Meeks an All-American
Posted at 9:03 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports has released his All-Americans for 2009 and Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks has made the list, albeit a little bit lower than some might expect.
Goodman tabbed Meeks a fourth-team All American alongside BYU’s Lee Cummard, Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody, Clemson’s Trevor Booker and Penn State’s Talor Battle. The senior college basksetball writer for Fox Sports picked Jeff Teague of Wake Forest, Terrence Williams of Louisville and Jerel McNeal of Marquette ahead of Meeks.
Uh, Mr. Goodman, did you happen to see the 54-point game against Tennessee? Or the 46-point game in Freedom Hall? How about that Bud Walton Arena record against Arkansas? I guess not.
I have a hard time believing that Meeks, who is considered by many national experts to at least be in the discussion for National Player of the Year, is not a first- or second-team All-American.
Nonetheless, a lofty achievement for the junior from Norcross, Ga. Meeks, who is averaging 24.7 points per game, will likely generate a plethora of All-America honors as the season winds down.
We’ll keep you posted as more come in.
Baseball has a top-10 RPI
Posted at 3:28 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Not sure how much stock I put into RPI rankings this early in the season, but the UK baseball team certainly has an impressive RPI through the early portion of its schedule.
According to boydsworld.com, UK has an RPI ranking of eighth. The Wildcats, who are 9-2 on the season, are the highest ranking Southeastern Conference team on the list, coming in just ahead of No. 10 Louisiana State, who the Cats will battle this weekend in Baton Rouge, La.
UK is ranked No. 29 in the Baseball America poll and is not ranked in the Collegiate Baseball or ESPN.com poll.
Maybe they should take a hint from the RPI.
Rusin named SEC Pitcher of the Week
Posted at 2:44 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Senior pitcher Chris Rusin has been named the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week for his performance this past weekend against Indiana State.
The lefty from Canton, Mich., was dominant in his third start of the season, throwing eight shutout innings against Indiana State. Rusin struck out nine and allowed just six hits on the afternoon against a team that entered the game averaging well over eight runs per game.
After a rough first outing, Rusin has rebounded by striking out 21 hitters in his last 13 innings. He leads the SEC in strikeouts with 29.
Let the tourney talk begin
Posted at 12:51 p.m. ET - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
We're just days away from kicking off the postseason in Tampa, Fla. Things obviously haven't gone smoothly for the men's basketball team of late, but the consensus among the coaches on the Southeastern Conference Coaches Teleconference is that this tourney is as wide open as ever.
A couple of teams, including Kentucky, need at least a significant win or two to get into the tournament. Here is what UK Coach Billy Gillispie and his first-round counterpart Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy had to say:
UK has become famous for its contingent of fans that make it to the tournament every year. Now that the tournament site has been switched to Tampa, Gillispie was asked if he thinks that will affect the traditional strong showing UK has. "It's a new place so I don't know if it will be like what we had in Atlanta. Last year we had a great number of fans there. The tornado obviously made things a little bit different, but I think we'll have a good showing over there."
The SEC has a number of teams, including UK, which could improve their resumes with a couple of big wins in the tournament. Gillispie was asked if that puts anymore pressure on the teams in the tournament this year. "I would think that there are a bunch of teams going into it that maybe haven't had the regular season that they wanted. Anytime you're playing in a tournament and it's win or go home, I think it's going to add to the pressure because the culmination of your season is happening. I wouldn't think that there would be any more pressure this year than any other year."
Following the Florida game, Patrick Patterson referred to the run Georgia made last year in the SEC Tournament. Gillispie was asked if he would refer to that run at all for his team. "I won't. They're taking the right direction as far as trying to win games, but you can't win the tournament on the first day of the tournament. What you have to do is you have to play your first opponent and you have to try to beat that opponent. You can't look at the entirety. You have to look at one game and that's what we'll try to try to take - one game at a time. If we get lucky enough to advance, we'll try to focus on the next game."
There were reports that Ray Shipman of Florida said Jodie Meeks told him that Gillispie said not to shoot the ball anymore during the last game. Gillispie said there was absolutely no truth to that and that Meeks basically always has the green light to shoot it.
Gillispie's thoughts on the first time they played Ole Miss: "They made a bunch of shots and they executed very well. We had a hard time guarding the perimeter guys and when they did miss, they whipped us on the offensive boards pretty well."
Gillispie was asked to assess Meeks' performance the last few games. "He hasn't made as many shots or as high percentage of shots. But I think it really all goes down to how much we're helping him. Everyone is doing a great job of really making it very, very difficult for him to score or for him to get easy touches where he wants to get touches, where he can probably be most effective. He's got to finish plays closer to the basket a little bit better. I think he's on top of a big breakout game hopefully because we need it."
Kennedy referred to the SEC Tournament as a new season and agreed with the notion that the tournament is wide open.
Kennedy was asked what he remembered about the first matchup with UK. "It seems like a lifetime ago, honestly. As a coach, all these games start running together. It's hard for me to believe that we're already in tournament time. We've kind of limped home. We've obviously had our issues as it relates to injuries and finding enough health bodies. ... I've been really proud of our guys who have continued to battle. They've grown up a great deal and I hope that we can continue our season."
Kennedy said they did a "reasonably good job" of trying to contain Meeks in the first matchup. Kennedy said the focus will again be on shutting down Meeks and Patterson. Kennedy said Meeks works as hard as anybody off the ball and that they'll try to limit his touches. Once he touches the ball, Kennedy said, "you're at his mercy."
Kennedy isnt' buying into Meeks struggling of late, saying that Meeks is still a prolific scorer and as good of a two-guard as there is in college basketball. "He was on such a torrid pace averaging over 30 points per game through the early stages of league play that there may have been an unrealistic expectation for him to maintain that."
Ole Miss guard David Huertas, who scored 21 points against UK earlier in the season, is battling a foot injury and is day-to-day. He played 16 minutes against Mississippi State on Saturday but did not play the game before against Arkansas.
Tampa pep rally
Posted at 11:29 a.m. ET - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
The annual Kentucky pep rally for the Southeastern Conference Tournament has been set for March 12 at 9 a.m. inside the Tampa Convention Center.
To get fans fired up for the UK-Ole Miss matchup and a possible Cats' tourney run, the UK Alumni Association will host a pep rally with music provided by a live DJ. The first 300 attendees get a free UK SEC Tournament T-shirt and all participants are eligible for door prizes and may purchase raffle tickets for special UK related items.
Cost is $15, $10 for UK students with a valid student ID, and children under 10 get in for free. Fans can purchase tickets at the door or pre-register online.
For additional information, contact Becky Walker at (727) 773-8665 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted at 10:55 a.m. ET - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Kentucky is on the outside looking in.
The Bracket Matrix has updated its compilation of bracket projections and UK out of the tournament at this point, according to most projections. UK is in the "next four out" category, making the tournament projections in just 14 of the 58 brackets that are compiled.
The scary thing is all of the bracket s that still have UK in haven't been updated since before the Georgia game. Logic would hint that the Cats are likely out in everybody's mind.
But you already knew UK's dangling at-large tournament hopes have all but gone by the wayside. The question is what would UK have to do to get any consideration for an at-large berth? What if UK beats Ole Miss, Louisiana State, its opponent in the semifinals and then loses in the SEC championship? Does that garner at-large consideration?
Consider this: that would give the Cats 21 wins and at least two resume-building wins. Maybe it's ultimately not enough, but you have to believe it at least gets UK back into the discussion. This of course is all just speculation and UK has to solve a lot of problems to just to win a few games in the tourney, but it never hurts to wonder.
Posted at 12:50 a.m. ET - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Before we get started with Monday, let's take a look back at what happened this weekend in UK Athletics:
The baseball team (9-2) sure has a flair for the dramatic. For the second time in a week, the Cats used a walk-off home run to win a come-from-behind game. After Chris Bisson hit a two-run walk-off shot against Eastern Kentucky earlier in the week, sophomore shortstop Chris Wade gave the Cats the weekend sweep of Indiana State with a walk-off grand slam on Sunday. With two outs and down 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Wade belted the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence. UK defeated Indiana State 12-4 on Friday and 5-0 on Saturday.
Snapping a losing streak at Florida is easier said than done. The men's basketball team (18-12, 8-8 Southeastern Conference) was hoping to get back into the NCAA Tournament picture with a win at Florida on Saturday, but a 60-53 loss to the Gators has made it pretty clear that the Cats will have to make a deep run in the SEC Tournament to get back into consideration. Despite 16 points from sophomore Patrick Patterson, 23 turnovers ultimately doomed the Cats.
SEC play might prove to be a little tougher for the softball team (10-6) than the non-conference slate, but the Cats reiterated this weekend that they're going to be a much tougher matchup for conference foes than years past. UK took one of three games from nationally ranked Louisiana State in Baton Rogue, La. The Cats trailed 5-0 through four innings in the Saturday afternoon game, but came from behind to win 6-5. Sophomore Meagan Aull provided the game-winning RBI with a sacrifice fly.
The men's tennis team's (8-4, 0-2 SEC) journey to the top 15 might be short lived. After knocking off one ranked opponent after another the past few weeks, UK dropped both of its matches on the road this weekend to ranked opponents. The Cats dropped a 5-2 decision to No. 31 South Carolina on Sunday and lost 4-3 to No. 9 Florida on Friday.
It had to end sooner or later for the women's tennis team (9-1). For the first time all year, the Cats lost a match, falling 5-2 Sunday afternoon to South Carolina. The Cats did earn just the second win in program history over the Gators on Friday. UK slid past Florida 4-3.
The gymnastics team (6-8, 0-6 SEC) got back in the top 25 with a strong weekend last week, but it might be headed back out with a 196.525-194.825 loss at Iowa. UK got two career and two season highs on the floor exercise, but an overall season-high score for the No. 23 Hawkeyes was too much too overcome.