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Posts from Monday, March 2

Kevin Galloway sparked the Wildcats to a 10-point lead in the second half of Saturday's game but UK was unable to hold on.

Kevin Galloway sparked the Wildcats to a 10-point lead in the second half of Saturday's game but UK was unable to hold on.

Practice Report: men’s basketball

Posted at 6:31 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

They’re not talking about it, but hope remains alive.

In the division that nobody seems to be able to close out, four teams – Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida – still have a shot to win the Southeastern Conference East Division.

UK has an outside shot at the East crown – the list of scenarios would take up the majority of this page – but the possibility still remains there.

But that’s not the focus right now for the UK men’s basketball team. During a two-hour practice session at the Joe Craft Center on Monday, the Wildcats were worried about correcting mistakes that UK Coach Billy Gillispie has said shouldn’t be happening this late in the season.

One of the biggest areas of concern was closing out games. Gillispie said UK played some of its best defense during the first 10 minutes of the second half behind “a great deal of pride” and pressuring the basketball, but cited a lack of maturity as to how LSU scored at will in the final 10 minutes.

Gillispie said you can’t just suddenly turn the defense on, but you can certainly turn it off.

“Believe me, you can turn it off with the wrong mindset and the wrong approach,” Gillispie said. “When you get a 10-point lead at home, if you’re tough enough defensively and if you play hard, play smart, and play together, those are 18-point wins.”

Three of the game-changing plays came in the closing minutes of the game on defensive mishaps. The first came on an offensive put-back by Marcus Thornton. Seconds later, Thornton found a wide-open Bo Spencer in the corner for a 3-pointer. The final dagger came on a botched switch when Tasmin Mitchell was left by himself for the game-winning 3-pointer with 9.7 seconds left.

Following practice on Monday, Gillispie said the first two mistakes were caused by players missing their assignments. The game-winning shot came from a lack of communication.

Gillispie addressed the mistakes in practice Monday.

“(On the final play) they slipped the screen a little bit, but we should have still been covering it if we communicate better like we ask them to on a daily basis,” he said.

Gillispie reiterated that those mistakes have come from a lack of maturity. He said UK’s development will be tested again Wednesday against Georgia, a team UK beat by 23 points more than a month ago on the road.

 “We have to expect the best,” Gillispie said. “We’re not world-beaters ourselves so we better be ready. That’s what’s scary about this particular team that we have. It’s like having a 10-point lead at home and not getting a victory out of it. You have to kind of be worried about the kind of approach and the kind of maturity that it takes to finish out those games but also beat a team that you beat pretty good on the road the first time.

“It’ll be interesting to see if we’re going to take a step in the right direction in maturity.”

 

Get to Know the Wildcats debuts Wednesday

Posted at 4:08 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

Wildcat fans, we've got a really cool weekly feature that will kick off Wednesday that I wanted to point you to. The University of Kentucky athletic department and Ukathletics.com is launching “Get to Know the Wildcats,” a video feature where athletes will learn skills from other sports.

The features, which will have athletes from all 22 varsity sports, are definitely must-see web-TV. I've had a chance to view four episodes, and let me tell you that they are extremely funny and unique.

The idea of some of UK's premier athletes learning a skill from anther sports is a pretty cool idea, but the best part is that you get the see the personalities of each of the athletes up close.

If you don't believe me, check out a preview of what is to come.

The episodes will air each Wednesday starting March 4. In the debut episode, Tim Masthay (football) will teach Kate Hughes (soccer) and Brandon Austin (track and field) how to punt.



No Barnhart this week

Posted at 2:45 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

Mondays with Mitch will not be posted this week as Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart is out of the office today. Mondays with Mitch, which runs every other week, will be moved back to next Monday, when we'll talk about the upcoming men's Southeastern Conference Tournament, the softball team's hot start, the baseball team and much more.

 

Bell is SEC Freshman of the Week

Posted at 12:57 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

Kentucky freshman pitcher Chanda Bell was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week for her performances last week.

Bell, a right-hander from Indianaoplis, Ind., went 3-0 at the Hatter Classic in Deland, Fla., over the weekend. She gave up just one unearned run and five hits in 14 innings of works, striking out 18 in the process.

Bell has been one of the main stalwarts behind UK's early season success so far. She leads the team in wins with six while surrendering just one loss.

Keep an eye out for a feature on her at Cat Scratches later on in the week.

 

SEC Coaches Teleconference

Posted at 12:29 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

Short and sweet today. That's about all I can say about the Southeastern Conference Coaches Teleconference. I'm not sure what happened, but Gillispie was only on the teleconference for two questions. Nonetheless, here is what he and Georgia interim Coach Pete Hermann had to say:

Billy Gillispie

  • Gillispie said Saturday's loss against Louisiana State was tough but said he saw a lot of “bright spots” during the game. Inevitably, Gillispie was asked what those bright spots were. “I thought that we finally got a little bit of pressure on the basketball to start our defensive possessions to give us a chance to come back into the game when we were down eight at the half. The first 10 minutes (of the second half) was about as good of team defense as we have played in a long time. The last 10 minutes they scored on almost eveyr possessin. We had a lot of mistakes there, but the bright spots I would say was the competitive nature of the first 10 minutes of the second half.”
  • Gillispie was asked to comment on the play of junior Perry Stevenson of late. “I don't know he hasn't been playing better. We have great expectations and have had all year. For whatever reason he hasn't played nearly as well as we think he can.” 

Pete Herrmann

  • Hermann has a different view on Stevenson. Hermann believes Stevenson is underrated and went on to rave about the junior forward. “I think that Perry Stevenson has had a very solid year for them averaging close to double figures, getting blocks, rebounds and running the floor. He's an unsung player. I've always liked Darius Miller. He's really starting to find his way and is playing each time out. He obviously had a great game against Tennesseee. Michael Porter has been steady at the point. He's had games where he's had some turnovers but he's also been a good leader for them. The other players are underrated and contributed in almost all of their wins.”
  • Hermann was asked to compare the Kentucky team that beat his Bulldogs 68=45 more than a month ago to the team he'll face Wednesday. He said he couldn't do that because his team barely competed in the first matchup and didn't put up much of a fight.


Monday's baseball game canceled

Posted at 11:52 a.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

The UK-Western Michigan baseball game scheduled for 3 p.m. on Monday at Cliff Hagan Stadium has been canceled due to inclement weather.

The Wildcats, who were originally scheduled to play Wright State on Tuesday, will resume their series with Western Michigan. The Broncos will face Morehead State at noon at Cliff Hagan Stadium before finishing the series with UK at 4 p.m.

 

Monday links

Posted at 11:34 a.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

If you've been to a men's basketball game this season, you know all about him. Known simply as the Boogie Man, Darren Moscoe has become quite the phenomenon at men's home games this year in Rupp Arena.

Mark Story of the Lexington Herald-Leader has written a great profile on the dancing man in Sunday's paper. I highly encourage you to give it a read.

Here are some other stories from across the area:

John Clay writes that the Wildcats' youth might have cost them Saturday. Clay also wrote that UK's postseason fate could be decided against Florida.

Clay's colleague Chip Cosby says UK's three players at the NFL Combine had good showings.

Jon Hale from the Kentucky Kernel writes that the loss on Saturday capped an emotional week for the Cats.

The UK baseball team set the school record for strikeouts Sunday.

 

Weekend wrap-up

Posted at 1:07 a.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

If you weren't on Ukathletics.com or at the games this weekend, you missed some great action in UK Athletics. Whether you're a basketball, softball or tennis fan, there was a little bit of something for everybody this weekend.

I'll have to keep these short and to the point because so much went on, but for more detailed information, please check each sport's homepage on Ukathletics.com.

  • At first it looked like the men's basketball team (19-10, 8-6 Southeastern Conference) didn't stand a chance. Then it appeared the Wildcats were going to run away with it in the second half. Ultimately it ended in heartbreak. Tasmin Mitchell's 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds left sealed LSU's 73-70 come-from-behind win Saturday at Rupp Arena. UK led by as many as 10 in the second half.
  • Matthew Mitchell spoke on Friday about the Wildcats' opportunity to gain some momentum heading into the SEC Tournament. UK (15-14, 5-9 SEC) seized the opportunity Sunday with a 70-53 win at South Carolina. Junior guard Amani Franklin scored a career-high 28 points in the victory.
  • The 15 by 15 by 15 plan is quickly being set into course thanks to the rifle team. Just a month after claiming the Great American Rifle Conference regular-season championship, the rifle team edged West Virginia by five points to win the GARC Tournament.
  • Both the men's and women's track and field teams came in seventh place at the SEC Championships that were held this weekend at Nutter Field House. Only one Wildcat won an individual event – Ashley Trimble captured the heptathlon title – but UK did tally six top-three finishes over the weekend. Tennessee won on the women's side and Arkansas won for the men.
  • A loss to No. 20 West Virginia on Sunday couldn't overshadow the huge night the gymnastics team (6-7, 0-6 SEC) had Friday. The Wildcats took down four teams Friday on Senior Night, defeating No. 15 Illinois, No. 36 North Carolina, No. 48 Ball State and William and Mary.
  • When the next tennis rankings are released, the No. 20 women's tennis team (8-0) could find itself on the rise. The Wildcats continued their perfect season with a 4-3 upset over Clemson on Sunday.
  • After scoring 31 runs, one would likely assume that the baseball team squeezed in all three of its games this weekend. Not quite. Inclement weather has forced the Wildcats (4-2) to make up a the third game of the series against Western Michigan on Monday, but that didn't stop UK from bashing out 31 runs in two games. Behind senior Chris Rusin's career-high 12 strikeouts, the Wildcats struck out a school record 18 hitters Sunday.
  • SEC beware. The UK softball team (9-4) is for real. Heading into conference play next week against Louisiana State, the Wildcats are on an absolute roll. UK flat out dominated the competition this weekend at the Hatter Class Tournament in Deland, Fla., 22-3. The weekend was capped off with Destinee Mordecai's extra-inning walk-off grand slam Saturday for a 4-0 win over Stetson. Freshman pitcher Chanda Bell continues to be the story of the season so far, notching her fourth, fifth and sixth victories of the year over the weekend. UK is more than halfway to its win total of a season ago and the softball year is just beginning.

Women's SEC Tournament field set

Posted at 12:25 a.m. EST – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relation

Just last week I posted the messy scenarios that could play out for the women's Southeastern Conference Tournament. Finally, the field is set.

The Wildcats are the No. 10 seed in the tournament and will face the seventh-seeded Georgia Lady Bulldogs in the first round of the tournament. The matchup in Little Rock, Ark., is set for Thursday at 3:30 p.m. EST. The winner will face second-seeded Vanderbilt on Friday at 3:30 p.m.

UK will face a familiar opponent in Georgia, who the Wildcats lost to 61-57 on Thursday night.

 


 

 

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