A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Cats glad to be home to open NCAA Tournament, want to make history by advancing to next round

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer For the first time in more than a decade, the Kentucky baseball team will open the NCAA baseball tournament at home. The Wildcats (39-20) missed out on landing one of eight coveted national seeds, but Kentucky will host a four-team regional beginning Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium in a four-team, double-elimination tournament. Kentucky first-year baseball...

Keith Taylor: Final Four should be a fun event, even without Cats on the big stage

Kentucky isn’t in the Final Four this year. Neither is Louisville or any other instate school for that matter. However, that doesn’t mean college basketball’s final weekend won’t lack for excitement as four schools — two of them newcomers to the party — battle for the title this weekend. Defending national champion North Carolina, Oregon, Gonzaga and South Carolina will take the big stage...

North Carolina’s Williams admires Calipari’s ability to recruit and win with one-and-done approach

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer John Calipari has no secret ingredient when it comes to recruiting. The Kentucky coach simply likes to think outside the box. “I think probably throughout my whole career, I’ve been disruptive,” he said. “Like, every once in a while, I speak my mind and walk into different leagues, jobs, have to build and have to disrupt. With this (one-and-done...

Elite Eight loss to Tar Heels can’t overshadow a particularly stellar season for Calipari’s Wildcats

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer Kentucky saved its best for last despite coming up short against North Carolina in the NCAA South Region finals. The Wildcats won 14 of their last 15 games and finished with a 32-6 record, marking the fourth time John Calipari’s tenure Kentucky has won 30 or more games in a single season. Kentucky avenged an earlier-season loss to UCLA in the regional...

Heartbreaker: North Carolina’s last-second shot denies Wildcats a return trip to Final Four

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer MEMPHIS — Kentucky gave top-seeded North Carolina all it could handle, but couldn’t beat the Tar Heels for a second time this season in another thrilling finish between the two storied programs. Malik Monk tied the score with a long three with seven seconds to play only to see Carolina break the hearts of UK fans everywhere by canning the game-winner...

Keith Taylor: North Carolina all that’s standing in the way of return trip to Final Four for Cats, Calipari

MEMPHIS — Kentucky coach John Calipari is along for the ride, a joyful journey that has his Wildcats within one game of reaching the Final Four for the third time in the past four years. In order to get one of four elusive tickets to the national semifinals next week in Phoenix, Kentucky will have to get past top-seeded North Carolina in the South Region finals Sunday in what figures to be another...

UK’s Hawkins playing for his supportive hometown

Kentucky senior Dominique Hawkins is a 2013 graduate of Madison Central High School (Keith Taylor Photo) MEMPHIS — Kentucky senior Dominique Hawkins knows his career at Kentucky is winding down. He just doesn’t want it to end this weekend. “I believe we can reach the national championship game,” Hawkins said. “I haven’t been thinking about (my career coming to and end) lately. It’s been...

Calipari talks about his time at Memphis, but he’s more concerned about matchup against UCLA

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer MEMPHIS — John Calipari hasn’t forgotten his time at Memphis. Calipari, who compiled a 214-68 record in nine seasons as coach of the Tigers, had a reception with a “couple hundred people,” many of them close friends, Wednesday night and reminisced about the good times as his Kentucky team prepares to take on UCLA in the South Region semifinals...

Four of nation’s best teams gather in Rupp Arena for NCAA Women’s Regional tournament

Notre Dame, Stanford, Ohio State and Texas – all ranked among the nation’s top-14 teams – are headed to Lexington for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional, set for Friday and Sunday in Rupp Arena. Sweet 16 action begins with a doubleheader Friday. Notre Dame takes on Ohio State in the opener at 7 p.m., followed by Stanford vs. Texas, 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game. ...

Bearcats’ coach likes UCLA’s chances, Cats focused on themselves going into powerhouse showdown

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin believes UCLA has the right tools in place to make a run at the national title. The Cincinnati coach came away impressed with the Bruins following a 79-67 loss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday night. Even though UCLA coach Steve Alford has been mentioned as a possible successor to Tom Crean at Indiana, Cronin...

NCAA Tournament: Wildcats reject determined Wichita State upset bid, reach Sweet Sixteen

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer INDIANAPOLIS — Malik Monk gained a reputation as a scorer. He may end the season as Kentucky’s best defender. Mired in a shooting slump since the postseason began, Monk has found other ways to contribute, especially on defense and it was his block on Wichita State’s Markis McDuffie’s 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining that enabled the second-seeded...

NCAA Tournament: Past won’t dictate the present when Cats, Shockers meet in tourney rematch

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer INDIANAPOLIS — Kentucky and Wichita State aren’t rivals, but based on the previous meeting between the two schools, it’s hard to believe they’ve only met once on the hardwood. Three years ago, the Wildcats defeated the Shockers 78-76 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in St. Louis, putting an end to Wichita State’s perfect season...

Jamie Vaught: Cool customer at the FT line, sophomore Morris saves Cats’ life in tourney

Some leftovers from Kentucky women’s NCAA hoops tournament this weekend in Lexington…. — UK heralded seniors Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator were the dominating stars as they gunned in a combined 52 points – which is 71.2 percent of the total team scoring – in leading the Wildcats to a 73-70 win over a pesky Belmont squad Friday afternoon at historic Memorial Coliseum. Akhator also...

Keith Taylor: Cats haven’t reached peak, but winning is all that matters this time of year

INDIANAPOLIS — Northern Kentucky gave Kentucky its best punch. The Wildcats overcome the Norse and survived and moved on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament late Friday night. Just as he does each season, Kentucky coach John Calipari went into the prestigious event with “an open mind” and wasn’t surprised Northern Kentucky gave his team a battle, even though the Wildcats were heavily...

NCAA Tournament: Kentucky overcomes challenge from Northern Kentucky in opener

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer INDIANAPOLIS — Northern Kentucky wasn’t intimidated by Kentucky. The Norse were simply overmatched. De’Aaron Fox scored 19 points to lead the second-seeded Wildcats to a 79-70 victory Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky outscored Northern Kentucky 15-3 in the final six minutes of the second half to build a double-digit...

Billy Reed: Congrats to Norse for milestone, but do any of the regionals have a shot to make Final Four?

It’s a terrific achievement for Northern Kentucky University to make the NCAA Division-I Basketball Tournament the first year its team is eligible. But I also wonder what the commonwealth’s other regional universities are thinking right now about the future of their D-I basketball programs. Unlike Kentucky and Louisville, the regional universities do not have self-sustaining athletics programs...

Cats respect NKU, want to keep winning streak going against Norse in NCAA opener

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer INDIANAPOLIS — De’Aaron Fox has never played in the NCAA Tournament but won’t be worried about his lack of experience when Kentucky takes on Northern Kentucky Friday night. The freshman guard has an idea of what to expect when he steps on the big stage for the first time in the South Region encounter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and is approaching...

Keith Taylor: Repeating a tough task for Villanova as NCAA Tournament ushers in March Madness

Let the madness begin. The NCAA Tournament began Tuesday night as eight teams battled for four coveted spots in the 64-team field and there’s certain to be plenty of headaches, triumphs and heartbreaks along the way. It happens every season and this year will be no exception. Kansas (Midwest), Gonzaga (West), Villanova (East) and North Carolina are the top seeds and predicted to be preparing for...

Kentucky not looking beyond NKU, takes game-by-game approach into NCAA Tournament

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer Despite the loaded South Region bracket, Kentucky isn’t worried. The Wildcats are taking a game-by-game approach into the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky (29-5), the No. 2 seed behind North Carolina, faces newcomer Northern Kentucky University in the opening round of the tourney at 9:30 p.m. Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Kentucky coach...

Cats crack AP Top 10, latest poll boosts NCAA resume

Kentucky moved back into the Associated Press Top 10 and is ranked No. 9 in the newest Top 25 released Monday. The Wildcats (24-5, 14-2 Southeastern Conference) are ranked below instate rival Louisville, which is No. 8 in the poll. In addition to moving back into the Top 10 for the first time since climbing as high as No. 4 earlier this year, the latest ranking boosts UK’s NCAA Tournament resume. Three...