John Wall continued his success inside the storied Rupp Arena, on Monday night during the UK Alumni Charity Game. The former UK point guard dropped 40 points leading his blue team in a 111-95 over the white team. Brandon Knight led the white team with 30 points.
“E. Bled [Eric Bledsoe] told me I wasn’t going for 40 so I just tried to get 40,” Wall said after the game.
Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Patrick Peterson and Terrence Jones were some of the other former first round picks to return to Lexington to play in front of 19,255 fans for event that raised more than $1 million.
While Kentucky uses this game as way to help a cause and honor its history, Monday night’s exhibition game was a way for John Calipari to build for the program’s future. Whitney Young (Ill.) center Jahlil Okafor is the top player in the Class of 2014, and he was inside Rupp Arena for the game on Monday night, as part of his official visit. Moss Point High (Miss.) shooting guard Devin Booker and Marian Catholic High (Ill.) point guard Tyler Ulis were also on hand for the alumni game, as the two four-star guards were both visiting UK as well.
Okafor visited Baylor last weekend, and is likely to visit Arizona, Duke and Kansas. Ulis is down to UK, Iowa, Michigan State and USC. Booker is down to Florida, Michigan, Michigan State and Missouri along with Big Blue Nation.
St. Joseph High (N.J.) 7-footer Karl Towns is currently the lone 2014 commit for Coach Cal.
Prospects from the Class of 2015 — Derrick Jones of Archbishop John Carroll High (Pa.), Luke Kennard of Franklin High (Ohio) and Charles Matthews of St. Rita High (Ill.) — were also expected to take in the alumni game.
No. 25 Texas A&M made a statement on Turkey Day, as they knocked off No. 10 Gonzaga 62-61 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Danuel House led the way with 19 points for the Aggies while Tony Trocha-Morales finished with 14 points as Texas A&M picked up the win despite the fact that they did not score for the final eight minutes of the game.
Billy Kennedy’s club looked the part of an SEC contender, playing tough defense and keeping Gonzaga’s massive and talented front line in check. Perhaps most impressive was that they were able to hang on despite blowing a lead late in the second half, and that they did it with their defense. Gonzaga can score. They have big bodies inside and shooters to surround them, but Domantas Sabonis struggled with foul struggle throughout the game while Kyle Wiltjer did not score in the final 12 minutes.
Kentucky, at this point, is the clear-cut favorite in the SEC, and while Vanderbilt looked really good in Maui this week, A&M looks like they’re going to end up giving the Commodores a run for their money for second-best in the league.
On the other hand, this loss wasn’t a total disaster for the Zags. They had the final possession with a chance to be a good team on a day when Domantas Sabonis was rendered completely ineffective. And, more importantly, point guard Josh Perkins was terrific. He did have a late turnover, but he scored all 15 of his points in the second half as he helped keep the Zags within striking distance.
Texas A&M will play the winner of Syracuse and No. 18 UConn for the title.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.