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The ‘nerve’ of Tyler Ulis

Sports in Kentucky



“What nerve!” a couple of tall Kansas Jayhawks must have grumbled after the pint-sized kid drove into the lane, got airborne, and changed his angle on a shot that found a gap among flailing giants and settled into the basket.

What audacity!

Tyler Ulis is special. Enjoy him. March 5 is coming.

Number of Kentucky home games left this season? Five. Sophomore Ulis is a finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award — a recognition of college hoops’ very best at managing his team.

Raise your hand, please, if … v You’re feeling that “Please stay another year, kid,” angst. v You’re hoping the kid’s parents don’t walk onto Cawood Court on March 5, Senior Day at Kentucky.

Black Saturday

It was Black Saturday for the college basketball “bigs” in Kentucky.

Louisville was embarrassed by Virginia … Kentucky lost in overtime at Kansas. Western Kentucky lost at home to Middle Tennessee — the ninth time in last 10 the Hilltoppers have fallen to arch rival Middle.

Murray State had its threegame win streak stopped at Tennessee Martin. When’s the last time the Racers (11-11) were .500 in February?

Eastern Kentucky lost at home to Morehead State.

Morehead’s Eagles (12-9) improved to 6-3 in OVC standings, which brings Sean Woods into the league’s coach of the year conversation.

Black Saturday’s silver linings? Georgetown and Pikeville.

The Georgetown Tigers, ranked fifth in the NAIA, take a 19-2 record into February.

UPike pushed its record to 19-2 and Bears coach Kelly Wells onto the NAIA all-time 25 winningest coaches list.

Kentucky’s ‘Win’ at Kansas

General George S. Patton famously said, “The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.” It is for Kentucky fans too. A scoreboard 90-84 loss at Kansas in overtime had a noteworthy upside. v UK at KU was the most entertaining game of the season so far. v Looking through a December prism, how many fans saw this coming? “Certainly (Derek) Willis getting in foul trouble helped us a lot because that allowed us to kind of switch up what we were doing defensively,” – Kansas coach Bill Self. v From the this-won’t-happenon a-neutral-floor department, KU had 47 free throw attempts, a lopsided 25 more than UK’s 22. Kentucky made seven more field goals than the Jayhawks, 33-26.

Coach Gaffe Department:

• Perry Ellis was limited to four shots, but John Calipari was unable to find anybody to stop Wayne Selden getting off 20 (made 12).

• Meanwhile, UK could spring leading scorer Jamal Murray for only 11 shots. Finally, Kansas needed overtime to protect its home floor, avoid losing for only the tenth time in Bill Self’s tenure (2003-now). Kentucky heads into February with an NCAA tourna- ment primer game film.

In Case You Missed It

If University of Kentucky football expects to jumpstart a campaign to make believers that a renaissance season is coming (sell tickets to seven home games), then Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart had better dispatch his PR troops to make freshman Drake Jackson available to media day or night.

The Woodford County All-American was spot-on with attitude and approach in an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal. Excerpts.

1. “It’s not just about me being an All-American and coming in and playing right away. You gotta earn it.”

2. “Once I’m here the four stars are thrown out the window. The (Army) All- American game is thrown out the window. We’re all starting all over.”

3. Importance of enrolling early: “I think it’s huge. I know the campus … the schedule and how (college) works and how to manage my time.”

Drake Jackson.

A Reader Writes

“The big difference between my take on things and yours is I don’t stew on UK athletics to the point of anger. … Nothing is going to change until fans stop buying tickets, and even then the first thing to change will be a reduction in number of individual seats in arenas (will) offset an increase in number of premium seats and boxes that can be sold. The ‘new’ Commonwealth Stadium is a prime example,

“So Bob, you need to let it go. Either enjoy the success of UK (basketball) and accept the state of UK (football), or allow your anger to further control and make you and your readers (more) miserable, week-in and week-out.”

Worth Repeating

Days to start of Major League Baseball spring training? 14.

And so, America’s first spring in many years without Lawrence “Yogi” Berra who said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

The legend also reminded us … v “Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.” v “There are some people who, if they don’t already know, you can’t tell ‘em.”

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