In case it wasn’t obvious already, John Calipari knows how to tell people what they like to hear. If you’re a top-ten basketball talent and you want someone to tell you you’ll be a lottery pick with the right coaching, he can do that. If your stud forward wants to meet Jay-Z or Drake, he can reasonably promise that, as well.
If you’re a fan of the Kentucky Wildcats, he’ll give you goosebumps from the podium, as well.
At Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness event, Calipari stood on a stage that looked like something out of America’s Got Talent, and crooned the words every Wildcats fan wants to hear: “We don’t just play college basketball, we are college basketball. As you know, we are everyone’s Super Bowl.”
Now, there might be a few other programs in the country who can claim to be Super Bowl caliber opponents, and claiming title to all of the sport’s charms is hubris in the extreme, but Calipari has always been a showman. If cranking up the love inside Rupp equals cranking up the hate outside of Lexington, he’ll take that heat.
Midnight Madness events are full of goofy stunts, as we’ve seen plenty of times already today. Cal might not dance, he might not get shot out of a cannon, and he might not jump out of a perfectly good airplane, but he doesn’t have to. The man brings the electricity to the building without stunts.
Want to see his whole revival tent speech? UKAthletics.com has it:
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.
No. 23 USC missed a golden opportunity to make up a game in the Pac-12 standings on Friday night.
No. 11 Oregon lost to Colorado on Thursday night, dropping back into a tie for first place in the league with the Trojans, a game ahead of No. 17 Arizona. But USC fell at Arizona State, 74-67, keeping them a game off of the pace that the Ducks have set.
The loss is even more painful when you consider that, on Sunday, the Trojans will be making the trip to Tucson to take on Arizona. The Wildcats are not what we have become accustomed to seeing under Sean Miller, but they are still a top 25 team and the McKale Center is still one of the toughest places in the country to get a win.
Thanks to Friday’s loss, instead of entering McKale with an outside chance of taking over sole possession of first place in the league, USC will have top hope they don’t fall two games off the pace.
As far as the game itself was concerned, USC committed 17 turnovers, shot 2-for-11 from three and gave up 16 offensive rebounds to Arizona State. That’s how you lose a game where you shoot better than 51 percent from the floor. USC was just never able to consistently get out into transition, and that caused them to struggle executing in the half court.
Nikola Jovanovic led the way with 25 points and 15 boards for USC.
Tra Holder’s 20 points made the difference for Arizona State, who kept themselves within striking distance of an at-large bid with the win.