Derek Willis Named to SEC Community Service Team

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Kentucky senior forward Derek Willis was named to the Southeastern Conference’s Men’s Basketball Community Service team on Thursday. Willis is UK’s representative on the 14-man team that honors players’ exemplary service to their communities.

This marks the 19th year for the SEC Community Service Team for men’s basketball. All 21 league-sponsored sports have had a Community Service Team since 2004. The team honors student-athletes beyond the field for their on-going efforts in the community.

Willis has been a mainstay in the community since his arrival on campus in 2013. He spent countless hours serving in any capacity he can.

Vanderbilt coach on Willis, Monk

Malik Monk (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Derek Willis hit only one 3-point shot in Kentucky’s win over Vanderbilt Tuesday. Still, I asked Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew after the game what he thought about Willis’ play (he had eight rebounds and three blocked shots).

His answer might surprise you.

“Willis does a good job of spreading the floor for them. You have to be aware where he is on the court and you have to keep a man open close to him, which then opens up guys to drive and get to the rim,” Drew said.

Girlfriend “thankful” she could share Senior Night experience with Dominique Hawkins

Dominique Hawkins and his family Senior Night. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

Editor’s note: Emma Smith is Dominique Hawkins’ girlfriend and was wearing a jersey with his name and number at Tuesday’s Senior Nigh game against Vanderbilt. She made a special scrapbook for him with photos and comments from current and past teammates. Here’s what she thought about the whole night.

By EMMA SMITH

Senior Night was one for the books. Thank you to everyone who made the night so special for Dominique. Thank you to his close friends and family who contributed to the “memory jar” I made for him, and another big thank you to the coaching staff, current players, and Dominique’s previous teammates for writing a congratulatory note in his Senior Year Scrapbook I put together.

Blue-White Spring Game Ticket Information Announced

Mark Stoops

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Free tickets for Kentucky football’s annual Blue-White Spring Game will be available to season ticket holders beginning this Monday, March 6, at 9 a.m. and to the general public on Monday, March 13, at 9 a.m. The Wildcats will play this year’s game under the lights in Commonwealth Stadium on Friday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Tom Leach joins us on WPBK-FM Thursday morning, Friday Mike DeCourcy joins me on Leach Report

Tom Leach

By LARRY VAUGHT

Want some special insights from Tom Leach, the radio voice for the Kentucky basketball and football teams?

You will have your chance Thursday morning from 7:30-8 when Leach joins Tim Estes and myself on WPBK (102.9 FM).

We’ll talk about UK’s recent play and Leach’s thoughts on where coach John Calipari’s team is going into postseason play.

But we’ll also talk about his relationship with Calipari as well as broadcast partner Mike Pratt. We’ll also talk football with UK spring practice starting Sunday and get his thoughts on coach Mark Stoops and the 2017 season.

Isaiah Briscoe: “Our will to win showed tonight”

By LARRY VAUGHT

Overcoming a 19-point first-half deficit told Isaiah Briscoe one thing about Kentucky.

“That we can handle adversity. This team has a lot of fight. Not one time in the huddle any of us ever thought that we were going to lose the game,” Briscoe said. “We kept our heads high.

“Coach kept on encouraging us and when it came down to the end, and it was time to really win, we all came together as a team.”

Kentucky came back from a 25-6 hole early to beat Vanderbilt 73-67 Tuesday night.

Kentucky vs Vanderbilt Photo Gallery

Photos by Vicky Graff

[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”89″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails” override_thumbnail_settings=”0″ thumbnail_width=”240″ thumbnail_height=”160″ thumbnail_crop=”1″ images_per_page=”10″ number_of_columns=”0″ ajax_pagination=”0″ show_all_in_lightbox=”0″ use_imagebrowser_effect=”0″ show_slideshow_link=”0″ slideshow_link_text=”[Show slideshow]” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]

Calipari trying to ‘protect’ his players when he got technical foul

Isaiah Briscoe (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Early in the second half Vanderbilt center Luke Kornet appeared to hit Kentucky’s Isaiah Briscoe in the face with an elbow with no foul being called. Instead, a foul was called on UK and coach John Calipari certainly disagreed.

He was hit with a technical foul and Kornet hit both free throws to push the Vandy lead to 45-33 with 15:18 to play. However, UK stormed back to win 73-67.

Was Calipari trying to turn the game around with the technical?

Derek Willis knew Senior Night was ‘right moment’ to propose to girlfriend Keely Potts

Derek Willis proposes to Keely Potts. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky’s 73-67 win over Vanderbilt was certainly significant Tuesday night because it assured UK of at least a share of the Southeastern Conference championship and kept alive hopes to earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament — and possible opening games in Indianapolis.

However, as memorable as overcoming a 19-point deficit midway of the first half was, most Kentucky fans will remember something else for the Senior Night game for Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins and Mychal Mulder. They are going to remember Willis proposing to girlfriend Keely Potts during the pregame ceremony.

UK-Vanderbilt postgame notes, numbers

Malik Monk had 27 points Tuesday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Vanderbilt at Kentucky, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
Feb. 28, 2017
Attendance: 24,036

Final Score: No. 9/9 Kentucky 73, Vanderbilt 67

Team Records and Series Notes
Kentucky has won seven in a row and is 25-5 overall.
UK is 15-2 in the Southeastern Conference and clinches a tie for its 48th regular-season league championship with one game to play. It is UK’s fifth crown in eight seasons under John Calipari.
Vanderbilt ended a four-game winning streak and is 16-14 overall, 9-8 in league play.
Kentucky leads the series 143-47, including 80-14 in Lexington.
Next for the Wildcats: UK finishes the regular season Saturday at Texas A&M. Game time is noon ET (11 am CST in College Station). The game will be televised by CBS.