Calipari winning at Kentucky

By Chris Shores

John Calipari is bringing Kentucky back to its winning ways quickly in his first year as head coach. The former Memphis coach led the Wildcats to an 8-0 start and a No. 4 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

Kentucky solidified itself as contenders with its 68-66 win against North Carolina last week. But the challenges will continue to come for the Wildcats in the coming weeks. Calipari and his team will take on 14th-ranked Connecticut at Madison Square Garden tonight. They will then travel to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers, who have only lost once at home this season.

Freshman guard John Wall earned Southeastern Conference Player of the Week for the third time last week after averaging 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 2.6 steals per game. The only time this season that another player won the honor was when fellow Kentucky freshman guard Eric Bledsoe did in the first week of the season.

Red Raiders debut in Top 25

Texas Tech earned votes for 23rd in the AP Top 25 Poll after an undefeated start. The Red Raiders (8-0) won a spot in the poll for the first time since 2005, thanks to an overtime victory against Washington.

On Dec. 3, Texas Tech defeated the then-12th ranked Huskies, 99-92. Forward Mike Singletary (13.9 points per game) hit a 3-point shot at the end of regulation.

Red Raiders fans, thinking the game over, swarmed the court, only to be told that the shot had not counted because time had expired. Texas Tech eventually won it decisively in the overtime period.

Junior John Roberson played a key role in the victory with 25 points, two rebounds, seven assists and two steals in the win. On Monday, Roberson earned the Big 12 Player of the Week.

The Red Raiders also took on Texas Christian University last night. Entering the game, the Horned Frogs were 5-3, with three of their victories coming at their home court in Fort Worth. 

Following the matchup against TCU, Texas Tech does not play again until Dec. 19 at Wichita State.

Tar Heels survive weekend

Last week, defending champion North Carolina had the difficult task of taking on two top-10 teams in a span of five days. The Tar Heels split their games against Michigan State and Kentucky, but fell one spot in the ranking this week, from 10th to 11th.

On Dec. 1, North Carolina (7-2) once again defeated Michigan State, 89-82, in a rematch of last year’s championship matchup. The Tar Heels jumped out early and took a 50-34 lead into halftime.

But the Spartans closed the gap in the second half and narrowed the lead to six points several times in the final minutes. Forward Ed Davis and guard Larry Drew II, both sophomores, each had career highs for points in the win.

The Tar Heels’ next matchup did not have a similar outcome as they lost a road game to undefeated Kentucky, 68-66. In a reversal of their previous game, the Tar Heels found themselves down by double digits at halftime and had to play catch-up in the second half. Wildcat freshman John Wall hit two key free-throws with 4.3 seconds left in the game to seal the win for Kentucky.

North Carolina will take on Presbyterian at home on Dec. 12 but then will have to prepare for undefeated Texas on Dec. 19.

Chris Shores can be reached at [email protected]