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Kentucky uses balanced scoring to blow out Missouri 88-66

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Outside shooting helped get Kentucky going against Missouri before the Wildcats started hitting from inside the arc. On both fronts, baskets came consistently with many contributions.

Kevin Knox had 21 points, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 14 and Kentucky made 10 3-pointers and shot 55 percent to blow out the Tigers 87-66 on Saturday night.

The Wildcats (20-9, 9-7 Southeastern Conference) outscored the Tigers 16-6 over the final 4 1/2 minutes before halftime for a 44-32 lead. Several more spurts stretched the advantage to as many as 24 as they avenged a 69-60 loss three weeks ago, a game in which baskets were hard to come by.

This time, Kentucky seemingly couldn’t miss.

Knox succeeded more from inside the arc than behind it, but his one 3 helped the Wildcats’ strong start and symbolized his focus after a couple of rough days.

Mentioned Friday in a Yahoo! Sports story as having had a meal with an agent, the freshman forward started after an internal review determined there were no eligibility issues. He made 6 of 13 from the field and all eight free throws in a game that initially seemed destined to be decided from outside.

“With everything going on it has been a good week,” Knox said, “just been blocking everything out. I had two good days of practice before this game. Last time they gave us a good one at their place, so we just made sure that we focused on the game going on.

Quade Green and PJ Washington each added 12 points, while Jarred Vanderbilt had a career-high 15 rebounds and 11 points for his first career double-double. Hamidou Diallo made all three 3s for 11 points as six Wildcats scored in double figures. Kentucky was 10 of 16 from long range and shot above 50 percent for the first time since Jan. 13 at Vanderbilt.

Kassius Robertson had 26 points including six 3s, and Jordan Barnett had 11 points for Missouri (18-11, 8-8), which made 10 of 31 from long but shot 36 percent in losing its third in a row.


Missouri: The Tigers started with promise offensively, especially from outside, before cooling off to finish 21 of 58 from the field. Failing to contain Kentucky as well from the perimeter hurt the most, and getting beat 36-31 on the glass was an issue of toughness for coach Cuonzo Martin.

“They set a tone that we could never match their toughness level,” he said.

Kentucky: The Wildcats followed up their impressive victory at Arkansas by doing many things right, especially with 27 defensive rebounds. Long-range shots got them going offensively and led to frequent chances at the foul line, where they made 21 of 28 free throws. They also shared the ball well with 17 assists, while their bench dominated 38-15.

More importantly for coach John Calipari, the Wildcats are coming together just in time for the postseason.

“Right before your eyes, we’re becoming a better basketball team,” he said. “It was only a month ago, three weeks ago, half the team, it was a fight to get them to play how we were trying to get them to play.”


Freshman forward Michael Porter Jr. did not play after returning to practice Friday following back surgery. Martin said the team is going to make sure he’s healthy enough to take contact before bringing him back and did not set a timetable for his return.


Members of Kentucky’s 1978 NCAA championship squad held their 40th anniversary reunion this week and were recognized in a halftime ceremony. The Wildcats beat Duke to claim the program’s fifth title and end a 20-year drought. Surviving members or their relatives, including MVP Jack “Goose” Givens, received replicas of the championship plaque that was displayed on a table. Former coach Joe B. Hall said, “it gets better and better every year.”


Missouri visits Vanderbilt Tuesday in the season’s lone meeting between the schools.

Kentucky hosts Mississippi on Wednesday, seeking its ninth straight series win against the Rebels.

Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods to transfer or go pro after graduation

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Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.

The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.

Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”

The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

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Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.

Kansas State’s injured star hoping to play Thursday

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One of the most surprising parts about Kansas State’s run to the Sweet 16 is that they have done it without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade.

Wade injured his foot prior to the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas. He did not play in that game or in either of Kansas State’s first two tournament games, but it is looking more and more like he’ll be on the floor on Thursday night when they play Kentucky.

“I don’t play percentages very well, but I’m feeling good,” Wade said, via SEC Country. “I’m very positive about it. It’s getting better every day and today I felt great out there, doing a little more than usual. It felt good.”

Wade averaged 16.5 points per game, but the big question is going to be whether or not he is actually healthy when he takes the court. Just because he’s on the floor doesn’t mean he’s at 100 percent.

“Really just trying to get it out of my mind that it’s not hurt,” Wade said. “Just more of a mental thing, just getting out there and running around. I think I got moved past that and it’s feeling better.”

Arizona’s Sean Miller: ‘I am not a candidate’ at Pitt

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With speculation mounting about who Pitt will hire to replace Kevin Stallings as their new head coach, current Arizona head coach Sean Miller released a statement saying that he is not in the running to fill the opening.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. I wish them well in their search for a new coach,” the statement read.

Miller is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumni of the school — he’s the guy that had the assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk — and with the issues that are currently swirling around him and the Arizona program, there was speculation that he was looking for an escape plan.

Maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe he was and the Pitt administration decided they couldn’t risk hiring someone who had an assistant coach arrested in the FBI’s sweep of college basketball and who himself may be on wiretaps talking about who knows what. Releasing this statement would then be a way for him to save face and say he was never interested.

And then maybe there’s option No. 3: Pitt has won the Dan Hurley sweepstakes.

As it stands, both the Panthers and UConn are in the process of chasing after the Rhode Island head coach, and it’s not uncommon in coaching searches for a coach to announce that he is not a candidate for the job after the job decides they want someone else. Call it a professional courtesy.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What we do know now is that Sean Miller will not be the next head coach at Pitt.

Report: Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson suffers another fracture in foot

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Bonzie Colson rushed back from a broken foot to try and help his Notre Dame team get into the NCAA tournament this season.

They were bumped out of the field when Davidson upset Rhode Island and earned the Atlantic 10’s third bid to the league tournament. The Fighting Irish were NIT bound, and in their second round loss to Penn State late last week, Colson reinjured the left foot that held him out of action for eight weeks.

On Wednesday, Yahoo reported that Colson suffered another fracture in the foot.

“I’m sitting there and he’s limping off and I’m going, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” coach Mike Brey said after the game. “Everything we’ve been through? I thought we were out of the woods with him.”

There was a poignant moment at the end of the game.

Colson’s injury came during the third quarter. He returned to the bench at Purcell Pavilion with ice on his foot after going into the locker room. With 30 seconds left and a loss imminent, Colson walked right past Mike Brey, said “I’m going in”, and finished his college career on the court.

Colson is a potential second round pick. He was an all-american last year and a preseason selection this year. He was averaging 19.7 points, 10.2 boards and 2.2 blocks when he was injured.