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No. 8 Kentucky dealing with first losing streak of season


LEXINGTON, Ky. — Coach John Calipari might feel worse about his Wildcats’ two-game losing streak that dropped Kentucky four spots in the Top 25 to No. 8 if his young team had been beaten soundly in those contests.

Not that he feels good about Kentucky letting two winnable games slip away by making mistakes at crucial moments.

Nonetheless, Calipari believes Kentucky (17-4, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) will make the necessary adjustments as it enters the midpoint of its conference schedule with Tuesday night’s game against Georgia (13-8, 4-4) before heading to No. 24 Florida on Saturday. But the coach said the Wildcats must be tougher and more focused than they’ve shown in losses last week to No. 3 Kansas and at Tennessee.

“I’m not panicked,” Calipari said Monday. “After watching the tape, I walked away and thought it’s all fixable. But when you watch the tape, I did less coaching last year than I’m having to do now and that’s a big (difference). Until they’re doing this off one another and understand what each of them has to do, they can’t be the team they can be.”

Midseason growing pains aren’t uncommon for a Kentucky. The Wildcats annually face a roster makeover of highly touted freshmen and last year they also lost back-to-back games to the Jayhawks and Volunteers – but in reverse order.

Three years ago, they lost four of seven entering the SEC tournament before regrouping to reach the NCAA championship game. Even the Final Four team that began 38-0 two seasons ago endured SEC challenges that threated their perfect start.

Calipari’s yearly task seems to be making sure the Wildcats’ composure improves with more SEC challenges looming.

Better decision making is a good starting point after Kansas scored 21 points off 17 Kentucky turnovers in Saturday’s 79-73 loss in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The Jayhawks’ mixture of zone and man defenses slowed down the Wildcats and kept the ball away from leading scorer Malik Monk and 6-foot-10 Bam Adebayo for stretches.

“Sometimes we make harder plays for the team instead of easier plays,” sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe said afterward. “In that stretch, we didn’t touch the ball and that’s something we’ll work at and just get better with over time.”

The end result is often forced perimeter shots or turnovers, not to mention slowness getting back on defense. Even when the Wildcats set up on the other end, Kansas outscored them 44-34 and was nearly even on the boards (35-34).

Calipari said that Kentucky can’t allow drives to the basket and not winning the 50/50 balls to Georgia, which beat Texas 59-57 in the Challenge to end its own two-game slide.

The Bulldogs feature an impressive scoring tandem in 6-8 junior forward Yante Maten (19.7 points per game) and senior guard J.J. Frazier (15.5), who combined for 35 points against the Longhorns. Kentucky counters with the nation’s fourth-ranked offense (91.3), but its coach also wants the Wildcats to reclaim the mental and physical edges that made them hard to beat not long ago.

“This is all stuff that when you’re coaching young kids, you have to go through and reinforce,” said Calipari, who showed players video of every turnover against Kansas to drive home his point.

He added, “I’ve still got the same guys that if we had won (those) two games we would have had votes for No. 1. And I would have said, `We’re not No. 1 because we still have these issues.”‘


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Buffalo sophomore arrested, charged with strangulation, witness intimidation

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Buffalo sophomore Quate McKinzie is facing a litany of charges stemming from an incident in which he allegedly attempted to strangle a female acquaintance.

McKinzie, who is 20 years old, was later handed more charges after he made threatening phone calls to his accuser from jail.
From the Buffalo News:

The original charges placed against the UB sophomore were second-degree strangulation, a D-felony; misdemeanor counts of criminal obstruction of breathing, assault, menacing, harassment; and stealing the victim’s vehicle.

The latest charges are third-degree witness intimidation and first-degree criminal contempt, both E-felonies; and two misdemeanors, aggravated harassment and disobeying a court mandate, according to Tonawanda Police Patrol Capt. Fredric Foels.

“University Athletics is aware of the alleged incident and is in communication with university and local authorities,” Buffalo released in a statement. “Quate McKinzie is currently enrolled at the University at Buffalo and is suspended indefinitely from the university’s basketball team. Due to the ongoing investigation and federal protections on student information, we will have no further comment on the matter at this time.”

McKinzie is a 6-foot-8, 195 pound forward that played in 17 games last season. He averaged 3.9 points and 4.3 boards.

Auburn’s Austin Wiley suffers stress fracture

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Auburn center Austin Wiley has a stress fracture in his left leg and will be out 4-6 weeks, the school announced Monday.

No surgery is required, but Wiley, who played with Team USA’s U19 team in Egypt earlier this month, will miss Auburn’s trip to Italy.

“You know how tough and committed a young man is when he plays through the pain of a stress fracture,” said Pearl. “He was receiving treatment while in Egypt, but had no way of knowing the extent of his injury. Doctors say it is in a good spot for healing, and he will be fine.”

Wiley averaged 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 18.1 minutes this past season. He started 21 of the Tigers’ 22 games after he enrolled in school midseason.

Virginia Tech loses key shooter to torn ACL

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Virginia Tech suffered a brutal blow earlier this month when Ty Outlaw went down with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Outlaw is one of the best shooters on Virginia Tech’s roster, banging home 48 percent of his three-balls last season, and he was expected to be a major part of the rotation following a season where he scored in double-figures in six of the last eight games, including four games of better than 16 points in that stretch.

This is a blow to Virginia Tech’s depth, but it is also a tough break for Outlaw, who transferred to Virginia Tech from a Junior College and had to sit out the 2015-16 season due to a heart issue. The redshirt senior will likely be eligible to receive a medical redshirt should he decide to apply for one.

Report: Miller brothers schedule Indiana-Arizona series

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The Miller family does not appear to be worried about sibling rivalry.

According to a report from FanRag Sports, Archie, the head coach at Indiana, and Sean, the head coach at Arizona, have agreed to a three-year deal to have the two programs face-off against each other. They’ll start in 2019-20, playing in Arizona, then face-off in Bloomington the following season before finally heading up to Madison Square Garden in 2021-22.

If you can get past the fact that we are now scheduling games for 2022 (!!!), this is actually going to be a pretty neat and unique thing. How often do two brothers end up coaching at the Division I level? The Drew brothers — Bryce at Vanderbilt and Scott at Baylor — are one pair, but they cancelled a series that would have seen the two programs square off last season. James and Joe Jones at Yale and Boston University are another pair. They were league rivals for eight yeas when Joe was the head coach at Columbia. When Sean Sutton was the head coach at Oklahoma State, his brother, Scott, beat them was the head coach at Oral Roberts.

So it’s not typical for this to happen, mainly because it’s not easy to compete at something so important against someone you care about so much.

Think about it.

Imagine working in a profession where your success comes at the expense of your brother? It’s one of the major reasons — beyond the obvious — that no one believed Sean Miller would actually consider taking the Ohio State job when it opened. Facing off against your brother in a non-conference game you choose to play is one thing. Competing for league titles against him for the foreseeable future is something totally different.

Which is a long way of saying that this should be an enticing matchup, however it plays out.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)