Larry Vaught

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Deliberate Mississippi State will force more defensive communication from Kentucky

PJ Washington celebrated against Mississippi State last season. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Coming off a win at Auburn and having a marquee game with Kansas on Saturday could leave tonight’s matchup with Mississippi State as a trap game for Kentucky — except for one obvious reason.

“You would say that if they weren’t ranked in the top 25 and as good and as talented and as experienced as any team in our league,” Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee said Monday. “If those three factors weren’t there, yeah, maybe you could say trap game. Not with this Mississippi State team.

Big Splash Adventure in French Lick, Ind., was a nice holiday getaway

By LARRY VAUGHT

Based on how tired my two grandsons — ages 10 and 6 — were after spending about 24 hours at Big Splash Adventure at French Lick, Ind., there was more than enough to do at the water park and arcade.

We just spent one night at the resort about 60 miles west of Louisville, but it was well worth the trip. Our room was terrific and one pleasant surprise was how good the food in the restaurant there was Sunday night because it was so icy and snowy (7 inches fell there Saturday night) that we didn’t want to leave the resort.

Ben Howland looks right about Tennessee, but “really talented” UK also impresses him

Nick Richards (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Remember during the preseason that it was Mississippi State coach Ben Howland who said he thought Tennessee, not Kentucky, should be favored to win the SEC championship — a statement that UK fans didn’t like one bit.

However, guess who is No. 1 in the COUNTRY this week? Yes, it is 16-1 Tennessee. The Vols are unbeaten in SEC play and obviously lead the league.

But that doesn’t mean Howland is not impressed with Kentucky, which jumped to No. 8 in the rankings after its win at Auburn, going into Tuesday night’s game in Rupp Arena.

Tyler Herro has become a “big-time athlete

Tyler Herro (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Tyler Herro’s legacy just gets better and  better.

He had 20 points at Auburn in Saturday’s 82-80 win, including the go-ahead free throw, and impressed Auburn coach Bruce Pearl  a lot.

“He’s really good. Tyler Herro was an elite high school player; could have gone anywhere in the country. He’s a big-time athlete. I mean, he’s a big kid. So, no, I mean — I think Keldon and Tyler’s ability at guard, at 6-6, 6-7, whatever they are, was a factor.

Tyler Herro SEC Freshman of Week

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – It was a different Wildcat this time around but the same team winning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week. With Kentucky guard Tyler Herro earning Monday’s weekly conference award, UK has now won SEC Freshman of the Week honors in five of the last six weeks.

Herro earned this week’s award after averaging a team-best 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in road wins at Georgia and at No. 14/12 Auburn, UK’s first road victory at an Associated Press top-15 team in the SEC since March 1, 2006.

Another impressive weekend for Kentucky track and field

CLEMSON, S.C. and NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Kentucky track and field teams got plenty more quality performances this past weekend at two meets – the Clemson Invitational and Vanderbilt Invitational.

Daniel Roberts, who was named Southeastern Conference Men’s Runner of the Week last Tuesday, lowered his 60m dash and hurdles personal bests for the second weekend in a row.

Roberts broke Nick Anderson’s school record in the 60m hurdles with a third-place 7.68 at the Clemson Invitational, dropping his PB by .03.

Whatever Hagans said to Johnson, it worked

Keldon Johnson (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

After not scoring in Kentucky’s win at Georgia, Keldon Johnson failed to score in the first seven minutes at Auburn Saturday.

Teammates insisted they didn’t doubt his ability going into the game, but fellow freshman Ashton Hagans had to get into Johnson early in the game when he wasn’t looking for a pass from Hagans and it resulted in a UK turnover. Kentucky coach John Calipari took Johnson out after the play and the few choice words from Hagans.

UK cheerleaders win 24th national title

Kentucky cheerleaders won a fourth straight national title Sunday. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky cheerleaders won their 24th national championship at the Universal Cheerleaders Association finals competition Sunday night in Orlando, Fla.

Competing among the Division IA Coed squads, this year’s win was the fourth in a row for Kentucky cheer under Coach Jomo Thompson. Although Kentucky has won 24 championships in the last 35 years, it is only the second time that UK has strung together a quadruple triumph. The Wildcats won a school-record eight straight from 1995-2002.

UK-Auburn Photo Gallery by Vicky Graff

Ashton Hagans gave UK the leader it needed against Auburn’s defensive pressure

Ashton Hagans (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Freshman point guard Ashton Hagans had three turnovers for Kentucky against Auburn Saturday. However, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl gave Hagans a large share of credit for UK’s 82-80  victory because of the way he ran the UK offense against a defense used to forcing more turnovers.

“They took care of the ball. They only turned it over 13 times, and I thought that was a factor. Ashton Hagan is a terrific point guard. He’s doing what he does for teams. He runs teams,” Pearl said.