UK Hoops upsets No. 13 South Carolina

A monster road win for the Cats with the regular season winding down.

Matthew Mitchell and his No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats just picked up a huge road win.

It came Thursday night as the Cats went into Columbia and came away with a win over the No. 13 South Carolina Gamecocks, 65-57.

Rhyne Howard and Taylor Murray led the way with 17 points apiece. Murray also chipped in eight boards, four steals and five assists.

Maci Morris scored 12, including six-straight points to help push UK into the lead for good.

The Cats’ defense forced 21 Gamecocks turnovers and held them to 18/52 shooting from the field. UK hit 13/14 free throws and 6/12 three-pointers while recording 14 steals.

With the win, UK snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Gamecocks and a six-game skid in Columbia.

South Carolina actually won the first matchup in Memorial Coliseum, 75-70. The Gameoccks entered tonight 11-1 in SEC play and 19-6 overall with just two home losses to No. 4 Baylor and No. 9 Maryland.

Kentucky entered the game projected as a 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament by ESPN. This kind of win may have pushed them into a 4 seed with three regular-season games remaining.

Here is the final box score:

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NBA proposes to change draft-eligible age; DeMarcus Cousins rips NCAA

The one-and-done is in jeopardy, but will it affect John Calipari and Kentucky Basketball?

The NBA has officially proposed to lower the age of entry into the NBA Draft from 19 years old, to 18 years old, according to USA Today.

This has been a debating topic for the last several years. The NBA and the NBPA (players association) must come together on an agreement on whether or not to allow high-schoolers to make the jump straight to the league, much like it was just 15 years ago.

This comes just one day after Zion Williamson tore through his shoe and suffered a knee injury on national television, which in turn, got the debate started back up about whether high-schoolers should make the jump straight to the NBA.

So what would this mean for the Kentucky Wildcats and their recruiting success?

Well, in my opinion it wouldn’t mean anything. If the NBA were to allow kids to go to the league if they’re 18 years of age, then that would be only a handful of prospects who are: A) of actual age, and B) actually ready to make the jump.

That would be about three to four, maybe five prospects from each class who could actually handle the NBA at that very moment. Take away those five players from the recruiting rankings and a new one will fill their place. Kentucky and John Calipari are going to get the best players in the class regardless if the one-and-done rule is in place or not.

That being said, this won’t be coming to fruition for a few years, as the date the NBA is aiming for is the 2022 NBA Draft. This gives the players and organizations the time to adjust to the new rules, as well as college coaches to adjust. The NBA the NBPA still need to agree on a deal, but it is looking more and more likely to happen by the 2022 draft.

Elsewhere, former Wildcat and current Warriors star DeMarcus Cousins shared his thoughts on the rule prevent high school players from going straight to the NBA.

He’s really upset with how the NCAA ruins runs the sport.

“Knowing what I know now? College is bullsh**t. College basketball, the NCAA is bulls**t. My advice to him is do what’s best for you and your family. Obviously, college isn’t it. It does nothing for you at this point. You’ve proved you’re the No. 1 pick coming out. You’ve proven your talent. Get ready for the next level because it’s happening.”

Cousins’ comments came after Duke star and likely No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson suffered a knee injury on Wednesday. It thankfully wasn’t serious, but had it been something major like an ACL tear, it could have cost Zion millions of dollars and delayed the start of his pro career.

But don’t mistake Cousins’ comments for him not enjoying his time at Kentucky. He loved his time in Lexington.

“I loved my experience in college. That was some of the best years of my life playing basketball. That being said, just how crooked the whole NCAA business is. I saw a post the other day where it was I think the highest ticket for that UNC-Duke game was $2,500, $3,500.

“How much does Zion Williamson get? That’s who they’re coming to see. So how much does he get? Actually, who does it go to? How does it benefit any player on that team? But if they were to get $20 and a free meal, they’re this bad kid. They get a bad rep. ‘Uncoachable.’ They’re ‘thugs.’

“Whatever the case may be. It’s bulls**t.”

Hard to disagree with those remarks.

Tennessee basketball: Vols unlucky with LSU losing to Florida – FanSided

Tennessee basketball: Vols unlucky with LSU losing to Florida  FanSided

The Tennessee basketball team travels to Baton Rouge on Saturday to take on another top-15 team in LSU. This will mark the second Saturday in a row.

E.J. Price signs with CFL team

Price has found his new home.

E.J. Price has decided to leave Kentucky after his sophomore season and has officially signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, a Canadian Football team, for next season, according to Global News.

Price later announced the news on twitter:

As many of you may remember, E.J. sent out a series of controversial tweets saying that he was going to leave the University, along with criticizing some of the Kentucky coaching staff in March of 2018. Clearly, that didn’t happen as he started 11 of 13 games this season for the Cats, after sitting the entire 2017 season per the transfer rules.

He was a highly touted recruit as he was ranked 69th overall and was the 9th best player at his position coming out of 2016. He had a really good season for Kentucky, so it is unfortunate to see them lose a good talent.

Landon Young, who tore his ACL last season before it started, is expected to regain his starting spot back at left tackle. The Cats are fortunate to have Landon, but losing a talented lineman hurts any team.

This also gives Sophomores Naasir Watkins and Darian Kinnard an opportunity to likely compete for the starting right tackle position. Both of these young guys are big and talented, so it should create for an interesting story this spring to see which one gets more time.

With that being said, we wish E.J. the best of luck with his future endeavors. Continuing to play the game you love is a blessing, no matter where the destination is. Hopefully E.J. can figure things out and find his way to the NFL one day.

Free tickets to Blue-White Spring Game on April 12 available March 5 – Vaught’s Views

Free tickets to Blue-White Spring Game on April 12 available March 5  Vaught's Views

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky football's annual Blue-White Spring Game is set to kick off under the lights at Kroger Field once again on Friday, April 12. Tickets to ...

Kentucky vs. Auburn roundtable, predictions & thoughts on Reid Travis injury

Breaking down Wildcats vs. Tigers and what the Reid Travis injury means moving forward.

The Kentucky Wildcats are set to host the Auburn Tigers in one of the biggest SEC matchups this week.

The last time these two teams met up it came down to a missed floater from Jared Harper with six seconds left, a made and missed free throw from Immanuel Quickley, and then a missed prayer from Samir Doughty that ended with Kentucky winning by a score of 82-80.

Needless to say, it was a wild game where both teams were heavily involved on both ends of the floor. Since then, the Tigers haven’t been playing as great as they were to start the season.

This game is big for both teams, but more so for Auburn. They don’t have any great wins on their resume and if they want to get a favorable seed for the tournament, they need this one against Kentucky.

The biggest thing to look for with Kentucky is that they will be without their senior Reid Travis. Obviously, this is a big blow to a team that has been on fire as of late, and Reid has played a big part in it. Now, it’s time for Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery to step up in his absence.

Our writers here at A Sea of Blue have come together to offer their analysis and prediction of the outcome:

Nick Wheatley

Two preseason top-10 teams will face off on Saturday. But the two have gone in different directions this year. Kentucky started out slow, but has since lived up to expectations. Auburn started out fast, but has quickly faded. The Tigers can still be a dangerous basketball team, especially if they’re hitting their threes, but they haven’t lived up to the lofty expectations.

However, the Tigers have been better since the last time these two teams met. Auburn was without starting center Austin Wiley last time around, and his return has been a positive. His minutes have been limited, but Bruce Pearl has said the minutes cap will be lifted. And unfortunately, this time Kentucky will be without their starting center, Reid Travis.

It’s hard to predict how the team will fare without Travis. While he’s not the team’s best player, he does all the little things and is important to their success. UK is lucky to have EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards to slot in, but neither provides a similar presence in the paint.

His absence will hurt, there’s no doubt about that. UK’s biggest advantage against Auburn is their size down low. They lose a bit of their ability to punish teams physically. Travis’ defensive acumen is so underrated, and he does so much more than just rebound. No one on the team can per se replace him.

I can guarantee this team will be quite a bit different without him. UK needs decent production from Montgomery and Richards, and they need their other stars to step up. I think PJ Washington will slow down without Travis because the attention will be solely on him. If PJ can dump it off to Richards or Montgomery, then it might open things up. But Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro have to come ready to play.

As far as Auburn goes, they jack a lot of threes. They make a lot, too, but they shoot at a much lower rate away from home. The Cats were able to shut the Tigers down for 35 minutes last time they played before Auburn went on a crazy shooting streak. Honestly, I was leaning towards this game being a blowout had Travis played. I’m not as confident now because there are so many unknowns with the loss of Travis.

I think UK will win, but they have to guard the three-point line. Auburn’s going to make shots, but Kentucky can withstand it.

And as far as the rest of the season goes, I’m not worried about Arkansas. The Cats could struggle on the road at Ole Miss, but I think they can pull out a win similar to Mississippi State. And I actually think UK will match up better with Florida after slotting in Montgomery or Richards.

The biggest problem the Cats will face will be at Tennessee. What was a great matchup a week ago is now a tough one for the Cats. I have a feeling that game will be for the SEC regular season title, and, sadly, I think Tennessee will dominate Kentucky in the paint and come out on top.

In the end, I see Kentucky winning Saturday and going 4-1 in the rest of the regular season.

Prediction: Kentucky 77 Auburn 69

Tj Barnett

This will be a very interesting game due to the fact that Reid Travis will miss his first game of the season. It’s unfortunate because of how well these guys have gelled during conference play.

With that being said, EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards need to play big, and I think EJ will have more of an impact, so keep an eye on that. If they can improve their games, then Kentucky becomes an even bigger threat to win it all once Travis returns.

The Auburn Tigers will be desperate for a win as they’re trying to improve their seed for the tournament. Despite this, I think the Cats will get this victory, primarily because it is in Lexington.

Prediction: Kentucky 73 Auburn 66

Aaron Gershon

Despite an up and down year, Kentucky should not expect a walk in the park when the Auburn Tigers come into town Saturday. Kentucky hardly escaped the plains back in January as Tyler Herro led them to a two-point road win.

However, despite having home court, it may be even more difficult this time. Reid Travis will be out with a knee injury. When the two teams met last month, Travis dropped 17 points and was a big factor in the end result. The two players who will replace him, EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards, combined for one point that game.

In addition, big man Austin Wiley, who missed the first Kentucky Auburn matchup, will be a go for the Tigers this time around. With all this said, it’s a different Richards and Montgomery set to take the floor Saturday than a month ago. Both have made great strides at both ends of the floor and, by tag-teaming Travis’s minutes, should be just fine.

The Tigers haven’t proved they can win a big game on the road and Kentucky doesn’t seem like the place they’re going to do that. Richards and Montgomery need to step up, and I genuinely believe they’re both capable.

Thankfully, it’s not PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson or even Herro we’re talking about being injured. Losing Travis is a bummer, but Kentucky can survive. It may be closer than if Travis were a go, but the Cats should still get a home win.

I’ll also go on a limb and predict Montgomery and Richards combine for exactly 17 points, the same total Reid Travis scored against Auburn earlier this season.

Prediction: Kentucky 70 Auburn 60

Shane Shackelford

The loss of Reid Travis is a pretty significant loss to the Cats in the short term. Travis is without question their enforcer in the post, grabbing rebounds and scoring consistently on the block. Losing him for a couple of weeks is a blow but not a death blow.

Here’s why: Two weeks without Travis shouldn’t be near the SEC Tournament and the NCAA tournament, so timing isn’t a huge issue.

However, the load in the post falls squarely on Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery for an extended time. Montgomery has made great strides over the last two months, so an extended run for him should give him ample opportunity to produce at a high level. I’m most curious about Richards, though.

We’ve been waiting for him to produce for more than flashes for nearly two years. I think if he is going to be the producer and enforcer at the rim the Cats need it’s got to happen now. He has his moment. He must finally deliver.

As for the game, we all know Auburn has the ability to stroke it from three and wants to play fast through their guards, so the matchup favors the Cats still. No doubt it will be different without Travis, but if the Kentucky bigs can produce and PJ Washington continues his march toward All-American and SEC Player of the Year, the Cats should be able to fend off the Tigers in a high-scoring affair.

Prediction: Cats 84 Tigers 72

Drew Koch

Before I get into the game, allow me to send my best wishes to Reid Travis. Suffering a knee injury late in your final collegiate season is rough, especially since it had the potential to cost him his first and only trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Thankfully it appears he avoided a major injury and will be back with the team soon. However, in the interim, some of UK’s bigs are going to have to step up, namely Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery. Both players have talent, but have been terribly inconsistent all year.

Richards is more of a rim protector, while Montgomery’s game seems to be more of a stretch-4. That’s not what the Wildcats need. Reid Travis did the dirty work down low and I firmly believe that PJ Washington’s recent success was not just of his own making. Having Travis on the low block opened up so many more opportunities for Washington and the sophomore forward took advantage.

Having said all of that, I think the player that needs to step up more than anyone in Travis’ absence is Tyler Herro. I know, you’re thinking I’m off my rocker, but I’m serious. Even though Herro doesn’t play down low, his ability to stretch the defense with his shot making will continue to open up the lane for PJ Washington.

Kentucky’s guards, namely Herro, must bring the defense away from the basket so they can’t collapse on Washington. Now, it is up to Richards and Montgomery to pick up the slack on the boards, as well as Keldon Johnson.

Onto the game. UK escaped Auburn by 2 points earlier this season, but that was with Reid Travis. However, that was also away from the friendly confines of Rupp Arena. Travis had 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the previous game against the Tigers. He also had 7 rebounds. Those numbers will be missed.

I expect Kentucky to struggle early while they try to find an identity without their grad transfer. It would not shock me if UK were down double-digits early in the first half. I believe UK will close the gap and pull away late. This will be a tough test, but Kentucky is so dominant at home.

If this game were on the road, I’d pick against the Cats. But with the Rupp Arena crowd rocking, I think UK pulls out a victory.

Prediction: Kentucky 74 Auburn 68

Sam Gillenwater

Following an eight-point win against Missouri where Reid Travis went down, Kentucky has a quick turnaround against Auburn on Saturday. The first game was a battle and came down to the wire WITH Travis, but it will be all hands on deck against the Tigers who are lethal even through their struggles since their last loss to the Wildcats.

Losing Reid Travis for two weeks is a huge blow to Kentucky. You could see that this team didn’t look anywhere near the same with him out down the stretch on either side of the ball. The Tigers were able to double PJ on the post and were scoring the ball very effectively down the stretch.

Zion’s knee injury is the talk of the sports world, but Reid Travis’ is just as impactful. It will take an effort from the entire team to fill the void without him, but this falls squarely on the shoulders of EJ Montgomery and especially Nick Richards.

Nick started all 37 games of his freshman year and with Reid gone, he will not only have to play big minutes he hasn’t gotten this season but be productive on offense and definitely on defense. EJ will have to take some of the load, but this is Richards time to shine and breakout for John Calipari.

Auburn may have gone 5-4 since their last meeting with Kentucky, but they are just as potent offensively as Bryce Brown and Jared Harper can get going quick. They will also have the services of Austin Wiley that they didn’t have last time, putting even more pressure on a UK frontcourt that will only go three deep for the next few games. Auburn hit 17 threes while shooting 51.5% from deep in their last game against Arkansas so if UK wants to get a win, they will have to step up defensively again.

An injury to an important piece of a team can either take a team apart or motivate them to stay the course until their teammate returns. This will be a difficult stretch for Kentucky with Reid, but I think this can only make them better. This will force Nick Richards to be the player we all thought he was going to be after the Bahamas.

Even with the potential to drop one against a good Auburn team, I think Rupp Arena helps motivate Richards and push Kentucky over the edge in this one.

Prediction: Kentucky 79-70

Tennessee basketball: How Kentucky, Duke and LSU developments affected Vols season Wednesday – FanSided

Tennessee basketball: How Kentucky, Duke and LSU developments affected Vols season Wednesday  FanSided

Tennessee basketball's season was affected by three key developments Wednesday. Here's how the Blue Devils, Tigers and Wildcats all affected the ...

Kentucky Football assistants get contract extensions – A Sea Of Blue

Kentucky Football assistants get contract extensions  A Sea Of Blue

The Wildcats are locking down their coaches for a few more years.

Kentucky Football assistants get contract extensions

The Wildcats are locking down their coaches for a few more years.

The Kentucky Wildcats football program has released three of its contract extensions for three of its most important assistants.

Eddie Gran, Vince Marrow, and wide receivers coach Michael Smith were all awarded a raise and an extension after the Citrus Bowl victory this season and the contracts were finalized just last week.

Vince Marrow’s extension was released last Sunday and it was a reported three-year extension. Marrow’s new contract is worth $600,000 per year, and increasing an extra $25,000 for each year of the contract. Marrow deserves that money as he is the current tight ends coach, recruiting coordinator, and new associate head coach. Marrow would have made $475,000 this season prior to his new contract.

Eddie Gran turned down Georgia back in January and not much longer, Gran signed a new three-year contract worth $900,000 per year. Gran will also receive an extra $25,000 per year after his 2019 season.

Michael Smith will be getting a $50,000 raise, bringing his 2019 salary to $450,000 per year. This comes after just one season on the staff at Kentucky, but he was Lynn Bowden’s coach, so I am all for throwing the money at him.

There are bonuses included for reaching a non-playoff bowl game, which is one month’s salary. Reaching the SEC title game is worth 1.5 months salary. And reaching the College Football Playoff is worth two months salary.

Buyouts are included for each coach as well. Vince Marrow and Eddie Gran would owe Kentucky $150,000 for each year left on their contract if they were to leave, and Michael Smith would owe $100,000 for each year remaining on his contract.

Ashton Hagans up for National Defensive Player of the Year award

Hagans continues to wreak havoc on opponents, and it’s got him in the running for a major award.

Ashton Hagans has become one of the best defenders in college basketball, so it’s no surprise he was just named a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

Hagans was one of 10 players to appear on the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s late-season watch list on Thursday:

Hagans has emerged as one of the nation’s best perimeter defenders, averaging 2.0 steals per game, which ranks second in the SEC and fifth nationally among all freshmen.

The rise of Hagans began with Kentucky’s win over North Carolina, as he grabbed eight steals and began a seven-game streak of recording at least three steals. He is the only player in school history with such a streak (since steals became an official NCAA statistic in 1985-86).

According to STATS, Hagans was the first major-conference freshman with three or more steals in seven or more straight games since Wake Forest’s Chris Paul did it 10 straight games in the 2003-04 season.

As you can imagine, Hagans is now in the running for the school’s single-season steals record. Rondo owns the record with 87 steals in 2004-05. Through 26 games that season, Rondo had 68 steals. Hagans has 53 to this point, but Rondo only played in 34 games that season.

But more importantly, Hagans’ defense has been a driving force behind Kentucky’s defensive resurgence. Over the last 13 games, Kentucky has gone 12-1 and limited opponents to 60.7 points per game, 38.5 percent from the floor and 31.6 from behind the arc.

If Hagans and Kentucky can keep this up, I’d expect him to be among the four finalists for the award, which will be announced on March 14. The Naismith Award Defensive Player of the Year will be announced on April 7.

Top-5 recruit Jon Kuminga sets visit with Kentucky

Kuminga is ranked as high as No. 3 overall in his class.

John Calipari has only offered a few scholarships to players in the 2020 class, but he is already planning for 2021 and looks to host a top player in that class next Tuesday.

According to Evan Daniels, the Kentucky Wildcats will host Jon Kuminga for an unofficial visit next Tuesday:

Kuminga is a 6-8 forward from Centereach, NY. He is ranked as No. 3 in the 2021 class according to the 247 Sports and Rivals rankings. ESPN ranks him No. 4 overall.

Particularly during his sophomore high school season, Kimunga has shown to be one of the more versatile players in the class. He defends very well, gets to the basket, and has great court vision to distribute the ball. His three-point shot is not bad, either.

Kuminga is taking an unofficial visit to Lexington the Wildcats take on the Arkansas Razorbacks at 9 pm on the SEC Network. This is really the first time that Kimunga has appeared on the radar for Kentucky, and any traction they can make with him early would be a great start on his recruitment.

Among the many schools who’ve offered Kuminga include the Auburn Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide, Baylor Bears, Georgia Bulldogs, Maryland Terrapins and West Virginia Mountaineers.

While he already holds offers from many programs not considered a “blue blood,” it seems that John Calipari is just now making it around to recruiting the New York native. St. Johns is the early favorite for Kuminga, but that could change very quickly once some more prominent programs get involved.

Kuminga’s style fits very well with the positionless basketball model, and he is just the type of player that Calipari is looking for. However, he has to score an offer from the Wildcats first. Will that come next week?

Here are some of his highlights from the fall:

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3 Kentucky football assistant coaches sign new contract extensions – Courier Journal

3 Kentucky football assistant coaches sign new contract extensions  Courier Journal

Kentucky has released new contracts for football assistants Eddie Gran, Vince Marrow and Michael Smith.

Kentucky Football Update Following National Signing Day – Last Word on College Football

Kentucky Football Update Following National Signing Day  Last Word on College Football

Kentucky Football Update Following National Signing Day: Looking at what has been a very busy time in Lexington over the last couple of weeks.

Tyler Herro continues to thrive in road games, especially the big ones

Herro loves playing in front of a hostile crowd.

After scoring 20 points and leading the Kentucky Wildcats over the Auburn Tigers back in January, Tyler Herro famously said that he prefers hitting big shots “on the road for sure. I just like hitting big shots against people who don’t like us. If they don’t like us, we don’t like them.”

After the Wildcats have won six road games in a row, and seven of eight overall, Herro is certainly backing up that attitude. He has averaged 16.1 points in true road games, and has led Kentucky in points in nearly half of them.

Herro has shot a perfect 23 for 23 from the free throw line in road games, and he has made 16 of 37 three-point attempts, which is good for 43% from deep. He has his 52.3% overall from the field in those games. Four of Herro’s five highest scoring games of the season have come at Louisville (24), Auburn (20), Florida (19), and Missouri (18).

One overlooked aspect of Herro’s game has been his defense. He has almost completely shut down scorers John Petty (six points) of Alabama and Florida’s KeVaughn Allen (11 points). Many of Allen’s points in Gainesville came off of a defensive switch.

Kentucky has seen team after team bring a guy into Rupp Arena that just could not miss. Big Blue Nation has grown to hate many players over the years for their swagger against the Cats, particularly at home.

But it has been a while since Kentucky has had one of those guys. Herro is a player that opposing fan-bases love to hate. If he was on an opposing roster, you’d better believe that Wildcat fans would despise him.

However, since he rocks Kentucky blue, he has become a guy that Coach John Calipari can count on in hostile environments. The biggest road test remaining on the schedule is at Tennessee, where Coach Cal is has lost five of eight since arriving in Lexington.

Can Herro help the Wildcats get back on track in Thompson-Boling Arena? We will find out on March 2nd.

In the meantime, Kentucky needs Herro to step up at home against Auburn and Arkansas in the next two games, especially with Reid Travis now sidelined for a few weeks.

Kentucky vs. Auburn: Preview, viewing info & what to watch for in Round 2

These two teams will look different than when they faced off at Auburn.

After a lackluster eight-point win in Columbia on Tuesday night, the Kentucky Wildcats return to Rupp Arena for a Saturday afternoon matchup with the Auburn Tigers.

This will mark the second meeting between these two teams, Kentucky narrowly squeaked out a 82-80 victory on January 19th back when Auburn was ranked 14th.

The Tigers went on to lose their next two games and haven’t been back in the top 25 since.

In a year that was filled with promise, Bruce Pearl’s team is now just 7-6 in league play with an overall record of 18-8. This is a vast underachievement compared to the preseason expectations that were put in place for this team. It can be easy to forget that back in November, Auburn narrowly lost to Duke in the Maui Invitational.

All of that being said, it goes without question that Coach Pearl is going to have his team playing with a sense of desperation from here on out. Kentucky will need to feed off of the home crowd and put together a 40-minute performance.

With Tennessee playing LSU this weekend, it will allow the Cats to take another step towards closing the gap for the SEC regular season championship.

But beating the Auburn Tigers is priority #1.

4 keys to the game

Establish EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards

The obvious big news from an otherwise boring game was the injury that Reid Travis suffered down in Columbia. As soon as he went down and the replay was shown, it was one of those things when all you can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Nobody in the Big Blue Nation likes the idea of rounding the corner to March while missing the senior leadership that Travis brings to the table.

That being said, it is now time for the next man to step up, and fortunately for Kentucky, they have some solid depth in the frontcourt. Getting EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards more comfortable while playing extended minutes will have to be a priority if Reid Travis is to miss any significant amount of time with his knee injury.

Even if Travis was to come back sooner than later, it is still fair to say that the Cats will need contributions from both Richards and Montgomery if they are to have a chance at accomplishing the ultimate goal of winning a ninth national championship.

The frontcourt duo of Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery did not have the best outing in Kentucky’s last meeting with Auburn back on January 19th. The two combined for just one point, two rebounds, and five fouls in 20 total minutes. That was also with Auburn missing one of their best big men, Austin Wiley, who has since returned to the Tigers lineup.

EJ Montgomery has really taken steps over the last few weeks of cementing his role on this team. Over the last 4 games, he has averaged 13.5 minutes a game. This number will increase dramatically if Reid Travis is unavailable. Montgomery is oozing with potential and this could very well be his chance to show the college basketball world what he is capable of.

Nick Richards on the other hand has still shown little-to-no consistency from game to game. The fact of the matter is, you do not know which Nick Richards is checking into the game when he is called upon.

Will it be the Nick Richards who is running the floor and aggressively protecting the rim? Or the Nick Richards that is foul prone and costing his team points?

It is looking likely that he will have an opportunity to play through some mistakes and see if he can become a consistent contributor. The time is now for the sophomore center.

After Richards had an explosive game back in January on the road at Vanderbilt, where he scored 14 points on 4-5 shooting, it seemed that maybe he had turned a corner. But he only digressed in the five games after Vandy, playing more than 10 minutes just one time.

However, Richards did have one of his better games on Tuesday against Missouri, where he scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in 13 minutes. Hopefully, that solid play will carry over against the Tigers on Saturday afternoon, because without Reid Travis, the Wildcats are going to desperately need Richards to play to his potential.

Limit the Tigers from three

The Tigers have now taken over 750 three-point shots this season. Yes, you read that correctly. For comparison, Kentucky has only taken a total of 449 shots from behind the arc. So it goes without saying that limiting Auburn’s looks from deep will be one of the biggest keys to victory on Saturday.

If the Cats can prevent Auburn from absolutely lighting it up from three, then they will put themselves in line for a victory. Not only does Auburn shoot a ton of long range shots, but they also make an impressive 37% of those attempts.

Leading the charge from long range is Bryce Brown, who is one of the best shooters in the SEC when ranked by volume and percentage. He makes over 40% from deep.

Kentucky fans should be familiar with Brown because he played one heck of a game on his floor against the Wildcats earlier this season. In the loss to UK, Brown scored 28 points while shooting 6-7 from three. He almost single-handily led his team to a victory that afternoon and you can anticipate more of the same effort this time around.

After the game against Kentucky, things have not been as easy for Brown as he has only surpassed the 20-point mark in one other game since. Hopefully, the bright lights of Rupp Arena don’t ignite any super powers like they sometimes do for opposing shooters.

Get Hagans going

The Cats are still on a complete tear over the last two months, winning 12 of their last 13 games. However, there have been a few areas of concern that seem to be lingering and causing some anxiety for followers of the program.

First off, the poor play from Ashton Hagans is becoming more of a trend than just a bad game or two. Over his last six games, Hagans is averaging 2.8 turnovers a game and has surprisingly only tallied a total of eight steals during those six games. Most fans had become accustomed to Hagans dominating his opponent from start to finish, but that dominance has wavered a bit as of late.

It was great to see Hagans make some big shots offensively at Missouri, including hitting two three pointers. It would be very impactful for Kentucky on Saturday, and moving forward, if Hagans can just settle down and migrate back to the player that he was a few weeks ago.

Leadership

There is the obvious storyline of Reid Travis being unavailable for this game and likely several more games. It is going to be crucial for other guys to step up and take on that leadership role.

The obvious person to step up and lead would be PJ Washington. Washington is doing all he possibly can from a statistical perspective, but adding that additional leadership support would go a long way when Travis isn’t in the middle over these next few weeks.

Hagans is the team’s point guard and was becoming a leader during his breakout in late December/early January, but his regression has made it harder for him to lead. He needs to be a more consistent player and leader for Kentucky going forward.

Players to watch:

Bryce Brown: 16 points and 40% on 3-pointers

This will be a good game for Ashton Hagans to get back on track against one of the best scorers in the SEC. Brown already dropped 28 on Kentucky earlier this year. He’s also hit eight of his last 14 threes coming into Rupp. It will likely take more than his 16 point-per-game average to upset the Cats at home.

Jared Harper: 15 points per game and 39.2% on 3-pointers

Harper scored 17 points on 5-13 shooting in the loss to Kentucky earlier this season. He is a consistent scoring option for the Tigers scoring double figures in 19 games this year. He’s not quite as consistent as his backcourt mate, but Harper does have eight games of 19+ points this season. He recently went for 25 on 7/11 shooting in a five-point loss at LSU.

Chuma Okeke: 11 points and 1.2 blocks per game

Okeke is the Tigers primary scoring option in the post. At nearly 50% from the field, he is a reliable scoring threat. Okeke scored 11 points in the first meeting with Kentucky. He’s also very dangerous from deep, as he’s hit 6/11 from deep over his last three games.

Austin Wiley: 8.7 points and 1.5 blocks per game

Wiley unexpectedly missed the first meeting with Kentucky but has since returned to the Tigers’ lineup. Although, he is only averaging about seven minutes per game over the last four games. Adding his size and rebounding ability to a team that hoists up as many threes as Auburn does, really makes them a different team. Keeping Wiley off the glass when he is on the court is a very important job for UK’s frontcourt, which is now more vulnerable with Travis out.

Auburn Tigers (18-8) at Kentucky Wildcats (22-4)

Date: February 23, 2019

Game Time: 1:30 pm EST

Location: Rupp Arena Lexington, Kentucky

TV Channel: You can watch the game on CBS

Online Stream: You can stream the game online at CBSSports.com or on a mobile device using the CBS Sports App.

Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington or online at UKAthletics.com.

Replay: Check local listings on the SEC Network and WatchESPN.

Rosters: UK | AU

Odds: No line has been set, but KenPom projects Kentucky to be a 7.5-point favorite at home.

Predictions: ESPN gives Kentucky a 74.4% chance of beating Auburn for the second time this season. KenPom gives the Cats a 73% chance of winning and projects a final score of 75-68.

Thursday Quickies: Knee Injuries Edition

Kentucky’s Reid Travis and Duke’s Zion Williamson both suffered knee injuries that could leave them sidelined a couple weeks

Yesterday was a day of anxiety around the Kentucky Basketball program as we awaited news of the severity of Reid Travis’s knee injury.

From the reports, it appears that Travis did suffer a sprain in his right knee, which will sideline him for the next week or two. However, it does seem like he will be back in time for the SEC and NCAA Tournaments, which is big news for Kentucky and for Travis.

One of the reasons Travis opted to spend a grad transfer year in Lexington was to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, and it looks like he will be healed and ready to go when that time comes.

Elsewhere last night, arguably the biggest star in college basketball this year, Duke’s Zion Williamson, also suffered a sprained knee very early in the Duke-UNC matchup. Zion’s shoe infamously fell apart and he sprained his knee during the play, leaving the game and not returning in Duke’s loss to the Tarheels.

Zion’s injury, especially just on the surface, looked much more dramatic than Reid’s, but both will likely miss nearly the same amount of time. These are definitely huge losses to teams that are among the top teams in the country coming down the home stretch of the season.

Tweets of the Day

You gotta love Joe B.

A nice tribute to Tubby Smith.

Quickies

‘It make us all nervous.’ Travis to miss at least two weeks - Herald Leader

Yesterday was a very nervous day around the Kentucky program.

With Travis out, opportunity awaits for Nick and EJ - Herald Leader

Kentucky will really need at least one of the two to take a big step forward.

Kentucky-Missouri by the numbers - Cats Pause

The Cats are now 12-1 all time versus the Tigers.

Kenny Payne wants to see even more from Tyler Herro - KSR

Payne said Herro is only showing 80 percent of how good he is.

UNC handles Zion-less Duke in rivalry - Yahoo

The Tarheels pick up a major win with Zion Williamson sidelined most of the game.

Could Zion shut it down for the rest of the season? - Yahoo

Hard to see Zion not returning to the floor at all this season.

Georgia assessed critical technical after fan throws stuffed toy on the court - ESPN

What a way to lose that game for UGA.

Florida takes down LSU in Baton Rouge - NBC Sports

Kentucky and LSU now sit one game behind Tennessee in the SEC race.

DeMarcus Cousins enters new phase in Warriors comeback - ESPN

Cousins will reportedly no longer have a minutes cap.

Jodie Meeks signs 10-day contract with Raptors - KSR

Meeks will have a chance to catch on with one of the top teams in the league.

Giannis or Harden... who is the MVP? - ESPN

Which player would you take to be the league MVP this year?

Updated: Allen scores 21, Florida downs No. 13 LSU – Gatorsports.com

Updated: Allen scores 21, Florida downs No. 13 LSU  Gatorsports.com

By Brett Martel, The Associated Press. BATON ROUGE, La. — When Florida's KeVaughn Allen pulled up for an open 3 early in the second half at LSU, he'd ...

UK confirms Reid Travis injury and timetable: What it means going forward

All things considered, this is good news. Losing Travis is less than ideal, but it’s not the end of the world.

Despite winning Tuesday night, Kentucky in a sense suffered a loss as grad transfer Reid Travis suffered a knee injury in the Wildcats’ 66-58 win over Missouri.

The injury came on a play that saw Keldon Johnson fall backward and land directly on Travis’ knee:

On Wednesday night, Kentucky confirmed that Travis suffered a sprained right knee and is expected to miss two weeks.

All things considered, this is good news for Travis and Kentucky, as it appears he’ll be back by the start of the SEC Tournament.

“I just feel so good that it was more of a sprain than anything else because you just get worried about that stuff when you see someone go down,” UK head coach John Calipari said in a press release. “We are going to be very conservative with this, so he may be out a couple weeks. We hope he will be ready for around the conference tournament or maybe even a little bit before, but I’m happy for Reid that we’re going to get him back.”

Losing Travis for an extended period of time is still less than ideal for the Wildcats.

The senior forward is averaging 11.6 points per game with 7.1 rebounds for Kentucky this season and most importantly provides the young Wildcats with a veteran presence unseen in the John Calipari era.

On Monday, associate head coach Kenny Payne had strong words of praise for Travis saying:

“He’s a very physical forward who has really learned to move his feet and be defensive here. It doesn’t always show up in the stats, what he means to this program, but I can only say this to you guys: I can’t imagine Reid Travis not on this team and what he’s meant. Imagine being at Stanford for the last two years, averaging 20 and eight and nine. You come here, the numbers aren’t the same, but your impact on the program is more because now you’re winning against the No. 1 team in the country.”

With five games left in the regular season, Kentucky will need both EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards to step up in a big way.

On Saturday, Kentucky will take on the Auburn Tigers. When the two teams met on January 19th, Travis had 17 points and seven rebounds. On the bench, Montgomery and Richards combined for one point and four rebounds.

Thus, Montgomery and Richards have no time to waste. Both must perform higher than their season averages in order for Kentucky to succeed without Travis.

To this point, neither has been able to find much rhythm game to game, but they both continue to show flashes of becoming impact big men. Truth is, Kentucky needed one of them to step up and take on a bigger role with the NCAA Tournament coming soon. Perhaps this setback with Travis will allow one of those two to find himself and become what Kentucky needs to win a national championship.

But if both struggle to rebound again like they did in Columbia, it might be a long day against a physical Auburn team, which now has Austin Wiley back after he missed the first matchup with his own knee injury.

That said, Kentucky still has a great chance to beat Auburn and should be able to survive Arkansas at home next Tuesday without Travis. However, going down to Knoxville without Travis on March 4th for a rematch with Tennessee would be Kentucky’s biggest test to date.

Still, there should be no rushing Travis back. Kentucky should allow him to fully recover while giving the Montgomery-Richards duo a chance to shine. Kentucky needs Travis at or close to 100% to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, so that should be the ultimate goal.

It’s also going to be pivotal for PJ Washington to not only keep playing at a high level, but also continue to become a stronger leader for this Kentucky team. The Wildcats are going to be leaning more on him for leadership for the next few weeks.

One other interesting thing to watch for will be when multiple Kentucky bigs are in foul trouble. If that happens, we may see some four-guard lineups with Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson manning the 1-4 spots.

All told, this Kentucky teams needs Travis to reach its full potential in March, and thankfully, it appears they’ll have him back soon enough.

Kentucky offers Isaiah Todd

The ball is rolling.

Kentucky has been courting 2020 forward Isaiah Todd for quite some time, and the coaching staff has finally stepped forward with an official scholarship offer.

On Wednesday, head coach John Calipari visited Todd, and not long after, the offer came. Now, the ball is rolling toward Todd being a 2019 recruit that Kentucky is favored for.

According to the 247 Sports composite ranking, Todd is the No. 12 player and the No. 2 power forward in the 2020 class. He has a versatile skill set that will allows him to play on the block, run the floor, and handle the ball on the perimeter.

In early January, stories started circulating that the five-star Virginia native was considering a reclassification to the 2019 class. And given Kentucky’s limited options for the front court for 2019, that could make him a hot commodity for John Calipari and company.

N’Faly Dante is currently the only big man that Kentucky has offered in the 2020 class aside from Todd. So it is very possible that the Wildcats would be interested in Todd in either class. However, given the timing of the offer compared to when the reclassification rumors started, this could be another indicator that Todd is strongly considering moving up a class.

For the 2019-2020 season, Kentucky looks to return Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery. Matthew Hurt, Jaden McDaniels, and Keion Brooks are still on the board for the Wildcats, but they are not favored in any of those recruitments.

After missing on Vernon Carey, James Wiseman, and Isaiah Steward, getting a talented 2020 player to move up to 2019 is a good strategy for getting more depth in the front court. Is that an option for Isaiah Todd at Kentucky?

We may find out sooner rather than later.

Go follow our Twitter page to get all of the latest Kentucky Wildcats news and views. And be sure to check out our latest Kentucky shirt.

John Calipari provides update on Reid Travis’s knee injury – Saturday Down South

John Calipari provides update on Reid Travis’s knee injury  Saturday Down South

The Kentucky Wildcats beat the Missouri Tigers on Tuesday night, but it came with a cost, as big man Reid Travis went down with a knee injury. It didn't look ...

John Calipari visiting Isaiah Todd

Kentucky has picked up significant momentum in this recruitment.

It’s no secret that Kentucky’s recruiting class for 2019 has not lived up to prior expectations. John Calipari and Co. have missed out on nearly every top-tier talent they’ve gone after, excluding Kahlil Whitney and Tyrese Maxey.

It’s not anywhere near time to hit the panic button, but some concern should be shown for the lack of talent this class is going to bring in. However, all of that could change if five-star power forward Isaiah Todd decides to reclassify and become a Wildcat in 2019.

In fact, John Calipari is meeting with Todd today, according to Rivals reporter Corey Evans.

Todd, currently the No. 13 overall player in the 2020 class, is a 6-10 versatile big man that can hurt you in a lot of ways, and he’s a big body the Cats desperately need for next year’s class.

The Herald-Leader recently talked to recruiting guru Evan Daniels, who said that if a scholarship offer from Kentucky is given to Todd, that the Cats would be No. 1 on his list. The other team hot on his list is the North Carolina Tar Heels.

“He has a lot of potential. He has good size and length and mobility and athletic ability,” Daniels said. “There’s impressive skill there, especially with his footwork and his hands and his touch. The biggest key for him is staying locked in, competing consistently, and playing more inside than fading to the perimeter.”

Daniels recently logged a crystal ball prediction in favor of Kentucky for Todd. While an offer has yet to be made, perhaps Calipari will do it while visiting Todd today.

After this season, Kentucky will have plenty of minutes for big men to go around. PJ Washington will be a first round pick and Reid Travis won’t be eligible to play anymore. To see a frontcourt of Nick Richards, E.J. Montgomery, and Isaiah Todd would be really fun.

So how good are the chances of Todd’s reclassification?

“I think they’re pretty good,” Daniels said. “He obviously hasn’t come out and said he’s going to do it, but it seems like it’s headed that direction.”

If Todd does reclassify, we could see him play the role that EJ Montgomery is playing right now.

No matter what, the Cats need to strengthen their 2019 class. A reclassification and commitment from Todd would really help.

Go follow our Twitter page to get all of the latest Kentucky Wildcats news and views. And be sure to check out our latest Kentucky shirt.

The Skinny Podcast: Talking sports with Rick Broering (2/20/19) – WKRC TV Cincinnati

The Skinny Podcast: Talking sports with Rick Broering (2/20/19)  WKRC TV Cincinnati

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Local 12 digital sports columnist and editor Richard Skinner was joined by Rick Broering to discuss a variety of topics including Bengals, ...

The Skinny Podcast: Talking sports with Rick Broering (2/20/19) – WKRC TV Cincinnati

The Skinny Podcast: Talking sports with Rick Broering (2/20/19)  WKRC TV Cincinnati

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Local 12 digital sports columnist and editor Richard Skinner was joined by Rick Broering to discuss a variety of topics including Bengals, ...

Joe B. Hall congratulates John Calipari on his 297th win at UK

Coach Cal is now in second place at UK in all-time wins, and Coach Hall was happy to see it.

John Calipari continues to move up Kentucky’s all-time wins list.

On Tuesday, Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats notched a 66-58 win over Missouri, his 297th win as head coach of the greatest program in college basketball. That put Cal in a tie with Joe B. Hall for the second-most wins ever at Kentucky.

“What Coach Hall did for Kentucky, following an absolute legend, maybe one of the greatest to ever coach this game,” Calipari said after the game. “He had to walk in and follow Adolph Rupp. Then get to Final Fours, win a national title. I mean, what he did here, how he did it, and then he’s become my mentor and my friend.

“From Day 1, he’s been in practice. He’s still trying to get me to play that crazy 1-3-1. He tells me all the time, ‘You need to play it. I’m telling ya, I can put it in in a day.’ I say, ‘Put it in, Coach.’

“Our fans have been so great to him, but you want him to have his place in history.”

Shortly after Tuesday’s win, UK released a video honoring Cal’s accomplishment with a message from Coach Hall:

“John, you’re doing this a little bit early but go ahead, break my record. It’s there to be broke, and I’m proud that it’s you,” said Hall. “John, I would never, ever regret that you came here. You were born to coach at Kentucky and you’ve done a marvelous job maintaining the tradition, keeping the spirit up of the crowd and keeping this program on top, and it’ll stay there as long as we have people like you at the helm.

“So good luck, and we’re all pulling for a new (points to national championship logo) right here.”

The love Coach Hall has for Calipari and Kentucky is truly a beautiful thing.

More positive vibes for UK with Keion Brooks

UK continues to gain momentum as Brooks reportedly nears a decision.

The recruitment of Keion Brooks is nearing its end, and the Kentucky Wildcats remain strongly in the mix.

The five-star forward out of La Lumiere (IN) is set to make his college decision soon between the Wildcats, Indiana Hoosiers, Michigan State Spartans and North Carolina Tar Heels.

However, this has been viewed as a two-horse race between Kentucky and Indiana going into the final stretch of this recruitment. And now, it’s Kentucky who appears to be in front.

The 247 Sports Crystal Ball, which has favored Indiana for the majority of Brooks’ recruitment, now has Kentucky getting the most predictions. 247 Sports recruiting director Jerry Meyer also just logged a prediction for the Wildcats.

KSR’s Jack Pilgrim still expects a decision from Brooks by the end of February, and he’s picking Kentucky to win out.

It probably helps that Indiana just lost at home in brutal fashion to Purdue, further destroying the Hoosiers’ chances of making the NCAA Tournament as they’ve lost 11 of their last 12 games. Hoosier fans also continue to make complete fools of themselves, but that’s nothing new.

It’s also worth pointing out that Brooks is about to go on spring break, which will give him more time to make a decision with his family. If it comes next week, it looks like Kentucky is the choice.

According to the 247 Sports class calculator, the addition of Brooks would push Kentucky’s 2019 class to No. 2 overall behind only Arizona, who may suffer some decommitments depending on how the FBI and NCAA investigations go.

Then there’s the chance Kentucky could add one of Isaiah Todd, Matthew Hurt or Jaden McDaniels to the class later this spring/summer. For all of the grief John Calipari and his staff have gotten for their recruiting misses recently, they may be poised to land yet another class ranked No. 1 or 2 in the final rankings.

A Sea of Blue comes loaded with the best Kentucky Wildcats links, news, analysis, and some other fun stuff, so be sure to go ‘like’ our Facebook page and then go follow us on Twitter. And be sure to check out our latest Kentucky shirt.

John Calipari gives encouraging update on Reid Travis

There’s a growing belief Travis avoided a season-ending injury, but he’s not out of the woods yet.

UPDATE 3

In a pre-recorded segment on the John Calipari Call-In Show (he’s visiting Isaiah Todd), he guessed that the injury will cost Reid Travis at least a week.

You have to think Calipari and Kentucky’s medical staff have an idea of Travis’ injury if he’s willing to guess on how long the senior will be out.

10 days would put a return for Travis right at the day of the Knoxville showdown with the Tennessee Volunteers

Two weeks could mean a return for Senior Day vs. the Florida Gators.


UPDATE 2

The team is now back in Lexington as Reid Travis is set to have an MRI today.

According to KSR’s Matt Jones, the team believes Travis did not tear his ACL, and there’s growing optimism that the injury is not season ending and will only sideline him for a couple of weeks.

Regardless of what the exact injury is, it’s safe to assume Travis won’t play this weekend when the Kentucky Wildcats host the Auburn Tigers.


UPDATE

Due to inclement weather, the Kentucky Basketball team is still in Missouri, which will prevent an MRI from being done until tonight at the earliest. And for what it’s worth, Reid Travis is in good spirits.

At this point, the hope is this is just a sprain that doesn’t keep him out of the NCAA Tournament. But we’re probably a day away from knowing for sure.


The Wildcats may have won at Missouri, but all anyone cares about now is the status of Reid Travis

After all, losing to a 12-13 Tigers team wouldn’t have been as devastating as potentially losing Travis for the rest of the season, but it’s starting to look like he’ll return at some point in his final collegiate campaign.

The senior forward went down in the second half with a knee injury that forced him to the locker room, though he never on the ground in pain, nor did he need assistance in walking off the court. Those are good signs it wasn’t a major injury, but it’s still far from anything definitive.

Not long after the game ended, head coach John Calipari suggested on the postgame show that this could be a two-week injury:

Since then, Kyle Tucker of The Athletic has reported there’s optimism around the team for Travis’ health:

And for what it’s worth, Dr. David Chao, one of the best in the business at diagnosing sports injuries by just watching a video of the injury, thinks it may just be an MCL sprain.

In many cases, a team’s medical staff can tell if it’s a major injury that will end said player’s season. There hasn’t been anything come out to suggest that’s the case, but no one ever knows for sure until the MRI results come out.

Because weather forced Kentucky to stay in Missouri, it’s possible we don’t get an update on Travis until tonight or sometime Thursday. I can’t imagine we’ll make it to Friday with no update.

5 more thoughts and postgame notes from Kentucky’s win over Missouri