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Looking at the picture to the right of UK’s student tailgate area, you wouldn’t think for a second that it was a college football gameday in the south. But that was the scene in Lexington this weekend for the Cats’ game against No. 6-ranked South Carolina.
After the news broke that UK President Eli Capilouto was banning all alcohol, DJs and bands along Cooper Drive and in the traditional fraternity/sorority tailgating area (the “bowl”), everyone assumed the tailgating situation on Saturday was going to be less lively than usual. But the truth is, there just simply wasn’t a tailgate scene. And by extension, attendance in the student section during the game was poor.
Most believe that Capilouto bringing the hammer down had to do with a fight that went down in the tailgate area before the UK-Western Kentucky game. A video surfaced of the fight, and was posted on several UK fan sites and message boards. Then this week, Capilouto passed the ruling that would effectively “cancel” the student tailgating scene.
Needless to say, some students were not happy about this.
“While I understand the need for some kind of punishment following what happened two weeks ago at the tailgate, I don’t think essentially “cancelling” the tailgate will help. I don’t think it’s fair that the whole student body be punished for what a small group of people did…Now, instead of tailgating on campus in a somewhat protected environment, students will be tailgating off campus,” said Lydia Whitman, a sophomore at UK. “Also, after seeing the video, I wonder where the police were when students were breaking up the fight. I think instead of giving students citations for underaged drinking, the undercover cops should be more concerned with bigger issues.”
Most students understood the president’s point of view, but thought he could have gone about the situation in a different way.
“I think it’s ridiculous to go from no warning to nobody allowed there,” said Brett Uminger, another student at UK. “I do understand where he is coming from, but I also think that shutting that down is only going to cause people to rage harder elsewhere and be more disruptive.”
While there have not been any reports of “incidents” during off-campus tailgates, the truth remains that the scene at Commonwealth Stadium was bleak.
“It is a shame to see the amazing time that I experienced as an undergrad to be taken away from those younger students,” said Sean Howard, a 2011 UK graduate. “Tailgating is a time that should be about students socializing with each other and rallying behind our football team. It is a shame that the delinquent behavior of a few can ruin a good thing for an entire community.”
While there is no official number for how many students were at the actual game, the majority of the student section’s upper deck was empty. After halftime, the students started filing out as soon as the Gamecocks went up on the Cats by four points heading into the fourth quarter. An entire quarter was remaining, UK was down by less than a touchdown to a top-10 team and a good portion of the stadium was already filing out, especially in the student section.
It’s hard to blame only Capilouto for the decreased attendance on the students’ part. However, judging by the reactions of those I talked to, his ruling was certainly the major contributor. Sad as it may seem, the chance to drink and be in the company of friends is one of the main factors in a UK student’s decision to attend a football game at Commonwealth this season. Only the hardcore football fans will be the ones who continue to attend, especially when there is no incentive otherwise to be there (i.e. parties, alcohol, etc).
President Capilouto is going to have to think long and hard about his tailgating decision before UK’s next home game. While the fight that happened at the WKU game was belligerent and irresponsible, that small group of people is not representative of the entire student tailgating scene at UK. If student attendance at the games continues to dwindle as it has been doing, Capilouto will have to consider bringing back the Cooper Drive tailgating opportunities – whether they choose to come to the game or not because of the team is the students’ choice. However, their attendance issues are actually something very preventable, and Capilouto should consider looking at the big picture rather than at one irresponsible scene.
By LARRY VAUGHT
True freshman Cody Quinn has started the last two games at cornerback. Here’s what he had to say after Saturday’s loss to South Carolina:
Question: What are your thoughts on the loss to South Carolina?
Quinn: ““We came out with enthusiasm. We played well in the first half. We just have to keep it up in the second half because it’s a 60 – minute game. We can’t play for 30 minutes. Look forward to next week. Just have to keep fighting.”
Question: What were you thinking in the second half when South Carolina overcame a 17-7 deficit?
Quinn: “It kind of felt like it was shifting away. Defensively, we made a few mistakes. We just have to pick it up and keep fighting. It’s a 60-minute game and we can’t just let up. We’ve been known to do that in previous games.”
Question: Did the play of South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore surprise you in the second half?
Quinn: ““He’s a great player. I seen him back in high school. He’s been doing that for a while. I’ve known him for a while. I feel like we could’ve stopped him. They started to ground and pound. They started to just run it down our throats. What they were doing running side to side wasn’t working, so they changed the game and what they were doing the second half.”
Question: Does it help knowing you had a 17-7 lead over the nation’s No. 6 team with an abundance of young players playing?
Quinn: “That is a great positive. (Quarterback) Jalen Whitlow was nice out there. (Receiver) A.J. Legree was good. We have a whole bunch of freshmen and sophomores playing. We just have to keep working and getting better each week. We can be good if we keep working and progressing and don’t get down on ourselves. It is exciting for our class. It’s exciting to see a lot of young guys getting playing time and making plays. That’s great for our future, but we have to focus on right now. We have Mississippi State coming up. We have to work and see what we can correct.”
Question: How much more comfortable do you feel playing now?
Quinn: “It’s starting to feel better and slow down for me. The more reps you get, you start to get better.”
Question: What was the first half like when UK built a 17-7 lead?
Quinn: “I was anxious. I was pumped. I felt like we had it. But it is a 60-minute game. Ain’t no way around it. You have to be ready for the second half. That’s what matters.”
Question: Has it surprised you how much you are playing?
Quinn: “If you would have told me that in the summer, I would not have thought it. Now it is reality, so I just have to keep playing.”
Question: But weren’t you confident you could help here when you signed to play at UK?
Quinn: “I thought I could, but then I got into camp and I didn’t know. They were just being patient with me and getting me ready to play. I am not overwhelmed. I am kind of cool about everything. I am just pumped and ready. I am just trying to get a win. That is what it comes down to. I have played pretty well the last two games, but I still have to get better. I try not to pump myself up and get the big head. I have to stay humble and get better.”
Question: How much fun is it to have freshmen Fred Tiller and J.D. Harmon also competing for playing time at cornerback?
Quinn: “It is awesome. It is tremendous to see the talent level we have and we are only 18 years old. It is exciting.”
Question: Is it fun to compete against freshmen receivers Demarcus Sweat and A.J. Legree in practice?
Quinn: “They are tough. Going against them every day, you have to get better. You have no choice.”
Question: Did Whitlow do anything to surprise you against South Carolina when he came in at quarterback?
Quinn: “He just came in and made plays. He made a few mistakes, but it was awesome. He just learns daily and makes progress every day. He just has to keep his composure and just not lose himself. Stay calm even in adversity and keep playing.”
Question: Is it difficult to deal with losing now that Kentucky is 1-4?
Quinn: “Yes. Nobody likes losing. I hate losing. It is kind of tough. You have to stay positive about it. It’s hard. Coming from high school and not being used to losing, it’s a hard transition. It’s a different level, though. I think we are just a bit away from turning things around.”
By KEITH TAYLOR, Winchester Sun
Jalen Whitlow wasn’t a last option for Kentucky when Maxwell Smith went down with an injury on Kentucky’s second play from scrimmage during the Wildcats’ 38-17 loss to sixth-ranked South Carolina Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium.
Whitlow turned out to be Kentucky coach Joker Phillips’ first option before Smith could get settled down in his first outing in two weeks. The redshirt freshman made his debut in the second half of Kentucky’s 38-0 loss at Florida last week in Gainesville, throwing for 12 yards on seven attempts, but was given more of a prominent role following Smith’s injury less than three minutes into the contest against the Gamecocks. Whitlow followed Morgan Newton in the loss to the Gators, a game that was decided before Whitlow took his first collegiate snap.
This time, Whitlow was prepared.
“I think I did alright,” he said. “I just had to manage the game and do what I can do and not try to do too much. I just did what I could do and try to move the chains.”
For one half, he kept Kentucky’s offense on the move. Whitlow’s performance was a nightmare for South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who suffered his first-ever loss to the Wildcats in his last visit to Lexington two years ago. Whitlow inspired an offensive unit that went scoreless against the Gators and tallied 17 points against the sixth-ranked team in the nation.
It was Whitlow’s competitive spirit that prevented the team from suffering a total letdown following Smith’s departure.
“I thought Jalen competed,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said. “He did battle. I kept telling him over and over that your main job is to run the team and take care of the football. I thought for most of the game he did a decent job of that.”
At times, Whitlow ventured away from the playbook by making plays and sustaining drives with his own creativity, especially in the opening half.
“We ran some plays out there I’ve never seen before,” Sanders said. “Thing was, he was able to scramble and make some plays on a few of them.”
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said Whitlow “extended plays” and kept the offense on the field for an extended period of time.
“He made some plays for us in the quarterback run game,” Phillips said. “He also made plays making throws to our receivers. That was encouraging for us and it looked like he had been there.”
During the first two quarters, Whitlow completed eight passes on 13 attempts for 71 yards, including a pair of 20-yard completions to Demarco Robinson and A.J. Legree. The freshman signal caller also rushed for 13 yards during the first two quarters, including an 8-yard touchdown run with 5:33 left in the first half for his first collegiate score, giving the hosts a 10-7 lead. That margin increased to 17-7 with 1:41 remaining in the half on a 10-yard run by Raymond Sanders.
“I got into a little bit of a rhythm,” Whitlow said. “I was feeling pretty good.”
Whitlow’s magic wore down in the second half. He was sacked four times and threw the first ot two interceptions with 8:53 remaining as South Carolina erased Kentucky’s hopes for a possible upset.
“We just lost our focus,” Whitlow said. “We lost some intensity (and) I was holding on to the ball too long. We got some sacks and a couple of interceptions. We’ve just got to put it all together and stay focused, keep the intensity high and make plays.”
Whitlow said the difference in the two halves was South Carolina’s defense.
“They were coming,” he said. “I was sitting in there and I was holding onto the ball too long.”
Despite the loss, Whitlow’s outing gave the hosts optimism for the future and the coaching staff more reasons to play him if Smith is unable to return next week.
Here is what South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier had to say after his team rallied to beat Kentucky 38-17 Saturday:
“We played a little bit better in the second half than we did in the first half, sort of a turnaround from two years ago when we were up 18 and got beat here. Coming in at halftime I told somebody, we don’t have to worry about being overconfident going into the second half or getting full of ourselves like maybe two years ago. Really proud of our guys, 17-7 was not a huge lead for them.
“I’m sort of glad they didn’t get that one right at the end of the first half, 24-7 would make you think you’d have to throw the whole time. 17-7, we had a better plan, get in the I-Formation, give it to (Marcus) Lattimore and let him run. Maybe we learned something today, the old I-Formation, the old power play, this that and the other sweeps are not bad. We don’t have to run zone reads and all that shotgun stuff all the time and that was very helpful for us. The line blocked pretty well in the second half and of course Marcus made a bunch of runs. Good throw to Damiere Byrd, get the quick touchdown to start the half and make it 17-14 so we were right there.
“Again, two different halves, our guys really played the second half. We couldn’t even cover kicks or punts in the first half, they almost ran off and left us in the first half. Two weeks in a row we can’t score on the one yard line, fortunately it didn’t cost, we got a victory and we move on to the next game.”
On going to Marcus Lattimore in the second half … “Nothing else was working very well and we were getting sacked all over the place so it was time to try to give it to him and give it to him. We still hit a few balls here and there, we still threw a few. I don’t know what we’ll do next week but we’ll probably do a little bit of both. Shotgun, I-Formation, whatever is working.”
On coming out in the second half… “I think I’ve talked about that, our guys really had a good look in their eyes that they wanted to play the second half. There wasn’t any moping, nobody was pouting, nobody was pointing fingers. We were all bad so there weren’t any fingers to point except all at ourselves. We had a better plan the second half, it worked out.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
For a half, this was not Kentucky football. Or at least not the Kentucky football that anyone, including South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, expected.
Kentucky’s defensive line shut down No. 6 South Carolina’s offense and held the Gamecocks to 106 total yards in the first half. Even with starting quarterback Maxwell Smith knocked out with an ankle injury, true freshman Jalen Whitlow did enough right to help produce 17 points and a stunning 17-7 halftime lead.
The Wildcats stopped South Carolina inches from the goal line on fourth down. Daron Blaylock blocked a punt to set up a score. Daryl Collins caught a deflected pass to keep a scoring drive alive. The defense forced three three-and-outs.
Still, reality set in the second half when Spurrier seemed to remember he had one of the nation’s best runners, Marcus Lattimore, on his team. After giving him just five carries the first half, he got 18 carries for 108 yards and two scores to lead the Gamecocks to a 38-17 victory. Ironically, two year ago when UK upset South Carolina here the Gamecocks had a big halftime lead, Lattimore got hurt early in period three and UK came back to beat Spurrier for the first time ever.
“The second half they were a little bit more patient and stuck with the running game and were able to get 200 yards rushing (for the game),” said Kentucky coach Joker Phillips. “We couldn’t get them stopped. We couldn’t get anything going offensively to match the scores they had.
“We made plays early in the game. Now we have to do a better job finishing. We didn’t finish the end of the first half very well offensively and didn’t finish the second half.”
Perhaps if UK had ended the first half a bit better the outcome may have been different. Leading 17-7, UK got a huge break when a fourth down snap sailed over quarterback Conner Shaw’s head when South Carolina was gambling in its own territory and the Cats got possession at the 10-yard line with 56 seconds left. A running play gained three yards before UK had to burn its final timeout and wasted valuable time. Next came an incomplete pass. On third down, Whitlow got sacked and fumbled. Receiver Demarco Robinson recovered and got to the 1-yard line but time ran out before UK could run a play.
“We missed a huge opportunity. No doubt about that,” Phillips said. “We had the field goal team ready to go on the field. We did not anticipate fumbling. That was a huge momentum swing.”
The big boo-boo came on second down when UK didn’t get the play call conveyed properly.
“Things that happened (on second down) can’t happen,” Phillips said. “If I had known that, I would have called timeout with 40 or 35 seconds on the play clock. Things that happened on second down cannot happen and should not happen.”
A field goal would have made it 20-7 and given UK even more momentum. A touchdown would have made it 24-7 and who knows what could have happened since the Cats got the ball to start the second half.
Instead, South Carolina’s offensive and defensive lines dominated the second half. UK had just 70 total yards in the second half and the Gamecocks ran for 174 yards.
“They just lined up and we couldn’t stop them. That’s been our biggest problem all year,” defensive coordinator Rick Minter said. “We just could not get them stopped.”
Senior safety Martavius Neloms, who had nine tackles including seven solo stops, thought this was going to be a magical night for Kentuck just like it was in 2010 when the Cats stunned South Carolina.
“We came out and were playing great on both sides of the ball,” he said. “The first half it definitely felt like 2010. But we’ve just got to do more to win. We showed the kind of team we can be in the first half, but you can’t quit playing then.”
For the optimist, UK did continue to get solid play from freshmen. Cornerback Cody Quinn made his second start — “I thought he did a good job again,” said Minter — and backup safety Daron Blaylock had the punt block. On offense, receiver A.J. Legree made his first two catches.
Then there was Whitlow, who turned many heads in preseason camp with his play and did not lose his poise despite playing against perhaps the Southeastern Conference’s best defensive front. He was sacked seven times, threw two interceptions and had one fumble, but he showed toughness, a nice throwing arm and the ability to scramble at times.
“We had a lot of young guys making plays. Legree was a guy that I said we have to get ball in his hands. He plays so fast for us.He had not caught a pass until last week but you can see how fast he plays,” Phillips said. “He is a really tough guy. Physical wide receiver.”
But he may have also tweaked his ankle on the game’s final play. Phillips said he did not mention it to the trainer, but he was limping slightly after the game. Phillips said X-rays on Smith’s ankle were negative, but both quarterbacks will be evaluated again today to determine the exact extent of any problems.
If Smith is out for significant time, Phillips said he might have to consider not redshirting freshman Patrick Towles.
“We won’t do that unless Max is out for a while and won’t do it unless we are going to play him. At this point there is no use taking it off if he won’t play a significant amount,” Phillips said.
However, at this point, the Cats won’t be able to discount anything. They are now 1-4. The halftime lead was nice. Playing freshmen was nice. But the bottom line is that UK still lost.
“Nobody feels good when you lose,” defensive lineman Tristian Johnson said. “Spin it any way you want, but we want to win and want to do whatever it takes to win. We did that for a half tonight, but that’s just not good enough.”
FINAL SCORE: No. 6 South Carolina 38, Kentucky 17
Team Records and Series Notes
With the loss, Kentucky drops to 1-4 overall, 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina improves to 5-0, 2-0 in the SEC.
South Carolina now leads the series 16-7-1, including 9-4 in Lexington.
Kentucky returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 6, at home vs. Mississippi State. Game time is 12:21 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.
UK now owns a 135-113-4 overall record at Commonwealth Stadium.
UK blocked a punt for the first time since Danny Trevathan blocked a punt vs. Georgia on Nov. 8, 2008.
UK owns a 39-185-5 record all-time against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 20/25 Poll.
The UK defense held South Carolina to 26 total rushing yards on 19 attempts in the first half and limited the Gamecocks to 108 total yards in the first period.
The Wildcats owned a 17-7 lead at halftime. The Gamecocks entered the game having outscored its opponents 73-19 in the first half.
UK held South Carolina – who entered the game averaging 424.2 yards of offense per game – to 348 yards of total offense, the second-lowest offensive output for the Gamecocks this year, behind a 272-yard offensive game in a USC win at Vanderbilt during the opening weekend of action.
Freshman QB Jalen Whitlow played his first extensive action of the year, replacing the injured Maxwell Smith in the first quarter.
Whitlow completed 12-of-23 passes for 114 yards, also rushing 16 times for one touchdown.
His eight-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter was his first career touchdown.
Junior TB Raymond Sanders notched his second rushing touchdown of the year and the fifth of his career.
Sanders finished with 14 carries for 59 yards and one touchdown.
Senior WR La’Rod King caught two passes for 17 yards.
King now has 1,462 receiving yards in his career, staying at 10th place on the UK all-time receiving yards list.
Junior Donte Rumph notched his second sack of the year and the third of his career, finishing with six tackles.
Linebacker Alvin “Bud” Dupree has made at least one big play (QB sack, tackle for loss, fumble caused, fumble recovery or pass breakup) in nine consecutive games.
Dupree finished with nine tackles, including 1.5 sacks. It marked his first career multi-sack game.
Junior Tristan Johnson recorded his first career sack, finishing with six tackles.
Freshman WR A.J. Legree charted his first career multiple-catch game, with two receptions for 25 yards, including a 20-yard grab in the first half.
Sophomore fullback Darrell “D.J.” Warren rushed for the first time of the year, a two-yard run.
Freshman DB Daron Blaylock blocked a punt in the second quarter, UK’s first blocked punt since 2008 when Danny Trevathan blocked one against Georgia.
Blaylock also recorded his second career pass break-up and his first since the win over Kent State.
Senior Collins Ukwu notched half a sack in a four-tackle effort. He now has three sacks on the year.
Senior Taylor Wyndham recovered his first fumble of the year and the second of his career in the second quarter. Wyndham’s last fumble recovery came as a freshman in 2009.
Sophomore Miles Simpson set a new career-high with 12 tackles, eclipsing his previous career high of seven tackles vs. Kent State.
Linebacker Avery Williamson finished with 10 tackles, his third double-digit tackle effort of the year.
Senior Martavius Neloms recorded nine tackles, his second-most tackles in a game on the year.
Senior PK Craig McIntosh made his third field goal of the year, a 22-yard attempt to open the scoring in the first quarter.
McIntosh is 3-for-7 on the year and is 26-for-36 in his four-year career.
AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Marcus Lattimore ran for two touchdowns and Connor Shaw passed for another in the second half as No. 6 South Carolina scored 31 straight points for a 38-17 victory against Kentucky on Saturday night.
Shaw was 15 of 18 for 148 yards as the Gamecocks (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) moved into a tie with Florida and Georgia atop the East division, with the Bulldogs coming to Columbia, S.C., next week.
Lattimore rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries and Kenny Miles added a 17-yard score for South Carolina, which trailed Kentucky (1-4, 0-2) 17-7 after a ragged first half.
The Gamecocks returned to score on five of six possessions thanks to Shaw, who hit Damiere Byrd with a 30-yard touchdown before Miles’ TD put them ahead to stay.
Kentucky freshman Jalen Whitlow was 12 of 23 for 114 yards in relief of Maxwell Smith, who was knocked out on the first series with an ankle injury.
Smith was tackled low by Byron Jerideau. His cleats appeared to be caught in the turf and he immediately grabbed his left ankle, lying on the field for several moments before heading to the bench.
Trainers taped the ankle and he tried to walk on it before heading to the locker room for X-rays.
That again forced Whitlow into an emergency situation but the difference this time was the freshman’s weeklong preparation.
It didn’t show immediately as he was quickly sacked after replacing Smith, but after the defense twice denied Shaw on two runs at the 1, Whitlow made the work pay off.
Kentucky went 94 yards in 16 plays, helped by Raymond Sanders’ 28-yard run and two by Jonathan George for 25 yards. Whitlow, with great protection, chipped in a 20-yard pass to DeMarco Robinson before Sanders got the Wildcats down to the 5 and settled for Craig McIntosh’s 22-yard field goal and an early lead.
South Carolina eventually regrouped to lead 7-3 as Shaw led a 64-yard drive helped by his 37-yard pass to a wide-open Ace Sanders, who added a 3-yard touchdown reception two plays later.
Kentucky scored on its next two drives covering 67 and 34 yards, the latter of which was set up by its special teams as Daron Blaylock leaped over the protection to block Tyler Hull’s punt that A.J. Legree recovered.
Whitlow’s passing and running got the Wildcats a 10-7 lead, connecting with Legree twice for 26 yards followed by two runs covering the final 12, including an 8-yard scoring scramble.
Raymond Sanders’ 10-yard run made it 17-7 with 1:52 left in the half.
The Wildcats got another scoring opportunity just before halftime when a snap sailed over Shaw’s head and was recovered by Taylor Wyndham at the 10. It failed when Whitlow was stripped of the ball, and despite Kentucky’s recovering the ball at the 3, the clock ran out before it could run a play.
That turnover summed up an out-of-sync first half for South Carolina, which began when Bruce Elllington dropped Shaw’s first pass. There went his quest to match Tee Martin’s SEC record of 23 consecutive completions, and little improved afterward for the Gamecocks.
They were outgained 173-108, as the Wildcats limited Shaw’s passing and running. He was also sacked twice and South Carolina punted twice.
The Gamecocks came out more focused and physical in the third quarter and wasted little time taking the lead. Shaw hit Byrd in the back of the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown to close within 14-17, and Miles put South Carolina ahead on the next possession.
No. 6 SOUTH CAROLINA 38, KENTUCKY 17
South Carolina 0 7 14 17–38
Kentucky 3 14 0 0–17
Ky_FG McIntosh 22, 1:02.
SC_Sanders 3 pass from C.Shaw (Yates kick), 9:30.
Ky_Whitlow 8 run (McIntosh kick), 5:33.
Ky_Sanders 10 run (McIntosh kick), 1:52.
SC_Byrd 30 pass from C.Shaw (Yates kick), 9:34.
SC_Miles 17 run (Yates kick), 4:56.
SC_Lattimore 3 run (Yates kick), 9:17.
SC_Lattimore 4 run (Yates kick), 5:19.
SC_FG Yates 31, 2:27.
First downs 20 16
Rushes-yards 48-200 39-120
Passing 148 123
Comp-Att-Int 15-19-0 13-24-2
Return Yards 25 3
Punts-Avg. 3-24.7 6-33.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-0
Penalties-Yards 4-31 4-38
Time of Possession 31:17 28:43
RUSHING_South Carolina, Lattimore 23-120, C.Shaw 19-76, Miles 2-18, M.Davis 2-9, Sanders 1-1, Team 1-(minus 24). Kentucky, Sanders 14-59, Mobley 4-29, George 3-27, Whitlow 16-6, D.Robinson 0-4, Warren 1-2, Max.Smith 1-(minus 7).
PASSING_South Carolina, C.Shaw 15-18-0-148, Thompson 0-1-0-0. Kentucky, Whitlow 12-23-2-114, Max.Smith 1-1-0-9.
RECEIVING_South Carolina, Sanders 4-15, Lattimore 3-16, Byrd 2-32, Ellington 2-29, Cunningham 2-10, Anderson 1-37, Gilchrist 1-9. Kentucky, D.Robinson 3-29, Legree 2-25, Collins 2-22, King 2-17, McCaskill 2-2, Sanders 1-24, Shields 1-4.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Wizards point guard John Wall called his upcoming absence because of a left knee injury “a minor setback.” Team president Ernie Grunfeld labeled it “a bump in the road.”
However it’s described, Wall is expected to miss the first dozen or so games of the NBA’s regular season after the Wizards announced Friday that their best player — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft — was diagnosed with the early stages of a stress injury to his left knee cap.
The Wizards said the injury does not require surgery. If his rehab goes as expected, Wall will be sidelined for about two months in all, including about the first month of the regular season, which begins Oct. 30 for Washington.
Wall said he “started feeling discomfort” about a month ago, and he got an MRI exam that Grunfeld said did not show any sort of problem. But Wall still was bothered by his knee while working out and went for a second opinion.
He was examined Thursday in New York by orthopedic specialist Dr. David Altchek, and a new MRI revealed the injury.
“Just something that happens when you work out very hard, that’s all I can say,” Wall said. “It’s very tough for me.”
He led the Wizards by averaging 16.3 points and eight assists last season. He also topped the team with 95 steals and averaged 4.5 rebounds. The Wizards finished 20-46 during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, the second-worst record in the league.
“The good thing about this is that we caught it when we did. It’s not going to be a best-case scenario, but we also have to look at this in a positive way. … My expectations of what John can do this year, it being his third year, is not going to change. He’s just going to start a little later,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “We were lucky that we came and saw it before there was any type of fracture or anything of that nature.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Question: Do you expect more out of Samari Walker this year in her first full season after her transfer from Connecticut?
Mitchell: “I think it is important for her to continue to probe and push and see if we can find a way to get her to expand her skill set and get to the spot she elevates the mental side of her game. She gets down and is too hard on herself. That is what she didn’t do in the NCAA tournament and why against the best competition of year she averaged a double-double.
“She is definitely a player we want to take a step forward, and we will raise the expectation level for her. Now she will be able mentally to prepare for her entire season. It is difficult to jump into it in the middle of the year after everybody else has 10 to 11 games under their belt and then you are thrust into a situation like at Notre Dame and have to find a way to mesh immediately.”
Question: Is there any way for A’dia Mathies to be better than she has, and what makes her so special?
Mitchell: “I think A’dia can get a little bit more out of her game still. I still think there is always room for improvement. If she has an identical year from a production standpoint because we have better players around here, we will be good. If she finds a way to squeeze more out, it will really help. We need her to be better.
“We don’t want to stop at the Elite Eight. She would be a big part of getting us to a Final Four if she plays better. A lot of that is on the mental side, but there’s no doubt she is very talented.”
Question: Did you envision her being this good when you recruited her?
Mitchell: “I would be lying all over the place if I thought even the program would look like this. I thought she would help make steps forward, but literally during her time here the program has transformed so much. No way I could have anticipated what she has done and accomplished and meant to Kentucky. It’s just incredible. She was SEC freshman of the year and SEC player of the year in her first three seasons. No one could have expected that.”