Derek Willis has “pretty bad sprain”; Calipari not sure when he might be able to return

By LARRY VAUGHT

Alex Poythress, right, and trainer Chris Simmons help Derek Willis off the court after he sprained his ankle Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Alex Poythress, right, and trainer Chris Simmons help Derek Willis off the court after he sprained his ankle Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Just when it seemed like the play of Derek Willis had given Kentucky exactly the boost it needed to be a Final Four contender, he’s now out with an injury.

Willis had to leave the second half of Saturday’s 79-77 loss at Texas A&M with an ankle injury and did not return. He was 1-for-4 from the field and had three points and one rebound when he left. He had complained after Thursday’s win over Tennessee that both knees ached and that he had hurt his ankle in practice earlier in the week.

Ulis: Humphries has nothing to be sorry about

By LARRY VAUGHT

Teammates support Isaac Humphries after official Pat Adams called a late technical foul on him. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Teammates support Isaac Humphries after official Pat Adams called a late technical foul on him. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Another road loss, another game where Kentucky fans are left wondering about the officiating and this time UK players and coach John Calipari are just as upset as the fans were when UK lost at Kansas.

The Wildcats fell 79-77 in overtime to Texas A&M. In the final minute of overtime, UK freshman Isaac Humphries blocked a shot, got the rebound and then was called for a technical foul for spiking the basketball.

Kentucky falls 79-77 to Texas A&M in overtime

By UKathletics.com
Tyler Ulis scored 22 points and Jamal Murray had 21, but No. 14 Kentucky came up just short, falling to Texas A&M 79-77 in overtime on Saturday in College Station, Texas.
Late in reguluation, Kentucky trailed 68-66, but after a timeout, the Cats set up a lob from Ulis to Marcus Lee who slammed it home to tie the game at 68.
After a Kentucky defensive stop, Lee had a chance to put Kentucky ahead with 31 seconds left, but he missed a free throw. A&M got the rebound and had one final chance, but Danuel House missed a jumper, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra stanza, the teams went back and forth, trading baskets. Kentucky took a 76-75 lead with 1:10 to go on a jumper by Ulis.
Kentucky then got a huge stop on defense, but Isaac Humphries was whistled for a technical foul after securing the rebound, giving House a pair of free throws with nine seconds left. House hit both to give the Aggies a 77-76 lead.
Ironically, when Humphries got the technical foul, it was his fifth personal foul, so he could not shoot the free throws he earned for being fouled on the rebound. Instead, Skal Labissiere entered the game and hit one of two to tie the game at 77.
After an Aggie timeout, House missed a driving layup, but Tyler Davis was there for a tip-in that provided the winning margin for A&M.
It was the second straight year that the Wildcats and the Aggies needed overtime at Reed Arena. Last season, Kentucky needed double overtime in order to get the win.
Texas A&M (20-7, 9-5 SEC) dominated on the offensive boards, grabbing 20 offensive rebounds and turning those into 22 second chance points.
Isaiah Briscoe added 11 points for Kentucky (20-7, 10-4), while Humphries had six points and 12 rebounds.
The Wildcats return to action on Tuesday night, facing Alabama at Rupp Arena. That game is set to tip at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPN.

Guest post: Numbers favor Texas A&M 74-70

By RICHARD CHEEKS

The annuls of SEC Basketball reveal 97 regular season champions crowned in 83 basketball season since the inception of this conference for the 1932-33 season. Kentucky holds 47 of those championship (one was vacated), which means the Cats have either claimed the championship or shared the championship over 56% of the seasons. As the 2016 (the 84th season) enters the last 5 games of its 18 game schedule, the Cats sit in a familiar position, first place at 10-3, one full game ahead of the LSU, who is 9-4.

Calipari: Willis needs defensive confidence

By LARRY VAUGHT

Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Derek Wills hit seven 3-pointers Thursday night against Tennessee and scored a career-high 25 points. But Kentucky coach John Calipari said Friday he was “really proud” of how Willis has improved his defense.

“We have five games left, it’s a long season, and they’re all beat up a little bit. Everybody else’s team is beat up the same way. You just have to go play,” Calipari said Friday. “They (opponents) are isolating him a little bit, but he’s getting better.

Calipari sees a lot of strengths for Texas A&M

By LARRY VAUGHT

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

Kentucky almost lost at Texas A&M last year with a team that started the season 38-0. Tonight the Cats are leading the Southeastern Conference and are ranked higher than the Aggies going into tonight’s game, but host Texas A&M is a slight favorite.

So what does Texas A&M do best? Let John Calipari explain.

“They have great post game. They have guards that are creative and make plays. Obviously (Danuel) House can go for 40 (points). They have other guys that come off the bench that can shoot the ball well. (Alex) Caruso is one of the best passers you will ever see. He tries to steal every ball so you have to be aware, you can’t just throw a lazy pass, it’s a layup,” Calipari said.

Texas A&M coach says GameDay hoopla “awesome”

By LARRY VAUGHT

Tyler Ulis 2Having ESPN College GameDay and the focus of the country on his program has Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy excited going into Saturday night’s game with Kentucky. In fact, he says the attention is “awesome” despite his team’s recent struggles.

“It (national attention) has been a long time coming. I’m really excited about it for our guys and our program because it’s something that I would have hoped would have happened before, to have College GameDay here, playing in a big game like this,” Kennedy said.

Saddle Up in Pigeon Forge: Brigid Reedy unique with her music and personality

Vaught’s note: As I noted when this blog became my own operation, it sometimes will have more than just UK basketball and football. This is one of those days. I am in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., for the annual Saddle Up. I think you’ll enjoy reading and learning more about 15-year-old Brigid Reedy, who is unique for a lot of reasons.

By LARRY VAUGHT

Brigid Reedy, left, enjoys playing the fiddle and yodeling. She's 15 and does not own a cell phone and avoids social media. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Brigid Reedy, left, enjoys playing the fiddle and yodeling. She’s 15 and does not own a cell phone and avoids social media. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

PIGEON FORGE, TENN. — Brigid Reedy is not your typical 15-year-old.

Pregame Kentucky-Texas A&M notes and numbers

A few  notes and numbers on Saturday night’s Kentucky-Texas A&M matchup from the Texas A&M perspective.

Willis says he’s good to go; Calipari looking for Novacaine for media session

By LARRY VAUGHT

Willis rebound“I haven’t seen him yet.”

That is what Kentucky coach John Calipari said Friday when asked about the health of both Marcus Lee, who missed the second half of Thursday’s win over Tennessee with a sore back, and Derek Willis, who said after the game that both knees and an ankle were hurting.

“Obviously, you want to have a full team, but you go with who’s there. I mean, Marcus went out and we played better. Next man up. That’s what we’ve done. I walk in the locker room, ‘Alex (Poythress) can’t go today.’ ‘What?’ I walk in the locker room, ‘Isaiah (Briscoe) hurt his ankle in the warm-up line.’ ‘What?’ Next man up. That’s how we do it here,” Calipari said.