By Glenn Osborne
In the long, storied history that is Kentucky basketball, only four teams have won at least 19 games to start a season. John Calipari has done it twice.
Prior to the perfect start for this year’s top-ranked Wildcats, Calipari’s crew in 2009-10, led by John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and company won their first 19 before being upset by South Carolina, a pratfall that was avoided by UK Saturday.
If the Cats can get by Missouri on the road Thursday, only two previous Kentucky teams will have enjoyed better starts: the one undefeated team in program history, the 1953-54 outfit led by Cliff Hagan and Frank Ramsey (25-0) and the 1965-66 national runnerup squad paced by Pat Riley and Louie Dampier (23-0). Both of those teams, of course, were coached by Adolph Rupp.
Interestingly enough, Calipari now has a higher winning percentage than Rupp for his time at Kentucky. After 208 games as the Wildcats’ head man, Calipari has a 171-37 record, compared to Rupp’s mark of 169-39 to open his career.
Under the heading of changing times, it took Rupp 10 seasons to get to 200 games (163-37) with the Wildcats, reflecting that teams played less frequently back in the day. Calipari has exceeded 200 games in less six full years while matching Rupp’s win-loss record. Incidentally, after 200 games, Rick Pitino was 156-44, Tubby Smith was 154-46 and Joe B. Hall was 148-52.
Hall and Calipari each had two title game appearances while Smith had one and Pitino none. Rupp was also without a title game appearance, but there is a reason for that. There wasn’t an NCAA tournament in the 1930s.
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Reflecting his graybeard status on the team, junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein played in his team-leading 85th career game against South Carolina. He also had two steals to become the first player in Kentucky history with 200 or more blocks and 100 or more steals, according to the UK media relations office.
Freshman Devin Booker has made 22 of his last 33 shots from three-point range over the last seven games. Although he played only 20 minutes Saturday, freshman guard Tyler Ulis led the team with six assists against just one turnover. His assist to turnover rate is a sparkling 63-17 for his 19-game collegiate career.
Four Wildcats were selected to assorted U. S. Basketball Writers Association Midseason Watch Lists, including Cauley-Stein, who was named to the Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason List for the nation’s top player.
Also singled out were Booker, Ulis and Karl-Anthony Towns, who were picked for the Wayman Tisdale Award honoring the nation’s top freshman.
The awards will be presented at the Devon Energy College Basketball Awards on April 14 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The association will announce its 2015 All-America Team in mid-March, when finalists will also be chosen for the player of the year. Once finalists are announced, the entire USBWA membership will vote for the winner of the Oscar Robertson Trophy.
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Pikeville guard K.K. Simmons, who torched Kentucky for 28 points earlier this year in an exhibition game, was at it again. He converted eight three-point baskets in a game for the third time this year and finished with 43 points as the NAIA’s third-ranked team defeated Life 107-85 in the East Ky. Expo Center.
The Bears shot over 61 percent from the field for the game, their best offensive effort of the year. Pikeville improved to 20-1 on the season and the Bears lead the Mid-South Conference with a 7-1 mark. Simmons’ stat line: 15 of 21 from the field, 8 of 12 from three-point range and 5 of 6 from the free throw line.
The Bears resume conference play on Thursday at Cumberland in Lebanon, Tenn. UPIKE moved to the top of the league standings after top-ranked Campbellsville lost 63-61 at Shawnee State.
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Former Kentucky football star Randall Cobb played in Sunday’s NFL Pro Bowl Game in Hawaii. The Green Bay Packer receiver is the first former UK player to earn a spot in the all-star game since Dermontti Dawson in 1998. Kentucky has been represented in the Pro Bowl a total of 46 times. Dawson had the most appearances with seven during his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and offensive lineman Bob Talamini had six.
Here is the complete list: George Blanda (QB) 4, Randall Cobb (WR) 1, Dermontti Dawson (OL) 7, Frank Fuller (DL) 1, Bob Gain (DL) 5, Irv Goode (DB) 2, John Grimsley (LB) 1, Frank LeMaster (LB) 1, Lou Michaels (DE/K) 2, Babe Parilli (QB) 3, Art Still (DE) 4, Bob Talamini (G) 6, Harry Ulinski (C) 1, Jeff Van Note (OL) 5.
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Kentucky is also represented in Sunday’s Super Bowl by former wide receiver Chris Matthews, who recovered a key onside kick in the NFC Championship win by Seattle over Green Bay.
A UK standout from 2009-10, Matthews played in just three regular-season games for Seattle this year, before emerging with one of the critical plays in Seahawks’ improbable comeback.
At Kentucky, Matthews caught 93 passes for 1,279 yards and 12 touchdowns. He accounted for 32 catches for 354 yards and three scores as a junior, then had a great senior campaign in 2010, with 61 catches for 925 yards and nine TDs.
Kentucky has been represented a total of 39 times in the Super Bowl, including three Wildcats on the Denver Broncos in 2014, including Danny Trevathan, Jacob Tamme and Wesley Woodyard.
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The winning streak for Western Kentucky’s men’s basketball team remains intact, but the No. 24 Hilltopper women’s squad wasn’t as fortunate.
The men won their ninth-straight game, topping Texas San Antonio to improve to 14-5 on the season and stay perfect at 7-0 in Conference USA action. WKU’s winning streak is its longest since a run of 11-straight from Jan. 10-Feb. 16, 2008. The Hilltoppers 7-0 start in league play is its best conference start since starting and finishing the 1969-70 season 14-0 in Ohio Valley Conference play.
Western hits the road for two Conference USA games next week, traveling to LA Tech Thursday and Southern Miss Saturday before returning home on Feb. 5 to play North Texas.
On the women’s side, two free throws with three seconds to play Saturday allowed UTSA to upset Western at the Convocation Center, 64-63. The loss snapped WKU’s 14-game winning streak and handed the Toppers their first loss since November. It also ended the team’s six-game Conference USA winning streak.
WKU senior All-American candidate Alexis Govan had 22 points to lead the Toppers, but she was saddled with four fouls for most of the second half. Senior All-American candidate Chastity Gooch fouled out with 8:29 left after scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds. Govan connected on what could have been the game-winning shot, but it was ruled to have come after time expired.
WKU returns home this week for a pair of games with Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss. Western faces the Lady Techsters for the first time in four years on Thursday at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be televised nationally on Fox College Sports through the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network. WKU then hosts Southern Miss on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT.

Courtesy of KyForward

Posted on 2015-01-27 by