Randle Named Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week

Also tabbed the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week

ST. LOUIS – Kentucky freshman Julius Randle has been honored by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) as its Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week and its Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week it was announced on Tuesday. It is the first time this season one player has been honored with both awards by the association during the same week.

Randle was named the Southeastern Conference’s Player of the Week after he led the Wildcats to a pair of victories this week. Randle averaged 16.5 points and 14.0 rebounds in wins over Ole Miss and LSU.

As the SEC’s Player of the Week, Randle was nominated for the weekly award, which was chosen by a representative of the USBWA board of directors from a list of Division I conference players of the week.

Randle is the second Wildcat freshman to earn Wayman Tisdale weekly honors this season. James Young also captured the honor on Dec. 31 following his 18-point, 10-rebound performance in helping UK down then ranked No. 6 Louisville.

This is the fifth season that the USBWA has selected a national player of the week. The weekly Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week will be considered for the Oscar Robertson Trophy watch list.

Randle began the week by notching his 14th double-double of the season with 25 points and 13 rebounds at Ole Miss. He now ranks 13th in program history with 14 double-doubles in a single year. The 6-9 forward ranks third among freshmen for double-doubles in a single season as both DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis tallied 20 during their freshman campaigns. It marked the seventh 20-10 game of his career.

Randle shot 13-14 from the free throw line against the Rebels and scored six of UK’s final 11 points to help preserve the victory. The 13 made free throws matches a career best tally for the freshman and is the most in a single game by any player in the John Calipari era. For the season he has totaled 148 made free throws which are a mark that ranks fourth among all UK freshmen in program history.

UK’s starting forward helped lead the Cats in dramatic fashion at home against LSU. He hit the game-winning put back with 3.9 second remaining in overtime en route to an eight-point, 15-rebound performance against the Tigers. The 15 boards was just one shy of matching a career high.

For the season, Randle has hauled in 278 rebounds which stand as the fourth most in UK freshman history. He has also poured in a team-high 425 points on the year. The 425 tallies are 12th among UK freshman in the record books.

Since the 1958-59 season, the USBWA has named a National Player of the Year. In 1998, the award was named in honor of the University of Cincinnati Hall of Famer and two-time USBWA Player of the Year Oscar Robertson. It is the nation’s oldest award and the only one named after a former player.

Kentucky returns to action on Thursday, Feb. 27 at home as UK welcomes Arkansas to Rupp Arena. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET and the game will air live on ESPN.

Cats Dodge A Bullet Look To Post Two More W’s This Week

By – Ira D. Combs – Tri State Sports Media Service Inc. – 

Hip Hip Hooray ……. the winter Olympics are finally over this week and that segment of time each day used by the statewide and national sports media can go to college and high school basketball .

I know I’m not alone in my thoughts on this matter but this has got to be the largest sum of wasted money ever spent in the world of sports to have such little interest to the American sports fan ………. especially the sports fans in the Commonwealth of Kentucky .

Now , on with my column .

I’ve been told on many occasions over the years by several coaches who I’ve become acquainted with on most all levels of organized basketball all the way up the basketball ladder to professional basketball that you can look back at the end of each season and point to at least one game and in some years (2) or (3) games that you should have probably lost that you won and in the same manner you can pick out a couple that you did lose that you probably should have won . 

If that’s true then Coach Cal can put the overtime win UK had saturday against LSU in the category of a win that probably in all actuality should have been a loss . These same coaches also said by the end of a coaches career that it all balances out .

I never did buy into that theory , always thought that was more of a myth than the truth .

Bottom line is when your John Calipari and at a pressure packed hoops crazy school like UK and your dealing with the fuzzy faced yet supposed elite super stars he has to coach up you take the win and move on to the next challenge on the schedule . Luckily , that one is at Rupp Arena just like the LSU game was and it’s against a team Cal and the UK players owe a little pay back to as well .

That next contest will be against Arkansas this (Thurs.) Feb. 27th at 7:00 EST on ESPN followed up by a saturday game in Columbia , South Carolina with tip off slated for 6:00 EST also on ESPN .

Presently UK sets at 21 – 6 overall and 11 – 3 in SEC play with a pretty solid shot at getting one of those coveted SEC tourney 1st round byes which provides you with a couple more days rest before you begin post season play and your first opponent will be coming off a game 24 hours earlier .

This week will be the first and only time during the regular season that UK will have to play the thursday / saturday format , that is , until possibly NCAA tournament time when half of each weekend’s tournament teams will play thursday / saturday and the other half will play the friday / sunday format .

Selection Sunday And NCAA Tourney Plans

Were exactly (3) sundays away as I write this column from the very popular NCAA selection sunday show on CBS where Cal and his kiddy cats will find out their seed , 1st round site , and  regional destination that will hopefully start them on the road to another Final Four appearance . My friends in the UK press corps and a few game-day workers at Rupp Arena will probably get another kick out of me mentioning this possible scenario again , especially after , the last (2) back to back games at Rupp Arena have provided UK with a loss to Florida and a paper thin win against LSU .

But hey , stranger things have happened in the world of college sports especially in the NCAA tournament ……….. how many of you thought the Brandon Knight – Josh Harrellson team would land in the Final Four with wins against North Carolina and Ohio State along the way .

What this timeline above means is the opportunities for making a case of earning a higher seed  for the Big Dance are dwindling down to only (4) regular season games and the SEC tournament which in all likelihood will not provide UK with much of an opportunity to help it’s case once you get to that week . Actually , it will probably provide UK with nothing more than a couple useless opportunities on Friday night and Saturday afternoon to hurt it’s resume for earning a higher seed .

The Cats will more than likely be in the opposite bracket of # 1 seed Florida and not have an opportunity to play them until Sunday at 1:00 which by that time the NCAA selection committee will have earmarked a seed for both Florida and UK no matter how that game would play out .

If you want to go ahead and make travel plans to follow the Cats during March Madness east of the Mississippi River I would suggest getting hotel reservations for the 1st round sites of  Orlando and maybe St. Louis as well as Raleigh . Although I’m betting our friends on the selection committee will place higher seeded Kansas , Creighton , Wichita St.  , and hometown Saint Louis in that 1st round site . You can bank on Duke and Virginia being placed at the Raleigh , N.C. site probably along with the late charging Tar Heels . That leaves the Orlando , Florida site with needing some teams that will sell ticket’s other than the Gators .

I’m thinking that’s where UK and Louisville along with maybe Cincinnati can help make those deep pockets of cash the NCAA has already accumulated over the years a little deeper . With the winter we’ve had in the Tri State area the basketball fans of  UK , U of L and UC could use a few days of fun and sun in the Orlando area not to mention  a visit with Mickey Mouse .

But any more losses attached on to the UK resume other than the last regular season game at Florida and you can probably make plans for a tour of the west …… far west .

You can go online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more coverage of UK basketball and football as well as KHSAA basketball and football .

Cats Win in OT Thriller

By: Tyrus York – The first time Kentucky and LSU met was on an icy evening in Baton Rouge.  The Cats lost convincingly, although only by 5 points to a Tigers team that looked like a true contender for the SEC.

Much has happened since then, and there weren’t too many people giving LSU a chance when they came to Rupp Arena on Saturday to attempt to beat Kentucky for a second time.

What followed was an epic battle between two teams quite possibly playing their best basketball.  LSU (16-10, 7-7) had Kentucky on the ropes throughout, but would fall short in overtime 77-76 thanks to a last second put-back by Julius Randle.

#18/16 Kentucky (21-6, 11-3) again has shown that their game is rounding out.  The stereotypes this team acquired halfway through the season seem to be going away.

Andrew Harrison broke the stereotype that they were a bad foul shooting team when he swished 2 straight free throws to send the game into overtime.

The “lack of effort down the stretch” stereotype was broken when Julius Randle, despite only going 3-8 from the field, fought hard for an offensive rebound and a put back to win the game.

When a team can break those stereotypes, they are growing up in front of our eyes.

Aaron Harrison was the star on the stat sheet for the Cats, going for 21 points and 4 rebounds.  His drives to the basket were at times the only offense Kentucky could get going.  He was also perfect on the foul line hitting 7-7 from the stripe.

His twin brother Andrew only had 9 points, but none were bigger than the 2 points from the foul line to send it to overtime.  Before you get down on the point guard, you should also know that the 6 rebounds and 4 assists were what impressed his coach the most.

Julius Randle struggled mightily, again, to score against LSU (only 4 points in Baton Rouge).  However he got it done on the glass, officially getting 15 rebounds, 16 if you count the offensive rebound at the end of the game a rebound despite official stats saying it wasn’t.

James Young showed his offensive prowess going for 20 points despite only hitting 1 three pointer for the game.  He and the Harrisons were excellent getting to the rim late in the game to keep Kentucky in it.

Johnny O’Bryant for LSU is unquestionably one of the best players in the country and he proved it again against the Cats Saturday.  His 20 points and 12 rebounds were big time, but he was slowed significantly down the stretch by a much more aggressive Willie Cauley-Stein (7 points, 6 rebounds).

Former Kentucky Mr. Basketball Anthony Hickey contributed 20 points of his own for the Tigers before fouling out in overtime.  He made several bombs from 3 point land that nearly stole the game for LSU.

Kentucky overcame poor 3 point shooting (1 of 9 with James Young making the only 3) to get a tough win that will prove very helpful when tournament seeding comes around.  LSU on the other hand will have some work to do if they want to be considered an NCAA tourney team.

Kentucky will try to avenge one more loss on Thursday when Arkansas comes to town.  They fell to Razorbacks in Kentucky’s only other overtime game back on January 14th.  That game will tip off at 7 pm on ESPN/ESPN2.

UK Has Nation’s Second-Largest Attendance Increase

Williamson to Compete at NFL Combine

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The NCAA has finalized attendance figures for the 2013 football season, showing that Kentucky had the second-largest increase in the nation.

Kentucky averaged 59,472 in attendance per game in 2013, an increase of 9,781 from the previous season. Only the University of Washington registered a larger per-game increase. The national average for home attendance was 45,192 for all games in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.

Overall, Kentucky ranked 29th in the nation in average attendance per game. UK has ranked in the nation’s top 30 in attendance 13 times since the 1999 season.

Williamson at the NFL Combine: Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson is participating in the annual National Football League Combine for evaluation of players who are eligible for the NFL Draft.

Williamson reported to Indianapolis, the site of the combine, on Friday and went through orientation and medical examinations. Saturday’s schedule featured measurements, more medical exams and media interviews. On Sunday, he will do the bench press and psychological testing.  On the field workouts are Monday, including timing and drills.

Williamson totaled 102 tackles in the 2013 season, ranking fourth in the Southeastern Conference. It was his second-consecutive campaign over the century mark.  He also had four tackles for loss, a quarterback sack, three QB hurries and two fumble recoveries.

From Milan, Tenn., Williamson was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference by College Sports Madness and was a second-team all-league pick by The Associated Press, SEC Coaches, ESPN.com, Phil Steele’s College Football and Athlon Sports.  He also was on the watch lists for the Lott Trophy (nation’s best defensive player), Butkus Award (nation’s best linebacker) and the Senior CLASS Award.

Williamson notched 135 tackles during his junior season, garnering second-team All-SEC from College Sports Madness and third-team all-league accolades from Phil Steele’s College Football.

Off the field, Williamson was named to the SEC Community Service Team and will graduate in May.

– GO CATS –

UK Hoops Dominated by South Carolina

By: Tyrus York – Sometimes sugar coating it doesn’t help.  #4 South Carolina came in to Memorial Coliseum on Thursday night to face a #15 UK Hoops team that was feeling real good about their first win in program history at Thompson Bowling Arena less than a week ago.

That good feeling would wear off quickly for the Wildcats as the Gamecocks absolutely dominated by a convincing margin of 81-58.

It was by far the most lopsided loss I’ve seen in Memorial Coliseum in a long time. But what was worse was that it came at a time when the Cats were on a high coming into the game.

Just how dominant was South Carolina?  They won the rebound battle 44-19.  The Gamecocks outscored the Wildcats 38-26 in the paint, and made 52.6% of their shots compared to Kentucky’s 37.7%.  They would also shoot 50% from three while the Cats dipped below 30% to 28.6%.

The list could go on.

Makyala Epps was the leading scorer for the Cats with 16 points while Jenn O’Neill was close behind with 12.  No other Cats would score in double figures.

The Kentucky post players (Stallworth, Walker, and Sidney) had to have a good game for Kentucky to have a chance.  They did not, combining for only 12 points (6 each for Walker and Stallworth) and collecting only a combined 8 rebounds.

Aleighsa Welch for South Carolina was a star for the Gamecocks, scoring 21 points and gathering 10 rebounds.  Kentucky had no answer for the junior forward, who asserted her will throughout the game.

The bottom line is that South Carolina is good.  Real good.  As in no question the best team in the SEC right now.

Kentucky now has the fortune of going on the road Sunday to play the only team that has beaten South Carolina in conference play, the #13/16Texas A&M Aggies.  The Cats will face Mississippi State next Thursday on the road before returning home for Senior Night on March 2 to face Vanderbilt.

Smith’s Shot Saves Cardinals

The 11th-ranked Louisville Cardinals came into Saturday night’s tilt with No. 7 Cincinnati winners of five straight and nine of their past ten games.  Their last loss was against Cincinnati at the KFC Yum Center on January 30.  Thanks to Russ Smith, the Cardinals got a much needed signature win.

Smith nailed the game winner with 2.2 seconds remaining off of a pass from Terry Rozier.  Smith caught the ball and lofted and 18-foot jumper over the outstretched arms of Cincinnati forward, Titus Rubles, giving the Cardinals a 58 – 57 win.

“Honestly, it felt really good leaving my hands,” said Smith.  Smith had a difficult day on the offensive end, scoring only 10 points on 3 – 10 shooting.  However, he did affect the game in other areas getting five assists, grabbing three rebounds, and getting three steals.

Montrezl Harrell continued his strong play scoring 21 points and getting 10 rebounds.  Louisville made a concerted effort to get the ball to Harrell throughout the game as he shot a team high 16 times.  The only knock on this day for Harrell was once again his free throw shooting.  Harrell was 5 – 12 from the line.

The game was reminiscent of the Louisville versus Cincinnati games in the 90’s and early 2000’s with Bob Huggins as the Bearcats’ coach.  Those games were always some of the more physical games the Cardinals played in.  Saturday’s game did not disappoint.  “This is the type of game I like,” said Harrell in reference to the physicality of the game.

Sean Kilpatrick led Cincinnati with 28 points, but needed 26 shots.  He was only 3 – 14 from three point range.  Kilpatrick made 8 field goals while the rest of the Bearcats made a combined 7 for the game.

Rick Pitino said of the Cardinals’ defense, “Defense makes the difference.  Play defense, play your butts off on defense, and they did today.”  Cincinnati shot only 28.6 percent from the field and committed 13 turnovers to Louisville’s nine.  They hit only 5 – 20 from three point range.

Louisville improved their record to (23 – 4, 12- 2).  More importantly, the win ties them with Cincinnati in the loss column in the AAC.  Cincinnati fell to (24 – 4, 13 – 2).

Louisville returns to the KFC Yum Center Thursday at 9:00 to face the Temple Owls.  On February 14 Louisville throttled the Owls 82- 58.

Louisville Runs past the Bulls, 80 – 54

Over the past several weeks, the Louisville Cardinals have answered a lot of questions fans and the coaching staff have had about them.  They answered another one tonight.  Montrezl Harrell picked up his third foul with 19:21 remaining in the game.  He then received his fourth foul after picking up a technical foul.  Wayne Blackshear then picked up his fourth foul with 18:25 remaining.

South Florida would cut Louisville’s halftime lead to 12, but would get no closer.  Mangok Mathiang and Stephan Van Treese were huge factors in Louisville’s win against the Bulls.  The two centers combined to score 11 points and grab 14 rebounds.

“I like what Mangok did tonight.  He bailed us out of quite a few situations, lots of offensive fouls, so I like the way he played.  I thought he did a very good job,” Rick Pitino said.

The Cardinals will need this kind of play from their center position have success heading into the meat of their schedule.  Louisville will play at Cincinnati, at Memphis, at SMU, and finish at home against Connecticut.

Louisville was coming off Sunday’s game in which they hit 16 – 30 three point shots.  The shots were not falling tonight from outside.  The Cardinals finished 3 – 18 from three point range.  They showed that they can win when the threes are not falling.  They finished 31 – 51 inside the arc for 61 percent.

Russ Smith was one of four Cardinals in double figures finishing with 19 points.  Pitino commented after the Rutgers game that Russ was looking to pad his assist total after passing up several open shots.  Russ took that to heart tonight and scored 9 points in the first 6:26 of the game.  Smith passed Billy Thompson and Wes Unseld on the Cardinals’ all-time scoring list to move into the top ten.

Luke Hancock scored has been one of the Cardinals’ most consistent scorers in conference play.  Hancock scored in double figures for the 13th consecutive time.  He finished with 16 points.

Montrezl Harrell was having a monster game until he picked up his fourth foul early in the second half. Harrell scored 12 points in the first half.  He finished with 14 points on 7 – 9 shooting.  Harrell’s emphatic slam early in the game broke the Louisville single season dunk record previously held by Pervis Ellison and Chane Behanan.

Another bright spot for Louisville continues to be the play of freshman guard Terry Rozier.  Rozier scored 13 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.  He committed only 1 turnover to bring his season total to 15 in 26 games.

Pitino compared Rozier to another great freshman guard, Tyler Ennis.  Pitino said, “Tyler Ennis is awesome, plays all 40 minutes, and he is a great, great basketball player; one of the premier players in the country, but he is up here, and I put Terry up here too.”

South Florida was led by an impressive performance from junior forward Victor Rudd.  Rudd was the only Bull in double figures with 27 points with several highlight reel dunks.  He also corralled 10 rebounds.

Louisville goes on the road Saturday for a nationally televised game against conference rival Cincinnati.  The Bearcats beat the Cardinals in the KFC Yum Center January 30th, 69 – 66.  The Cardinals trail the Bearcats by one game in the AAC standings.

Hot Shooting Propels Cardinals to Victory

By Jason Sheehan –

U of L hammers Rutger - Photo by Jason Sheehan
U of L hammers Rutger – Photo by Jason Sheehan

Rick Pitino was asked after Louisville’s 102 – 54 rout of Rutgers what teams have impressed him so far this season and how close the Cardinals are to the top tier teams.  He said he was impressed with, Florida, Michigan State, Syracuse, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Creighton, etc.  “I’m very impressed with all of those teams and I think we are in the mix as well because we are getting better,” Pitino said.

If the Cardinals shoot as well as they did against Rutgers, they will most certainly be a tough matchup for any team.  Louisville blistered the nets with 55.7% shooting including 16 – 30 from three point range.

Luke Hancock led the way for the Cardinals scoring a career high 25 points.  Hancock made 6 of his 8 three point attempts, grabbed 6 rebounds, and dished out 3 assists.

Pitino praised Hancock when asked a question about another Cardinal player, Stephen Van Treese.  Van Treese had a solid game scoring 8 points, grabbing 5 rebounds, and blocking 3 shots.  Pitino said, “When you have Luke on the floor, Luke makes guys look better.  He knows how to get Van Treese’s confidence going and throws good passes to him.  Luke’s a really big catalyst for us like Francisco (Garcia) was years ago.”

U of L defeats Rutgers - Photo by Jason Sheehan
U of L defeats Rutgers – Photo by Jason Sheehan

Terry Rozier came off of the Cardinals’ bench to score a career-high 16 points.  Rozier was coming off one of his worst performances of the season at Temple where he was held scoreless and missed all 4 of his three point attempts.  Rozier connected on 4 of his 7 threes tonight.

Tonight’s game against Rutgers showed how much Louisville has improved.  In the Cardinals’ 83 – 76 victory against Rutgers on Jan. 4, Louisville dished out only 7 assists and committed 17 turnovers.  Pitino called their play in that game “very selfish”.

Eight Cardinal players scored 7 or more points and 7 hit at least one three.  It is the kind of balance that Pitino wants from his team.  The Cardinals had 23 assists on 34 made field goals.

Rutgers was overmatched from the beginning of the game as Louisville stormed out to a 10 – 2 lead.  The strong performance continued as the Cardinals would lead by 19 at the half.  Louisville then opened the second half on 26 – 3 run to put the game out of reach at 69 – 27.

Louisville held the Scarlet Knights to 35.4 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers.  Pitino was not only happy with the offense, but even more so with the improvement with his team’s defense.  Pitino said, “Now three weeks ago I was very worried about the type of defense we were playing.  Our defense has improved dramatically.  Dramatically.  And that’s a good thing.  Even our zone’s getting better.”

The Cardinals return to the KFC Yum Center Tuesday night at 7 to take on the South Florida Bulls.  Louisville routed the Bulls on Jan. 22 in Tampa 86 – 47.

Louisville improved their record to 21- 4 and 10 – 2 in the AAC.

America Caudill Obit

America Caudill Obit
America Caudill Obit

America Caudill, 68, Beattyville passed away Thurs., Feb. 20, at the Owsley County Health Care Center in Booneville.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Jerry Caudill; her parents, John and Mary (McIntosh) Hensley; four sons, Johnny James, Rex, Roy Lee and Jerry Lee Caudill.  She is survived  by three sons, George Caudill of Beattyville, Lester Caudill of Beattyville, Harlan Caudill of Beattyville; three brothers, Lewis Hensley of Beattyville, Ervine Hensley of Mt. Sterling, Richard Hensley of Breathitt County; three sisters, Vicie Caudill of Athol, Diane Mullins of Athol, Lena Johnson of Austin, Indiana; four grandchildren, Jordan, Karrissa, Brandon and Jamie Caudill; three great grandchildren, America, Zachary and Braydon Caudill;  Funeral services Sat., Feb. 22, 11AM at the Breathitt Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Jerry Henson Jr. officiating.  Burial in the Hugh Bryant Cemetery at Smacken Hollow.  Breathitt Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.

Alvin Carpenter Obit

Alvin Carpenter Obit
Alvin Carpenter Obit

Alvin Carpenter, 72, of Guage passed away Saturday, Feb. 15, at his residence.  He was a veteran of the US Army.  He was the son of the late Floyd and Eliza (Noble) Carpenter.  He was also preceded in death by two brothers, James Carpenter and Estil Carpenter; one sister, Dovie Catchen; one nephew, Randell Howard.  He is survived by his wife, Nancy Stacy of Guage; three sons, David (Alice) Carpenter of Noctor, Tim (Diane) Carpenter of PA, Phillip Carpenter of Guage; one daughter, Rhonda Culnan of Berea; one sister, Phyllis (Olie) Howard of Guage; six grandchildren, Tish Carpenter, Megan Carpenter, Alyssa Carpenter, Ethan Carpenter, Tyler Carpenter, Brandon Carpenter; host of nieces and nephews; two great nephews, Hunter and Bryan Howard.  Funeral services, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2:00 PM at the Breathitt Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Tim Miller officiating.  Burial in the Carpenter Cemetery at Guage.  Breathitt Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.