Tag: Karl Towns

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Karl Towns takes over, No. 1 Kentucky moves to 30-0

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Karl Towns was Kentucky’s savior on Tuesday night.

With the No. 1 Wildcats struggling offensively and down nine to Georgia in a rocking Stegeman Coliseum, John Calipari started to pound the ball into his most talented big man, and Towns delivered. He scored 15 of his 19 points in the final 11 minutes, overwhelming Georgia’s smaller front line and sparking a 21-6 run that kept the Wildcats perfect. They’re now just the fourth team to go 30-0 since Bob Knight’s 1976 Indiana team had an undefeated season.

Kentucky would go on to win 72-64 despite a terrific effort from the Bulldogs, who executed a flawless game-plan to perfection.

I don’t say that lightly, either.

For 30 minutes, Georgia only made a single mistake, a flagrant foul committed by Kenny Gaines on a fast break that gave the Wildcats a four-point possession and five-point lead late in the first half. And to be frank, they didn’t make too many mistakes down the stretch, either.

Kentucky just … turned it on.

And that’s what makes this team so scary heading into March.

They’ve played some pretty poor games during SEC play. They were lit up by Ole Miss from the perimeter in an overtime win. They set offensive basketball back a decade with their double-overtime win over Texas A&M. LSU erased a 13-point deficit with a 21-2 second half run, which the Wildcats needed to answer in the final minutes. They were wobbled by a couple of right hooks at Florida, but bounced back to win in one of the toughest environments in the country.

On Tuesday night, Kentucky dug themselves a hole with their inability to finish around the rim and some fairly poor — by their standards — defending. But when they needed to, when the gameclock hit winning time, the Wildcats suddenly became impenetrable defensively and unstoppable offensively. It’s incredible how their able to go on those runs, to the point that it never felt like Georgia was ever in control of the game on Tuesday. We were just waiting for Kentucky to turn it on, it just took longer than we expected.

Therein lies my issue with the idea that teams on a winning streak in late-February and early-March “need a loss”.


What Kentucky needs to is learn how to win when the pressure is on. They need to learn how to execute and make plays down the stretch on the nights that they’ve spent the majority of the game doing the exact opposite. They need practice “turning it on”.

Just like they did on Tuesday.

As the saying goes, good teams win games when they don’t play well. Kentucky did that — again — on Tuesday.

Weekly Awards: Karl Towns shows us his best, Oklahoma State back in the Big 12 convo

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Karl Towns, Kentucky

Kentucky put together a pair of solid wins this week, knocking off Georgia at home before going into the O-Dome and taking Florida’s best shot before beating the Gators. Towns, in those two games, played his best basketball since he arrived in Lexington, averaging 17.0 points, 10.5 boards, 3.0 assists and 2.0 blocks in the two wins.

It’s not just the numbers for Towns, because if he were consistently playing 31 minutes every night on a team where the offensive was built around him, he could probably put up numbers like that for an entire season. It’s the little things that he showed an ability to do, like a deft over-the-head pass for a dunk out of a double-team or reading a defender trying to anticipate how Towns would use a screen. We know Towns can block shots and we know that he can get to the offensive glass. We’ve even seen him do a decent job switching onto guards while defending ball-screens.

If there’s a knock on Kentucky this season, it’s that they don’t score all that well in half court settings. When Towns is making plays like that, the Wildcats are that much more dangerous.


  • Marcus Posley, St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies went 2-0 this week, and Posley is the one to thank. He hit buzzer-beating game-winners in wins over No. 18 VCU and Davidson.
  • Joseph Young, Oregon: Young led the Ducks to wins over the Washington schools this week, averaging 30.5 points, 6.5 boards and 5.0 assists. He shot 22-for-37 from the floor and 7-for-14 from three, and suddenly, the Ducks are tied for third in the Pac-12, just two games behind Arizona and Utah.
  • Rico Gathers, Baylor: The Bears have won five of their last six games, including a pair of blowout wins against TCU and at West Virginia. Gathers had 31 points and 33 boards in those two wins.
  • Justise Winslow, Duke: Winslow went for 15 points and 10 boards in a win over Georgia Tech, following that up with 19 points and 11 boards in Saturday’s beatdown of Notre Dame. He’s now notched three straight double-doubles.
  • Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga: In a pair of road wins for the Zags, Wiltjer was the best player on the floor, averaging 25.5 points and 8.5 boards.
  • Notables: Schadrac Casimir (Iona), Jamel Artis (Pitt), Jalen Cannon (St. Francis NY)
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TEAM OF THE WEEK: Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Pokes landed a pair of critical wins this week, as they went into Texas and knocked off the Longhorns in overtime, following that up with a win over No. 8 Kansas at Gallagher-Iba Area. The Big 12 might be a bit overrated at this point, but there is no denying how much of a meat-grinder league play is in that conference. Winning two straight games against teams that could end up making the NCAA tournament — particularly when coming off of a loss — is huge. The wins also put Travis Ford’s club in a much better position in regards to the NCAA tournament.


  • Virginia: The Cavaliers beat North Carolina and Louisville this week, solidifying their place at the top of the national rankings, but they also lost Justin Anderson in the process.
  • Iowa: The Hawkeyes bounced back from a three-game losing streak with blowout wins at Michigan and over No. 17 Maryland at home.
  • Boise State: The Broncos are suddenly in the bubble conversation and tied for first place (in the loss column) in the Mountain West after wins at Utah State and over San Diego State this week. They’ve won seven straight.
  • Arizona State: The Sun Devils beat arch rival Arizona at home on Saturday afternoon. It won’t be enough for them to get into the NCAA tournament picture, but a win over a rival can make a bad season worthwhile.
  • Harvard: The Crimson have now won four straight road games in Ivy League play, culminating with a win at Yale on Saturday night.


  • No. 11 Iowa State at No. 21 Oklahoma, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
  • No. 1 Kentucky at LSU, Tue. 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 19 Baylor at No. 8 Kansas, Sat. 1:00 p.m.
  • No. 18 VCU at George Washington, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • No. 7 Villanova at Butler, Sat. 6:00 p.m.

Burning Questions: Which five players would you pick to play the final minutes for Kentucky?

Kentucky is the choice of many to win it all (AP Photo)
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Kentucky is the choice of many to win it all (AP Photo)

Given the brouhaha over Kentucky’s rotation, particularly on Sunday, who are the five that you would pick to finish a game for the Wildcats and why?

MORE: Read through all the Burning Questions here

Scott Phillips: I’ve always said going into this season that freshman point guard Tyler Ulis was too valuable with the ball in his hands to not have him on the floor to close games and I still see him ending games alongside the Harrison twins during crunch time this season. Those three can all create from the perimeter and with Willie Cauley-Stein’s defensive ability and experience and Karl-Anthony Towns’ overall skill level, Kentucky would be wise to look into that line-up to close games this season.

Raphielle Johnson: Before we get into this, I think some people took Calipari’s words to mean that by no means would he deviate from the “platoon” idea. Obviously factors such as foul trouble, matchups and who’s playing well will be considered as the game wears on. It would be irresponsible to not consider those variables. That being said, in crunch time I’d go with Ulis, the Harrison twins, Cauley-Stein and Johnson. Ulis is their best distributor and Andrew isn’t a slouch either. So why not have two playmakers on the floor? Aaron’s hit big shots in the past and Dakari has to be out there for rebounding. And I think the three perimeter players can provide enough scoring, so Cauley-Stein needs to be out there as well.

Terrence Payne: I’d go with the three-guard lineup of Tyler Ulis alongside Andrew and Aaron Harrison on the perimeter. I would trade length for a player who will help set guys up while being a defensive menace on the ball. Up front, I could see going with Alex Poythress for his energy but I would go with Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky’s best offensive player and Willie Cauley-Stein, its best defensive player.

Rob Dauster: Based on the answers to this question, it seems like everyone is convinced that the best lineup Kentucky can put on the floor will have Ulis sharing the back court with the twins, and it’s hard to argue with. But I like arguing, so here is the five that I would go with: Ulis, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Karl Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein. Offensively, I think Lyles and Towns are skilled enough that they would be able to keep opposing defenses from collapsing into the paint. At the same time, you run into a situation where an NBA-caliber big man will be guarded by a college small forward. Someone is going to have a mismatch on the block, and Kentucky will have an overwhelming advantage on the offensive glass. For a team that hasn’t proven adept at running half court offense, their best play down the stretch may end up being a missed shot.