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- No. 12 Kentucky and No. 5 Arizona State to start best-of-three NCAA Super Regional set Saturday at 10 p.m. ET
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By LARRY VAUGHT
If you need something to make you feel a bit better today, this is for you.
Chris Cruz and Nathan Burns are part of an organization called Big Blue Nation Cares (BBNC) that helps provide game tickets for Kentucky fans that have a special reason for wanting to attend a football or basketball game but have no real way to get tickets.
They actually started the organization because they are such big Kentucky football fans, but now also help fans with tickets to UK basketball games when possible.
You may remember the request a Danville woman had about trying to find a way to take her 85-year-old father to a Kentucky basketball game. His wife of 62 years died a few weeks ago. She was the same woman I watched pay so three youngsters she had never seen or met before could have a basketball for DeAndre Liggins to autograph when he made an appearance at Wildcat Warehouse in Danville a few months ago.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to give him wonderful things to do to keep him from dying from a broken heart,Ã¢â‚¬Â the woman said and revealed that her father had followed UK since the days of coaches Adolph Rupp and Paul Ã¢â‚¬Å“BearÃ¢â‚¬Â Bryant.
Guess what? Cruz and Burns have come to the rescue again and have got her tickets for UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game against Chattanooga.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I love what you did for those three young men in helping them get LigginsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ autograph,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cruz said in his e-mail to her. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We would love to treat you and your father to front row seats at a UK game.Ã‚Â The seats are in the front row of Section 15. Coach Joe B HallÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s seats are several seats to your right, so you can say hi to him and typically get to see a number of former players who come by to say hello to him during the game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My father is 81 years old and was able to sit down front once Ã¢â‚¬â€ he had a blast. He graduated from UK in 1956 and is responsible for the UK Blue Blood that runs through my veins.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Not only did BBNC get tickets for the woman and her father, the organization he managed to find a third ticket so her husband could also go to the game.
Needless to stay, the Danville woman is thrilled.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh my word, I never imagined my Dad could sit in the front row near Joe B. Hall. He will flip out!Ã‚Â Uh, actually he did a flip one time after Kentucky won a game, on the floor in front of everybody. Gotta love him,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.
However, looking back she wishes she had done one thing differently at Wildcat Warehouse.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As for the boys and the autographs, I didn’t do it completely right. One of the boys had a lot of cash and I didn’t buy his autograph. Why didn’t I? I could use a do-over with that and spend my money for all four of the boys! I pray that I will see him around town one day and give him his autograph money back! Everything for kids,Ã¢â‚¬Â the Danville woman said.
Wow. After all she did, she wishes she had did more. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so nice to see Burns, Cruz and BBNC help someone with a true blue heart.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Your heart was in the right place …. those boys will remember your act of kindness forever,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cruz told her.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She sounds like the kind of person that lifts the others around her up by act of kindness. I love those type of people,Ã¢â‚¬Â Burns told me. Ã¢â‚¬Å“She seems like a special person and someone I am truly glad you came across. Thanks Larry for finding us someone that just wants to go enjoy a UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†sporting event.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Big Blue Nation Cares has now provided about 350 tickets to deserving fans over the past five years.
In this case, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s almost like two angels Ã¢â‚¬â€ Cruz and Burns Ã¢â‚¬â€ helping another angel and making their own places in Big Blue Heaven.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky has landed its second commitment for the 2012 recruiting class in 6-11 forward/center Willie Cauley.
Kentucky coach John Calipari was unable to convince WichitaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Perry Ellis to leave his home state earlier in the recruiting battles, but he got Cauley of Olathe, Kan., to pick the Wildcats over Kansas State, Alabama and Florida. He did not receive an offer from Kansas.
He joins Arkansas guard Archie Goodwin in CalipariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 2012 recruiting class.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Right now Cauley’s defense is well ahead of his offense. Cauley is a dynamic shot blocker who can control the glass with his good hands and natural feel for how to rebound. Offensively he is very raw, and doesn’t have a great feel for how to score yet,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Scout.com national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels about Cauley.
Cauley is also an outstanding wide receiver in football and Calipari went to see him play recently.
Daniels has Cauley ranked as the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 28th best overall player and No. 5 center.
He was the biggest participant at the prestigious AmarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢e Stoudemire Skills Academy last summer when he was measured at 7-1.25 in shoes with a 7-2 wingspan.
He was perhaps the top-rated center prospect still on KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s early recruiting list and gives Calipari a solid post presence for the 2012 recruiting class.
The early signing period opens Wednesday and Calipari and UK are still involved with numerous other top 25 prospects.
By LARRY VAUGHT
If thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one thing Dick Vitale always has it would be enthusiasm. However, the colorful ESPN college basketball analyst is almost downright giddy when he talks about John CalipariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s third Kentucky team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Kentucky first seven players are going to be outstanding,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Vitale. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Terrence Jones is on my preseason all-American team. But what a tandem Terrence Jones and freshman Anthony Davis will be. They will be dynamic. They will be difficult to defend. They can play inside or outside. They have agility, quickness.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Vitale says itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s obvious UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†has more overall talent than last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Final Four team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Will the talent level equate to more wins? ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the question now because last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team finished with such a surge,Ã¢â‚¬Â Vitale said.
Vitale has three Wildcats Ã¢â‚¬â€ Davis, point guard Marquis Teague and wing player Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Ã¢â‚¬â€ on his Diaper Dandies, the players he considers the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best freshmen.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Teague has got to be sensational at point guard, but that is not a big dilemma,Ã¢â‚¬Â Vitale said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Gilchrist is a winner. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a rebounder and a tough, tenacious kid I really liked in high school.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Kentucky is going to get better and better as the season goes on. They will develop a rhythm, a chemistry. I think they are just going to be dynamite and a major, major factor in March. Jones and Davis will be great. I know that. This is going to be a big, big year for the Big Blue Nation. They are going to be absolutely thrilled with this group.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Vitale believes North Carolina, Connecticut and Kentucky Ã¢â‚¬â€ he calls them Goliaths Ã¢â‚¬â€ are clearly the top teams going into the season with Ohio State and Syracuse also big-time threats. He says the late signing of freshman center Andre Drummond makes UConn a threat to repeat at national champion and calls CarolinaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s front court Ã¢â‚¬Å“scaryÃ¢â‚¬Â and notes the Tar Heels have more experience than UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†or UConn.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Kentucky doesn’t rebuild, it simply reloads,Ã¢â‚¬Â Vitale said.
Yet Vitale did warn not to overlook Vanderbilt, or Florida, in Southeastern Conference play. He ranked Vandy No. 6 and Florida No. 10 in his preseason poll.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Kevin Stallings has a lot of veteran talent returning, including center Festus Ezeli, shooter John Jenkins and athletic Jeffery Taylor. Experience will be a plus, and it is going to be tough to win in Nashville even for Kentucky,Ã¢â‚¬Â Vitale said.
He says guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton give Florida coach Billy Donovan a potent offense and freshman Brad Beal and transfer Mike Rosario will provide a big punch. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Look for Patric Young to develop up front, too,Ã¢â‚¬Â Vitale said.
He knows how the hype UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game with North Carolina Dec. 3 is already generating. However, he warned also not to overlook the Dec. 31 matchup with Louisville, another of his top 10 teams.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think this will be a big year for Rick Pitino. He has a lot of talent coming in with Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan. Then look at returning veterans Peyton Siva, Kyle Kuric and Mike Marra and there is reason for a lot of enthusiasm,Ã¢â‚¬Â Vitale said.
As much as there is at Kentucky?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Big Blue is going to be crazy all year,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This could be a special, special year for Calipari. He has it all. If they win it all, it wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t surprise me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips again stressed Sunday that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not ready to move freshman Maxwell Smith ahead of Morgan Newton at quarterback quite yet in spite of the way the freshman played in SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s loss to Mississippi State.
Smith took over after Newton injured his ankle and injury and was more effective moving the UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†offense the second half than the Cats had been in any Southeastern Conference game this year.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We will let them compete this week and come up with who we think gives us the best chance to win,Ã¢â‚¬Â said the UK coach Sunday.
Phillips said NewtonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s injuries would be evaluated Monday and then again Tuesday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are both beat up. They both took shots,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Max is just banged up, bruised up. We have to get him healed up.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips said Smith consistently gets 40 percent of the reps with the first team in practice and must learn to recognize some defensive fronts better to avoid taking some of the hits he did Saturday night.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What we will do is give both of them opportunities to run with the ones (first unit) and twos (second unit) and see who handles the game plan best and see who gives us the best chance to win,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you are practicing, you are getting a chance to compete every week. The thing Max did is he went in and separated himself in the game. Rather he closed the game in the game. Most of the time you have to do that in practice. He went in and did it in a game and that gives him consideration to be the starter.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Since both Newton and Smith are Ã¢â‚¬Å“banged upÃ¢â‚¬Â already, that would mean true freshman Bookie Cobbins will be on standby if needed at quarterback. Phillips had toyed with playing him either at quarterback or receiver a few weeks ago, but opted to save his redshirt year. That will change if UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†needs a third quarterback.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“With both of them banged up, we would have to consider Bookie Cobbins. You have to finish the season. He would be our third quarterback if we have to go with someone,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said.
Phillips wanted no part of possibly using Smith simply because heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a freshman and would be a more viable long-term solution than Newton, a junior.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We just have to figure out who gives us the best chance to win in this game (Saturday against Mississippi) and that is who we will go with. We are not thinking about the future,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said.
The Kentucky coach would not rule out using both Newton and Smith if needed Saturday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are considering everything right now,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have to figure out which ones gives us the best chance to win the game. If we think they both do, then we can play both of them. We might not have any choice (about who to play). One might be out (injured). We have to make sure we figure out who is healthy and who can go and see which one gives us the best opportunity to win this game.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By KEITH TAYLOR, Winchester Sun
LEXINGTON Ã¢â‚¬â€ Kentucky guard Jarrod Polson saved his best for last during the Blue-White game last week at Rupp Arena. The former West Jessamine standout scored the blue teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s last basket Ã¢â‚¬â€ a dunk Ã¢â‚¬â€ in a 126-104 win over the white squad. Polson missed his first three field goal attempts, but had four rebounds, collected a pair of steals and two assists. At 6-foot-2, Polson even pulled down a rebound.
Polson took a few minutes to answer some questions following the intrasquad scrimmage.
How much has Terrence Jones improved this season?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Terrence is a new guy. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a new player and he even came in the summer and just worked harder than IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever seen him work before. Obviously it showed off (in the Blue-White game) and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to show up during the season.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Are you surprised that he came out and scored 52 points in the Blue-White game?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Not really. We have been practicing with him for a month or so now and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s done that in practice. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a totally different player and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s played so hard this year. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be hard to stop him.Ã¢â‚¬Â
What about you? What have you gotten better at?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m just learning more about the offense. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m probably not going to be a scorer this year. If I can get in there, play some good defense and control the offense. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m trying to do. I probably going to play the one or two most of the time, so if IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m at that point-guard position, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m just working to get the team into place and do what I need to do running (the team) and things like that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
How far do you see this team going this season?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Obviously, our goal is to get to the national championship and I honestly see it (happening). We were just talking (after the game) and we have so many different players and so many good players who are good at different things. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be really exciting this year.Ã¢â‚¬Â
What is the difference between this team and last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s squad and the progression of the two teams at this point in the season?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We might be further along this year (at this time) than we were last year in certain areas.Ã¢â‚¬Ë†WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re doing more dribble drive this year than we did last year. Last year we were more like a team that came off the pick-and-roles and the screens and stuff like that. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re definitely more of an up-tempo team this year, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because of the way all of our guys play.Ã¢â‚¬Â
How much have Darius (Miller) and Doron (Lamb) improved?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re just like Terrence. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve put in the work last summer and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s helped them elevate and improve their game. With Darius, I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen him miss a shot in a while. Doron struggled at first a little bit, but he had 31 points (in the blue-white game). They have both improved and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re definitely going to be ready for the season, too.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Are you guys ready to play an outside opponent such as Transylvania Wednesday?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be really nice to get some competition in and actually have a real-game experience.Ã¢â‚¬Â
What about being picked to win the SoutheasternÃ¢â‚¬Ë†Conference? Is there some pressure involved with that?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have a lot of expectations this year. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think it adds pressure.Ã¢â‚¬Ë†We know what to expect.Ã¢â‚¬Ë†WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to work our hardest and see what happens from there.Ã¢â‚¬Â
How do you handle that pressure, especially after going to the Final Four last year?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You just have to realize this is a new year and it really just comes down to one game at a time and trying to get better at some category every game. We just have to take every day seriously in practice.Ã¢â‚¬Â
What about the freshman class? How good are they?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re unbelieveable. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re all different in their own way, but at the same time, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re all just great players. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re all really mature and they work harder than any freshman group IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen. I think theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be ready for the season.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Did we see how good they are in the Blue-White game?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You probably havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen their best. I mean they all played pretty good, but they definitely have more in store for this season.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s coach Matthew Mitchell says his team has no bigger fan than Kentucky menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s coach John Calipari.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“John has created a lot of excitement at Kentucky. He has really, almost overnight, transformed the attitude surrounding the menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basketball program and that created a bunch of positive energy,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Mitchell Thursday at the Southeastern Conference Media Day. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re really not paying attention or youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re really missing a great opportunity if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tap in to anybody that is bringing positive energy.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He has been so generous with his time and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gone out of his way to try to recognize our program any time things have gone well, so IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m really appreciative of him. He bounces into our office almost every day and has an encouraging word and I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really important for us to feed off of that energy.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Also, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not many brand names in college basketball that are better than the name Kentucky. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re playing basketball and we have that great brand name so we need to tap into that too. We just feel like the menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basketball program is a tremendous opportunity for us to gain in the area of positive energy. We think that thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s there for us and we need to tap into that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Max Smith got his turn in the pocket and made the most of the opportunity.
In his most extensive action at Kentucky, the backup quarterback completed 26 of 33 passes for 174 yards Saturday night in the WildcatsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 28-16 loss to Mississippi State at CommonwealthÃ¢â‚¬Ë†Stadium.
Smith took over for starter Morgan Newton on KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s third series. Newton suffered a shoulder and knee injury and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t return.
Prior to getting the call Saturday, Smith made spot appearances in KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lopsided losses to Florida and South Carolina and started the second half of a loss at LSU. His seven completions in those three games went for 50 yards.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This was a different game,Ã¢â‚¬Â Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He went in and competed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I felt more relaxed,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Having that experience in those first (three) games where I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play well at all was huge. I started off a little shaky, messed up a couple of plays, but after that I was good (and) the nerves settled down.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Smith completed eight passes on 11 attempts in the first half for 25 yards. He threw for 91 yards in the third quarter, and his most impressive completion was a 19-yard strike to Matt Roark after getting hit in the pocket in the quarter.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He took some big hits, but got himself off the ground, came back in and made some other big plays,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what we talk about every day, when someone goes down, the next guyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s got to step up, go in and compete, even if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a freshman.Ã¢â‚¬Â
SmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s favorite target was Roark, who also made an 18-yard catch on a third-down play in the second half and another catch for 23 yards. Roark, who caught 13 passes for 116 yards, helped Smith feel more at ease in the pocket.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re good friends and I throw a lot to him,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been working after practice and twice (last week) we were throwing (to each other). I threw a lot to him from the get-go when I first got here and me and him have a good camaraderie.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Smith and Roark became friends when Smith arrived on campus and have been close ever since.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I just wanted to be kind of like his big brother and help him out, because I could tell heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be a great player and I just wanted to be there for him,Ã¢â‚¬Â Roark said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We work a lot together and it shows. We have a chemistry.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Brian Adams made a diving catch on an 11-yard strike from Smith on fourth and six in the fourth quarter to set up a touchdown.
SmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s performance leaves Phillips and his staff with a decision going into this weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game against Mississippi.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He played good enough that we will have to make a decision (on who will be the starter),Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said.
Although heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in the mix to be the starter, Smith isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t changing his approach.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m just going to prepare like I do every other week (and) just go with the flow,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky wore black uniforms for the first time. Kentucky successfully faked a punt for the first time this season and picked up a first down on its opening series. The Wildcats forced two turnovers deep in Mississippi State territory.
And the bottom line? More of the same.
Mississippi State overcame its early mistakes with a physical defense and at times an overpowering offense that wore out Kentucky 28-16 here Saturday night.
The Wildcats are 3-5 after losing for the fifth time in six games Ã¢â‚¬â€ and 0-4 in Southeastern Conference play where they have been outscored 165-36.
All the pregame hype about the black uniforms didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help. The WildcatsÃ¢â‚¬Ë†still could not make enough plays on offense even when Danny Trevathan, who had a monster game (17 tackles, one interception) forced a fumble at the State 20 and Ridge Wilson forced another at the State 18. Each time on fourth down, coach Joker Phillips elected to take the field goal. Either heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s that conservative or he knows his offense canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be trusted to pick up a first down on a key play. Take your pick.
Mississippi State was 0-4 in SEC play coming into the game, but by halftime the Bulldogs had 271 yards and 21 points despite alternating quarterbacks. The Bulldogs had also knocked starting quarterback Morgan Newton out with ankle and shoulder injuries and punished backup Maxwell Smith on almost every play. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve taken hits before, but not like that,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Smith.
But if there is a silver lining in a loss, it was Smith. The freshman who was battered around in relief efforts against LSU and South Carolina, played with remarkable poise. He was 26-for-33 passing for 174 yards and led three impressive second-half drives. By comparison, Newton had 23 completions for 194 yards in UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s last four games.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I hate to say this, but he has as much arm strength as anybody IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve coached,Ã¢â‚¬Â UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†offensive coordinator Randy Sanders, who coached Peyton Manning at Tennessee, said.
Phillips readily admitted Smith played himself into a chance to compete for a starting spot if Newton is healthy enough to play next week.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He played outstanding. He took some big hits, picked himself up off the ground and came back in and made other big throws. I am proud of him,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is one of those guys who is a freshman and went in there and competed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Trailing 28-9 and faced with a fourth and sixth at the State 19-yard line to open the fourth quarter, Phillips finally chose not to kick a field goal Ã¢â‚¬â€ and got a first down on a diving catch by Brian Adams at the 8. Two plays later, Jonathan George powered over on a 4-yard run to make it 28-16.
Smith took a huge shot on UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s final drive that got to the Mississippi State 8 before he overthrew LaRod King in the end zone. But just the toughness he showed to stay in the game along with the poise he had Ã¢â‚¬â€ he was sacked three times Ã¢â‚¬â€ and the way he got the ball out of his hands made the offense look much, much better.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are comfortable with him in the game,Ã¢â‚¬Â UK center Matt Smith said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry about that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But UK didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t win because it couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t put the ball in the end zone in the red zone and gave up three 80-yard touchdown drives and one 65-yard drive. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 305 yards on four drives and more than offset the three turnovers UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†forced.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was feast or famine, especially in the first half,Ã¢â‚¬Â UK defensive coordinator Rick Minter said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You just canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t give up 21 first-half points on long drives like we did knowing our offense has had to fight for every point it can get. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on us.Ã¢â‚¬Â
And it left Phillips pondering why even with a 3-0 edge in turnovers Ã¢â‚¬â€ UK was 6-0 under him when winning the turnover battle Ã¢â‚¬â€ that the Cats lost.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Defensively when you have three turnovers created and no turnovers offensively that usually equals a win,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s simple. We gave up too many big plays. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard for people to drive 80 yards on anyone, and we gave up three of them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Offensively, we had chance for short fields with the turnovers the defense gave us and we only got six points. We have got to find some way to put the ball in the end zone.Ã¢â‚¬Â
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right, but at least based on what happened here Saturday night, putting the ball back in SmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hands for the next game against Mississippi could certainly enhance the chances of that happening and UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†maybe winning a SEC game.
Mississippi State at Kentucky
Oct. 29, 2011 * Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Ky.
FINAL SCORE: Mississippi State 28, Kentucky 16
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky is 3-5 overall, 0-4 in the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State is 4-4, 1-4 in SEC play.
- Kentucky and Mississippi State met for the 39th time in school history. UK wore black uniforms for the first time in school history.
- Kentucky leads the all-time series 21-18 and is 12-7 against MSU in Lexington.
- Kentucky plays host to Ole Miss next Saturday, Nov. 5. The game will be televised by ESPNU at 3:30 p.m. ET.
UK Team Notes
- Mississippi State won the toss and deferred to the second half.
- This was the first loss for the Wildcats under Joker Phillips when Kentucky has won the turnover battle. UK is now 6-1 under Phillips in games that the Wildcats win the turnover margin.
- For the second consecutive game Kentucky won the time of possession battle against its opponent. Kentucky had a time of 37:00 in the game, while MSU had 23:00.
- Kentucky did not have a turnover in the game for the first time this season.
- The WildcatsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ defense held its opponent scoreless on its opening drive for the sixth time this season.
- The Kentucky defense forced three turnovers in the game, earning an interception and forcing two fumbles.
- UK completed a season-high 29 passes in the game for 189 yards, which is the second-highest passing yard total this season for the Wildcats.
- 1st Quarter Summary
- UK-M.Newton rush for 10 yards to the UK40. Newton injured on the play.
- UK-M.Smith in at QB.
- UK-R.Tydlacka (fake punt) rushed for 12 yards to the MSU44.
- UK-M.Newton back in at QB.
- MSU-V.Ballard fumbled, recovered by UK-C.Ukwu at the MSU21.
- UK-C.McIntosh made a 32-yard field goal. UK 3, MSU 0 (7:49)
- MSU-C.Relf completes a 26-yard pass to C.Bumphis to the UK49.
- MSU-C.Relf completes a 15-yard pass to R.Sanders to the UK31.
- MSU-C.Relf completes a 16-yard pass to M.Green to the UK15.
- MSU-C.Relf completes a 15-yard TD pass to R.Sanders. MSU 7, UK 3 (5:36)
- UK- M.Newton sacked by MSU-F.Cox for a loss of 3 yards to the UK37. Newton injured.
- UK-M.Smith in at QB. (3:28)
- UK- M.Smith sacked by MSU-F.Cox for a loss of 7 yards to the UK30.
- MSU-T.Russell completes a 40-yard pass to M.Carr to the UK12.
- MSU-C.Relf rushes for a 3-yard TD. MSU 14, UK 3 (0:00)
- 2nd Quarter Summary
- MSU-V.Ballard rushes 16 yards to the UK25.
- MSU-snap fumbled recovered by UK-R.Wilson at the MSU23.
- UK-C.McIntosh made a 22-yard field goal. MSU 14, UK 6 (8:32)
- MSU-T.Russell completes a 50-yard pass to MSU-M.Green to the UK12.
- MSU-C.Relf rushes for a 12-yard TD. MSU 21, UK 6 (7:02)
- MSU-J.Banks returns the punt 34 yards to the MSU40.
- MSU-C.Relf completes a 15-yard pass to MSU-M.Johnson at the UK18.
- MSU-C.Relf intercepted by UK-D.Trevathan at the UK2.
- It was TrevathanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s third interception this season and third of his career.
- 3rd Quarter Summary
- UK-M.Smith sacked by MSU-J.Banks for loss of 3 yards to the UK41.
- UK-M.Smith completes a 19-yard pass to UK-M.Roark to the MSU40.
- UK-C.McIntosh made a 35-yard field goal. MSU 21, UK 9 (8:13)
- MSU- T.Russell completes a 26-yard pass to MSU-A.Clark to the MSU46.
- MSU- T.Russell completes a 14-yard pass to MSU-M.Johnson to the UK40.
- MSU- T.Russell completes a 13-yard TD pass to MSU-M.Johnson. MSU 28, UK 9 (4:34)
- UK-M.Smith completes a 23-yard pass to UK-M.Roark to the MSU47.
- UK-M.Smith completes an 18-yard pass to UK-M.Roark to the MSU23.
- 4th Quarter Summary
- UK-M.Smith completes an 11-yard pass to UK-B.Adams to the MSU8.
- UK-J.George rushes for a 4-yard TD. MSU 28, UK 16 (13:50)
- UK-M.Smith completes an 11-yard pass to UK-J.George to the MSU33.
- UK-M.Smith sacked by MSU-J.Boyd for loss of 7 yards to the MSU18.
- UK-M. Smith throws incomplete on fourth and 7. Turnover on downs.
UK Individual Notes
- Freshman QB Maxwell Smith posted career highs, completing 26 of 33 passes for 174 yards, including a career-long pass completion of 23 yards.
- Senior WR Matt Roark totaled a career-high with both 13 catches and 116 receiving yards today. RoarkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 13 receptions rank second on UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all-time single-game list, tying Randall Cobb (vs. Tennessee, Nov. 27, 2010). Craig Yeast holds the school record with 16 catches vs. Vanderbilt on Nov. 14, 1998.
- RoarkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 116 receiving yards is the most for a Wildcat this season and the first time a UK wide receiver has eclipsed the 100-yard mark since LaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Rod King earlier this season against Central Michigan.
- Junior TB Coshik Williams earned his first career start, leading UK in rushing with 15 carries for 64 yards.
- Sophomore TB Jonathan George rushed a career-high 15 times for 41 yards and a touchdown.Ã‚Â His second consecutive game with a rushing TD.
- Senior punter Ryan Tydlacka punted four times for an average of 47.2 yards per punt, pinning MSU within its own 10-yard line once.
- Senior LB Danny Trevathan, who ranks second in the SEC in tackles, tied a career-high with 17 tackles in the game. Trevathan has double-digit tackles in 15 of the last 17 games, dating back to last season.
- TrevathanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 17 tackle performance moves him up to 17th on KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all-time tackle list, passing Keith Martin (1980-83). Trevathan needs two tackles to tie Art Still (1974-77) for 16th all time.
- Trevathan earned an interception in the game, marking the second consecutive game he has recorded a pick. He becomes the first player to notch back-to-back games with picks since Winston Guy in 2010 against Auburn and South Carolina.
Ã‚Â·Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Junior placekicker Craig McIntosh made a career-high three field goals, including makes from 32, 22 and 35 yards. McIntosh has made nine of his last 10 field goals this season and 18 of his last 21 dating back to last year.