March 2019 archive

Guest post: Die-hard fan cried after game, but we will be ready to enjoy ride again next year

Keldon Johnson shows the pain of Sunday’s loss. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Vaught’s note: After Sunday’s Elite Eight loss to Auburn, some of the negativity on social media was more than one “die-hard fan” could take, so she sent this to me to share her feelings. Enjoy.

Dear BBN,

My name is Jessica and I am quite sure I’m as heartbroken as you are to see the season end today. I am a die-hard fan but I’m also realistic. Every team can have and off game and sometimes a bad team can shoot the lights out on a fluke. It’s a game and it happens.

John Calipari was trying to let Ashton Hagans “play through stuff” against Auburn

Ashton Hagans (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

 Before Sunday’s game against Auburn, Kentucy coach John Calipari talked about the open shots that freshman point guard Ashton Hagans was going to get in the NCAA Midwest Region final and how he had to shoot with confidence — and that the coach knew he could make shots.

Former UK All-American Mike Pratt talked on the UK Radio Network pregame show about how Calipari spent a lot of time with Hagans at the shootaround “trying to build him up” for the game.

John Calipari makes no excuses, says Auburn “deserved” to win

John Calipari shows his frustration during Sunday’s loss. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

There was no way for Kentucky coach John Calipari to sugar coat his team’s 77-71 overtime loss to Auburn Sunday that ended the Cats’ season one game short of the Final Four.

Kentucky beat Auburn twice during the season and had a 10-point lead in the first half before offensive inefficiency in the second half doomed the Cats along with missing eight of their last 13 foul shots and going 5-for-21 from 3-point range.

Kentucky postgame photos after win over Houston Friday

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Passion in Kansas City

Tina Cox Photo

By TINA COX, Contributing Writer

KANSAS CITY — The ball will tip at 2:20 EST today at Spirit Arena in the heart of downtown Kansas City.  The Kentucky Wildcats will face the Auburn Tigers, the winner will receive a ticket to the Final Four in Minneapolis.  The loser will go home, season over.  Both teams will lay it on the line, fan bases will cheer and 75% of the tourists in downtown Kansas City could not even tell you what March Madness means.
There are March Madness signs in the hotel. A small table set up with tourist information after all this is the greatest three weeks of the year for college basketball junkies.  However, 90 percent of the guest sare either packing a sword, dressed in a costume or wearing wigs of various colors.
I have heard of Comicon.  In fact, I have a very close relative who attended the National Comicon held in San Diego many years ago.  I just had no idea the passion the attendees have for their characters.
The Convention Center located directly across the street for the media hotel is hosting the Midwest Comicon this weekend.  Basketball fans are a minority.  The occasion Kentucky, North Carolina, Auburn and Houston could be identified in elevators surrounded by transformers, graduates of Hogwarts and light sabers.  It has been a unique experience.  
I can recognize Superman, Batman, Ironman and Harry Potter but that is the extent of my knowledge.  I have spent all weekend asking my husband who people were dressed up as.  He knew most.  Somewhat disturbing that after 36 years of marriage I had no idea he was a “geek” at heart.
The positive side, I can go for coffee downstairs in the morning with no coffee, no makeup and no hair products without receiving condescending stares.  Who knows if I am in character or not.
Passions have collided in Kansas City this weekend.  Neither understand the other.  This is what makes the world go round.
The nerves has set in.  The alarm is set.  Let’s do this CATS!
follow me @tcox5470

Bruce Pearl on Cats: “They play the game the right way.”

UK’s defense will test Auburn today. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Q.You were really complimentary of Kentucky after the January game. I think you said that’s a championship-type team. What specifically did you see then and maybe how have you seen it evolve over the next two months?

BRUCE PEARL: Well, I think Kentucky is confident right now because they learned to play without PJ and they learned to play without Travis and yet they still were able to advance. And I just think they’ve got — we’re playing better now, but so are they. They obviously know it.

Auburn will be relying on players who didn’t have “blue blood” offers

Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson, a McDonald’s All-American, celebrated with UK fans after Friday’s win over Houston. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Auburn’s Afternee McLemore thinks his team’s loss at Rupp Arena is a major reason the Tigers are playing Kentucky today in the Midwest Region final for a Final Four berth.

“I believe that we may have been spoiled early in the season from the previous year’s success. But coming from the Kentucky loss, there was a point in the locker room we felt like we were tired of losing,” McLemore said. “The atmosphere changed and all the guys became locked in and ready. We was more engaged and more ready to take on the rest of the season.”

Calipari says no one wants to see a player go out with injury like Auburn’s Chuma Okeke did

Kentucky and Auburn play again this afternoon. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl confirmed Saturday that one of his star players, forward Chuma Okeke, tore his ACL in Friday’s win over North Carolina and will have surgery Tuesday.

Kentucky coach John Calipari is sorry that Okeke won’t be able to play against his team today in the Midwest Region final in Kansas City with a Final Four berth at stake.

John Calipari on Auburn: “We know how good they are.”

PJ Washington will test Auburn’s interior defense with his versatility. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Beating Tennessee, Kansas and North Carolina has not changed John Calipari’s mind about Auburn, a team Kentucky beat twice during the regular season. However, going into Sunday’s Midwest Region Elite Eight matchup, Auburn is riding an 11-game win streak and has not lost since falling at Rupp Arena in February.

“We know how good they are. We’ve had battles. We were lucky to win down there. They missed a layup. We played pretty good, and they missed shots they normally make at our place which led us to a pretty good win,” Calipari said.

Numbers favor Kentucky by four over Auburn

Kentucky has already celebrated a win at Auburn this year. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer

In the last game of the NCAA Sweet 16 Friday night, the Cats had one of their strongest offensive halves of the season in the first half against one of the best defensive teams in the country on their way to an 11 point halftime lead. However, Houston’s defense was much more effective in the second half, and the Cats required some heroic plays in the last minute to overcome a late 3 point Houston lead and secure a 4 point victory.