Game 10: Wiltjer sparks Kentucky past Lipscomb 88-50

Kyle Wiltjer hit a shooting slump recently, and when he tried to rely on long-range shots to buoy his game, his total performance faded and his minutes dropped for Kentucky.

So the sophomore decided to work on it in two ways: Take more shots in the gym and focus more on rebounding than anything else during games.

It seems to have paid off Saturday. Wiltjer had his first career double-double, finishing with 23 points and a career-high 12 rebounds in Kentucky's 88-50 win over Lipscomb.

Wiltjer came off the bench for the first time this season - point guard Ryan Harrow took his spot in the starting five - but logged 24 minutes and was the key to Kentucky's offense. He finished 8 of 12 from the field and 7 of 9 from 3-point range.

''I don't care whether he made shots; he got 12 rebounds,'' Kentucky coach John Calipari said. ''We had to go in there and mix it up a little bit.''

Excluding a 7-of-11 3-point performance against Lafayette on Nov. 16, Wiltjer has shot 10 of 38 from deep this season. He was hot Saturday, though, making his first three 3-point attempts in the first half and equaling his highest scoring game of the season.

''Being a shooter, you just try not to think about previous games,'' Wiltjer said. ''Just go in the game and be confident, just have the same approach every game.''

Lipscomb (4-5) kept its deficit within single digits much of the first half until the Wildcats scored six straight points to close the half with a 43-29 lead.

But Kentucky (7-3) broke the game open in the second half by outscoring the Bisons 22-3 over a five-minute stretch. Wiltjer had six points in that stretch, and Harrow had four.

Game 9: Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin combine for 30 to lead Kentucky

John Calipari saw flashes of what he wants from Ryan Harrow. The Kentucky coach hopes to hear more from the point guard, too. Harrow posted season bests across the board Saturday as the defending national champions beat Portland 74-46 Saturday.

 The Wildcats (6-3) won their second in a row following a series of losses that dropped them out of The Associated Press' Top 25 poll for the first time under Calipari. Harrow, a sophomore transfer from North Carolina State, had eight points, six assists and four rebounds in 25 minutes.

His first season at Kentucky had gotten off to a shaky start when flulike symptoms and an undisclosed family issue forced him to miss four straight games. "I liked it," Calipari said. "He had two lapses of his old self. I absolutely jerked him out of the game because he's not playing that way." "The other parts of the game, I thought he did fine. Got to run the team a little better, like yelling out what we're doing. But he was good. It was great to see. I'm happy for him," he said.

Calipari is certain he needs a confident, poised point guard to win, and is counting on Harrow. Harrow confirmed Calipari's notion that he must be more vocal for Kentucky's success. Because of his high-pitched, nasal voice, that may require a bit of extra work, Harrow said.

"When I need to run something, I've got to be a little more vocal," Harrow said. "I feel like I'm yelling, but my yelling is like regular people's talking. I guess I've got to scream until I go hoarse."

Harrow said he's still adjusting to a few things, among which was playing defense for every second the way Calipari expects. As the season progresses and Kentucky's half-court offense develops under Harrow, he said he'll have a more clear picture of when he should shoot and when he should yield to his teammates.

Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin each scored 15 points for Kentucky. Julius Mays added 13 points and Kyle Wiltjer had 12. Wiltjer had struggled in Kentucky's last five games, shooting 4 of 27 from 3-point range. He countered his slump with a different approach against the Pilots, opting for higher-percentage shots. He went 5 of 8 from the field and 1 of 3 from behind the arc.


After loss, players abandon Twitter

Social media has given sports fans direct access to athletes that past generations lacked.

Disgruntled supporters could call into radio shows, leave comments on message boards and boo from the bleachers, but the growth of Twitter and other social media outlets have given that same group the opportunity to express its frustration without any filters or buffers.

After Kentucky suffered a 64-55 loss to Baylor Saturday – a loss that snapped the program’s 55-game winning streak and dropped the Wildcats from the Associated Press poll for the first time in John Calipari’s tenure -- a few players, including Willie Cauley-Stein, left Twitter.

On Monday, Cauley-Stein, a freshman center, said he made the decision due to “a bunch of negativity.” Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer and Julius Mays also “turned off” their Twitter feeds, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Jerry Tipton.

But Cauley-Stein also suggested that he’d considered the move prior to Saturday’s loss, per this video published by the Herald-Leader’s John Clay.

“You can’t say what you want to because it’s all monitored. So why do it? … It was a lot more fun having twitter as a high school kid.”

That last line says it all.

It’s not just the “negativity.” It’s the scrutiny, both internal and external, that’s deterred some players from using social media.

It’s definitely a double-edged sword.

Is this a good thing?


Struggling Kentucky falls out of the Top 25

Kentucky, a week after sliding from No. 3 to No. 8, fell completely out of The Associated Press' college basketball poll Monday, becoming the biggest single-week drop from the rankings since they were expanded to 25 teams in 1990.

It was also the first time since John Calipari became coach for the 2009-10 season that Kentucky's name didn't appear in the Top 25. Indiana, Duke and Michigan remained the top three teams.

Kentucky (4-3) lost to Notre Dame and Baylor last week, the latter a loss that snapped the Wildcats' 55-game home winning streak, the longest in the nation. Kentucky had been ranked in the last 61 polls, 11 of those weeks at No. 1.

The run started with the preseason poll of 2009-10, the start of the Calipari era when the Wildcats started young lineups which were usually gutted the next season by the NBA draft. The Wildcats won Kentucky's eighth national championship in April then had six players taken in the draft including Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as the first two picks.

Is it time to panic yet, Cats fans, or are these just growing pains?


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Top 5 Photos from 2012 Championship Run

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