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Unanimous national player of the year AJ Reed is back at UK this weekend. The UK baseball star and new Houston Astro will be honored this weekend for his historic season and memorable career as the Wildcats take on No. 1 Mississippi State in football. UK baseball will host a tailgate starting at 1:30 p.m. to celebrate Reed and he will be recognized on the field during the game.

Reed caught up with the local media on Friday afternoon to talk about the start of his professional career, his historic season and the state of the UK program.



On Thursday, Mark Stoops spoke to the media for the final time before Kentucky's matchup with Mississippi State.

Once again, the UK coaching staff left the practice field happy with the Wildcats' work.

"Guys have been good all week," Stoops said. "We've had good energy and good practices, so hopefully we'll get a few mistakes cleaned up. Seems like we have, and looking forward to a great game here Saturday."

A great game and, if Stoops is right, a great atmosphere as well.

Asked about the opportunity to play against the nation's top-ranked team at home, Stoops repeated that he's excited to take the field in front of a big crowd at Commonwealth Stadium.

"Well, I think we're starting to create a great environment at home and we're looking forward to that, so obviously, always a lot nicer playing at home than at some of these venues in the SEC," Stoops said. "It's pretty challenging. So hopefully we'll get some good home-field advantage and it will help us."

Mississippi State's ranking has added to the anticipation for Saturday's game on the part of fans, but the No. 1 next to the Bulldogs' name only means so much to coaches and players.

"A big game's a big game," Stoops said. "You kind of feel it in the air and the energy and the practice and the focus, so they're really all big games. Once you get to the point where we're doing what we're doing and trying to win a bunch of games, then they're all important. We've got a tough stretch and this is our next one."

Video: Men's basketball goes to SEC Media Day

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Video: Pack Commonwealth for Mississippi State

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Video: UK Hoops at SEC Media Day

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As much as he may have wanted to, Neal Brown couldn't just throw away the tape from a blowout at LSU on Saturday.

Even though it's a painful reminder, there's too much to be gained from looking back at the loss for a young Kentucky team.

"If we had a veteran team, hey, we may have came in and not even watched the video," Brown said. "Really. And just said, hey, we're better than that, let's go. But I think where we're at, especially on offense, we've got to learn from those mistakes, or you repeat them."

UK began the business of correcting those mistakes on Monday and Tuesday, with a practice on both days. Some tough coaching has resulted, but it's all geared toward preparing the Cats to play their best game on Saturday against Mississippi State.

"When we met yesterday, we were hard on those guys because we've got to be better," Brown said. "In those type of games and those type of atmospheres, we've got to be better. Why did things go wrong? Here's why, now let's go out and fix them."

The issues on offense, according to quarterback Patrick Towles, were across the board. UK, however, is on their way to fixing them.

"We just didn't really make plays," Towles said. "The coaches can call a perfect play, but you need to execute. We didn't execute at any level at any position, which you're going to get beat by everybody if you don't do that. We executed really good today. We'll build on that tomorrow so come Saturday we're ready to rock."

The Cats don't have much choice about whether to be ready if they want to win with the top-ranked Bulldogs coming to town. Both Brown and Towles said Mississippi State's defensive line and linebackers represent a challenge the likes of which UK has not yet seen, even against LSU and Florida.

"I think they've got the best front seven that we've played against, maybe the best in the league," Brown said. "I haven't seen them all yet, but their front seven is very talented, d-tackles, they go four deep there and they're big."

Video: 'Kentucky Basketball Is Here'

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The hard-working folks at UK Sports Video are at it again, this time producing a video to get you excited for basketball season, as if you weren't already. Check it out.


Video: Complete men's basketball Madness intros

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Winning five of six to open 2014, confidence was never a concern for Mark Stoops.

After Kentucky's only blowout loss of the season at LSU on Saturday, Stoops knows he needs to think about his team's psyche for the first time.

"You worry about it and we need to address it, because, you know, you're going to go through ups and downs, you're going to lose some games," Stoops said. "When you self-inflict against a good team--and I'm not taking anything away from LSU because they flat beat us across the board, but when you make a lot of mistakes, you can have a tendency to lose confidence."

The mistakes, in a 41-3 defeat, were plentiful.

They started on special teams, where a series of errors played a role in all 27 of LSU's first-half points. The Tigers scored on four offensive possessions before halftime and they started, on average, at the UK 42.8-yard line due to three long returns, a personal foul and a squib kick recovered by LSU. The other seven points came on a punt returned for a touchdown.

"There's mistakes that can and will be corrected," Stoops said. "We've all made our mistakes this year, offensively, defensively, special teams. Again, they're magnified against a very talented team on the road, and when you open the game that way, it doesn't set the tone. That's not what you want. So they're magnified but they're things that can and will be fixed."

The miscues on special teams served to nullify a defensive effort by UK that Stoops says was better than the box score may suggest. LSU piled up 303 rushing yards, but the Tigers needed 51 carries to do it and did much of their damage once the outcome was well in hand.

After reviewing the film from Saturday, Stoops was able to see that.

"I don't think we were physically dominated on the field and, again, you just look at, hey, they ran the ball for 300 yards, you're not generally going to win a lot of games when teams run for 300 yards," Stoops said. "We know that's not acceptable but there are a lot of good, physical plays in there by our defensive guys."  

UK (5-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) will carry that awareness into an important week of practice leading up to a home matchup against Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0 SEC). To compete with the top-ranked Bulldogs, the Cats can't afford to let their confidence slip in the least.

"I told you, other times, speaking to you and to our team, we've gotten beyond the belief, then it's about execution and doing things and then we go out and don't do it very well," Stoops said. "So now we got to make sure they don't slip back and start doubting, and it goes back to preparation and work and controlling the things we can control."

Stoops has a measure of control over that confidence, but he also knows predicting how the LSU loss will affect his team is an inexact science. Even so, he has a pretty clear idea how the Cats will react.

"I think because we got whooped and had because we made some mental mistakes, sometimes that can shake somebody's confidence, and we'll see how they respond," Stoops said. "I have no reason to believe that, though. I have a good feel we'll bounce back and prepare well and play well."

Stoops impressed by MSU, Prescott

Mississippi State might not have been at the top of the polls when the season began, but Stoops isn't altogether surprised to see they are now.

The Bulldogs belong.

"They're a very talented football team," Stoops said. "You could tell they had a lot of confidence coming into the season just by the way they carried themselves at SEC Media, just listening to them with their quarterback and leadership."

Mississippi State boasts three wins over top-10 teams, all coming in the three weeks before a . The Bulldogs are last in the league in total defense, but much of that has to do with the big leads they've built in every game they've played this season. Along those same lines, Mississippi State ranks second in the conference in both interceptions and sacks.

On offense, the Bulldogs lead the SEC in total yards behind leading Heisman contender Dak Prescott.

"They're playing red hot and it starts with their quarterback," Stoops said. "He's as talented of a guy as there is in the country.  He can run it, he can throw it.  He's making great decisions and their offense puts stress on you."

Williams improving

Freshman Stanley "Boom" Williams suffered an undisclosed head injury during the loss at LSU on Saturday. He returned to Lexington with the team and is now recovering, though Stoops had no timetable on his return.

"Things look better, not cleared to play yet, obviously," Stoops said. "I'll wait until the doctors tell me he can get on the field but, I think, yeah, things are looking better. When he will be cleared to practice or play I have no idea."

Williams took to Twitter on Sunday, a welcome development after the running back stayed on the ground for a number of minutes after taking a big hit on a kick return in Baton Rouge, La.




Game time for Missouri set

UK's game at Missouri on Nov. 1 will kick off at 4 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.

Recent Comments

  • Guy Ramsey: He mentioned coaching numerous times in his postgame press conference, including his opening statement: "OK. You know, there's not a read more
  • Brian: Funny that Stoops said they got outplayed but forgot to mention that he and his staff were also out coached... read more
  • William Bagshaw: The Kentucky Madness was a failure for the fans that was not on court. This was useless to put on read more
  • justin: Poythress is a straight beast. read more
  • John Lee: On the article, it says "early in the fourth quarter," but it should be 'first' instead..because we only trailed early read more
  • Hugh Jones: We'll be in Memorial and Rupp for all your games. Love you gals! Go Cats! read more
  • Ryan: This is intense, I've never seen a live blog like this, keep up the good work! read more
  • Ryan: Watching this guy is really inspiring. Makes me have faith that guys like him are running the show on the read more
  • Tom Roosa: I just have 1 question, do you think that this team has the chance to have a great year? They read more
  • steve crum: Glad to see Coach Stoops get rewarded for all the time and hard work he puts in to our read more