OSCAR L. COMBS
CATS' PAUSE EDITOR/PUBLISHER
If Ya Think 'Bout It. . .'Cats Could Be 2-2
Undefeated, yet so close to what could have been an unsettling 2-2 beginning in a season of much promise.
That phrase is for the losers of the world, those who prescribe "wait 'til next year" theories.
In fact. Kentucky is 4-0, ranked No. 1 in the country and is headed toward a 7-0 start out of the gates before it collides with SEC rival Vanderbilt to ring out the old year later this month.
Oh, there are some games ahead, but none of the next three opponents has the firepower to beat the Wildcats, even on the worst of nights.
Kentucky should successfully defend its UKIT title this weekend against the likes of Miami of Ohio. Middle Tennessee and North Carolina-Charlotte. Miami has no chance of upsetting the 'Cats. In the championship game, UK should be a big favorite. Either MTSU or UNCC could upset the 'Cats, perhaps on their homecourts, but not in Rupp Arena.
And when Alaska comes to town. Well, the Seawolves have about as much chance of beating the Big Blue as a snow has a chance of staying cold you know where.
I mean, if UK can survive all that Denny Crum's Cardinals threw at it Saturday and still win, then the Big Blue should be all right at Rupp this winter.
There were some so-called experts around these parts who predicted a big blowout last Saturday. Some reporters were even suggesting it could challenge last year's 34-point blowout at Freedom Hall.
Either they didn't know much about the game, it was wishful thinking or they were trying to help con Sutton and his Wildcats into thinking they didn't have to be prepared.
I tend to believe that reporters where hard-pressed for story angles of this event tagged the "Dream Game" several years ago.
Throughout the week's buildup, none of these reporters who suggested a blowout was in the offing took time to report what the real experts in Vegas were saying about the game.
Although the big dailies report odds on games these days, it wasn't until Saturday morning that reporters got around to mentioning that the official line had UK an eight- (not 80-, not 50-, not 35-, not even a 10-) point favorite.
My friends, that isn't a very high margin for a No. 1-ranked team playing an unrank-ed team on the No. 1-ranked team's home floor.
It's safe to assume then Kentucky was about to be set up for the ambush.
The Wildcats themselves helped along the notion after scrambling ahead by as many as 16 points in the first half before Crum's Cardinals came roaring back.
Some people claim this Louisville team isn't very talented. C'mon sports fans, let's have a little honesty. What I'd like to know is if the Cards were looking past Notre Dame a week ago and really had their eyes on Kentucky?
Back to the Cards' talent. You gonna tell me Pervis Ellison, Herb Crook, Kenny Payne and Keith Williams can't play basketball? Why don't you ask to see their championship rings of two years ago? They didn't come out
And they're well-coached. Crum is one of the nation's best and he doesn't have to prove his credentials either.
Still, there were some out there to kept yak-king about a blowout. If this series is played 20 years, you'll not have a blowout more than once every six or eight. And you'll never see the same team get blown out two years in a row. Traditional rivalries among powerhouses aren't played that way.
Fortunately for Kentucky, the Wildcats played to win down the stretch, not to keep from losing. Sure, there were three vital turnovers by veterans, but when the chips were on the line, the 'Cats found a way to win, and to stay undefeated.
When next December rolls around and the two clubs meet in Louisville, it'll be interesting to see if the media expects a Louisville rout since the Cards almost upset the 'Cats at Rupp Arena when UK was ranked No. 1.
I gotta hunch it'll be another close one.
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It'll be some top-notch high school basketball this Saturday at the annual Coca-Cola Thoroughbred Classic in Rupp Arena with action set to get underway at 9 a.m.
Highlighting the card will be Toledo (Ohio) Macomber-Whitney High and its junior sena-tion Jimmy Jackson, rated the nation's top junior by All-Star Sports Publications, Orlando Lightfoot's Chattanooga (Tenn.) High and UK signee Sean Woods and his Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral team.
In the first game. Lexington Catholic meets Lexington Tates Creek followed by Scott County and Chattanooga High. The third game has Lexington Lafayette taking on Cathedral. The final contest pits Macomber-Whitney against Lexington Bryan Station.
Plenty of excellent tickets are available at the Rupp Arena ticket office or Lafayette High school.
This classic has produced many great collegiate stars in the past, such as Kentucky's
Winston Bennett, Eric Manuel and Richard Madison; Duke's Danny Ferry; Georgetown's Reggie Williams and Georgia Tech's Duane Ferrell.
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Making his final official appearance in Lexington as commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, Col. Harvey Schiller attended the Kentucky-Louisville game Saturday and said he expects nothing but big-time progress for college basketball.
Schiller flew to Lexington for the game with associate commissioner Jack Guthrie.
"I wanted to see Kentucky play at least one game before I leave office," he told TCP, "and I would have preferred a conference game because we have such a great conference, but I don't think I could pick a better one this this game if it .couldn't be a conference game."
Schiller said he leaves the SEC with be sadness and fondness. He said the opportunity tojoin the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) was too great an opportunity to
His big achievement with the SEC has been the new promoting and marketing approach he launched upon his arrival of just over a year ago.
Schiller says he believes the U.S. will regain its basketball supremecy in international basketball at the next Olympics.
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HITS AND MISSES . . . People want different things for different reasons for Christmas, but few would have the wish of sophomore Derrick Millera championship ring and that everyone would quit asking him when he is going to leave the University of Kentucky. Said Miller after the Louisville game with a wink: "I'm not going anywhere." . . . One of the first persons in the UK locker
Jackson (Above), Woods
room after Kentucky's 76-75 win over Louisville Saturday was retired UK president Dr. Otis Singletary, who congratulated the Wildcats on their fifth victory in six tries since that historic decision to reinstate the series back in the spring of 1983. Dr. Singletary said he had no idea the series would turn into the one-sided affair it has, but jokingly added that he'd be happy to take credit if anyone wanted to pass it along to him . . . Two other familiar faces in the crowd were former Kentucky governor Happy Chandler and Gov. Wallace Wilkinson, who was just inaugurated last week. Neither denied their strong loyalty to the University of Kentucky . . . Don't be surprised if WHAS Radio rejoins the Kentucky football and basketball radio networks next season. There have been several moves and meetings about their return and it now appears a deal is near-ing. But don't expect any leaks of the details until a pact is signed, sealed and delivered. What this means as far as UK's other 50.000-watt. clear channel stationWLW in Cincinnatiis unknown. And what it means to the current Louisville outletWAVG Radioisn't known other than the fact that WAVG Radio will have UK sports again next year, at least on a simulcast basis . . . One of the big hangups in recent years has been WHAS' use of UK's self-proclaimed critic, Jock Sutherland. There are some around UK who seem to think that WHAS will never retain sole rights to UK games as long as Sutherland is permitted to have an open throttle against UK. Of course, WHAS' ultimate goal is to have the 'Cats exclusively. That controversy was stirred again last week when both the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader each published features on Sutherland and his dislike for UK fans . . . For those rabid UK fans who didn't get the opportunity to purchase a Big Four Classic game program, which was produced by Host Communications, you can still obtain one by mailing $6 (which includes postage and handling) to:
Big Four Program P.O. Box 1988-A Lexington, Ky. 40593-1988
If you're a collector, you won't want to miss this one. It ranks right up there with the Final Four programs which are also produced by Host Communications. . . Speaking of programs, Host Communications has just made the Lexington Civic Center (which operates Rupp Arena Arena) $325,000 richer. That's the right fee the Center will received from Host over the next five years to produce and sell game programs for UK basketball games. Host paid $43,000 for rights to the programs this season. Next season, Host proposed to pay over $60,000 with the fee going as high as $70,000 in the last year of the five-year deal. Unfortunately, none of those dollars go to the University of Kentucky. As part of UK's agreement with the Center for use of Rupp Arena, all profits and rights of game programs go to the Lexington Center . . . We'd like to invite you to catch a one-hour television special this Saturday on WLEX-TV, Channel 18 in Lexington at 7 p.m., just before the championship of the UKIT. Earl
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