Calipari on Willis’ confidence: “I can’t take it away from him.”


Coming off his first double-double at Kentucky, Derek Willis came back Thursday at Arkansas with 12 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and one steal in 35 minutes. He was 5-for-8 from the field in UK’s 80-66 win.

Willis did his best to stay humble and credited others for his play.

Kentucky-Arkansas postgame notes and numbers

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
No. 23/19 Kentucky at Arkansas
Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Ark.
Jan. 21, 2016
Attendance: 18,588

Final Score: Kentucky 80, Arkansas 66

Team Records and Series Notes
• Kentucky is now 14-4 on the season and 4-2 in Southeastern Conference action. Arkansas falls to 9-9 (3-3 SEC).
• Kentucky leads the all-time series 28-11.
• UK has won three in a row.
• The win was UK’s first in Fayetteville in the John Calipari era.
• Next for the Wildcats: UK welcomes Vanderbilt to Rupp Arena on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Derek Willis, Skal Labissiere help give Calipari first win at Arkansas


Kentucky made a change before the game at Arkansas. Coach Calipari inserted Derek Willis into the starting line-up instead of Marcus Lee. It immediately paid off. Before the first media timeout, Willis had a nice shot in the lane but he also added a rebound and a blocked shot.

Alex Poythress played a little better than Willis. He pulled down a couple of offensive rebounds and got put backs. By the time they got to the first under four minute timeout, he had 6 points, 4 rebounds and a blocked shot. The Wildcats jumped out to a 17-7 lead.

Numbers suggest 21-10 might be most likely finish for UK this year


Prior to Saturday, there had been 2,717 D1 college basketball games this season.  The theoretical number of upsets, given the assortment of predicted margins and win probabilities provided by Ken Pomeroy was 655 and the actual number of upsets had been 630 over the course of 63 days of basketball action.

Since Saturday, on Monday and Sunday, there have been 44 games with a theoretical number of upsets equal to 12 and an actual number of upsets equal to 13.

ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg on UK: “Their shooters don’t defend. Their defenders don’t really make shots.”


Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Perhaps the best explanation for what problems Kentucky coach John Calipari is facing this season came from veteran ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg, a former college coach.

During an ESPN teleconference Wednesday, Greenberg said the Southeastern Conference race now goes through Texas A&M, not UK.

“Kentucky is going to be in the conversation,” Greenberg said. “There’s no doubt about it.” However, then he clarified what has been wrong with UK, one of the nation’s top ranked teams in preseason polls.

Guest post: Numbers favor Arkansas by two points


Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

For the fourth time in the last five games, the Kentucky Wildcats find themselves playing on the road, this time at Arkansas. On Saturday, the Cats allowed a double digit second half lead evaporate for the second consecutive game, but this time, their second half collapse cost them the win. Auburn beat a UK basketball team for the first time in their last 19 tries, and at the end, the Auburn fans stormed the basketball court. The Cats fell to 13-4, 3-2 in the SEC. Life in the SEC does not figure to be any kinder to the Cats on Thursday night when they play the Razorbacks in Bud Walton Arena.

Jamal Murray “slowing down” to recognize winning shots


Jamal Murray admits he sometimes takes shots he believes he can make that UK coaches don't consider good shots. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Jamal Murray admits he sometimes takes shots he believes he can make that UK coaches don’t consider good shots. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Freshman Jamal Murray is “just slowing down” to try and make sure he understands what is a good shot and not just a shot he feels he can make no matter what.

“I didn’t shoot a very good percentage (in Saturday’s loss at Auburn) and there were a lot of shots that I could make, but they’re shots I shouldn’t have taken,” Murray said. “It’s a process. I’m not going to say it’s hard or easy, but sometimes you just have so much confidence in your shot, you don’t know which one to take. So Coach and I just talk about shot selection and all that.”

Arkansas senior guard not sure UK is vulnerable


Arkansas senior guard Jabril Durham knows Kentucky might not be undefeated like it was last year when the two teams played, but he also understands the Wildcats are still 13-4 overall and 3-2 in Southeastern Conference play.

That’s why he’s not quite sure when UK coach John Calipari says his team is vulnerable this year.

“I wouldn’t say vulnerable because they’re 13-4,” Durham said going into Thursday night’s SEC game at Walton Arena. “They’ve only lost four games this year. We’ve lost eight. So I wouldn’t say they’re vulnerable.

John Robic says not to panic as UK finds how to make more winning plays


Kentucky coach Kenny Payne walks off the court with Isaiah Briscoe. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Kentucky coach Kenny Payne walks off the court with Isaiah Briscoe. (Vicky Graff Photo)

John Robic said it was way too early in the season to Kentucky having four losses, including two in Southeastern Conference play, going into Thursday night’s game at Arkansas.

Kentucky blew a 12-point lead in the second half at Auburn last Saturday and Robic said the coaches spent time showing the players on tape what were good and bad plays the final 15 minutes of the game.

Ohio junior tight end Charles Reeves Jr. decommits from UK


Ohio junior tight end Charles Reeves Jr. announced on Twitter today that he was decommitting from Kentucky and opening his recruitment. He had verbally committed to UK in October.

“After having a long talk with my family and coaches I’ve decided to decommit from the university of Kentucky,” Reeves posted on Twitter.

The 6-5, 240-pound Reeves had offers from Michigan and Wisconsin along with interest from Ohio State and West Virginia when he committed to UK.

He was a four-star recruit by and a three-star player by 247 Sports and Rivals. He was ranked as one of the top 20 players in Ohio in his class.