National Runner-Up

April 10, 2014

For some reason I had a sense that I would jinx UK if I posted to my blog during their run to the championship game. So that’s the primary reason why I haven’t posted since March 22. That or some other excuse :-).

After knocking off previously unbeaten Wichita State 78-76, the Cats beat in-state rival Louisville 74-69 to earn a trip to the regional final. There they beat an excellent Michigan team 75-72 which punched Kentucky’s ticket to the Final Four in North Texas.

In the national semifinals, Kentucky edged Wisconsin 74-73 while Connecticut came from behind to beat Florida. Then in the national championship game. Kentucky kept it close in the second half but ended up losing 60-54. The Cats missed 11 free throws while the Huskies were perfect from the line. So an old bugaboo reared its ugly head. Still, Kentucky’s season ended up being a lot better than it appeared toward the end of the regular season.

The Kentucky women took care of Syracuse in Lexington then headed to South Bend to meet Baylor, a team they had beaten 133-130 (4 OT) in Dallas earlier in the season. This meeting was nowhere near as close. The Bears maintained a working margin through most of the game and cruised to the win.

Last night the Blue Jackets qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. If the season ended today, Columbus would play Pittsburgh in the first round. However with each playoff-bound team having at least two games remaining, it is possible that positions will shift a bit. The Jackets could be paired with the Rangers, and it is still possible that they could move into second place in the Metropolitan division and get the home-ice advantage in the first round.

 

 

Early Exit

March 22, 2014

Ohio State and Dayton were the first teams to go into action Thursday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In a game played in Buffalo, Dayton’s Vee Sanford, who hails from Lexington, hit a layup with 3.8 seconds to go to give the Flyers a 60-59 win over the Buckeyes. So, OSU became the first victim of the upset bug in this year’s tournament.

Kentucky beat Kansas State last night 56-49 in a grind-it-out affair. Next up for the Cats is Wichita State, the first team in college basketball history to go 35-0.

Jenn O’Neill had 21 points as Kentucky opened up tournament play with a 46-point win over Wright State. For the first time, NCAA women’s tourney games are being played in Lexington. Monday night, the Cats will play the winner of the Chattanooga-Syracuse game.

Fell Just Short

March 16, 2014

The Kentucky men entered the season with high expectations. Some thought they would go undefeated. They were ranked #1 in many polls. But the regular season was a nightmare as the Cats lost 9 games and disappointed most everyone.

In the SEC tournament, though, the Wildcats came alive and had big wins over LSU and Georgia to earn a spot in the championship game against regular-season champion and #1-ranked Florida. Kentucky fell behind by 16 in the second half, but fought back and only lost by 1. The Cats had the ball with less than 10 seconds to go, but was unable to get a shot off, as James Young lost his balance and slipped.

In the Big Ten tournament, Ohio State came from 18 down to beat Nebraska in the quarterfinals. In the semis, the Bucks played well but lost to regular-season champion Michigan by 3.

Some unfinished business from last weekend: The Kentucky women played well but lost the SEC tournament championship to Tennessee 71-70.

As I type this, the NCAA men’s tournament pairings will be announced in a few minutes, and the women’s pairings will be announced tomorrow night. The Kentucky women will likely start the tournament on their home court.

A Couple Nice Top-Seed Upsets

March 9, 2014

There is no question that the Kentucky women’s team has underachieved this year, relative to expectations. And Ohio State is rebuilding after a long, moderately successful tenure by former coach Jim Foster. But both teams picked up nice conference tournament wins.

Kentucky opened in the quarterfinals by beating Florida, 75-70. DeNesha Stallworth had early foul trouble, but ended up scoring 13 points. The Gators had won both regular season meetings on the strength of a strong transition offense. But the Cats played well down the stretch to earn a semifinal meeting against top-seed South Carolina.

The Gamecocks had also swept the regular-season series over Kentucky, but the Cats prevailed this time 68-58. Stallworth and Linnae Harper each had 12 points for the Big Blue. South Carolina came into the game ranked fifth, and might have garnered a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament had they won the SEC playoff. But they will watch Sunday as the Cats play in their fourth SEC tournament championship in 5 years. Kentucky has not won this tourney since 1982. The opponent will be Tennessee who beat Texas A&M in the other semifinal.

I saw a regular season game between Penn State and Ohio State earlier in the year, and the Buckeyes were no match for the conference champion Lions. But in the Big Ten tournament, the Bucks turned the tables with a 99-82 quarterfinal rout. In the semifinals, Ohio State lost another close one to Iowa. The Bucks finished the season one game below .500.

The Blue Jackets were routed in Chicago Thursday night, but also beat Dallas and Nashville. They currently hold down the second and final wildcard playoff spot, but there is a lot of hockey yet to be played.

The Kentucky men managed to edge Alabama on Senior Night but then lost big yesterday in Gainesville, as expected. Florida became the first team to go 18-0 in SEC conference play. The Ohio State men host Michigan State this afternoon on Senior Day.

I have not had much time for ham radio lately, but the upper bands have been good. A lot of great DX is being worked on the 10-meter band.

 

It Just Gets Worse

March 2, 2014

They say it is always darkest right before the dawn. But this season it is looking more and more like the dawn is just never going to get here.

On January 29th, Ohio State suffered probably its most embarrassing loss of the season as Penn State visited Columbus and left with a 71-70 overtime victory. Last Thursday, the two teams met again, this time in Happy Valley. But the result was about the same, with the Lions winning 65-63. The Buckeyes had some pretty good looks at the basket down the stretch, but PSU, a team that will be lucky to make the NIT, held on to complete the season sweep. Today the Buckeyes visit Bloomington, then finish the regular season next Sunday with Michigan State on Senior Day. In the Big Ten, Michigan is in the driver’s seat, being about the only team that hasn’t suffered embarrassing losses.

The world doesn’t look any better for Kentucky. The Cats hosted Arkansas last Thursday, looking to avenge an earlier loss in Fayetteville. The Hogs are notorious for playing poorly on the road, but they left Rupp Arena with a 71-67 overtime win. Last night the Cats visited South Carolina, the worst team in the SEC, and lost again. Calipari was ejected in the second half. UK rallied down the stretch, but just don’t play with enough intensity for enough time to win.

And then there is the weather. We are expecting a fairly major ice/snow storm starting this afternoon. The only thing that is good about long, cold winters is that it delays the start of lawn mowing :-).

First Visit by Spring

February 23, 2014

We have had a few days of Spring weather here, but it is on its way out. Thursday it hit 70 and I had the Miata top down for awhile. Yesterday it was 60 and sunny, and I got a couple of the cars cleaned up. But we could see lows in the teens in a few days.

The UK women scored a big win last Sunday as they knocked off Tennessee 75-71. It was the Cats’ first win in Knoxville since 1985, and the first ever in Thompson-Boling Arena. But this week league-leading South Carolina came to Lexington and won fairly handily to complete a season sweep of Kentucky. The Cats visit Texas A&M this afternoon.

The Ohio State men have put together 3 wins in-a-row over Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota. If the Bucks could develop some consistency here, they might make a good run in the Big Ten tournament.

The UK men went to Oxford and built up a big lead on Ole Miss, then held on for a nice road win. But yesterday it took overtime for the Cats to beat visiting LSU. UK is another team with a lot of potential that might go far in the post-season if they can get things together.

A Snowy Winter

February 16, 2014

We are way ahead of normal for snow this winter. A total of 19 inches has fallen in Lexington this season, which is about twice the normal amount. It seems like just about every day, I have to shovel or sweep a little bit more snow.

The Ohio State men have won 3 of 4 since my last post, including a nice win at Iowa. But the Wolverines came to town on the 11th and left with a 70-60 win. The OSU women have not won since January 30th and are 14-14 on the year.

Third-ranked Florida came into Rupp last night and left with a 69-59 win. That almost certainly knocks the Cats out of any hope of an SEC championship. The UK women have looked better at times, but lost to Florida for the second time this year.

A Mixed Bag

February 2, 2014

The Kentucky men took their show on the road last week, and ended up with a split decision. After an 87-82 loss at LSU, the Cats traveled to Columbia yesterday to take on Missouri, winning 84-79. Right now, UK is not a Final Four team in my book, but they continue to show steady improvement.

Ohio State suffered an embarrassing 71-70 overtime loss at home to Penn State, but rebounded by winning in Madison yesterday, 59-58. Wisconsin is another team that started out hot but has been struggling of late. Due to the poor play of some of the regular starters, OSU has gotten some good play from guys coming off the bench.

The Kentucky women lost at Georgia 58-56, then beat LSU in Lexington today, 63-56. The Cats showed much better defensive intensity in beating the Tigers. The Ohio State women routed Illinois 90-64 for their first Big Ten home win, but lost today at Wisconsin 82-71.

The Ohio State men and women are both 4-5 in the conference. With two losses, the Kentucky men are still within striking distance of unbeaten Florida. Four losses will make a title run tough for the UK women, but there is a lot of basketball yet to be played.

The Blue Jackets ran their losing streak to three games with losses to Carolina and Ottawa, but then won two in-a-row (5-2 over Washington and 4-1 over Florida). Columbus has three games on the west coast this week, then that will be it until after the Olympics.

5-2 Losses

January 26, 2014

I have a nephew that plays hockey on a travel team, and yesterday they were in town to play the local team in the same league. I didn’t expect much from the Lexington squirts team (the Thoroughbreds) since this isn’t really a hockey town. But the ‘Breds are quite good and beat the Columbus Blue Jacket squirts twice, both by the score of 5-2. These teams will get together again in Columbus next weekend.

The real Blue Jackets also lost by the score of 5-2, this time to Buffalo. It ended an 8-game winning streak for Columbus. With the Sabres being the worst team in the east, it is easy to look past them.

The Kentucky men have looked much better lately in home wins over Texas A&M and Georgia. Four of the next five games are on the road. Florida remains unbeaten in SEC play. With the Cats only having one loss, they stay within striking distance.

The Ohio State men hit rock-bottom in a six-point loss at Nebraska, a team they had beaten by 30 points earlier in the month. The Bucks rebounded Thursday night with a win over Illinois, but OSU is not playing with confidence right now. Michigan’s win at Michigan State last night leaves the Wolverines as the only unbeaten team in Big Ten play.

The Kentucky women lost to visiting Alabama after routing them in Tuscaloosa earlier in the month. Today they were behind Arkansas by 10 in the second half, but won by 10. The Ohio State women split two games with the Michigan schools, and are still below .500 in  Big Ten play. Believe it or not, the Buckeyes have still not won a conference game at home.

We’ve had a lot of cold weather in January, but not much snow until this week. About three inches fell Tuesday morning, then 4-5 yesterday. Temperatures have been near 50 today, but another major cold spell will be coming in soon.

Six In-A-Row

January 19, 2014

The Blue Jackets’ win streak is now up to six games, with home wins over Tampa Bay and Washington last week, and a shootout win last night in Buffalo. There are three teams in the east with 52 points, which would be enough for the second wild-card spot if the season ended today. This week Columbus has three home games, and they need to keep up the momentum.

It got worse for the Ohio State men with Thursday night’s 63-53 loss in Minneapolis. Tomorrow, the Buckeyes will visit Nebraska, a team they beat by 31 points just 15 days ago. The Michigan schools are a combined 11-0 so far in the Big Ten to lead the pace in early conference play.

The Kentucky women held on for a 73-71 win in Auburn this afternoon, despite shooting less than 50% at the free throw line. But it is good to see the ladies above .500 in the league after the two early losses. Home games against Alabama and Arkansas are coming up.

The toughest game of the week was UK’s overtime loss in Fayetteville on a last-second dunk. The guys came back and beat Tennesse yesterday in Rupp. Home games with Texas A&M and Georgia are coming up this week. Only Florida is still undefeated in league play.


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