John Calipari, coach of Dominican Republ

Suck it up, UK fans. This schedule is what you wanted


I don’t want to hear it, Kentucky fans.

I don’t want to hear one, single word of complaint about your Wildcats non-conference schedule. Because outside of a date with Baylor on December 1st, the only two relevant teams that the Cats will play at home in their non-conference schedule will be Marshall (blech) and Long Island (yuck).

Baylor is a top 25 team with quite a bit of size and athleticism. That will be an entertaining game. Marshall and LIU are both good enough to be tournament teams, which will provide some relevant matchups during the usually quite months of November and December.

But none of those can truly be considered marquee games, and when combined with the eight other games that the Wildcats will play at home, it means that it may not be worth it to purchase a ticket at Rupp until SEC play starts.

While I can understand why some members of Big Blue Nation will be upset by this — hey, I wouldn’t want to pay $75 for a ticket to a 9 pm tip between Kentucky and Samford, either — I have absolutely no sympathy.

This is what you wanted. This is Kentucky being a non-traditional program and scheduling in non-traditional ways. Remember how great you guys thought it was that John Calipari killed the rivalry with Indiana (which would have been played in Rupp this season, for what it’s worth) because Kentucky needs to play their marquee games in neutral sites to prepare for the NCAA tournament? This is what happens when all their marquee games are played at neutral sites. You have to watch the games on TV just like the rest of us.

Are you guys going to make fun of people that trumpet the atmosphere of on-campus games now?

This is, yet again, another genius maneuver by Coach Cal. He knows that, regardless of who Kentucky is playing, that he’ll sell out Rupp. He can prepare his team for the NCAA tournament without any threat to his program’s bottom line, because the bottom line is that Big Blue Nation is so passionate about their “Cayts” that every seat in the building will be filled regardless of their opponent.

And the irony here is that much of this schedule was not Calipari’s fault. He didn’t decide to play Notre Dame in Notre Dame, the schedule-makers of the SEC-Big East Invitational made that choice. Three of the games are part of the Barclays Center Classic. This also just so happened to be the year when Kentucky plays at Louisville. He would have gotten a home game with Indiana, but you know why that isn’t happening.

This is what you wanted, BBN.

You made your bed. Now sleep.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.