutouts with one ... Her four shutouts on the season is tied for fourth on UK's all-time freshman goalie list
Women's tennis: Jessica Stiles
Junior Jessica Stiles took third place in her singles draw after defeating Jennifer Rabot of Purdue University in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2.
Football: Danny Trevathan
Senior posted 13 tackles in the game, marking the third time this season he has earned 13 tackles or more. Trevathan has double-figure tackles in four of UK's five games this season and is currently leading the SEC in tackles with 59.
When Mitch Barnhart took over as Athletics Director in 2002, he set out his vision for the success of all 22 varsity teams at the University of Kentucky. During that time, UK has seen unprecedented levels of achievement across those sports, especially during the last athletic year.
Between rifle's national championship, men's basketball's trip to the Final Four, softball's berth in the Super Regionals, the appearance by men's tennis in the Elite Eight, volleyball's sixth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, football's fifth straight bowl game and UK Hoops' second consecutive NCAA berth, 2010-11 was arguably the best season in the history of UK Athletics.
As good as last year was, this one is setting up to potentially be even better. Teams with high expectations like rifle, men's and women's basketball and softball have yet to begin their seasons, but fall sports have the 2011-12 athletics year off to an amazing start. The fall sports teams have a combined record of 27-9-1 among those with win-loss records, while teams that play tournaments or participate in meets have four first place finishes in eight opportunities.
Here are some of the top storylines from the first month of the season:
Volleyball rallies from early season adversity
Craig Skinner presents junior libero Stephanie Klefot with a game ball commemorating her 1000th career dig. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Knowing UK would be hosting a regional in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats had high goals entering the season, wanting to position themselves to potentially play in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in Memorial Coliseum. The season, though, did not get off to the best start. Volleyball lost two of its first four matches, both by sweeps. The second came at home against Cincinnati and the Cats did not hesitate to call the performance "embarrassing".
Since then, the Wildcats have been anything but embarrassing on the floor, winning 10 of 11 matches to run their record to 12-3 on the season, 3-1 in SEC play. In the 10 wins, UK has won an astounding 30-of-33 sets. The lone loss came in the toughest game the conference has to offer: on the road against No. 6 Florida.
After winning SEC Libero of the Year a season ago, junior Stephanie Klefot has been a defensive stalwart. Averaging nearly five digs per set, Klefot became the 11th player in school history with 1,000 digs three weeks ago. UK's attack is a balanced one, with five players averaging at least two kills per set, including junior Ashley Frazier with a team-leading 2.73.
Men's and women's soccer making a mark
Both the men's and women's soccer teams recently entered conference play having established themselves as contenders during difficult non-conference schedules.
Senior forward Kelsey Hunyadi has tallied 20 points in 10 games this season (Barry Westerman, UK Athletics)
At 8-2-0, Jon Lipsitz and his women's team rank 12th in the nation in the RPI, the highest rating in program history. Seven of the Wildcats' 10 games have come against teams ranked in the top 100 of the RPI, with UK winning five. The team started the year with six straight wins, but a loss to No. 24 Dayton on Sept. 17 ended the streak and forced Lipsitz to cut the beard he promised to grow until his team's first loss.
After losing their next game at Alabama in the SEC opener, UK bounced back with a 4-1 win over Auburn in which Kelsey Hunyadi tied a career-high with five points. Her two goals and one assist moved her point total on the season to 20, putting her on pace to make a run at the school record.
Since arriving at UK before the 2009 season, Lipsitz has built the program quickly. The Cats advanced to the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals a season ago and appear poised to improve upon that finish in a difficult conference that features nine teams in the RPI top 50. Next up for UK is a pair of road games this weekend against South Carolina and Florida.
Ian Collins and the men's team (7-4-1) currently are ranked 21st in the nation. Right off the bat, UK made a statement with a home upset of then-No. 9 ranked Michigan en route to a 4-0-1 start. The Wildcats are in now the midst of a stretch of games that called for them to travel nearly 10,000 miles in three weeks and face some of the country's top teams. Though the Cats have lost four games during that time, three of the losses have come at the hands of teams ranked in the top 20 and all have been on the road.
Most recently, UK suffered an overtime loss against No. 10 Central Florida, but sophomore Tyler Riggs scored his team-leading ninth goal. Riggs leads one of the nation's top attacks and ranks among NCAA leaders in both points and goals. Junior Matt Lodge also keys UK's high-octane offense and has tallied seven goals and seven assists.
Don't let the record fool you, because UK is more than capable of making noise in the post-season. With that stellar offense, an improving defense and the experience of playing an exceptionally tough schedule, there won't be a challenge the Cats face that they won't be capable of overcoming. UK next faces Florida International at noon ET Sunday in the second game of play in Conference USA.
Orta leads cross country's strong start
Junior Luis Orta has twice won SEC Runner of the Week this season. (UK Athletics)
Following a strong first two seasons at UK, junior Luis Orta entered the season with high expectations. Looking to improve on his three top-five meet finishes from a year ago, Orta has exceeded the goals head coach Don Weber set for him.
In the opening two meets of 2011, the Caracas, Venezuela, native has dominated, leading the men's team to a pair of wins in the Belmont/VU Opener and the Tennessee Invitational. Orta placed first in both meets, including finishing the 8,000-meter course at the Tennessee Invitational over 17 seconds faster than his nearest competitor. Orta was named SEC Men's Runner of the Week after both wins, the second and third times he earned the award in his career.
The women's team has also had a successful start to the season, placing first in the Tennessee Invitational and third in the Belmont/VU Opener. Junior Chelsea Oswald has paced the Cats in both meets.
The men's and women's cross country teams are in action again this weekend in the Greater Louisville Invitational in Louisville, Ky.
Men's, women's golf in full swing
Women's golf head coach Golda Johansson Borst is in her second season as head coach and is looking to build on a successful first year that saw the team advance to post-season play for the first time since 2008. Things are looking good so far as UK finished third in its first tournament of the season, the Texas A&M "Mo"Morial. The finish is the best of Borst's tenure. Senior Ashlee Rose and junior Ashleigh Albrecht each finished in the top 10 of individual play to lead the team.
Women's golf is the only fall sport with a home event this weekend, as they host the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational Friday through Sunday.
Men's golf has had three events already this season, including a first place finish in the UK Bluegrass Fall Invitational two weeks ago. Sophomore Cody Martin has been steady for UK, earning top-five finishes in all three tournaments. UK next plays in the Bearcat Invitational in Hebron, Ky., Oct. 10-11.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Sept. 18:
Volleball: Ann Armes
Senior Ann Armes provided the spark for the Blue and White in UK's perfect 2-0 weekend. Armes was sensational both offensively and defensively. Armes posted a career-high seven rejections and added her third match with 10 or more kills in UK's victory over Georgia to preserve Kentucky's ninth consecutive victory. Armes struck for the 11 kills on a .450 hitting clip. In Kentucky's victory over Auburn, Armes posted seven kills and did not commit an error with a .778 hitting percentage. Her two aces in the win over the Bulldogs was also a season-high. Only one other player has tallied seven or more blocks in a match this season for the Wildcats. Armes currently ranks second in the SEC in hitting percentage and sixth for blocks in conference matches.
Men's tennis: Tom Jomby
Jomby went 3-1 at the Olympia Fields Invitational, including his first career win over a ranked foe at the collegiate level when he took down No. 28 Casey Watt of Notre Dame in dominating fashion 6-2, 6-0.
Volleball: Stephanie Klefot
Junior Stephanie Klefot posted a pair of 17-dig matches to help preserve UK's unbeaten streak in the month of September. Klefot has now charted 10 or more digs in 12 matches this season and 50 in her career. With 34 digs this weekend, she moved into eighth place all-time at Kentucky with 1,062 career scoops. Furthermore, Klefot's serve-receive line continues to be incredible. She received a team-high 42 serves in UK's two victories and did not commit an error.
Men's golf: Cody Martin
Finished in second at the UK Bluegrass Fall Invitational with a final score of 1-over par.
For the second-straight tournament, Martin led the Wildcats with the lowest score on the team.
Led UK to the team title at the UK Bluegrass Fall Invitational.
Men's tennis: Alex Musialek
Musialek had a great start to the fall season, earning two wins over ranked foes at the Olympia Fields Invitational. The senior defeated No. 113 Ben Chen of Texas and No. 45 Nick Andrews of California at the event. Musialek went 3-1 at the tournament with his only loss coming to No. 7 Dennis Nevolo.
Football: Morgan Newton
Set career highs by completing 27 of 41 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns.
Volleball: Lauren O'Conner
Freshman Lauren O'Conner continues to soar for the Wildcats, this time charting a team-high 22 kills and committing just four errors on 57 attempts in UK's 2-0 week. O'Conner tallied a career-high 14 kills in UK's victory over Georgia to keep UK's record in the month of September unscathed. She also charted her first career service ace in the victory as well. Furthermore, O'Conner's .364 hitting clip against Georgia matches a career-high. O'Conner has been a consistent performer for the Blue and White with at least seven or more kills in Kentucky's nine consecutive victories. She has posted six matches with 10 or more kills in that stretch.
Cross country: Luis Orta
Won the Tennessee Invitational, his second-consecutive first-place finish this season.
Led the men's team to its second team title in as many events this year.
Men's soccer: Tyler Riggs
Sophomore star Tyler Riggs continued his breakout season with three goals during No. 29 UK's conquest of the 2011 Gamecock Classic ... Riggs led UK to a 2-1 win over High Point on Friday and a shelling of No. 15 Brown, 5-1 on Sunday ... A native of Louisville, Ky., Riggs netted the first goal of the game vs. High Point on Friday, putting UK in position to win the Gamecock Classic with a match with Brown Sunday ... Riggs led UK to the dominating win, netting two goals as UK posted its second win over a top-15 foe in 2011 ... He sparked UK's first five-goal outing since the season opener in 2008 ... In the win Sunday vs. Brown, Riggs fired a six shots in just over 80 minutes, with all six coming on target ... Riggs' three goals came against two quality opponents, as No. 15 Brown finished in the NCAA Elite Eight in 2010 and High Point is coming off a 16-win season and an unbeaten slate in conference play ... Through nine games, Riggs has an eye-popping eight goals and four assists, ranking among the NCAA leaders in goals scored ... Riggs was honored with NSCAA Player of the Week, C-USA Offensive Player of the Week and Soccer America National Player of the week honors during the opening weekend after helping UK claim the 2011 UK Invitational Championship.
Men's tennis: Anthony Rossi
Rossi, who is ranked No. 95 in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, had an impressive run to the Duke Fab Four singles title, earning arguably the best singles win of his career in the semifinals on Saturday when he took down Duke's top-ranked player and No. 4-ranked Henrique Cunha. Rossi wrapped up the tournament with a dominating 6-3, 6-3 win over Luke Marchese to claim the tournament title.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes.
These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Apr. 17:
Softball: Chanda Bell
Junior Chanda Bell had an impressive performance in helping UK to a pair of wins over Tennessee Tech and run its season record to 31 wins. Bell suffered a minor injury earlier in the week and was held out of the Marshall series for precautionary reasons.
She entered the Tennessee Tech game in the top of the fifth to toss an inning of relief and help preserve the shutout. Bell threw just nine pitches - all strikes to sit down the Golden Eagles in order with three straight strikeouts.
The right-hander was called into duty in the nightcap of the doubleheader with UK trailing 2-1, with the bases loaded and one out in the third. Bell promptly entered the game and forced consecutive strikeouts to work her way out of the jam. She yielded her lone hit in the fourth frame as the Golden Eagles benefited from an error in the inning that would have ended the threat.
From there, however, Bell was unstoppable. She tossed the remaining six innings of extra-inning ball flawlessly. She did not allow a single base runner the rest of the way, and went on to throw 16 strikeouts - to match her own UK single-game high. She has now thrown 10 or more strikeouts in 32 career games. Her 19 strikeouts helped push her single-season total to 176, which is the third highest number for a single season in UK history (with Bell owning the first two spots as well).
Softball: Lauren Cumbess
Freshman Lauren Cumbess was a two-way threat for the Wildcats in helping lead UK to a 4-0 week. Cumbess was a game-changer at the plate and led the pitching staff with two wins on the week. At the dish, she batted .500, which included a game-tying single in the sixth inning. With UK trailing 3-2 to Tennessee Tech in the nightcap, Cumbess was inserted into the lineup in a pinch-hitting situation and delivered an RBI-single into left field to plate the game-tying run and help UK complete the eventual comeback. In the circle, Cumbess worked 9.0 innings of action on the week, earning two victories. She gave up under one hit an inning, while allowing just one walk and striking out seven. She teamed with relief pitcher Chanda Bell for her third shutout of the season in the opening win of the Tennessee Tech series.
Men's golf: Chase Parker
Sophomore Chase Parker saved his best day at the Southeastern Conference Championships for last, earning a 1-under-par 69 to finish the 54-hole tournament tied for 12th. The native of Augusta, Ga., had four birdies in the final round. Parker finished the tournament at 5-over-par 215 for his second consecutive top-22 showing at the SEC Championships.
Softball: Rachel Riley
Junior Rachel Riley was instrumental in leading UK to a 4-0 week and helping eclipse the 30-win plateau for the third consecutive season -a feat never before achieved in school history. Riley paced the team with a .538 batting average and three homers on the week. She currently owns a career-long hitting streak of six games and has reached base safely in eight straight contests.
In the nightcap of a doubleheader with Marshall, Riley became the fourth different UK player to hit two home runs in a single game with a pair of blasts in the first and sixth innings. Riley also earned the win on the mound in that game as she worked 5.0 innings of relief action to post her ninth victory of the season.
In the nightcap of a doubleheader with Tennessee Tech, Riley provided additional heroics for the Blue and White. With UK trailing 3-1, Riley came up with her third home run of the week to bridge the game to just one run with the solo shot in the fourth frame. Riley's six homers on the season is a new career-best in that category. Riley has also bested her career-highs in runs scored, hits, doubles, RBI, total bases and walks in her junior campaign.
Men's tennis: Anthony Rossi
Completed Kentucky's come-from-behind win against No. 29 Vanderbilt in its regular-season finale by posting a comeback win at No. 5 singles in a three-set tiebreaker. With UK trailing 3-1, the Wildcats earned three consecutive points with Rossi finishing off the Commodores by winning the third-set tiebreaker 7-4. The win continued Rossi's undefeated streak in Southeastern Conference play. The Frenchmen is now 8-0 this season against SEC foes.
Softball - With a 4-0 week the No. 18 Kentucky softball team eclipsed the 30-win plateau for the third consecutive season, a feat never achieved before in school history. - Junior Rachel Riley blasted two home runs in the nightcap of a sweep of Marshall. She became the fourth different UK player to hit two long balls in a single outing. Riley also picked up the win in the circle, working 5.0 innings of relief. - Junior Brittany Cervantes hit two home runs this week to run her season total to 13. She is now just two round trippers shy of breaking Molly Johnson's career home run record. - Junior hurler Chanda Bell worked 8.2 innings of action over the Tennessee Tech series. She threw 19 strikeouts, including 16 in a victory during the second game to match her own single-game record in that category. - Freshman Lauren Cumbess secured the win in the circle in the opening game of the TTU series. She then delivered a game-tying RBI single in the sixth inning to help UK force extra innings to set the stage for senior Samantha DeMartine's walk-off homer in the 10th in the nightcap.
Men's tennis - Kentucky completed another come-from-behind victory Saturday at No. 29 Vanderbilt, coming back to grab a 4-3 win in its regular-season finale against the Commodores in Nashville, Tenn. With the win, Kentucky clinched the No. 3 seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Gainesville, Fla. The Wildcats will receive a bye in the first round before facing either South Carolina or Auburn on Friday morning at 9 ET. - The win moves the Wildcats to 5-1 on the road in SEC play and 8-4 overall away from home. The win moves UK to 14-7 against teams ranked in the top 50 this season. Kentucky's 8-3 record in SEC play marks the second consecutive year that UK has posted eight SEC wins. UK has also earned a top-four seed in the SEC Tournament in back-to-back seasons. - Kentucky posted the win over Vandy after four solid singles wins from No. 3 Eric Quigley, No. 56 Alex Musialek, No. 88 Alberto Gonzalez and No. 117 Anthony Rossi. Quigley paced the Wildcats by taking down a top-30 ranked player, while Rossi clinched the match in a three-set thriller.
Baseball - The Kentucky baseball team completed a four-game week on Sunday, highlighted by a win at No. 28 Louisville on Tuesday night. The Wildcats traveled to Ole Miss for the weekend series, with the Rebels sweeping the series. - UK fell in the three-game series at Ole Miss by a combined four runs, with two one-run losses and a two-run loss on Saturday. - The Wildcats have been led offensively by senior shortstop Taylor Black, who has batted .346 with 12 doubles, two triples, one homer and 24 RBI, stealing 10 bases. - On the mound, Alex Meyer (3-5, 3.59 ERA) leads UK in innings pitched (62.2) and strikeouts (71), tossing nine starts and two complete games.
Track and field - Senior Keenan Hall was awarded the Tony Wilson Memorial Trophy for being the most outstanding male field athlete during the meet. Hall won the men's triple jump with a personal-best mark of 15.56-meter/51-00.7 and finished second in the long jump at 7.46m/24-05.75. - Senior Sharif Webb won the 800m run with a time of 1:49.32, marking his second victory in two chances this season, after winning with a school-record and SEC-leading time of 1:47.19 at the Florida Relays. - Freshman Allison Peare posted a career-best time of 2:09.64 in the 800m to take fourth, drawing closer to the freshman school record of 2:06.47, set in 1986. - Senior Colin Boevers claimed two top-five finishes during the meet, collecting third in the discus and fourth in the shot put. Boevers, an All-America honoree in the discus throw last year, threw 53.44m/175-04 to capture the bronze. In the shot put, the senior made a long toss of 15.97m/52-04.75 to grab fourth. - Junior Precious Nwokey rounded out her first heptathlon competition in 2011 as the second-place finisher with 5,309 points. Nwokey holds the school record in the event with a total score of 5,543.
Men's golf - The Kentucky men's golf team finished the SEC Championships in ninth place after sophomore Chase Parker and freshman Stephen Powers each finished in the top 20. - Parker shot a 1-under-par 69 in the final round to end the 54-hole tournament tied for 12th, while Powers earned his second consecutive top-22 finish by ending his first SEC Championship appearance tied for 19th. - Kentucky concludes the 2010-11 season with four top-three finishes as a team, increasing the total number of top-three finishes under 10-year head coach Brian Craig to 35. Individually, UK players earned 14 top-20 finishes during the year, including Belden who had a team-high five top-20 finishes.
Women's golf - Kentucky finished 10th in the SEC Women's Golf Championships. - Sophomore Betsie Johnson led UK with a 10-over par 226 to finish in 23rd place individually. - Johnson found success on Auburn University Club's four par 5 holes. The Nicholasville, Ky., native was 3-under par on the par 5s. - UK will learn if it has been invited to the NCAA Championships on a conference call on April 25 at 6 p.m. ET.
Women's tennis - The Cats fell to No. 18 Vanderbilt 5-2 on Senior Day Saturday. Megan Broderick, Lauren Meier and Nicole Scates were recognized on Senior Day. - Broderick won a thrilling match over No. 76 Alex Leatu in her final match at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. - Sophomore Jessica Stiles turned in the most dominating performance of her collegiate career with a straight sets 6-0, 6-0 victory at No. 2 singles. Stiles' win was her 10th singles victory this season, the most on the team and her fourth conference win. - The Cats are the No. 10 seed in the SEC Tournament and will face No. 7 seed LSU in the opening round in Knoxville, Tenn., on Thursday.
Tuesday, April 19 Softball hosts Eastern Kentucky - 4 p.m. Baseball at Western Kentucky - 7 p.m.
Wednesday, April 20 Softball hosts Louisville - 6 p.m.
Thursday, April 21 Women's tennis vs. LSU - 6 p.m. (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Friday, April 22 Men's tennis vs. South Carolina/Auburn - 9 a.m. (Gainesville, Fla.) Baseball hosts Arkansas - 6:30 p.m. Softball at South Carolina - 7 p.m. Track and field at UCSD Triton Invitational (La Jolla, Calif.) Women's tennis at SEC Tournament (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Satruday, April 23 Football hosts Blue/White Spring Game - 3 p.m. Softball at South Carolina - 4 p.m. Baseball hosts Arkansas - 7 p.m. Women's tennis at SEC Tournament (Knoxville, Tenn.) Men's tennis at SEC Tournament (Gainesville, Fla.) Track and field at UCSD Triton Invitational (La Jolla, Calif.) Track and field at Jesse Owens Invitational (Columbus, Ohio)
Sunday, April 24 Baseball hosts Arkansas - 1 p.m. Softball at South Carolina - 1 p.m. Women's tennis at SEC Tournament (Knoxville, Tenn.) Men's tennis at SEC Tournament (Gainesville, Fla.) Track and field at Jesse Owens Invitational (Columbus, Ohio)
Softball - Juniors Chanda Bell and Rachel Riley threw consecutive perfect games in wins at Austin Peay. Bell's became the first registered perfect game in school history as she struck out 15 of a possible 18 outs. - During Riley's perfect pitching accomplishment, she was also perfect at the plate with a 4-for-4 day while matching a single-game record with six RBI. - Junior Ashleigh Gustafson charted her first career hit launching a three-run homer in the opening win over the Lady Govs. - Junior Brittany Cervantes totaled at least one RBI in all five games this week as she moved into 10th on the UK single-season list with 38 RBI for the season.
Men's tennis - The Kentucky men's tennis team earned three victories throughout the week, defeating No. 30 LSU, No. 75 Arkansas and in-state rival Morehead State. Kentucky went 3-1 on the week overall, with its only loss coming in a 4-3 decision to No. 3 Ohio State. - Kentucky ends its regular-season home schedule with an impressive 16-3 record at the Boone, including an 8-3 mark against teams ranked in the top 75. With the win against top-30 ranked LSU, UK moves to 13-7 this season against teams ranked in the top 50 in the nation. - No. 7 Eric Quigley led the Wildcats all week with a 3-0 singles record, taking down No. 3 Blaz Rola of Ohio State and defeating two quality SEC opponents at No. 1 singles. Seniors Alberto Gonzalez and Brad Cox also performed well in their final home matches of their UK career with Gonzalez going 2-0 in singles and 2-1 in doubles. Cox was brilliant for the Wildcats in singles Friday and Sunday, earning straight-set wins both days. - Kentucky was solid in doubles all week, winning all three doubles points. Cox and Quigley went 3-0 in doubles, defeating two top-15 ranked tandems, while Frenchmen Anthony Rossi and Alex Musialek went 2-1. Freshman Alejandro Gomez teamed up with Gonzalez on Friday and Sunday in doubles to go 2-0, including clinching the doubles point against Arkansas.
Baseball - The Kentucky baseball team completed a four-game week with a series sweep at the hands of defending SEC Western Division Champion Auburn. UK also picked up a midweek win over Xavier. - UK suffered its ninth consecutive loss in conference play, the longest streak since starting SEC play 0-9 in 2005. - UK completed a great offensive week by scoring 34 runs through four games, including belting nine homers. UK hit six homers in the series vs. the Tigers, with AU entering the weekend having allowed only eight round trippers on the year. - The Wildcats have been led offensively by junior two-way star Braden Kapteyn, who has hit .339 with four homers and 33 RBI through 33 games.
Track and field - Kentucky contributed six first-place victories for the Commonwealth in the Border Battle, including wins in the men's 110-meter hurdles, 4x400m relay, long jump and triple jump, and the women's 400m dash and discus throw. - There were several bright spots for Kentucky on a windy, storm-filled day and none more than a first-place finish in the men's long jump by senior Keenan Hall. The Indianapolis native put together a career-best performance with a long jump of 7.58m/24-10.50 that shot him straight to No. 3 on UK's all-time long jump mark list. Hall also finished second in the men's triple jump with a jump of 15.23m/49-11.75 - In similar fashion a trio of men's hurdlers finished first, second and fourth in the 110m hurdles with junior Keith Hayes leading the way. - Bradshaw finished second in the 110 hurdles with a time 14.66 followed by Brandon Bagley in fourth with a time of 15.07. - Jenna Martin claimed a win in the 400m dash with a time of 52.94. - The Wildcats' sixth win came from senior Mary Angell in the discus throw. Angell had a long throw of 51.07m/167-06.75, which was just shy of her season-best throw of 51.34m/168-05.
Men's golf - The Kentucky men's golf team hosted the fourth annual UK Bluegrass Invitational this weekend at the University Club of Kentucky. The Wildcats performed well at the event, finishing in second place just a few strokes behind SEC foe and sixth-ranked Auburn. - Kentucky was led at the tournament by freshman Stephen Powers, who finished second after tying the tournament-record score for 18 holes with a 65 in the second round. The 6-under-par round was the lowest of the tournament by any player and put Powers on top of the leaderboard after 36 holes. The freshman ended the tournament with a 2-over-par 215. - Four other Wildcats finished in the top 35, including sophomore Chase Parker tied for seventh, senior Brian Belden tied for 16th, junior Mads Kristensen tied for 21st and freshman Cody Martin tied for 35th. - The top-three finish for the Wildcats is the third of the season and the 35th since head coach Brian Craig took over the program in 2001. UK's team score of 876 was the second lowest of the season and its second-round team score of 288 is tied for the third-lowest round of the year.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team dropped a pair of road matches over the weekend, losing to Arkansas 6-1 on Friday and LSU 5-2 on Sunday. - Freshman Khristina Blajkevitch earned her ninth singles victory of the season against Arkansas. The win was also Blajkevitch's sixth win in SEC play, a team high. - Sophomore Jessica Stiles won her ninth singles victory of the season against LSU on Sunday. Blajkevitch and Stiles' nine singles victories are tops on the team. - Freshman Caitlin McGraw defeated LSU's Ebie Wilson after Wilson had to retire in the second set. - Saturday's match against Vanderbilt will be Senior Day for Megan Broderick, Lauren Meier and Nicole Scates.
Tuesday, April 12 Baseball at Louisville - 6 p.m.
Wednesday, April 13 Softball at Marshall (DH) - 3 p.m.
Friday, April 15 Baseball at Ole Miss - 7:30 p.m. Men's golf at SEC Championship (St. Simons Island, Ga.) Women's golf at SEC Championship (Auburn, Ala.)
Saturday, April 16 Softball hosts Tennessee Tech (DH) - 1 p.m. Men's tennis at Vanderbilt - 2 p.m. Women's tennis hosts Vanderbilt - 4 p.m. Baseball at Ole Miss - 5 p.m. Men's golf at SEC Championship (St. Simons Island, Ga.) Women's golf at SEC Championship (Auburn, Ala.)
Sunday, April 17 Baseball at Ole Miss - 2:30 p.m. Men's golf at SEC Championship (St. Simons Island, Ga.) Women's golf at SEC Championship (Auburn, Ala.)
Men's basketball - Kentucky finishes its season at 29-9. - The Wildcats end the season having advanced to their 14th Final Four, while posting their 55th 20-win season and winning their 27th SEC Tournament title. - John Calipari is one of only two coaches to lead three different schools to the Final Four. - UK is now 105-46 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and is tied for first with the most NCAA Tournament wins. - The 75,421 fans in attendance for the UK-UConn game was an NCAA Final Four single-game record. - Junior Darius Miller hit a 3-pointer in 25 straight games to finish the season and connected from long range in 36 of 38 games this season. - Brandon Knight closed his rookie season with a UK freshman scoring record of 657 points, and 87 made 3s, also a UK freshman record.
Gymnastics - Behind a season-high score on balance beam of 48.9, the University of Kentucky gymnastics team posted its highest team score at a NCAA Regional in school history with a 195.175 in a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional in Coleman Coliseum at Tuscaloosa, Ala. - Kentucky's team score at the meet surpassed its previous NCAA Regional high mark of 195.150, which helped UK earn a fourth-place finish in the 2001 NCAA Regional. The Wildcats had not scored a 195 team score or above since the 2001 season. - The Wildcats were impressive on all four events at the meet, but earned its highest event score on balance beam, posting a season-high score of 48.9. Junior Storey Morris led all UK gymnasts on the event with a 9.85, surpassing her career high of 9.825, while freshman Audrey Harrison scored a 9.8 for her highest career mark.
Softball - Kentucky swept No. 5 Florida for the first time in school history to claim its fourth SEC series of the season, matching a program record. - Senior Meagan Aull entered the weekend with six career home runs and connected with four in propeling UK's offense to 26 runs on the weekend. Aull had a homer in all three games, including two in the first inning of the final win. She became the first player in school history to hit two long balls in the same inning. - While completing the sweep, UK coach Rachel Lawson won her 200th career game as a head coach. - UK currently ranks second overall in the SEC and first in the Eastern Division.
Baseball - The baseball team completed a four-game week, posting a midweek win over Tennessee Tech, before falling in three games at defending NCAA champion, No. 3 South Carolina. - Kentucky rode a 4-for-4, four-runs-scored outing from senior shortstop Taylor Black in the win over TTU on Tuesday, posting an 11-8 result. - As a team, the Wildcats have posted a .294 batting average through 29 games, owning a 3.83 ERA with eight saves in 254 innings, striking out 237.
Men's tennis - With the match tied 3-3 and the final singles match in a decisive third-set tiebreaker, University of Kentucky freshman Tom Jomby earned arguably his biggest collegiate win of his young career by defeating Andrew Butz to give No. 14 Kentucky a 4-3 win over No. 15 Florida at the Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Fla. - The win gives Kentucky its first victory over the Gators since the 2002 season and its first win in Gainesville since 1992 when the Wildcats took down Florida in the NCAA Tournament. UK's last regular-season win at Florida was in 1988. - Kentucky continued its winning ways Sunday, taking down South Carolina 5-2 for its 20th win of the season. - UK now has back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since UK earned three consecutive from 1987-89. All told, it is Kentucky's 18th 20-win season in school history and the 12th under longtime head coach Dennis Emery.
Track and field - Senior middle-distance runner Sharif Webb won the 800-meter run for the second consecutive year while setting Kentucky's 800m record and snapping a 25-year old Florida Relays record with a time os 1:47.19. - Sophomore distance runner Cally Macumber earned UK's second win of the Florida Relays with a personal-best time of 4:24.32. - A pair of discus throwers grabbed top-four finishes, with senior Mary Angell (51.34m/168-05) finishing third overall in the women's discus and senior Colin Boevers (57.26m/187-10) fourth on the men's side. - Junior Luis Orta also had a top-five finish, completing the 3,000m steeplechase in 9:01.54 to claim fourth.
Men's golf - UK men's golf freshman Cody Martin posted his third top-25 finish of the spring season as the Wildcats finished 14th in the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate at Bulls Bay Golf Club in Awendaw, S.C. - Martin was again impressive for Kentucky, scoring the lowest round of the day for the Wildcats with a 1-over-par 72. The three-day score of 216 is the lowest of the season for Martin, who has finished as UK's top golfer in the last three events. - Fellow freshman Stephen Powers carded three birdies in the final round and eight for the tournament, posting a career-low score of 221.
Women's golf - Kentucky recorded its second-lowest round of the spring season Sunday. As a team, UK improved each round of the tournament and finished 19th. - Sophomore Ashleigh Albrecht led the Cats for the third time this spring season, finishing 35th overall. She carded her third-lowest round of the spring during the final round on Sunday.
Women's tennis - Kentucky lost to No. 2 Florida 7-0 Friday and fell to No. 38 South Carolina 6-1 Sunday. - Freshman Khristina Blajkevitch won her team-leading eighth singles victory against South Carolina on Sunday. Blajkevitch's win was also her fifth in conference action, the most on the team.
Tuesday, April 5 Baseball hosts Xavier - 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 6 Men's tennis hosts Ohio State - 3 p.m. Softball at Austin Peay (DH) - 6 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Morehead State - 8 p.m.
Friday, April 8 Women's tennis at Arkansas - 1 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Arkansas - 3 p.m. Softball at Georgia - 6:30 p.m. Baseball hosts Auburn - 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 9 Softball at Georgia - 2:30 p.m. Baseball hosts Auburn - 6:30 p.m. Track and field at Kentuckiana Border Battle (Louisville, Ky.) Men's golf hosts UK Bluegrass Invitational
Sunday, April 10 Baseball hosts Auburn - 1 p.m. Women's tennis at LSU - 1 p.m. Men's tennis hosts LSU - 1 p.m. Softball at Georgia - 1:30 p.m. Men's golf hosts UK Bluegrass Invitational
Men's basketball - Kentucky advances to the Final Four for the 14th time in program history and the first time since the 1998 season. - John Calipari joins Rick Pitino as the only coach in NCAA history to lead three different teams to the Final Four. - Kentucky is the first team to lose the No. 1 overall pick (John Wall) to the NBA Draft and make the Final Four the following season since Virginia lost Ralph Sampson in 1984. - UK hit 12 3-pointers in the regional final against North Carolina, which is tied for the fifth most in an NCAA Tournament game for Kentucky. - Brandon Knight was named the East Region Most Outstanding Player. Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins joined him on the All-Tournament team.
Softball - Kentucky swept Mississippi State in SEC action for the second time in three seasons and captured the series over the Bulldogs for the third straight season. - In the series-clincher, junior pitcher Chanda Bell threw UK's first no-hitter in SEC action in an 8-0 victory. Bell struck out 11 in the win. It was the second no-hitter of the season for UK's hurler. - Kentucky hit four homers in the opening game of the series to set a program record for the most long balls in a single outing. Megan Yocke, Brittany Cervantes, Lauren Cumbess and Rachel Riley all connected for a homer in the win.
Baseball - Kentucky posted a pair of wins during the midweek, riding a 4-2 win over Cincinnati and a 12-4 win over Canisius on Wednesday. The Wildcats then traveled to Alabama for its first road series in SEC play on the year. 'Bama rode a complete-game shutout performance from ace right-hander Nathan Kilcrease on Friday and took advantage of a UK error in the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off win on Saturday. In the Sunday game, 'Bama plated four runs in the first inning and the Wildcats couldn't recover, falling in a series sweep with a 9-3 loss. - The Wildcats have been led by freshman J.T. Riddle, who has batted .349 with five doubles, two homers and 11 RBI. Outfielder Chad Wright hit .348 with three homers and 19 RBI, adding 11 stolen bases. Senior shortstop Taylor Black hit .317 with six doubles, two triples, one homer and 19 RBI, while center fielder Brian Adams has hit .306 with six doubles, eight RBI and five steals. - As a team, UK has hit .302 through 25 games with 17 homers and 144 runs scored, adding 43 stolen bases and a .973 fielding percentage. On the mound, UK owns a 3.93 team ERA with eight saves and 208 strikeouts in 219.2 innings.
Men's tennis - The Kentucky men's tennis team wrapped up a seven-match home stand this week with dominating wins over No. 43 Maryland and Eastern Kentucky. The Wildcats dropped it's lone SEC match of the week 4-1 to Auburn. - The win over Maryland was Kentucky's 11th this season over a top-50 ranked team and the two non-conference home wins extended UK's home non-conference winning streak to 25 matches. - Freshman Tom Jomby was named SEC Freshman of the Week last week for his efforts two weeks ago with Kentucky's wins over Notre Dame, Butler and Alabama.
Women's tennis - Kentucky won all three doubles matches en route to a 6-1 win over Auburn, with senior Megan Broderick and freshman Khristina Blajkevitch clinching the doubles point and grabbing their team-leading fourth victory at the No. 1 position. - Broderick won her eighth victory in singles play with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Auburn's Paulina Schippers at No. 1. Broderick leads Kentucky with three victories in SEC competition. - Blajkevitch earned a win over Auburn and was also the lone player to capture a victory in the loss to Alabama.
Swimming and diving - Freshman diver Greg Ferrucci placed 33rd on the one-meter board at the NCAA Championships before suffering a quad injury that forced him to withdraw from the remaining competition. - Senior forward Victoria Dunlap has been selected as one of the top 40 finalists for the 2011 State Farm Coaches' All-America Team, as announced by The Women's Basketball Coaches Association, in cooperation with State Farm. The finalists, who are voted upon by WBCA-member coaches in each of the eight WBCA geographical regions, are now in the running for selection to the 10-member State Farm Coaches' All-America Team.
Monday, March 28 Men's golf at Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegaite (Awendaw, S.C.)
Tuesday, March 29 Baseball hosts Tennessee Tech - 4 p.m. Men's golf at Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegaite (Awendaw, S.C.)
Friday, April 1 Men's tennis at Florida - 3 p.m. Women's tennis hosts Florida - 4 p.m. Softball hosts Florida - 7 p.m. Baseball at South Carolina • 7 p.m. Women's golf at Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic (Athens, Ga.) Track and field at Florida Relays
Saturday, April 2 Softball hosts Florida - 1 p.m. Baseball at South Carolina - 4:30 p.m. Gymnastics at NCAA Regional - 7 p.m. (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) Men's basketball vs. Connecticut • 8:49 p.m. (Houston) Women's golf at Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic (Athens, Ga.) Track and field at Florida Relays
Sunday, April 3 Women's tennis hosts South Carolina - noon Softball hosts Florida - 1 p.m. Men's tennis at South Carolina - 1 p.m. Baseball at South Carolina - 1:30 p.m. Women's golf at Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic (Athens, Ga.) Men's basketball vs. VCU/Butler - 9 p.m. (Houston)
NEWARK, N.J. -- The pride of Kentucky has returned to a place it hasn't been in far too long.
The longest Final Four drought of college basketball's winningest program came to one jubilant end Sunday night in Newark, N.J. The Kentucky men's basketball team, the Commonwealth's team as John Calipari likes to say, is headed back to the Final Four for the first time since 1998.
Long has the UK program been the standard in college basketball. As the sport's all-time winningest program and holder of seven national titles, excellence is demanded of the Kentucky basketball team and Final Fours are expected.
It's an annual tradition for the Kentucky basketball players, no matter how highly touted or undervalued they are, to take on both the honor and burden of trying to return to college basketball's greatest stage ever year.
In the 1990s, it seemed like a formality UK would be there every year. The program made it to the national semifinals four times in the '90s, including three straight from 1996-98.
Kentucky hadn't returned since and wasn't expected to again this year.
This was supposed to be the bridge year between two great teams -- last year's fabulous freshman team of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe and next year's unprecedented signing class.
"I think we had the most talented team in the NCAA by far last year, position by position" Harrellson said. "This year, I just think we play with more passion and more heart than we did last year."
Rebuilding isn't all that acceptable in the Kentucky program, but it appeared this season was exactly that when UK started to stumble through Southeastern Conference play in January and February and lost four of seven games. When Kentucky dropped a game at Arkansas in mid-February, surely nobody thought an NCAA Tournament run was possible, much less a run to the Final Four.
And yet here they are. The Unexpectables? Yeah, you could call them that.
"We knew we were special, we knew we were talented," sophomore reserve Jon Hood said. "We just had to get it on the right path. We had to complete games down the stretch. Once we did it, started doing it in the SEC Tournament, we knew we could do it."
Hood, a Kentucky native, knows a thing or two about the importance of the basketball team in the state of Kentucky. Growing up on the gravel driveways of Madisonville, Ky., hoisting shots on rickety rims while he watched players like Antoine Walker and Tony Delk cut down the nets in the '90s, he knows that, as the lifeblood of the Commonwealth, the heartbeat of the state beats a little softer, a little slower when the Wildcats aren't at the top of college basketball.
As Final Four chance after Final Four chance eluded the program -- in 1999 against Michigan State, in 2003 versus Marquette, in 2005 against Michigan State and again last year versus West Virginia -- it looked as though Kentucky's grip on the college basketball world was slipping.
Remember, two years ago, before Kentucky hired the program's savior, Calipari, this team was in the NIT. No disrespect, but the National freakin' Invitation Tournament!!!
"We went to the NIT and we are here now and back in the Final Four," said Harrellson, an All-East Regional performer. "We got Kentucky back."
Back where it belongs.
"It means a lot to me, especially being a part of this program," said Darius Miller, another Kentucky native, who was 8 years old the last time UK was in the Final Four. "I grew up in Kentucky, so I know what it means to the state of Kentucky. I'm just happy to be a part of it."
Emotions sank in everywhere in the closing seconds at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. A far less entertaining team than last year's group of rascals, and by far a much more reserved group, the team let loose in the final seconds.
Calipari kissed the sweaty forehead of DeAndre Liggins. The players embraced at the free-throw line. Stacey Poole, as always, jumped, hooted and hollered.
When the buzzer sounded, the dancing began on the court and continued onto the stage. T-shirts waved, Big Blue chants roared and Miller headed to the stands to hug his father. Even the great salesman of Kentucky basketball, Calipari, was left speechless when a reporter pointed out that you're either going to the Final Four a year early or a Final Four too late.
In Lexington, pictures and video surfaced on the web as fans stormed the streets of Limestone and Maxwell.
"Man," Miller said, "we know they're going crazy back home."
They were. Thousands of fans greeted the fans as the Wildcats got off the plane at Blue Grass Airport and Josh Harrellson climbed some airline equipment to hoist the East Regional trophy
The fans have lived, they've died and they've waited a long time for this. The Kentucky players have waited an even longer time to return to the ladder and snip a piece of that nylon.
Liggins, donned with an East Regional championship hat, made his way up the ladder in the postgame to get himself a piece. Sure, he's done it a few times for the SEC championship, but that's not what the Kentucky program is measured by, what it's about.