Happy Saturday, Big Blue Nation!
March is just a few days away and the hope of the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team is that they are starting to play their best basketball of the season.
It certainly feels like Chris Livingston, Jacob Toppin and Antonio Reeves are doing just that. I’m almost ready to put Oscar Tshiebwe in that category but he needs to keep proving it on the defensive end. Cason Wallace, while great in home games, has struggled scoring the basketball on the road. But all in all I feel like those five players have started to click on a different level together compared to the rest of the season.
The bench is where the questions lie. Sahvir Wheeler and CJ Fredrick are still injured and both players are doubtful today against the Auburn Tigers. John Calipari emphasized the importance of those guards in regards to their ability to give the offense something different and, even more importantly, giving Wallace and Reeves more opportunity to rest during games.
Adou Thiero has played good basketball in limited minutes as the only player that is able to give Reeves and Wallace a break. But while he’s played well in the first half of games, Calipari doesn’t trust him enough yet to give him minutes in the second half of games. Lance Ware and Daimion Collins have also contributed valuable minutes in the first half but not the second, much like Thiero. Is this enough?
We’ve seen Calipari use short rotations before. It’s very risky but the reward of keeping the core five on the floor together has indeed produced success in past seasons and it appears as it is the way to go this season as well.
Bruce Pearl’s team isn’t what it usually is and, while they aren’t on the bubble, a win at Kentucky would be a major boost to their Quad I collection. It should be a fight in Rupp Arena today at 4:00 PM.
Tweets of the Day
The De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk reunion with the Kings has been quite the success. They won 176-175 in a thrilling double-overtime matchup.
Our entire team just signed an NIL deal with a national advertiser and Jacob and Chris also each just signed their own NIL deals for nation-wide campaigns.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) February 23, 2023
That is the Kentucky Effect!! pic.twitter.com/SBZBuDyz5R
Chris Livingston, Antonio Reeves and Jacob Toppin have some big time new deals. I wonder if this could be incentive enough to get Livingston and Reeves to return for another season? The addition of Livingston to next year’s team would be significant.
Name a random college basketball legend.— 247Sports (@247Sports) February 22, 2023
We'll go first: Jimmer Fredette pic.twitter.com/k25bALzrI5
Auburn looking for a formula for victory at Rupp | Auburn Undercover 247- The Tigers last won a game in Rupp Arena in 1988. The last few seasons for Kentucky have been a series of “first time since (insert date)” for all the wrong reasons. Let’s hope we don’t see another one of those today.
How Kentucky has rallied in one week to save it’s Quad I profile | The Athletic- I know there is a paywall but Kyle Tucker does a great job breaking down the trajectory of this team.
Work on the offensive glass has helped save Kentucky’s season | Cats Pause 247- Oscar’s rebound numbers have dwindled over the last few weeks but that is due to the emergence of Chris Livingston as a rebounder. He is finally using his size and athleticism to defend and grab some timely rebounds which has in turn fueled his offense. Jacob Toppin has also picked it up on the boards.
Cats vs. Tigers predictions | Cats Illustrated- Our buddies over at Cats Illustrated have very similar scores here. I’m going to go Cats 74-Tigers 66.
Kentucky trending as an 8 seed with room to grow | KSR- The Cats have one more surefire Quad I opportunity left at Arkansas with a chance that a win today over Auburn could turn into another Quad I win down the line. If the Cats can win out the regular season and do some damage in the SEC tournament, a 6 seed is on the table with a 5 seed lurking in the shadows if things fall exactly the right way for the Cats.
Cats improve to 4-1 on the baseball diamond | UK Athletics- UK smacked six doubles in Friday’s win over Wright State. The series resumes today at 1:00 PM at Kentucky Proud Park.
Softball Cats push #1 UCLA but fall 6-3 | UK Athletics- Not a bad outing for the #18 Cats as they outhit the 14-0 Bruins.
A win over the Tigers may secure the double-bye for Kentucky | Vaught’s Views- The stakes are high for the Cats today in Rupp Arena.
A look at the picks and spreads for a big Saturday for college basketball | CBS- The Cats are back on the pick sheet for the fellas over at CBS as they continue to win in February. It’s the final stretch of the regular season and it’s time to see what teams are made of as March approaches.
Nate Oats says Alabama is doing the ‘right thing’ with Brandon Miller | ESPN- I’m not one of those screaming for Brandon Miller to be benched or kicked off the team as the legalities play out but there is no arguing that the leaders at Alabama, along with Nate Oats, haven’t done anything ‘right’ in this tragic situation.
I’ll be back on the air around 6:00 PM this evening to break down the Cats. vs. Tigers along with Jason Ence and special guest Mike Gandolfo! Tune in for your first chance to call, text and react!