“Tater Chip” enjoying different level of training at UK

By LARRY VAUGHT

Naquez Pringle (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Naquez Pringle (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Naquez Pringle was recruited not only by Kentucky, but also Clemson and South Carolina while he was in high school in South Carolina. He ended up at Itawamba (Miss.) Community College where he got his easy to understand nickname — Tater Chip.

The defensive lineman said that nickname followed him to Kentucky when he signed with the Cats and enrolled in January. He also admitted his favorite potato chip is, naturally, Pringles.

What is Kentucky doing best?

By LARRY VAUGHT

team restrains Cal

John Calipari said Monday he could not comment on officiating that got him ejected from Saturday’s game at South Carolina. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Kentucky has played its way back not only into the Southeastern Conference race, but also into the talk of teams with the potential to reach the Final Four.

So what has happened to the team that lost to Auburn, Ohio State and UCLA?

“We’re defending better. We came off a Kansas game where we didn’t guard in the second half, (and) really for 25 minutes of the Tennessee game where they just had their way with us,” Calipari said Monday on the SEC coaches teleconference.

Calipari praises Barnes again, but UT coach knows UK on a roll

By LARRY VAUGHT

Skal Labissiere and Derek Willis. (Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

Skal Labissiere and Derek Willis. (Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

When Kentucky played at Tennessee, it led by 21 points 15 minutes into the game only to lose in Knoxville. The teams meet again in Lexington Thursday night at 7.

“They played great offense and (coach) Rick (Barnes) got them to play the way they have to play to win and that’s what he’s doing. Like I’ve said before, he’s one of the best coaches in the country. He’s one of the few that takes his culture with him to organizations,” Calipari said.

Mike Anderson on Ulis: “He’s quietly had a pretty good year”

By LARRY VAUGHT

Tyler Ulis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Tyler Ulis (Vicky Graff Photo)

First, a big hand to Courier-Journal beat writer Kyle Tucker. It seemed like he asked every coach on the SEC coaches teleconference today what they thought about UK sophomore guard Tyler Ulis being the SEC Player of the Year.

It’s easy to consider it a two-player race between Ulis and LSU freshman Ben Simmons, the likely No. 1 draft pick in June.

Or at least it’s easy for everyone except Arkansas coach Mike Anderson.

“I think he’s doing a good job of commanding their team. He’s quietly had a pretty good year,” Anderson said.

Throwing motion top priority for new UK QB coach

By LARRY VAUGHT

Drew Barker (Vicky Graff Photo)

Drew Barker (Vicky Graff Photo)

It’s easy for new Kentucky quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw to tell you what he looks for in his starting quarterback.

“No. 1, he he has to have a motion and can throw the ball accurately,” he said. “Believe me, I’m very picky with that. If you don’t have that motion … everything else I can fix.

“I can fix your feet and make you somewhat fast, I can can get your hips and your shoulder going in the right direction I can fix your eyes and train you how to read defenses. We spend hours in the film room. I can do a lot of things.

Jamal Murray SEC Freshman of the Week

image002Jamal Murray quite simply knows how to put the ball in the basket as indicated by another prolific-scoring performance. Murray averaged a team-high 25.0 points per game in the two dominating victories this week which included 10 made 3-pointers to be named SEC Freshman of the Week.

To begin the week, Murray poured in 24 points against the Bulldogs, a game in which he connected on 6 of 10 from 3-point range. He also contributed a pair of steals in UK’s most dominating defensive performance of the season that saw the Wildcats limit the visitors to a mere 22.0-percent shooting clip for the game.

Tyler Ulis ESPN National Player of the Week

image001Tyler Ulis earned his third SEC Player of the Week honor this week after averaging 20.5 points and 10.0 assists per game last week. Ulis’ ESPN National Player of the Week honor is the team’s first of the season and the first since James Young claimed the honor on Dec. 30, 2013.
With yet another spectacular week – perhaps his finest of the season –Ulis has inserted himself into the national player of the year race. The Chicago native averaged 20.5 points, 10.0 assists and 2.5 steals in leading the Wildcats to a 2-0 week, including a victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks, who were ranked No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and in a tie with the Wildcats for first place in the SEC heading into Saturday’s game in Columbia, S.C.

Ulis took advantage of having green light against South Carolina

By LARRY VAUGHT

Tyler Ulis and Isaiah Briscoe (Vicky Graff Photo)

Tyler Ulis and Isaiah Briscoe (Vicky Graff Photo)

When Tyler Ulis saw coach John Calipari get ejected at South Carolina, he had no reason to panic. Instead, he wanted to play even better for a coach who was fighting for him.

That also led to him taking charge of the offense with the blessing of assistant coach Kenny Payne.

Happy to have former Wildcat Grayson Smith and Salyersville Independent taking my UK column

By LARRY VAUGHT

Grayson Smith (50) was part of the UK defense in 1998 that faced Georgia along with Jeff Snedegar (17) and John Rader.

Grayson Smith (50) was part of the UK defense in 1998 that faced Georgia along with Jeff Snedegar (17) and John Rader.

Sometimes you just never know when a University of Kentucky connection will pay off again.
When Grayson Smith came to UK from Magoffin County as a football walk-on, I was covering Kentucky sports.

Smith is co-owner of the Salyersville Independent, a weekly paper in Magoffin County, where he’s done everything from write stories to sell ads to help with circulation. Now I am delighted to say his newspaper is the latest to sign on to use my weekly column on University of Kentucky sports.

Holmes, McDaniel to Team Up at Northern Trust on Monday

By EMILY BROWN

Sophomore Tyler ‘Chip’ McDaniel will team up with UK Athletics Hall of Famer, J.B. Holmes, in the second-annual Northern Trust Open Collegiate Showcase on Monday, Feb. 15 at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. A season ago, this event was the first-of-its-kind in which collegians will play alongside top PGA Tour professionals. McDaniel and Holmes will represent the Wildcats for a second consecutive year.

The professional and two amateurs (not the collegian) will team up in a best-ball competition and compete for the Collegiate Showcase Trophy and a donation of $50,000 to the university’s golf program. Each collegian will play his own ball with the low medalist earning a spot in the Northern Trust Open just three days later.