After a brief Thanksgiving break with family, I’m jumping back in the saddle to talk about the week that was in UK basketball and football.
For the Wildcats football and men’s basketball teams, the weekend has some anticipated bumps and bruises that seem to go along with the year 2020.
First, let’s talk a little football. The Cats lost Saturday 34-10 to the sixth-ranked Florida Gators in the Swamp in Gainesville. In what seems like an ongoing theme for the season, the Cats could not muster any semblance of a passing game, while Florida and Heisman candidate Kyle Trask did his thing and threw for 256 yards and three scores. The UK defense played well for the most part, but the offense did them no favors, mustering only 221 yards and a paltry 62 passing. The Cats were also missing 18 players and 10 staff members due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Below are some player notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:
Senior quarterback Terry Wilson completed 10 of 18 passes for 62 yards and one touchdown.
- Rushed 11 times for a net 25 yards. He has 955 career rushing yards, needs 45 to become the 40th player in school history to reach 1,000 rushing yards.
· Senior running back A.J. Rose led the Wildcats’ ground attack with 58 yards on 15 carries.
- Rose now has 1,722 career rushing yards, moving past Ivy Joe Hunter, Derek Homer, Rodger Bird and Jojo Kemp for 13th place in school history.
· Senior wide receiver Josh Ali led the Wildcats in receiving with six catches for 32 yards.
· Sophomore tight end Keaton Upshaw caught three passes for 28 yards, including a four-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
- It is his team-leading third touchdown catch of the season and fourth of his career.
· Junior safety Yusuf Corker led the team in tackles with eight.
- Corker caused a fumble in the second quarter, recovered by UK to set up a touchdown drive. It is the first caused fumble of his career.
- Corker was team captain today and wore uniform No. 22 today in honor of teammate Chris Oats, who is dealing with a serious medical condition.
· Redshirt freshman linebacker J.J. Weaver had six tackles, tying his career-high set earlier this season in the win at Tennessee.
· Senior defensive tackle Phil Hoskins made four tackles, including one for loss
· Junior linebacker DeAndre Square had six tackles and shared a one-yard tackle for loss.
- His fumble recovery in the second quarter on the UF 38 set up a UK touchdown drive. It is the first recovery of his career.
· Junior linebacker Jamin Davis made six tackles.
- He recovered a fumble in the third quarter, the first of his career.
· Junior linebacker Jordan Wright had four tackles and shared a quarterback sack with Boogie Watson.
- Wright caused a fumble in the third quarter, his first of the season and second of his career.
· Senior linebacker Boogie Watson shared a quarterback sack with Jordan Wright.
- Watson has 18.5 career sacks and is in fifth place in school history. He needs one-half sack to tie Dennis Johnson for fourth.
· Junior offensive guard Austin Dotson wore uniform No. 65 in honor of offensive line coach John Schlarman, who died Nov. 12 after a two-year battle with cancer. Schlarman was honored today with a feature on ESPN GameDay.
· Senior kicker Matt Ruffolo made both of his kicks today, a 22-yard field goal and an extra point.
The Cats (3-6) will close their regular season Saturday at Kroger Field against South Carolina. The game will mark UK’s Senior Day.
As for the men’s basketball team, the Cats went 1-1 for the week, defeating Morehead State 81-45 and losing to Richmond 76-64 in the Bluegrass Challenge.
After having their way in the season opener with the Eagles and winning comfortably, the Cats found the going much tougher versus the Spiders of the Atlantic-10. Pick by many as the conference favorite and a possible Sweet 16 caliber team, Richmond and their senior leadership broke open the game in the second half to pull the upset.
Let’s look at some highlights from the matchup, again courtesy of the fine staff at UK Athletics:
- Brandon Boston Jr. scored 20 points and recorded the first double-double of his career with 10 boards.
- He led the Wildcats in scoring in both games of the young season, averaging 17.5 points per game.
- He also led UK in rebounding in the opening week with 8.5 boards per game.
- Olivier Sarr had 17 points and 11 rebounds. It is his first double-double at Kentucky and 12th of his career.
- Terrence Clarke tallied 15 points, his second game in double figures, to go along with six rebounds.
- Isaiah Jackson had six points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
- Keion Brooks Jr. missed his second straight game with a left leg injury. He remains day-to-day.
- Kentucky had a plus 23 rebound margin, 54-31, and won second-chance points 19-10.
- It was a tough shooting day for the Wildcats, who made 36.1% from the field, were 0 for 10 from 3-point range, and 60.6% at the foul line.
- It was the second time in the last 73 games that UK did not make a 3-pointer. The previous time came March 15, 2018, when the Wildcats went 0 for 6 but won an NCAA Tournament game over Davidson. Prior to that Davidson game, UK had made a 3-pointer in 1,047 straight games heading into that Davidson contest, which at the time was the longest streak in the nation.
- Kentucky managed just five assists and zero in the second half.
- The five assists are tied for the fewest of the Calipari era, tying a five-assist performance in an overtime win vs. LSU on Feb. 22, 2014.
- The Wildcats’ 12-points loss in Rupp Arena is tied for the largest defeat at home of the Calipari era.
- Kentucky’s 21 turnovers were its most since 22 mishaps in a win vs. ETSU on Nov. 17, 2017.
- UK also lost by 12 points to Texas A&M, 83-71, on Jan. 12, 2013.
- It’s only the third time in 12 seasons of the Calipari era the Wildcats failed to start 2-0.
The Cats will return to action in the Champions Classic against seventh-ranked and fellow blue-blood Kansas in Indianapolis Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 9:30 on ESPN.
Shane Shackleford is a regional sports columnist from Speedwell, Tenn. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, local media outlets The Corbin Times-Tribune and London Sentinel-Echo, and online at A Sea of Blue, KySportsStyle.com Magazine, HarlanCountySports.com, and at Wildcat Sports Talk.