After Alabama loss, where does Kentucky basketball rank in the SEC? – Courier Journal


UK coaches are defining roles for the Wildcat players during Camp Cal.
Jon Hale, Louisville Courier Journal

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Any hopes that Kentucky might breeze through Southeastern Conference play after impressive wins against North Carolina and Louisville was vanquished with the Wildcats’ loss at Alabama on Saturday.

The game reinforced the fact that every league road game will be a difficult test for a young Kentucky team facing hostile environments. Meanwhile, the rest of the results around the league over the weekend suggest the title race will be anything but simple.

How does Kentucky stack up against the SEC competition? Here’s a look at the pecking order heading into the spring semester.

Previously: Kentucky basketball’s rally comes up short in SEC opener at Alabama

The favorites

KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: vs. Gonzaga (3), vs. Louisville (42)
Losses: vs. Kansas (10)
SEC opener: Beat Georgia (96-50)

KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: None
Losses: vs. Duke (1), at North Carolina St. (17)
SEC opener: Jan. 9 vs. Ole Miss

KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: vs. North Carolina (6), at Louisville (42)
Losses: vs. Duke (1), vs. Seton Hall (45), at Alabama (59)
SEC opener: Lost at Alabama (77-75)

Mississippi State
KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: vs. St. Mary’s (37), vs. Clemson (35), Cincinnati (30)
Losses: vs. Arizona State (56)
SEC opener: Jan 8 at South Carolina

What to know

Tennessee has established itself as the class of the SEC for the second-straight season with a six-point loss to Kansas on a neutral court the only blemish on its resume. The Vols opened SEC play with a 46-point blowout of Georgia and are favored in all but two of their remaining games (at Kentucky and at Auburn) according to KenPom. While Auburn and Mississippi State don’t have quite the resume as Tennessee, both open SEC play ranked in the top 25 and should probably be slotted ahead of the Wildcats. Kentucky plays all three of the other ranked SEC teams home and away.

Read this: Why Kentucky basketball’s EJ Montgomery is still looking for his role

Other contenders

KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: Butler (38)
Losses: at Florida State (19), vs. Oklahoma (21), vs. Butler (38), Michigan State (4), South Carolina (114)
SEC opener: Lost to South Carolina (71-69)

KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: vs. St. Mary’s (37)
Losses: vs. Florida State (19), vs. Oklahoma State (86), at Houston (31)
SEC opener: Jan. 8 vs. Alabama

Ole Miss
KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: None
Losses: at Butler (38), vs. Cincinnati (30)
SEC opener: Won at Vanderbilt (81-71)

KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: Indiana (27)
Losses: vs. Texas (25), Western Kentucky (104), Georgia Tech (84)
SEC opener: Won at Texas A&M (73-71)

KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: Kentucky (12)
Losses: vs. Northeastern (118), at UCF (34), Georgia State (108)
SEC opener: Beat Kentucky (77-75)

KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: None
Losses: Kent State (164), vs. NC State (17), at Kansas St (47), Ole Miss (41)
SEC opener: Lost to Ole Miss (81-71)

KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: UCF (34)
Losses: at Iowa State (14), vs. Kansas State (47), Temple (41)
SEC opener: Jan. 8 vs. Tennessee

What to know

Florida was threatening to push into the top tier after a blowout of Butler on Dec. 29, but a home loss to South Carolina in the SEC opener kills any momentum Mike White’s team was building. Season-ending injuries at Vanderbilt (Darius Garland) and Missouri (Jontay Porter) have turned two preseason projected NCAA Tournament teams into bubble squads. Arkansas and Alabama will be dangerous squads at home (as evidenced by UK’s SEC opener), but the Cats get Arkansas at Rupp and both team’s NCAA resumes are hurt by sub-100 losses in nonconference play. LSU might have the most upside of any team in this tier, but it’s hard to know what to make of Ole Miss, which has no bad losses but lacks any good wins either.

See also: Taveion Hollingsworth a shooting star at WKU, one that got away for UK

The long shots

Texas A&M
KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: None
Losses: UC Irvine (98), at Gonzaga (3), vs. Minnesota (50), vs. Washington (52), Texas Southern (198), Arkansas (53)
SEC opener: Lost to Arkansas (73-71)

KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: None
Losses: at Temple (71), vs. Clemson (35), vs. Georgia State (108), Arizona State (56), at Tennessee (7)
SEC opener: Lost at Tennessee (96-50)

South Carolina
KenPom ranking:
Top-50 KenPom wins: Florida (22)
Losses: Stony Brook (148), vs. Providence (69), Wofford (58), at Wyoming (262), at Michigan (5), Virginia (2), Clemson (35)
SEC opener: Won at Florida (71-69)

What to know

It looks like a rebuilding year for these three teams. Of the trio, only next week’s game at Georgia looks possibly concerning for Kentucky since Tom Crean will likely do everything he can to hype a large crowd for his first shot at the Wildcats as the Bulldogs’ coach. Still, nothing on Georgia’s resume suggests Crean’s team is capable of the upset. Home games against Texas A&M and South Carolina are the closest thing to an easy night remaining on UK’s schedule.

Read more: What we learned about Kentucky basketball in win over rival Louisville

Jon Hale:; Twitter: @JonHale_CJ. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today:

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Syracuse basketball dominates glass in win at Notre Dame –

South Bend, Ind. — Syracuse outrebounded Notre Dame Saturday in its 72-62 win over the Fighting Irish.

>>Box score | SU schedule

That, in itself, is news. The Orange has struggled to collect more missed shots than its opponents all season and has been outrebounded in each of its four losses.

Against Notre Dame, SU decisively won the board battle, 46-36.

And Oshae Brissett, the Orange’s most stalwart figure on the glass, finally had some help.

“It was great,” Brissett said. “It’s something, I think, that we can do every night. We definitely made a step in the right direction.”

Brissett, who came into the game as the ACC’s seventh best rebounder (8.3 per game), grabbed 11 rebounds on Saturday in South Bend. His counterpart on the back line, Elijah Hughes, grabbed a career-high 10 missed shots.

Just how significant was Hughes’ day on the glass? The SU guard/forward had been averaging 4.3 rebounds per game.

“Coach has been emphasizing the boards for a while,” Hughes said. “I just tried to get my nose in there and get a couple. It just happened to be 10.”

Syracuse forward Elijah Hughes (33) during a game against Notre Dame on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind. Dennis Nett |
Syracuse forward Elijah Hughes (33) during a game against Notre Dame on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind. Dennis Nett |  Dennis Nett

Syracuse entered Saturday’s game ranked 14th (of 15 ACC teams) in rebound margin (+0.7) and 14th in defensive rebound percentage.

Notre Dame is ranked 12th in rebound margin, though for the Orange, any advantage at this point is a good advantage.

Jim Boeheim acknowledged afterward that his team had been “better” on the glass. Aside from Brissett and Hughes, Bourama Sidibe grabbed six rebounds in about 14 minutes, Marek Dolezaj grabbed six rebounds in about 18 minutes and Tyus Battle collected five missed shots.

“We were all down there grabbing rebounds, helping each other out,” Brissett said, “just to limit them to one shot.”

Follow Syracuse basketball on Twitter and Facebook

Best and worst from Syracuse basketball’s win at Notre Dame

Report: Scottie Pippen's son on Vanderbilt basketball recruiting visit this weekend – The Tennessean


Vanderbilt finished 2018 with a 9-3 record and an SEC schedule coming soon.
Adam Sparks, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee

Scotty Pippen Jr., the son of former NBA great Scottie Pippen, will make a recruiting visit to Vanderbilt this weekend, ESPN reported.

Pippen Jr., a 6-foot-1 recruit in the class of 2019, is listed as a four-star shooting guard by Scout and a three-star point guard by both 247 Sports and Rivals. 

Paul Biancardi, national recruiting director for ESPN, tweeted Saturday that Pippen Jr. will visit Vanderbilt this weekend. It’s unknown if he will attend the Commodores’ SEC opener against Ole Miss Saturday night.

 (Photo: Associated Press)

Pippen’s father was an NBA teammate of Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew on the Houston Rockets in the 1998-99 season. That was after Pippen had already won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls alongside Michael Jordan, been a seven-time All-Star and earned a spot on the NBA’s Top 50 players list of the first 50 years in 1996. 

Pippen Jr., who scored 22 points in a high school game on ESPNU Friday night, plays at Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, Calif. He tweeted on Dec. 8 that Vanderbilt had offered him a scholarship. He also has offers from Washington State, Colorado State, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis and San Francisco.

Pippen’s father, an Arkansas native, played at Central Arkansas. His cousin, William Pippen, played at Middle Tennessee.

In November, Vanderbilt signed a pair of four-star prospects in the 2019 class in 6-8 forward Dylan Disu and 6-6 shooting guard Austin Crowley. The Commodores are also recruiting five-star power forward Trendon Watford, from Mountain Brook in Birmingham, Ala., and three-star shooting guard Damion Baugh, from Tennessee Preparatory Academy in Memphis. Baugh previously played at Cane Ridge in Antioch.

LOOK AHEAD: What to expect from Vanderbilt basketball in 2019, including Simi Shittu’s surge, bigger crowds

SEC PREVIEW: Road to Bridgestone Arena, Final Four contenders, fab freshmen

RECRUITING: Vanderbilt men sign four-star prospects; women add top-100 players

Reach Adam Sparks at and on Twitter @AdamSparks.


Kentucky basketball vs. Alabama: TV channel, betting line, tipoff time – Courier Journal


UK coaches are defining roles for the Wildcat players during Camp Cal.
Jon Hale, Louisville Courier Journal

LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 14 Kentucky (10-2) opens Southeastern Conference play Saturday at Alabama (9-3). Here’s the information you need to know to follow the game on television, radio or online.

Time: 1 p.m., Saturday

Where: Coleman Coliseum (15,383 capacity) 

TV: Dan Shulman (play-by-play) and Jay Bilas (analyst) will have the call on ESPN. That’s DirecTV 206, Dish 140, U-Verse 602/1602, FiOs 70/570 and Spectrum Cable 31/506 in Louisville, 28/506 in Lexington.

Radio: Tom Leach (play-by-play) and Mike Pratt (analyst) will have the UK radio network call on 840 AM in Louisville and both 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington or online at 

Live stream: Eligible subscribers can stream the game at WatchESPN.

Betting line: Kentucky favored by 4.5 points (as of Friday)

Series history: UK leads 112-37

MORE: Why Kentucky basketball’s EJ Montgomery is still looking for his role


Camp Cal progress: With classes resuming at UK Wednesday, the semester break known as Camp Cal when coaches are allowed unlimited practice time with their teams has ended. The benefits of that extra work have already been evident in wins over North Carolina and Louisville, but there’s been an additional week of practice since the last time we saw Kentucky on the court.

“We’re getting better,” UK coach John Calipari said. “It takes time. The guys are all dialed in right now. I like where we are. More of a team, player-driven practice than a coach-driven practice.”

► Herro’s breakout: Tyler Herro has drawn praise for seemingly fixing his shooting woes against Louisville, but according to UK associate head coach Kenny Payne there has been more important progress made in the freshman guard’s game.

“When we watch film, you know what he does really well? He gets to the basket and finishes with both hands really well,” Payne said. “He gets in passing lanes and gets steals and gets layups. He can beat somebody off the dribble and make a shot. We want basketball players. If you want to be a shooter and just be a shooter? You probably should have went to another school. This is a basketball player’s school. And he’s proven that he can do all of it.”

► Familiar face: Kentucky fans will recognize the name of Alabama leading scorer Kira Lewis Jr. after Calipari and his staff briefly recruited the freshman guard as a member of the class of 2019 last summer. Lewis eventually reclassified to 2018 to enroll at Alabama, where he is averaging 15 points and 3.1 assists per game while starting all 12 games for the Crimson Tide.

“He’s a very, very good basketball player,” Payne said. “When you watch film and you see his impact on Alabama basketball, he’s pretty good. We knew it because, you know, we talked to him, talked about him and recruited him a little bit, but he’s a really good basketball player who controls a lot of stuff for their team. He’s going to be a handful because he can shoot it. He’s really fast and he can pass the basketball.”

Abilene Wylie girls basketball tested entering District 4-5A play –

A new class, a new coach and a tough nondistrict schedule have provided plenty of challenges for the Wylie girls basketball team this season.

But now the games start to count and things aren’t going to get any easier.

The Lady Bulldogs (15-7) begin District 4-5A play Friday night at Wichita Falls Rider. When the game tips off at 5:30 p.m., Wylie will put its work through 22 games to the test.

More: Wylie basketball teams close tournament play with losses

More: Wylie girls basketball drops Aggieland quarter

More: Wylie basketball teams open post-Christmas tournaments with wins

“We feel like we’re ready, these preseason games have prepared us,” first-year Wylie coach Amy Powell said. “Lessons have been learned and we’ll be ready when this gets started. I don’t think the girls are taking anything about district play for granted. They’ll be fired up and ready to play (Friday).

Battling top teams

Six of the seven losses Wylie suffered came against teams currently ranked by the Texas Association of Basketball coaches, including four top-five teams.

“We have played some good opponents and we’ve played well against some good opponents,” Powell said. “Even the games that we haven’t won, we still have played well. There’s a lot of positives to take from the preseason now that we’re starting district play.”

Wylie is coming off its third and final tournament of the year. In the first, the Lady Bulldogs reached the Polk-Key City Classic final, falling to TAPPS Class 6A No. 1 Bishop Lynch.

It was a similar story at the Kids, Inc. Tournament of Champions at which Wylie opened against Class 6A No. 4 Allen before coming back for the consolation tile.

In College Station, Wylie opened with a pair of wins at the Aggieland Invitational, but fell to Class 5A No. 16 College Station and No. 4 Manvel.

“One of the things I love about this group is their tenacity,” Powell said. “They have this ‘never give up’ mentality. Games that we’ve been down nine, 10, 12 points, they still manage to come back and find ways to win. Even in games that we haven’t been as close, we’re fighting to the bitter end in those games.”

Focused on 4-5A opener

Even with the winter weather that hit Abilene after the new year, the Lady Bulldogsstill were able to get their work in to prepare for Friday. The Lady Raiders (6-9) are coming off a fourth-place finish at the Union Square Lady Bulldog Christmas Classic.

Both teams will be trying to start district play on the right foot.

“We feel like we’re really well prepared for what we’re going to see from Rider,” Powell said. “The girls are going to step onto the court with the mentality that we’re going to win the game … that’s not guaranteed. We’re still going to have to play well and adjust to how they play basketball.”

After the Lady Bulldogs open district play on the road against Rider, they return home to face Cooper before going to Aledo next week. They wrap up the first round of district Jan. 18 at home against Wichita Falls High.

“Being new to this district leaves a lot of intangibles that we just don’t know,” Powell said. “We don’t know a whole lot about these teams, just what we’ve been able to gather by film. It’ll be an interesting couple of weeks … The girls are excited about starting district play.”

Seniors lead the way

The last time the Lady Bulldogs played a game with significant consequence was a three-point loss to Denver City in the Region I-4A final. Wylie has eight seniors on its roster, as well as a few underclassmen, who were a part of that run.

Heading into district play, in hopes of another deep playoff run, the Lady Bulldogs will lean on those seniors.

“We’ve got a lot of seniors and they lost in the region final last year, in a game they felt like they should have won,” Powell said. “I think they’re hungry and ready for the challenges that 5A basketball presents to us. It’s night in, night out …

“There are no teams we’ve played at this level that we can just show up on the court and win. They’re going to have to grind out some wins against some tough opponents and be mentally tough. I think that senior leadership is going to take us a long way.”

High school girls' basketball rankings – Times Union

Class AA

1. Albany (10-0, last week No. 1): The Falcons had six players score in double figures and scored 60 points after intermission in posting a 96-54 victory at Glens Falls.

2. Shenendehowa (8-2, LW No. 3): Cat Almeida and Meghan Huerter both tallied 19 points and the defense helped limit West Genesee to a paltry 16.7 percent from the field as the Plainsmen produced a 62-29 triumph over the Wildcats at the Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase.

3. Saratoga (7-3, LW No. 2): The Blue Streaks dropped a pair of contests at the Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase in falling against West Genesee (81-57) and Holy Redeemer (65-64).

4. Colonie (7-3, LW No. 4): Ahnalese Pearson poured in 25 points, including seven 3-pointers, to help the Garnet Raiders produce a 74-46 victory against Catholic Central.

5. Guilderland (6-1, LW No. 5): Senior guard Graci Serravillo scored a season-high 20 points as the Lady Dutch defeated Kingston 62-48 at the Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase.

Class A

1. Averill Park (8-2, LW No. 1): Freshman point guard Amelia Wood tallied 24 points, leading four players in double digits, in leading the Warriors to an 85-59 win against Williamsville South.

2. Queensbury (9-0, LW No. 2): Led by the efforts from Hope Sullivan (23 points), Hailey Ballard (15 points) and Abby Doin (14 points), the Spartans bested Columbia 62-38 at the Ballston Spa Tournament.

3. Amsterdam (8-1, LW No. 3): Andie Gannon registered 13 points, 16 rebounds and 10 steals to pace the Rams in their 65-55 victory over Hanover (N.H.) at the Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase.

4. Holy Names (8-0, LW No. 4): Posted victories against Class AA opponents Shaker (53-52, rallying from a 20-point deficit in the third quarter) and Niskayuna (48-38).

5. Gloversville (6-3, LW No. 5): The Dragons split two games at the Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase, beating Kingston 68-35 and falling 54-48 vs. Saugerties.

Teams to watch: Emma Willard (8-0), Scotia (5-3)

Class B

1. Voorheesville (7-2, LW No. 3): Senior standout Olivia Barringer netted a game-high 21 points to help the Blackbirds earn their fifth straight win with a 63-56 verdict over Tamarac.

2. Mechanicville (7-3, LW No. 1): The Red Raiders, after dropping a pair of games against Class AA foes Niskayuna and Shaker at the Holy Names Tournament, play host to Tamarac on Friday in Wasaren play.

3. Tamarac (4-3, LW No. 2): Emily Erickson finished with a team-best 16 points in a 63-56 setback against Voorheesville.

4. Johnstown (4-4, LW No. 4): The Lady Bills, a squad ranking fifth in Section II in foul shooting at 73.0 percent, return to action Thursday at Hudson Falls.

5. Ravena (5-3, LW No. 5): The Indians return to Colonial Council play Friday with a home game against Schalmont.

Teams to watch: Albany Academy for Girls (5-3), Cobleskill (5-4), Fonda (7-3), Hudson (6-1), Mekeel Christian Academy (6-3)

Class C

1. Cambridge (5-1, LW No. 1): The Indians end a three-week hiatus Friday, prolonged by a canceled game last week, when they entertain Berlin in Wasaren League play.

2. Hoosic Valley (8-2, LW No. 3): The Indians recorded wins against Watervliet (40-35) and Maple Hill (44-27) to capture the title at the Holiday Hoopfest at the Hill.

3. Warrensburg (10-0, LW No. 5): The Burghers, ranked No. 12 in the state, look to improve to 7-0 in Adirondack League action Friday when they play host to Whitehall.

4. Maple Hill (9-1, LW No. 2): The Wildcats, the top team in the Patroon Conference standings, play host to second-place squad Rensselaer on Saturday.

5. Lake George (6-2, LW not rated): Senior center Graceann Bennett delivered 25 points and 15 rebounds in a 55-45 victory over Hoosick Falls.

Teams to watch: Berne-Knox-Westerlo (8-1), Duanesburg (8-3), Greenwich (6-2), Hoosick Falls (6-3), Rensselaer (8-2)

Class D

1. Fort Edward (7-3, LW No. 1): The 14th-ranked Flying Forts play host to North Warren on Friday in a crucial Adirondack encounter.

2. Hartford (7-2, LW No. 2): The Tanagers begin a four-game stretch in eight days Friday when they take on Argyle in Adirondack League play.

3. North Warren (7-3, LW No. 3): The Cougars collected their fifth straight win Wednesday with a 48-26 decision over Saratoga Central Catholic.

4. Bishop Gibbons (6-3, LW No. 4): The Golden Knights have two players averaging double figures in scoring: junior Ava Megyeri (13.4 points per game) and senior Abby Kienzie (11.6 ppg).

5. Heatly (4-3, LW No. 5): The Hornets face a huge Central Hudson Valley League road test Friday at Germantown.