Wiltjer, Noel Lead Cats To Victory

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In a game where Kentucky needed to win desperately to keep the NCAA Tournament run alive, Kyle Wiltjer and Nerlens Noel along with the rest of the Wildcats stepped up huge tonight in an 87-74 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels. 

Kyle Wiltjer led the way in scoring with a career-high 26 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists, while Nerlens Noel chipped in on the defensive side of things–setting a school record 12 blocks in the game to go along with just two points. 

This was this first game, in my honest opinion, when Kentucky had it figured out. You could also argue that the Auburn game too. The Cats desperately needed this win tonight, and they manned up and did what they needed to do. I think a lot of people, including the players, are starting to realize that the ball needs to be run through Kyle Wiltjer. When it’s run through Kyle Wiltjer, good things happen.

Another thing Kentucky did well tonight was on the defensive side of the ball. The Cats recorded 13 blocks (Noel had 12, Harrow had 1) and really kept this so-called “greatest player ever” in Marshall Henderson silent. Although Henderson had 21 points, most of it came in the firs half and mostly from foul shots. Henderson was 2-11 from the 3-point arc and 5-19 shooting overall. Most of his points came from the foul line where he was 9-11 shooting. The only problem that Kentucky had on the defensive side was allowing LaDarius White to score 22 points. Granted, it’s not really a player whom you would have expected that from. 

That’s all for me, folks. Kentucky really needed this win, and they went out and did what they needed to do. Here’s something that I bet you didn’t know–Archie Goodwin had 24 points. I know. Crazy right? For someone who has taken horrible shot after horrible shot, Goodwin got it together tonight and really did not force the issue. He took advantage of his speed and got the the line 14 times–making 12. I am so happy that Kentucky got this win. This game showed how good this team can be when they put it together. It showed when they went up 17. But there was also a time, and we’ve seen it before, at how bad this team can be. Most specifically when Noel went out with four fouls and Ole Miss proceeded to go on a 16-0 run. But for people like Wiltjer, Noel to buckle down and do what they can to weather the storm, is a sign of great things to come. For all Reds, Wildcats and Norse news follow me on Twitter, @stieneKYSCO.



Nerlens Noel Claims SEC Freshman of the Week Honors

nnThe Southeastern Conference named their players of the week earlier today and Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel claimed the fresham of the week award. Noel averaged just under a double-double last week against Alabama and LSU with a 9.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and seven blocks. This is the second time he has won the SEC weekly award and will look for number three tonight as the Cats head to ranked Mississippi at 9:00pm.Go Big Blue!

Cats Square Off Against Rebels

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Coming off a victory against the LSU Tigers the Kentucky Wildcats will pack up their gym bags and travel to Oxford, Mississippi to play the red-hot Marshall Henderson-led Ole Miss Rebels. 

This is considered to be a make-or-break type of game for the Wildcats as they are desperately in need of a signature victory and tonight’s opponent would be an opportunity. 

Ole Miss (17-2, 6-0 SEC) is led by their loud-mouth, look-at-me guard in Marshall Henderson, who has said in the past that he wants to show who the real national champion really is.

Henderson, who is clearly their best player, is currently averaging a shade over 19 (19.2) points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. But these numbers can be a little misleading. Henderson will take a ton of shots, much like Archie Goodwin. Ole Miss goes as he goes. When Henderson is hitting his shots, Ole Miss is very tough to beat. When he doesn’t it’s the complete opposite. So needless to say, he is Kentucky’s person of interest tonight. You stop him from getting his shots, you have a better chance at winning the game. I would expect someone like Archie Goodwin to be guarding him.

With all the talk of Henderson, Ole Miss does have another fine, but not as good, player in Murphy Holloway. Holloway averages 14.8 points per game and does a lot of damage on the offensive boards. He leads the SEC in both offensive rebounds and total rebounds, averaging 3.8 offensive and 10.4 total rebounds per game. It is imperative for the Cats to keep him off the boards and stop him from getting offensive rebounds. If he gets the offensive rebounds, he’s going to either look to score or pass it off to Henderson for three. Look for guys like Noel, Wiltjer and Poythress to share the duties of guarding him.

With that being said let’s take a look at Ole Miss’ schedule. As stated they are currently 17-2 and 6-0 in the conference. This is clearly one of Andy Kennedy’s better teams he’s had since he took the job at Ole Miss. But sometimes looks can be a little deceive. If you take a nice look at the Rebels’ schedule, I do not see an overwhelming wow-this-team-is-for-real type of win. They have beaten Missouri, but that was in Oxford. The two losses they have are against Middle Tennessee St. (lost by three) and Indiana St. (lost by 2). So to say that this team is a team that is a team that can’t be beat, is clearly out of the realm of possibility.

That’s all for me, folks. This is a huge game for Kentucky. It’s a sell-out and white-out game for Ole Miss. It’s going to be loud. It will be interesting to see how Kentucky will play infront of another large crowd. The Notre Dame game was a bust, but I thought Kentucky played well to battle back against Louisville and in the first half against Vandy. If this team can put together 40 minutes of well-executed basketball, I see them coming out with a victory. The Wildcats need to realize that this is a huge game for them in terms of getting into the tournament. If they are unable to pull out a victory, which Vegas says they can’t, it’s going to make it a lot tougher for them down the stretch. That means they would have to most likely win at least once against a very good Florida Gator team, and at least once against a very good Missouri team. For all Reds, Wildcats and Norse news follow me on Twitter, @stieneKYSCO. 

 

Rajon Rondo Out For Season With Torn ACL

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A six game losing streak for the veteran laden Boston Celtics made way for even worse news today as it was announced that Rajon Rondo officially tore the ACL in his right knee during Friday’s double overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Rondo was averaging 13.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 11.1 APG and 1.8 SPG before suffering the devastating season ending injury.

Heading into Sunday’s game against the Miami Heat the Celtics were 20-23 on the season.

It is projected that Rondo may possibly be ready for the start of the 2013-2014 season but him playing at all during the remainder of the 2012-2013 season appears to be out of the question.

Here are some highlights from a game on 1/14/2013 when Rondo recorded a triple double (17 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists).

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Tigers Come To Rupp

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After coming off a terrible second half and ultimately a loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide the Kentucky Wildcats return back to Lexington to square off against the Tigers of LSU.

LSU comes into this game with a 10-6 record and a record of 1-4 in SEC play. The lone victory they have is against Texas A&M, who beat Kentucky earlier this season in Rupp. It also is the return of former Mr. Kentucky Basketball and Hopkinsville, Kentucky native Anthony Hickey. 

While things seem to be turning around in Baton Rouge, LSU still hasn’t returned to the days that John Brady once had them at. But things are getting better for the Tigers as head coach Johnny Jones has them believing they can win and their record shows it. A quick look at their schedule shows that although they “haven’t beaten anyone” outside of Texas A&M  they do have some very close losses to quality teams such as Marquette.  With that being said, they also have some really bad losses including losses to teams such as Boise St. (lost by 19) and Georgia (lost by nine). 

Some players to watch out for are Shavon Coleman and Anthony Hickey and Johnny O’Bryant III. 

Shavon Coleman leads the Tigers in points per game with 12 and averages almost eight rebounds a game (7.8). Coleman is a 6’5 forward who will most likely be matched up against Poythress, Noel, Wiltjer or Cauley-Stein assuming he is active for the game. It is important for Kentucky to keep him off the glass and make him earn his points. 

Another player to watch out for is Anthony Hickey. Hickey currently leads the SEC in steals with almost four steals a game (3.9) and is second on the team in points per game (11.7). While Hickey has struggled in the past with the Kentucky guards and playing against Kentucky in general, look for Hickey to be on the attack against Kentucky’s Ryan Harrow and Jarrod Polson. Hickey is always looking to poke the ball loose and get out in transition to get a quick basket or dish it off to someone in transition. Harrow needs to do a good job at protecting the ball and not rushing it against Hickey or he will be finding a seat next to Calipari on the bench

The final player Kentucky fans and players need to pay attention to is Johnny O’Bryant III. O’Bryant III is currently third on the team in scoring (11.1 ppg) is leading the team in rebounds with a slight margin over Coleman (7.9 rebounds for J.O.B. III, 7.8 for Coleman). O’Bryant gave Kentucky some problems last year and is looking to do so again. I would assume that whoever isn’t guarding Coleman would be guarding O’Bryant III. 

That’s all for me, folks. If Kentucky is going to win this game they have to play a lot better than they did in the second half against Alabama. The first half wasn’t exactly the greatest, but it was surely better than the second half. I am still waiting on someone not named Nerlens Noel to show some life in them and not panic when things aren’t going well. LSU is looking to avenge the SEC Tournament loss they had from last season where they gave Kentucky a scare. Kentucky really needs to come out ready to roll because LSU is going to be poised. There needs to be someone other than Noel carrying this team. As of right now, I’d say the guy who is contributing the most on the offensive side is Kyle Wiltjer. But when things are falling for him, Kentucky needs to figure out a way to put the ball in the basket. I expect Kentucky to come away with a victory, but it won’t be a 20-25 point blow out like it was at Auburn. For all Reds, Wildcats and Norse news to coincide nonsense ramblings follow me on Twitter @stieneKYSCO.