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Mizzou’s rematch with Kentucky happens with the Wildcats on the upswing

Whether or not we get to see Michael Porter Jr, this is a tough game for the Tigers to pull out.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Life isn’t always roses when you’re a blue blood. Sure you’re going to be good every year which is nice. But when you’re at the top, you get everyone’s best each and every night.

This year in the SEC has proven long downtrodden programs bringing their best is much better than it used to be. Kentucky even being slightly down coupled with the rest of the league being on the upswing has left Kentucky in a six-way tie for third place at 8-7.

Coming into this season John Calipari had never lost more than six conference games. He also hasn’t run into the kind of resistance in league as he has this year and Kentucky has struggled relative to expectations.

We’ve spent plenty of time in the preseason and previewing the last game talking about the young Wildcats. So I don’t plan on doing as much today. If you want to know all about what to expect from Kentucky, read those pieces. In fact, here are ALL the links for Kentucky...

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

So a quick primer goes like this:


  • PG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander vs Kassius Robertson
  • CG: Hamidou Diallo vs Cullen VanLeer
  • WING: Kevin Knox vs Jordan Barnett
  • CF: Wenyen Gabriel vs Kevin Puryear
  • POST: Nick Richards vs Jeremiah Tilmon

Kentucky is deep and talented, but they do struggle at times with having a guy they can go to for a bucket. Kevin Knox has become the defacto go to guy despite not being a good fit for it. He’s been the leading scorer most of the year but he’s prone to disappearing at times.

The toughest matchup for Mizzou the first time around was Gilgeous-Alexander, a natural combo guard who tortured Mizzou defenders with drives and rim attacks. Though he struggled from the floor, whoever gets this matchup has their hands full.

Mizzou succeeded in the last matchup by limiting UK’s opportunities in the full court and making things really tough in the half court. And Kentucky bricked their way to a healthy road loss.

To win in Rupp, Mizzou is going to have to be even better defensively. Because it will be a lot easier for a 4-0 run to turn into a 10-0 run with the young Wildcats playing at home. They’re going to need good performances from Kassius Robertson and Jordan Barnett. They’re going to need a sense of urgency from Jontay Porter and Jeremiah Tilmon. This Tiger team can win in Rupp Arena, but they need to be the confident team we’ve seen take down Alabama and Tennessee, less the sloppy version who showed up against Ole Miss.

Moving on.


NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Oregon State Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The mess with College Basketball and FBI got a little more interesting yesterday with some reporting from YahooSports and ESPN. The first ball dropped from Yahoo:

Documents and bank records obtained in discovery during the federal investigation into the underbelly of college basketball detail in meticulous fashion the expenditures of prominent former NBA agent Andy Miller, his former associate Christian Dawkins and his agency, ASM Sports. They include expense reports and balance sheets that list cash advances, as well as entertainment and travel expenses for high school and college prospects and their families.

Yahoo Sports viewed hundreds of pages of documents from the years-long probe that had federal authorities monitoring multiple targets and intercepting more than 4,000 calls across 330 days, providing a clear-eyed view into the pervasive nature of the game’s underground economy.

Yahoo had names, and some current ones. Dennis Smith Jr, Isaiah Whitehead, Bam Adebayo, Markelle Fultz, Wendell Carter, Eric Davis, Chimezie Metu, Collin Sexton, Kevin Knox, Eric Davis, Josh Jackson, Miles Bridges.

This is all crap you see. These are payments of mostly middling amounts of money that equate to meals and hotel stays for an agent to pay a visit to prospective clients. Dennis Smith Jr’s salacious amount of $73,500 is roughly 1% of his rookie contract with the Mavs. Miles Bridges mom apparently got like $400. Tom Izzo makes over $4 million a season.

Seeing my old high school teammate and former Missouri Tiger Johnnie Parker mentioned in this for his mentorship of Chimezie Metu is another joke. The life of an AAU basketball coach, particularly one living in Southern California is not a lucrative one. They apparently received $2000.

NCAA Basketball: Houston Baptist at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Like, this money is nothing, and these numbers are coming from a wannabe sports agent. Sorry if I don’t get too upset about anyone getting a few hundred dollars when the NCAA is a multi-billion dollar industry.

The ESPN story was a little different though:

FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone conversations between Arizona coach Sean Miller and Christian Dawkins, a key figure in the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption, in which Miller discussed paying $100,000 to ensure star freshman Deandre Ayton signed with the Wildcats, sources familiar with the government’s evidence told ESPN.

According to people with knowledge of the FBI investigation, Miller and Dawkins, a runner working for ASM Sports agent Andy Miller, had multiple conversations about Ayton. When Dawkins asked Miller if he should work with assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson to finalize their agreement, Miller told Dawkins he should deal directly with him when it came to money, the sources said.

The telephone calls between Miller and Dawkins were among 3,000 hours of conversations intercepted from Dawkins’ phone by the FBI.

Deandre Ayton is being forced by the NBA to choose either playing overseas or playing in college after high school. Being drafted isn’t an option despite him being the likely #1 overall draft pick this upcoming draft. So Arizona getting him for $100,000 is a pretty damn good deal.

That Sean Miller was dumb enough to get caught actually making these phone calls... well, he obviously missed the memo on how it works. So dumb on him.

That said, if you think Miller was explaining how he was going to pay Ayton for 3,000 hours well... I’ve got a bridge to sell yada yada yada.

Three thousand hours of conversations is bad news for college coaches. And Miller is likely just the tip of the iceberg. I caught some flack from some Illinois fans for this tweet:

Truth is, the flack might be deserved. We have no idea if Missouri is absolved (we have a pretty good idea Kim Anderson wasn’t buying players but that’s another point), we also have no idea if Illinois is involved. So literally every fan of a division 1 college basketball team should not be throwing stones right now.

If players from Wichita State, Murray State and Norfolks State were mentioned in all this, I feel safe saying nobody is absolved until we have all the information out in public. And even then everyone else is probably guilty too just because everything is bad.