What a vast disparity in the two halves of tonight’s Kentucky-Mississippi contest. The Wildcats led by seventeen at the break, but fell apart defensively in the final twenty minutes, allowing Ole Miss to score 1.21 points per possession as Andy Kennedy’s squad cut UK’s lead to single digits.
Overall, Kentucky scored 1.12 PPP, but questions still linger about the team’s offense. After a stagnant showing versus Florida, Kentucky looked lost when they weren’t throwing lobs against Ole Miss’ zone. Just four of their two-point field goals weren’t at the rim, and the UK guards continued their underwhelming perimeter shooting in SEC play (just one of UK’s seven three-pointers came in the second half). Against a stingier conference team — or one that doesn’t allow opponents to score 47 percent of their twos — this could easily have been another loss for UK. For a stretch of more than eight minutes, the only points Kentucky could muster were free throws.
As for Ole Miss, this week was crucial to the Rebels’ tournament hopes, so a loss — especially considering their next opponent is Florida — is crippling. Though Marshall Henderson scored 18 points, John Calipari’s defensive machinations continue to serve as the guard’s bugbear: through eighty minutes (both UK-Ole Miss match-ups this season), Henderson is shooting 22 percent from two and and 34 percent from beyond the arc. The surprise Rebel was Anthony Perez, a 6-foot-9 wing whose minutes have substantially grown in SEC play. Perez has proven to be a difficult matchup for other conference forwards; he is too quick on the perimeter and creates offensive spacing with his shooting (40 percent from deep in SEC action). He was essentially Ole Miss’ offense when Kentucky’s lead began to diminish.
Following this past weekend’s loss to Florida, UK associate head coach John Robic stressed the team was “…the most positive I’ve seen Cal and our staff after a defeat in a long time.” He also maintained that after watching the eleven minute stretch when Florida offensively dominated, “…we now know the adjustments that we have to make, and the players really, really understand that now.” However, that rosy sentiment will likely dim in tomorrow’s film study — Calipari was at one point arguing with a member of his ‘Cat backcourt, urging him to reverse the ball along the perimeter. For each UK step forward (ten layups or dunks in the first half), there are at least two steps backward (nineteen turnovers), so it’s clear Kentucky is still an unbalanced team.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.
Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”
The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.
Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.
DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.
Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.
TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.
“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”
Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.
Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.
Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.
Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.
Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.
Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.
The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.
Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.
Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.
The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.
Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.