Monday, February 12, 2024

Classic OVC Standings

Western Kentucky went on the road last week and beat LaTech (81-76) and Jacksonville St. (70-59), and the Hilltoppers are right back in this thing.  Meanwhile, Murray finally won a close game, beating Evansville 73 to 70 on a buzzer beater.  So now the standings look like this:

110.  Morehead St:  20-5
130.  Murray St:  10-15
139.  W. Kentucky:  17-7
191.  E. Kentucky:  13-11
212.  E. Tenn. St:  12-11
232.  Austin Peay:  13-13
288.  Mid. Tenn. St:  9-15
336.  Tennessee St:  8-17

By the way, Morehead State has lost to Alabama, Purdue, Penn State, and Indiana.  All those games were on the road.  They are 20-1 against everyone else.  

The Classic OVC Champion will be determined by whichever team is ranked the highest when the NCAA Tournament begins.

146 comments:

  1. According to Ken Pom, here were the last six seasons of Nolan Richardson's time at Arkansas:

    1997: 56 (18-14)
    1998: 24 (24-8, lost in the second round)
    1999: 36 (23-11, lost in the second round)
    2000: 41 (SEC Tourney Champs) (19-15, lost in the first round)
    2001: 32 (20-11, lost in the first round)
    2002: 57 (14-15)

    And here you see the problem facing the UK Athletic Department. On the one hand, age comes for all great coaches, as it has come for Calipari. After 1995, Nolan Richardson never got back to the Sweet 16. On the other hand, since 2001 Arkansas has never gone to the NCAA Tournament four years in a row. Even a weakened Nolan Richardson was better than the great majority of coaches.

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  2. Here are Denny Crum's last five seasons:

    1997: 49 (26-9, lost in the Elite Eight)
    1998: 78 (12-20)
    1999: 24 (19-11, lost in the first round)
    2000: 28 (18-12, lost in the first round)
    2001: 133 (12-19)

    At that point, U of L sacked Crum, replaced him with Pitino, and were back in the Final Four by 2005. That's obviously better than what Arkansas did. But who would be UK's version of Pitino?

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  3. Here are Cal's last five seasons:

    2020: 29 (25-6, no tournament due to COVID)
    2021: 49 (9-16)
    2022: 6 (26-8, lost in first round)
    2023: 27 (22-12, lost in second round)
    2024: 27 (16-7 so far)

    The Cats are doing slightly better than U of L and Arkansas did in the last days of Crum and Richardson -- but not much better. Actually, UK looks almost exactly like Indiana in the last days of Bobby Knight:

    1997: 32 (22-11, lost in the first round)
    1998: 23 (20-12, lost in the second round)
    1999: 19 (23-11, lost in the second round)
    2000: 20 (20-9, lost in the first round)

    Back then, we all knew that Knight wasn't taking IU back to the Final Four. And my guess is that now, most Tennessee fans know the same thing about Cal.

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    1. By the way, since Bobby Knight left after the 2000 season, no Indiana coach has taken the Hoosiers to the NCAA Tournament four years in a row.

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  4. Ken Pom has UK beating Ole Miss 86 to 79 tonight. I don't see any way that UK holds Ole Miss to 79 points. The last four games in Rupp Arena, UK's opponents have scored 96 points, 94 points, 103 points, and 85 points. Ole Miss shoots 38.7 percent from 3-point range, and they will have a big night tonight.

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    1. In 10 SEC games this year -- including games against terrible teams like Missouri, Arkansas, and Vandy -- UK has given up 842 points. That seems impossible, but it's the truth.

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    2. Ken Pom has data on every Kentucky team going back to 1997. The worse defense Kentucky has had in that time was the 2013 team. That was the year Nerlens Noel got hurt. That team went 21-12 and missed the NCAA. They were ranked 88th in the country in defense. This year's team is ranked 125.

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  5. The top of the current SEC looks like this:

    Alabama: 9-2
    S. Carolina: 9-2
    Auburn: 8-3
    Tennessee: 7-3

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  6. Ken Pom now thinks that Alabama will win the SEC with a record of 14-4. He has Auburn and Tennessee both going 13-5, and he has South Carolina going 12-6.

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  7. Kentucky is 4-0 against Vandy, Arkansas, Georgia, and Missouri. They are 2-4 against the rest of the SEC.

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  8. The last time Kentucky lost three home games in a row was December 1966, the season after Rupp's Runts. That 1966-67 team was not very good, and finished with a record of 13-13. It was the worst season Rupp ever had at UK. The next year, Rupp rolled out three new sophomores: Dan Issel, Mike Casey, and Mike Pratt. His last five teams all won the SEC Championship, although none reached the Final Four. Here were the last five years of his career, with the final AP ranking for each team:

    1968: 5: 22-5 (lost in the Elite Eight)
    1969: 7: 23-5 (lost in the Sweet 16)
    1970: 1: 26-2 (lost in the Elite Eight)
    1971: 8: 22-6 (lost in the Sweet 16)
    1972: 18: 21-7 (lost in the Elite Eight)

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  9. Update on the Second Region, where Lyon County will be going for its third consecutive Regional Title. The Lyons are 23-3, and are a serious contender for the state championship. However, on January 30 they lost at home to Henderson County, 78 to 73. Henderson County is 21-3, and of course the Colonels are part of the Second Region. University Heights, another Second Region power, is 18-5, although they lost to the Lyons 114-68 on January 13.

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  10. Here's the current KHSAA Top 20, according to MaxPreps:

    1. Great Crossing: 26-1
    2. Lex. Catholic: 23-2
    3. Lou. Trinity: 20-5
    4. Newport: 24-3
    5. N. Oldham: 22-3
    6. Lyon Co: 23-3
    7. Lou. St. Xavier: 20-3
    8. Cov. Catholic: 19-5
    9. Harlan Co: 23-4
    10. Lou. Evangel Christian: 19-4
    11. George Rogers Clark: 24-2
    12. Bowling Green: 22-5
    13. Boyd Co: 22-4
    14. Henderson Co: 21-3
    15. Woodford Co: 22-5
    16. Lou. Manual: 19-3
    17. Cooper: 16-7
    18. Oldham Co: 21-6
    19. Lou. Male: 18-7
    20. Lou. DeSales: 18-8

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  11. McCracken County (19-7) is the highest ranked team in the First Region. The Mustangs are number 32.

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  12. Meanwhile, here's what UK has left:

    2/13: MISSISSIPPI
    2/17: at Auburn
    2/21: at Louisiana St.
    2/24: ALABAMA
    2/27: at Mississippi St.
    3/2: ARKANSAS
    3/6: VANDERBILT
    3/9: at Tennessee

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  13. On the other hand, Ken Pom gives them an 88 percent chance against Arkansas and a 95 percent chance against Vandy. Those teams are terrible, and even Kentucky has beaten each of them. So that gets us to a record of 18-9 overall and 8-6 in the SEC.

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  14. Which means that the season basically comes down to the other four games. If Kentucky could win all four, it would finish 22-9 and 12-6. If it loses any of them, its conference record will be worst than last year's, and it will probably end up on the bubble.

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  15. Here are the four games:

    Ole Miss at home (UK with a 74 percent chance)
    LSU away (UK with a 62 percent chance)
    Alabama at home (UK with a 41 percent chance)
    Mississippi St. away (UK with a 40 percent chance)

    Ken Pom thinks the Cats will lose two of these games, and finish 20-11 and 10-8.

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    1. I was really wrong about this team. I thought that given a team with this much offensive firepower, they could figure out how to play defense and rebound. But they could not. Now I think they are just too frail, and that you can no longer send out freshmen to go up against the huge men who dominate the game these days.

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    2. Ever since UVA and Texas Tech slugged their way to the Final in 2019, it's been obvious that the game belongs to big, physical teams. Some schools (UConn, Houston, Baylor, Kansas) get it. Cal does not. Year after year, the rest of the SEC just hammers his teams. And by the time you get to March, UK is so banged up that it has no chance of making a run in the SEC Tournament or the NCAA's.

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    3. I had thought that one way to avoid all this violence was to have a quick team that shot (and made) a lot of three's. And that's why I was optimistic at the beginning of this year. But the Cats just have to give up too much at the defensive end. Also, their skill in the first 39 minutes of the game does not convert to execution down the stretch.

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    4. But to be clear: I really don't think it's purely a matter of execution. They just have the wrong type of team. Tennessee and Auburn are the future of college basketball, and Kentucky has to adapt. I don't like the style of basketball that Tennessee plays, and I wish the NCAA would officiate the games very differently. But we have to live with the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.

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    5. Anyway, tonight they get an Ole Miss team coached by Chris Beard, who helped invent the modern physical game at Texas Tech. He rode that success to Texas, before personal problems got him exiled to Ole Miss. Now he's on the comeback trail, and he will badly want this game tonight. Given how the Cats got banged around by UT and SC, we could have a long and ugly night at Rupp.

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  16. Anyway, Calipari is saying that Tre Mitchell will play tonight, which means that UK will have its entire lineup available for the first time all year.

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  17. There's a theory on the Internet that Cal should basically give up on his three big guys, and go back to the lineup he was using in December. Then he could bring in the three big guys for short periods to give Tre Mitchell some rest. I've never found that Cal takes theories on the Internet very seriously, so I have no idea what he's going to do.

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  18. Personally, I think the three big guys all show signs of great promise, and I don't really understand why UK hasn't been able to use them effectively.

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  19. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that tonight it will be something like 75-75 with 5 minutes to go, and then chaos will ensue. That's what usually happens when the Cats play a mid-level team with a good coach.

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  20. For the record, Kentucky hasn't lost four home games in a row since the 1926-27 season. That was before Rupp came to Lexington.

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  21. Here's the starting lineup for tonight:

    D.J. Wagner
    Antonio Reeves
    Justin Edwards
    Tre Mitchell
    Ugonna Onyenso

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  22. So Cal is not going with the small lineup the reporters wanted. Kyle Tucker tweets "That is certainly five players."

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    1. Meanwhile, UK fans are having to wait for the end of the game at Syracuse between the Orangemen and UNC. The Orangemen lead 76-72 with 2:02 left, but of course we're looking at the monitor to see who gets the ball.

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    2. UVA had won eight games in a row, and their fans were quietly starting to become optimistic. But they got thumped at home tonight by Pitt, which makes no sense. They fall to 19-6 and 10-4.

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    3. Meanwhile, the officials are back to the monitor with 1:37 left. It's still 76-72. I thought there was an obvious foul on UNC, but apparently it wasn't obvious to the officials.

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  23. Marquette wins a big one, beating Butler 78-72 on the road. The former Warriors are now 19-5 and 10-3 in the Big East. Would UK fans consider Shaka Smart?

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  24. OK, it was a foul on UNC, which makes sense given that a UNC guy threw an Orangeman to the floor. The Cuse goes 1-2 from the line, and they lead 77-72.

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  25. Florida is starting to roll. The Gators hammered Auburn on Saturday, and they lead LSU 48-34 at the half right now.

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  26. Meanwhile, in Syracuse, the officials have gone back to the monitor to review an out-of-bounds call. They give the ball to the Cuse with 1:24 left. Still 77-72.

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  27. More Kyle Tucker: "Cal said last night he's got to figure out the slow starts. He said that's where UK is losing games by digging holes. And then he starts this lineup."

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    1. "He said that. And then starts this five. I mean, OK."

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    2. Kyle Tucker wants to start: Wagner, Sheppard, Reeves, Thiero, and Mitchell.

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  28. Number-16 Dayton, the best team in Region 9, rolls to an easy win over Duquesne.

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  29. The Cuse makes two FT's to go up 79-72. Then there's a scramble for the ball with 1 minute left. And we have yet another trip to the monitors.

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  30. The Cuse wins another review. And goes back to the foul line.

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  31. K-Pom has UNC at number 8 and Syracuse at number 94. He thought UNC would win 79-71. With 49.4 seconds left, Syracuse leads 80-75.

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  32. Meanwhile, the Cats have fallen behind 5-0. To me, the most interesting point about that game is whether Ole Miss will score 90.

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  33. Syracuse makes one FT, UNC makes a basket, and the Cuse leads 81-77 with 39.4 seconds left. The Orangemen are 13-17 from the line.

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  34. Syracuse misses the first FT. And makes the second. 82-77. UNC then TURNS IT OVER! With 33.3 seconds left, the Cuse is going back to the line.

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  35. They immediately miss the first FT, but make the second. 83-77.

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  36. UNC shoots an air ball, Syracuse gets the ball, and the Cuse fans can finally relax.

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  37. Meanwhile, Vandy led Texas A & M for most of the game, then fell behind, then hit a shot at the buzzer to beat the Aggies 74 to 73. The Dores move to 2-9 in SEC play.

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  38. They had another official review with 18.6 seconds left, and now Syracuse is shooting technicals. They make one of two. 84-77.

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  39. With 16:35 left in the first half, UK leads 7-5.

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  40. With 15.9 seconds left, the Cuse makes two free throws in a row! 86-77.

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  41. And that's a final: Syracuse 86, N. Carolina 79. First top-10 win for the Orangemen since 2019.

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  42. Cats lead 9-5 with 15:57 left in the first half, so Kyle Tucker doesn't look clever so far.

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  43. OK, new lineup: Sheppard, Dillingham (my favorite Cat), Edwards, Mitchell, Onyenso.

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  44. My favorite Cat fumbles the ball and gives Ole Miss a layup. Cats lead 9-7. Then Onyenso is called for an offensive foul.

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  45. Ole Miss hits a wide-open three after an out-of-bounds play -- UK doesn't defend those at all -- and the Rebs lead 12-9. Then they get the ball back, miss a 3, get the rebound, and make another one. 15-9.

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  46. The Rebels have already gone 3-5 from behind the arc.

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  47. With 11:48 left in the first half, Ole Miss leads 15-13.

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  48. Here's the thing: UK ranks 356th in non-steal turnover defensive percentage. Only 5.9 percent of the other teams' possessions end with a non-steal turnover. So basically, almost every time the other team has the ball, it will take a shot. Now they may miss, but UK is 233d in the country at preventing offensive rebounds. When you add those two facts together, you get a really bad defense.

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  49. With 11:27 left, Onyenso is fouled. He misses the first FT and makes the second. Ole Miss leads 15-14.

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  50. Cats get a steal, which ends with Edwards missing a wide-open three. Then Ole Miss gets a dunk at the other end. Then Ole Miss gets a steal that leads to another dunk. 19-14 for the Rebs.

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  51. With 10 minutes left in the first half, Ole Miss leads 19-14.

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  52. With 9:20 left, Onyenso is fouled again. This time, he makes the first FT and misses the second. 19-15 for Ole Miss.

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  53. Ole Miss misses a wide open three, and Sheppar makes one. 19-18.

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  54. Ole Miss makes a jump shot in the lane: 21-18 with 7:55 left. Mitchell misses a jump shot in the lane at the other end.

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  55. Ole Miss leads 21-18 with 7:31 left. They interview Chris Beard at the break, and he seems like a man headed for an easy win.

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  56. Coming out of the media timeout, Ole Miss makes an open jumper to go up 23-18. Reeves is blocked at the other end.

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  57. With 6:28 left, Sheppard hits a 3 to make it 23-21.

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  58. Ole Miss will in-bound with 4 seconds left on the shot clock. This is usually an automatic basket. But this time it's not. Reeves hits a 3, and UK goes up 24-23 with 5:32 left.

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  59. Bradshaw blocks an Ole Miss shot, and Reeves is fouled at the other end. He makes two FT's, and the Cats lead 26-23 with 5:12 left.

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  60. Ole Miss misses an open three. Mitchell gets the rebound, and Edwards drives to the basket and is fouled. He makes two FT's, and the Cats lead 28-23 with 4:48 left.

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  61. Now Ole Miss makes two FT's. UK leads 28-25 with 4:31 left.

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  62. Reeves hits a jumper to put UK up 30-25 with 3:54 left. That's the media timeout.

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  63. In a game of (mild) local interest, George Mason hammers George Washington 90 to 67.

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  64. Michigan has quietly collapsed. They are down to number 100 on K-Pom, and they get drilled 97-68 at Illinois.

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  65. Out of the timeout, both teams exchange baskets. Cats lead 32-27 with 3:15 left.

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  66. Sheppard gets a steal, Reeves shoots an air ball, but Edwards gets the rebound and puts it in. UK leads 34 to 27 with 2:38 left. Ole Miss calls time.

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  67. With 2:19 left, and UK still up 34-27, we have to go to the monitor. I just hate these monitor reviews so much.

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  68. After the review, UK gets the ball. Wagner throws to Bradshaw for a dunk, and UK leads 36-27 with 2 minutes left.

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  69. Ole Miss misses an off-balance shot, and Wagner is fouled at the other end.

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  70. Wagner (who is the best player on the team) makes both FT's, and UK leads 38-27 with 1:32 left.

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  71. Ole Miss makes 1 of 2 FT's. UK leads 38-28 with 1:13 left.

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  72. Wagner sets up Mitchell for a layup and a chance at a 3-point play. Mitchell makes the FT, and UK leads 41-28 with 57 seconds left.

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  73. Ole Miss makes 1 of 2 FT's. UK leads 41-29 with 16.8 seconds left. Cal calls the timeout that he would lose at halftime.

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  74. No other tournament team is worse in these end-of-half / end-of-game situations. Usually, the Cats just turn it over. But this time, Sheppard gets the ball to Mitchell for a DUNK! Cats lead 43 to 29 at the half.

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  75. At the half, Cal says "It's great to have our starters back. They were gone for three weeks." He's obviously referring to Wagner and Mitchell.

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  76. Kentucky:
    3-9 from 3-point range (33.3 percent)
    12-18 from 2-point range (66.7 percent)
    10-12 from the line (83.3 percent)
    43 points, 19 rebounds, 8 turnovers

    Ole Miss:
    3-11 from 3-point range (27.3 percent)
    8-20 from 2-point range (40.0 percent)
    4-6 from the line (66.7 percent)
    29 points, 13 rebounds, 7 turnovers

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    1. For UK, Reeves and Edwards each have 11 points. Sheppard has 6. Dillingham has 2 points and 3 turnovers, and appears to be in the doghouse. Onyenso had 7 blocks. Together, Onyenso and Bradshaw had 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 8 blocks.

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  77. You know who's really good? Iowa State. The Cyclones go to Cincinnati and beat the Bearcats 68 to 59. They are now 19-5 (8-3) and up to number 8 on Ken Pom.

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    1. Cincinnati is 15-9 (4-7) and 37 on Ken Pom, but they are still the highest ranked team from the Classic Metro.

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  78. Providence beats St. John's 75 to 72, and the Johnnies are now 14-11 (6-8), and 41 on Ken Pom.

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  79. Florida almost blew their big lead against LSU, but hangs on for an 82-80 win. What an odd game.

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  80. UK comes out to start the second half and Reeves shoots an air ball.

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  81. Ole Miss comes out to attack Onyenso. They draw a foul and make 1 of 2 FT's. UK leads 43-30 with 19:27 left.

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  82. Wagner comes down and throws the ball out of bounds.

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  83. Ole Miss takes on Onyenso again. They miss, get the rebound, and draw another foul. They make 1 of 2 FT's. UK leads 43-31 with 18:50 left.

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  84. Wagner hits a driver in the lane to put UK up 45-31 with 18:25 left.

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  85. Ole Miss hits a short jump shot, then gets a steal and a dunk. UK leads 45-35 with 17:53 left.

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  86. Reeves misses a three-pointer and that turns into a runout for Ole Miss. UK leads 45-37 with 17:27 left. Cal calls time. Ole Miss has opened the second half with an 8-2 run.

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  87. Matt Jones complains that Sheppard should be starting.

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  88. Sheppard comes in and hits a jump shot. UK leads 47-37 with 17 minutes left.

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  89. Ole Miss, working the ball inside on every possession now, makes it 47-39.

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  90. Mitchell gets whacked and leaves clutching his shoulder. Ole Miss makes another short jump shot. UK leads 47-41 with 15:30 left. Dillingham answers with a 3-pointer.

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  91. Cats lead 50-41 with 15:32 left. Sheppard is called for a foul and that's the media timeout.

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  92. With Mitchell out of the game, this should become a race to 80 points.

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  93. The Cats go with Sheppard, Dillingham, Edwards, Theiro, and Onyenso.

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  94. Ole Miss misses a shot, steals the ball back, and misses another shot.

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  95. Dillingham throws to Onyenso for a dunk. Cats up 52-41 with 14:14 left.

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  96. Dillingham goes back to Onyenso, but this time the Rebels steal it. 13:50 left.

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  97. Ole Miss hits another jumper. UK leads 52-43 with 13:24 left.

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  98. Sheppard makes a layup. UK leads 54-43 with 12:46 left.

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  99. Sheppard throws it away and Ole Miss gets fouled at the other end. Ole Miss misses both FT's. Still 54-43 with 12:06 left.

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  100. Sheppard hits a 3 and UK goes up 57-43 with 11:39 left.

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  101. Ole Miss makes a short jumper, Reeves makes a layup, and it's 59-45 with 10:45 left. That's the media timeout.

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  102. Onyenso now has 10 blocks, which is a record for a UK player in Rupp Arena.

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  103. Kyle Tucker tweets: "I think I've decided that when Anthony Davis crashed down on his back in the Elite Eight game against Baylor, as John Calipari crouched over him and prayed, Cal made a deal. 'Let AD be OK and I'll take whatever injuries you want to give me for the rest of time.'"

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  104. Dillingham makes a 3 and UK leads 62-45 with 9:22 left. Then Ole Miss answers with a 3 at the other end. 62-48 with 9:08 left.

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  105. A Dillingham jump shot puts UK up 64-48 with 8:42 left.

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  106. Ole Miss gets a dunk: 64-50 with 8:22 left.

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  107. Reeves hits a runner. UK leads 66-50 with 8:04 left. But Ole Miss is fouled at the other end.

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  108. Ole Miss makes both FT's. UK leads 66-52 with 8:04 left.

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  109. Sheppard sets up Bradshaw, who scores and is fouled. Cats lead 68-52 with 7:44 left, and that's the media timeout.

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  110. Bradshaw misses the FT. Then Ole Miss misses a 3-pointer.

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  111. Ole Miss hits a 3-pointer to make it 68-55 with 6 minutes left.

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  112. The Cats are trying to run clock and have stopped scoring. Ole Miss goes to the line with 5:02 left. They make 1 of 2 FT's and UK leads 68-56 with 4:52 left.

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  113. Cats keep overpassing, but Edwards is fouled with 4:09 left. He goes to the line and misses the first FT. He makes the second. UK leads 69-56 with 4:09 left.

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  114. Dillingham, who never stops trying to score, hits Onyenso for another dunk. UK leads 71-56 with 3:12 left.

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  115. Ole Miss goes to the line with 2:46 left. They miss the first one. They make the second. UK leads 71-57.

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  116. Theiro hits a jumper. Ole Miss gets a dunk. 73-59 with 1:52 left. Ole Miss calls time.

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  117. Sheppard throws a lob to Theiro, who is hammered. He makes both FT's, and UK leads 75-59 with 1:19 left.

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  118. UK wins 75 to 63. OK, so what happened? Why didn't Ole Miss score a ton of points? They went 5-22 from 3-point range. The Cats have to concede a lot of open three-pointers because that's the only way they can avoid a bunch of layups. Florida, UT, and Gonzaga all made the 3-pointers. Ole Miss did not.

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  119. UK's record after 24 games in each of the last five seasons:

    2020: 19-5 (9-2) (Number 27 on Ken Pom)
    2021: 9-15 (8-9) (47)
    2022: 20-4 (9-2) (3)
    2023: 16-8 (7-4) (40)
    2024: 17-7 (7-4) (25)

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  120. Ken Pom now thinks UK will finish 21-10 and 11-7. That would give UK the 5 or 6 seed in the SEC Tournament.

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  121. Auburn beat South Carolina 101-61 in Auburn on Wednesday. Auburn will be hosting Kentucky on Saturday. In the meantime, the top of the SEC looks like this:

    Alabama: 9-2
    Auburn: 9-3
    S. Carolina: 9-3
    Tennessee: 8-3

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  122. Western Kentucky wins its fourth game in a row, beating UTEP 90 to 80 in Bowling Green. The win moves the Hilltoppers to 18-7 on the season, and 7-4 in Conference USA.

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  123. Here are the standings in Conference USA:

    Louisiana Tech: 7-3
    Sam Houston St: 7-3
    W. Kentucky: 7-4
    Liberty: 5-5
    New Mexico St: 5-5
    U.T.E.P: 4-6
    Mid. Tenn. St: 4-6
    Jacksonville St: 4-7
    Fla. Int'l: 3-7

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  124. Morehead State lost at Little Rock, 69 to 68. Now the top of the Classic OVC looks like this:

    111. Morehead St: 20-6
    123. Murray St: 11-15
    138. W. Kentucky: 18-7

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  125. Saturday in college basketball: Boom (WKU) and BOOM (UK)!

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