Poythress to throw out first pitch at April 7 for Legends

Former University of Kentucky basketball star Alex Poythress will throw a ceremonial first pitch at the Lexington Legends opening-night game Thursday, April 7 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

“We’re really excited to have Alex with us on opening night,” said Legends President/CEO Andy Shea, “and we know the fans will be excited to see him take the mound.”

The game between the Legends and the Lakewood BlueClaws will begin at 7:05 p.m.    Gates will open at 5 p.m., and an autograph session with Poythress will begin as soon as gates are open.

Kelsey Plum will lead Washington against UK

Janee Thompson

Janee Thompson (Vicky Graff Photo)

By EVAN CRANE, UK Athletics

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 12 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to take full advantage of its unique opportunity to play an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game in Lexington, Ky., when it faces seventh-seeded Washington on Friday at 7 p.m. ET inside historic Rupp Arena.

Kentucky-Washington will begin the session on Friday before No. 1-seeded Notre Dame faces off with fourth-seeded Stanford in the late game at 9 p.m. ET. UK-UW will air live nationally on ESPN2 with Dave Pasch, Debbie Antonelli and Allison Williams on the call. The same crew will call the second game on ESPN. Kentucky’s game will also be available on the UK Sports Network with Neil Price calling the action.

Matthew Mitchell: Kentucky has to outhustle Washington

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

Q. What is your biggest concern when you look at Washington for Friday’s game? What are the things you’re going to have to do really well in order to succeed?

KENTUCKY COACH MATTHEW MITCHELL: Well, you’re going to have to, I think, start on the defensive end. You’re going to have to be really, really tough. One thing that we tried to talk about for our team in this tournament, we wanted to be the team that it was visible that we were hustling more than our opponent. And you’re going to really have to outhustle Washington. They play very hard, they play very together.

Coaches want QB Stephen Johnson to keep gaining weight

Stephen Johnson (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Stephen Johnson (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

After spending two years in junior college, quarterback Stephen Johnson has the maturity that new Kentucky quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw likes.

“Game completely different from junior college ball to SEC football, so he’s realizing right now that they run a lot faster in the secondary. He can’t hang the ball up as long as he could. I’ve got to get him to throw the ball,” Hinshaw said.

Stoops sees “improvement” in offensive line

By LARRY VAUGHT

No one has to tell Kentucky coach Mark Stoops that UK’s offensive line has struggled in recent years, just like other position groups have during his three losing seasons.

“We know we’ve had some struggles at offensive line and I think when you’re playing five of them and you’re playing against the defenses we play against and the D-linemen that we play against, you cannot have one guy here and one guy there because it blows up the entire offense,” Stoops said.

Beaumont Family Dentistry supports UK athletics

Dr. Patricia Tackas, second from left, and her daughter, Kyle Golibersuch (beside Tackas) and Dr. Katie Bowen made my visit to Beaumont Family Dentistry memorable and even more proud to have them as lex18.com sponsors. (Liz Maskos Photo)

Dr. Patricia Takacs, second from left, and her daughter, Kyle Golibersuch (beside Tackas) and Dr. Katie Bowen made my visit to Beaumont Family Dentistry memorable and even more proud to have them as lex18.com sponsors. (Liz Maskos Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

The passion of University of Kentucky fans never ceases to amaze me.

That’s one reason I have been so fortunate to have Bob Allen Motormall, BlueZoom Wifi, Old Owl Tavern, WPBK-FM (102.9) and Melton’s Deli as vaughtsviews.com sponsors.

Now I am just as luck to have Beaumont Family Dentistry as a sponsor for my work on lex18.com. All six doctors at Beaumont’s three locations are University of Kentucky College of Dentistry graduates.

UK Blue-White Game will be on SEC Network

Every Southeastern Conference football team playing a spring football game this year* will have their game nationally televised, live and in full, on either SEC Network, ESPNU or ESPN.

Every game is also available through connected devices on the ESPN and WatchESPN apps. The first game is the Black & Gold Vanderbilt Spring Game, Friday, March 25 at 7 p.m. ET and will include an honorary ceremony for former player Jay Cutler.

The schedule is highlighted with the defending College Football Playoff National Champions Alabama playing on ESPN Saturday, April 16 at 3 p.m.

Draft analyst has Murray fourth in draft

Jamal Murray (Vicky Graff Photo)

Jamal Murray (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford has Jamal Murray as the fourth overall pick in the June NBA draft going to the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Murray is a scoring machine who can take over an offense as well as any freshman in the draft not named Ben Simmons,” Ford wrote on ESPN.com. “Scouts fret a bit about his lack of explosive athletic ability and a defined position, but his skill level and basketball IQ make up for most of what he lacks.”

He still has freshman Skal Labissiere going 13th to Phoenix despite his inconsistent play this season.

Did Darin Hinshaw take shots at past UK coaching?

Darin Hinshaw (Vicky Graff Photo)

Darin Hinshaw (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

New Kentucky quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw has been very open talking about the challenges he faces putting together the offense at Kentucky.

He talked to media members Tuesday morning and seem to take a little bit of a shot at former offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.

“I don’t know what they’ve done in the past, but their footwork wasn’t where it needs to me,” said Hinshaw.

Meeting Rodney Branum a SEC tourney highlight for me

Rodney Branum is a true blue fan battling cancer who has lost none of his passion for the Cats. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Rodney Branum is a true blue fan battling cancer who has lost none of his passion for the Cats. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

During the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville, I enjoyed being around many, many Kentucky basketball fans. Some I have known for years, some just a short time. Others I met for the first time either at the games, in downtown Nashville or at the J.D. Shelburne concert.

However, I doubt that I will ever forget meeting UK fan Rodney Branum. He flew to Nashville from Houston where he had been taking radiation treatment for cancer thanks to the generosity of a special group, Big Blue Nation Cares.