Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: College Gameday, Julius Randle, and the Harrison Twins

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Jan 28, 2012; Tucson, AZ, USA; Rece Davis (left) , Hubert Davis (center), and Digger Phelps (right) on the set of ESPN College Gameday prior to a game between the Washington Huskies and the Arizona Wildcats at the McKale Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Morrison-USA TODAY Sports

Today the Cats square off against Mizzou and College Game Day is at Rupp.  Of course with the topsy-turvy season UK is in the midst of, a win against the Tigers will go a long way into solidifying their status among the NCAA Tourney field.  Of course with ESPN’s College Game Day, this game is intrinsically touted as a “must win” but Coach Cal doesn’t see it that way at all:

Contrary to the ESPN College GameDay presence that will make it seem otherwise, Kentucky’s game with Missouri on Saturday is not the biggest game on the schedule, John Calipari said Friday.

“This is not the end-all game,” Coach Cal said. “It’s a big game because it’s the next one on our schedule.”

If you can forgive the “coach’s speak,” there is a point to what Calipari is saying.

As the regular season dwindles down and the opportunities for a Nerlens Noel-less UK team to notch a marquee win dry up, the magnitude of every remaining game for the Cats seems to grow in importance.

Factor in Missouri’s strong RPI ranking of 38, Ole Mississippi’s slipping season – the Rebels are Kentucky’s best win to date – and it appears as though UK won’t have a better opportunity outside of the season finale against Florida to force its way into the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s a big game,” freshman guard Archie Goodwin conceded. “I think this is definitely a game that we can make a statement in. We came back with a strong win with the other day after a loss at Tennessee. We’re just looking to keep building on what we’ve been doing.”

Now that the Cats have been able to breathe a sigh of relief following that midweek win, fans and pundits alike have built up the feeling of a big-time, almost must-win situation Saturday.

Calipari cautioned everyone to pump the brakes.

“Everybody’s talking about the NCAA Tournament,” Coach Cal said. “Did you all know it was a bell curve? It’s a bell curve. It is not, ‘Well, you’re not good, so you’re not in. He’s not, so he’s not in.’ There may be 20 teams from this year’s tournament that wouldn’t have got in last year’s tournament. It’s a bell curve. We just got to take care of business, play our best, get better, play game to game, not worry about what’s going on around us and do our thing.”

Calipari said he laughs when he hears everyone talking about this being the “biggest game” left on the schedule and that his 18-8 team needs to win out.

“Is anybody else out there like this or just Kentucky?” Coach Cal said. “I try to keep it away from the guys. Let’s just play basketball, get better.”

Feb 20, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) dunks the ball against the Vanderbilt Commodores in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt 74-70. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

And speaking of the NCAA Tournament, on Twitter, Jon Hale tweeted that  Joe Lunardi has UK among the First Four Out but he isn’t selecting the teams so who cares, right?

And while we are certainly no lock for the tourney, the Big Blue Nation doesn’t need to panic.  Not since 2009 has the reigning National champion missed the NCAA tournament the following season.  Thank you North Carolina.

And though we are still in the midst of this season, recruiting in college basketball doesn’t have time off and, as such, we have Julius Randle making some noise.  He has long been a top ranked UK target for 2013 class.   Julius Randle, has been blogging for USA Today High School that details intimately his recruitment and life every month and as you know, Randle has cut his list to six and UK is among them. With the addition of Marcus Lee, there has been rampant speculation that would sway Randle to seek playing time else where, Kansas in particular. Here are some of his thoughts:

Well, when I got to the airport Coach (Norm) Roberts picked me and my mom up in a Mercedes van. That was real nice. It’s about an hour drive from the airport to campus so I was definitely comfortable riding in that.

He took us straight to College GameDay and when I walked in the fans went absolutely crazy. Those fans were really loud. I mean those fans were just crazy. They might’ve been the best fans I’ve seen. They chanted all throughout the game and they were loud. I heard it pretty loud at N.C. State, but these guys were just loud.

Later that night, we all got together at Coach (Bill) Self’s house and had a crazy spread of food. It was good too. Everybody had a good time just hanging out and talking.

That was a great visit. Kansas really made a big impression on me. I know I’d have a legit chance to win a national championship there.

I haven’t set any dates to decide or anything like that just because I don’t know where I want to go.

But, like I said, I’m not gonna get stressed, I’m too happy to be back on the court.

Coach (Mark) Gottfried and Coach (Orlando) Early from N.C. State came in to see me the other day and we had a really good talk. They basically just wanted to answer any questions I might’ve had. It was cool.

I think, at this point, I’m gonna shut all of my visits with coaches down. I’ve got all the information now I’m gonna take time to process it all. So I won’t be meeting with any more coaches.

More with the 2013 Class, Adam Himmelsbach of the Courier-Journal published an interview with Craig Brownson, Head Coach of Travis High School in Richmond, Texas where the Harrison Twins play ball.

Andrew missed some time with a hamstring injury earlier this year. How did that affect them?

The practices with Andrew are just so different than when he’s not there. And in games, defenses would just load up on Aaron with a bunch of junk defenses.

What do you think they’re capable of at Kentucky next year?

I’d be surprised if they weren’t starting. They’ll definitely earn their share of playing time, and the NBA is definitely in their future if everything works out.

What impresses you most about them?

They have no sense of entitlement. They just want to be part of a team, and that’s very refreshing in this day and age.

It’s safe to say that I cannot wait to see them set their feet on the legendary floor of Rupp Arena later this year.  Wow.

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