By Ira D. Combs
Tri State Sports Media Service Inc.
First off, don’t ever try to figure out why teams and players play to the extreme one way or the other within the same season. There is no rational explanation.
With that being established, I still don’t know if it was the annual January slump or just overlooking an opponent week before last when UK struggled to two OT wins against Ole Miss and Texas A & M. But it appears after last week's two games against Mizzou and Bama (when UK bombarded both with a total of over 70 points worth of beat downs) that Cal’s Boys are back hitting on all eight cylinders.
Next up this week is Vandy (Tuesday, 9:00 ET/SEC Network) and South Carolina (Saturday, noon ET/ESPN). If the Cats are truly back on track, both should be wins but the South Carolina game could be troublesome for a half or so. However, if this team has a payback game on this year's schedule, it would be the Gamecocks. Why? Remember last year? UK suffered its most embarrassing loss of the season in Columbia, SC, and Cal was booted by the officials in the process.
Devin Booker seems to be the hottest of the Wildcats at the present time, averaging 10.6 ppg while knocking down 20 of his last 28 three-point attempts. UK has seven players averaging between 11.4 and 7.8 ppg with Tyler Ulius just behind those seven players, averaging 5.7 ppg. Yet, Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns continue to get the bulk of the love from the media and especially the NBA scouts and GMs.
Time will tell once the NBA draft rolls around but I still think Devin Booker will be highly valued by NBA folks once it’s all said and done. Booker has perfect skills both offensively and defensively for an NBA two guard and his 6’ 6” frame is spot on for that position.
Undefeated Match-ups Dwindling For March Madness
Now that Duke, Wisconsin, Louisville and Arizona have all hit a wall and lost at least two games. The only team left that could be undefeated and matched up against UK is Virginia. With the ACC being as strong as ever, I doubt Virginia can work its way through that regular season schedule without at least a couple losses, if not more. So don’t expect two undefeated teams to make it to Indianapolis for a championship showdown.
It would have been interesting to compare TV ratings of two undefeated men's basketball teams playing for the NCAA championship to the Oregon-Ohio State football championship TV ratings.
Special Day Of Hoops In Honor Of Joe B. Hall
Normally this column is devoted exclusively to UK sports in season but this week we honor an old warhorse who is finally getting the love he deserved years ago. This coming Saturday, Jan. 24, at the MCHS Events Center in Mt. Sterling adjacent to the MCHS high school, the 25th annual Joe B. Hall Prep Classic will take place, showcasing several of the Commonwealth’s Top 25 high school teams and all four of the Mr. Basketball candidates (Ray Spalding – Trinity, Cam Justice – KCC, “Beetle” Bolden – Holmes, and Jacqualis Matlock – Hopkinsville).
The first game tips off at 1:30, and the fifth and final game tips off at 8:30. If you worry about missing part of the second half of the UK-South Carolina game, which tips off at noon, just relax as here will be a big screen TV in the lobby for the fans to not miss a minute of the game, which should end about halftime of the first game.
You can go online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more coverage of UK basketball and football as well as KHSAA basketball and football. Also, you can now follow us on Twitter at @combsbrothers5.