Monday, November 29, 2021

Cats Are Number 9

 After sweeping Albany and North Florida last week, the UK Wildcats moved up to number-9 in this week's AP men's basketball poll.  UK's best victory as the number-9 team took place on March 22, 1958, when the Cats beat Seattle 84-72 to win the NCAA Tournament.  In my lifetime, the Cats' best victory at number 9 took place on March 15, 1992, when the Unforgettables beat Alabama 80-54 to win the SEC Tournament.  I can vividly remember expecting a long and painful afternoon, and being stunned as UK just pulled further and further away down the stretch.  It was the first time I could really see that Pitino had taken the program to a whole new level.  It was also the last time UK played against an Alabama team coached by Wimp Sanderson.

The SEC is looking even more formidable after the Thanksgiving tournaments.  Here is the top of the league, according to Ken Pom:

10.  Florida
14.  Kentucky
15.  Alabama
17.  LSU
18.  Tennessee
19.  Auburn
25.  Arkansas

That's seven teams in the top 25, and six teams between 10 and 19.  We're going to see some close games this winter.


  1. K-Pom had the Cats winning tonight's game with Central Michigan by 87-59, but UK is up 20-5 with 14:30 left in the first half.

  2. On the other hand, Gonzaga beat Central Michigan 107-54 last Monday.

  3. Cats are up 25-8 with 11:50 to go, but Tshiebwe comes out of the timeout and misses two free throws. That sort of thing normally kills your momentum.

  4. Jerry Tipton sends out a tweet saying that there are a lot of empty seats at Rupp. Whenever the Herald-Leader publishes its last issue, I think that most of the issue should be devoted to Tipton's explaining all of the reasons why everyone should hate the UK basketball program.

  5. Cats up 33-12 and Cal is going absolutely nuts because the refs missed an out-of-bounds call. My favorite version of UK basketball is the version where we have a big lead, and we're complaining that the officials are treating us unfairly. (Presumably, this is one of Tipton's complaints.)

  6. Cats now up 37-12 with 7:37 left in the first half, so those missed free throws didn't hurt them all that much. Tshiebwe has 13 points and 7 rebounds. Wheeler has 7 points and 4 assists. Brooks has 6 points. Grady has 5. Washington has 4. It's been very impressive so far.

  7. UK up 45-16 with 3:36 left in the first half. Looks like a long evening for Jerry Tipton.

  8. Cats get sloppy down the stretch, but lead 51-25 at the half. Washington capped off the scoring with two really pretty three point shots. For the half, UK goes 15-31 from 2-point range, 5-7 from 3-point range, and 6-10 from the line. The Cats have outrebounded Central Michigan 25-14.

  9. Keion Brooks is 1-7 from 2-point range, 1-2 from three-point range, and 1-1 from the line. He's not taking his 10-15 footers tonight; it's all wild stuff in the lane or near the basket, and he doesn't have the touch to make those.

  10. The last time the Cats scored 51 points in the first half was on November 21, 2018, when they led Winthrop 51-37 at the half. They won that game 87-74, and went to the Elite Eight before losing to Auburn in OT. I really liked that team, and would have been devastated by the loss to Auburn if I weren't so old, and if I hadn't lived through 2015.

    1. But that's not all. I never trusted that team, and I never had faith that they could beat Auburn. Plus they went 12-21 from the line, and those missed free throws killed them.

    2. That was a funny team that could never get over the top. They went 15-3 in the SEC, but lost the regular season to LSU because of a basket that should have been disallowed for offensive goaltending. They were rolling in the SEC semi-finals against UT, but gave up 18 points in the last 3 minutes (with a lot of help from the refs), and lost that game. And they were up 22-11 in the Elite Eight against Auburn, and had the last shot in regulation, and still managed to lose in OT. So they went 15-3 in the SEC, and 30-7 overall, with wins over UNC and U of L, and they didn't win any titles.

    3. Having said all of that, I enjoyed watching them enormously, and I really liked everyone on the team.

  11. Here's my ranking of teams under Coach Cal, based on how much I liked each team over the course of the year:

    2012 (The only UK team I have ever trusted)
    2015 (I still haven't recovered from Wisconsin)
    2014 (Now one of my favorites, but I was furious all season.)
    2016 (I was unfair to this team because of 2015)

  12. UK leads 65-31 with 13:33 left, and Bill James's formula states that the lead is safe.

  13. They are reporting on Twitter that Notre Dame's football coach is leaving for LSU. Not only is that a mistake on many levels, it's incredible to me that anyone would leave a team that could be in the playoff.

  14. K-Pom thought it would be 87-59 for the Cats, and UK got a basket with 4 seconds left to make the final score . . . 85-57. Same margin, just one basket short for each team. Another great job by K-Pom. He had UK at number 14 when the game began, and they won't move much after this game.

  15. Cats go 24-46 from 2-point range, 7-26 on 3's, and 16-24 from the line. At one point they were up 61-28, and then they cruised home the rest of the way.