#18 Kentucky Women stun #6 Mississippi State

Patients from UK Children’s Hospital join the team for pre-game introductions
(photo credit Tonia Witt – SVA)

By 11 year old Lukas Witt

#18 Kentucky Women’s Basketball upset the #6 Mississippi State Bulldogs at Memorial Coliseum taking their record to 19-5 (8-4 SEC) on hand for the game were special guests from UK Children’s Hospital who were able to be introduced with the Kentucky starting lineup and enjoy the Cats 73-62 win. The Bulldogs went down 6-0 before Kentucky’s Coach Mitchell called a timeout to re-group, after that it didn’t take long for the Cats to get on track and they would go on to lead the game for 36:21. Kentucky kicked off Sophomore Guard Rhyne Howard’s National Player of the Year campaign this week and she did not disappoint finishing with 26 points and surpassing her 1,000th point of her career, getting there 2nd quickest in program history. Howard also added 10 rebounds getting her fifth double-double this season. Chasity Patterson added 15 points and 3 rebounds in just 19 minutes of play and Jaida Roper added 14 points and 5 assists. Ogechi Anyagaligbo added 4 points and 3 rebounds, Sabrina Haines had 3 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals late in the game, KeKe McKinney did not score but had 4 assists and 2 rebounds, Tatyana Wyatt added 8 points and 6 rebounds, and Amanda Paschal added 3 points. Blair Greene and Nae Nae Cole both played but did not score. Kentucky returns to action on Thursday, visiting Oxford to take on Ole Miss. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on SEC Network Plus.

One-on-One with True Blue Customs

Life With Lukas (11 year old Lukas Witt)

Billy Hobbs, owner of True Blue Customs sat down with me to talk about his passion for custom sneakers. As you will see painting sneakers is more than a job to Hobbs, it’s friendships and causes that it all worthwhile. Hobbs has been customizing full time for about 5 years. He has done work for lots of athletes from elementary to the pros and celebrities and everyday normal people like me.

my shoes by Hobbs (Lukas X brand, Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker, Stephan Jackson customs for Big 3 and UK heat)

Lukas: What’s your favorite shoe to customize?

Billy: “I would have to say Air Force 1, cause I do so many of them and it’s a simple, it’s an all white base shoe and it’s a leather shoe so that is probably one of my favorites”

Lukas: What shoe has gotten the most traffic on social media?

Billy: “Hmmm, it’s kinda hard to tell, some of the Hype Beast type shoe’s I’ve done. I’ve done a couple cause themed, I’ve done a couple of Louis Vuitton that have gotten kinda crazy, but usually anything the UK Basketball guys wear or anybody like Willie Cauley-Stein or Devin Booker anytime those guys wear my stuff those are usually the ones that get crazy looks?

(top right: custom for Markelle Fultz, bottom right: UK team shoe;
top left custom for Stephen Jackson; bottom left: custom for Justin Timberlake)

Lukas: What’s the most difficult shoe to work with?

Billy: “Meshes, like a lot of the newer shoes are weird cause they have weird materials so they are hard to work with so mesh, synthetics it is a different process you have to sand them and do different additives to make sure they hold up”

Lukas: What project has allowed for a great friendship that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible?

Billy: “I am going to have to go back to Willie Cauley-Stein, when I did the gold Jordan 11 for Willie, I mean I did a bunch of stuff for him, little small stuff. But the gold Jordan 11 that he wore in 2015 I believe it was 2014-2015, we we 38 and we aren’t gonna talk about that. They were white with gold patent leather, those were probably the biggest one and since then Will and I have kept tight and I do stuff for him all the time. I went and visited him last week, so it’s a pretty good friendship”

2014-2015 Jordan 11 custom for Willie Cauley-Stein

Lukas: I know you’ve always wanted to do a custom shoe FOR Kobe. Since his death who are some people who have reached out for some sole inspiration?

Billy: “I’ve had a bunch of people reach out and want to do a Kobe tribute, Willie Cauley-Stein was one of the main ones. But I have had a lot of other clients, I’ve got a bunch of baseball guys since MLB is getting ready to start up. I have a bunch of those guys I will be doing here in the next couple weeks. There have been a ton but I am not really taking a whole bunch of them because I just don’t feel right so I am actually taking so money from that and donating the money to the MambaOn 3 Fund”

Kobe customs for Willie Cauley-Stein and several UK basketball players

Lukas: What’s the most inspirational shoe you’ve done and why?

Billy: “That’s a good one, probably the Kobe pair I did for Willie (Willie Cauley Stein) a couple weeks ago because the significance of it with Kobe passing away. He was a big part of me being a Lakers fan for the last 20 years and I know he touched a lot of people not only with basketball but with the community, pretty much everyone loved Kobe”

Kobe customs for Willie Cauley-Stein

Lukas: What has been the most difficult shoe project?

Billy: “Difficult. Portraits are always difficult. That has kinda been my kryptonite is what I tell people, but I am slowly starting to get better, like my portraits are starting to look more like the actual people. Like the Kobe pair for Willie, I was pleased and surprised myself. At least I am not painting kids pictures and they look like little Chucky dolls, so that is always good”

Lukas: What’s a project you would like to be a part of?

Billy: “I would love to be able to do something else for All-Star Weekend, I would love to be a part of that with Jordan Brand and Nike and do something cool, like I know last year I had Hami (Hamidou Diallo) in the Dunk Contest but I would love to be able to be there and doing something there. I think it would be awesome”

Hami wins Dunk Contest at 2019 NBA All-Star Game

Lukas: When people hear True Blue Customs and Billy Hobbs what do you hope they will remember?

Billy: “I hope they think they remember me as an artist that pushed the envelope a little bit and did what I could to make people smile and make people happy and I want people to look at me and say hey he was doing it for the right reasons”

Stay tuned to Life with Lukas for more stories and interviews.

#15 Kentucky Women squeak past Alabama

Jaida Roper drives to the basket (photo credit Tonia Witt – SVA)

By Lukas Witt (11 years old)

#15 Kentucky Women (18-4) come away with win against Alabama (13-10) 66-62 at Memorial Coliseum. Rhyne Howard was out for her third game with a fractured finger she injured against Auburn late in January, she was seen without her cast and expects to return mid-February which would be just in time for when Mississippi State comes to town for a big SEC battle. The Cats got off to a slow start offensively but won the rebounding edge early on against a bigger more physical Alabama team. Sabrina Haines finished with 14 points, going 4-of-7 from 3 with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Senior Jaida Roper scored 10 points with 5 assists and 2 steals. Chasity Patterson scored 11 points with 4 assists and 3 rebounds. KeKe McKinney scored 9 points in the game with 6 rebounds and 5 blocks. Kentucky committed just 6 turnovers while forcing Alabama to 17 on the night. The Wildcats will return to action Sunday, Feb. 9 when they travel to No. 25 Arkansas for a 4 p.m. ET tip on ESPN2. 

#15 Cats come out on top in late night Bluegrass battle

Cats walking out of Rupp with a win (photo credit Mike Cyrus -SVA)

By Lukas Witt (11 years old)

#15 Kentucky gets big play from key Cats in a 80-72 late night win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs in from of 20,000+ fan at Rupp. Nick Richards grabbed his 10th double-double of the season last night dropping a career high 27 points 25 of those coming in the second half and 11 rebounds. In all of his previous games for the Cats before this season Richards had only one double-double, he has turned it up to another level and has 10 on the season. Immanuel Quickley finished with 21 points and went 14-14 from the free throw line. Nate Sestina who had been struggling lately finished with 6 points going 3-5 from the field and grabbed 3 rebounds in just 15 minutes of play. Then there was EJ Montgomery who we all have been waiting on to be that guy, well he was that guy against the Bulldogs. Montgomery showed fight and determination as he finished with 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals, more important he was active on both ends of the floor creating for his teammates. The Cats went 31-36 from the free throw line with 86.1% and had just 8 turnovers. The story of the night was 3-pt shooting, we often hear Coach Cal say you can miss you just can’t miss them all, well they almost did, hitting just 1-10 a slim 10% from behind the arch. Kentucky visits border rival Tennessee on Saturday, looking to end a two-game slide against the Volunteers for a 1:00 tip and can been seen on CBS.

#13 Cats in a dog fight against Tigers

Howard fights for late game turnover (photo credit: Tonia Rice Witt – SVA)

By Lukas Witt (11 years old)

#13 Kentucky Wildcats faced a dog fight against the Auburn Tigers at Memorial Coliseum but come out on top 68-61. The Cats got out to a fast start with a couple 3’s from Blair Green and lead most of the way until they ran into a roadblock the 3rd quarter as Auburn went on a 12-0 run. The Tigers never let Rhyne Howard get in a groove throughout the game as she finished with just 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Howard went out for a short time late in the game with what seemed to be a dislocated finger on her left hand, that didn’t stop her from returning to the game and hitting a clutch basket and free throws late in the game. At one free throw break you could see teammate Amanda Paschal helping Howard by tying her shoe. KeKe McKinney was back after 3 games out from what we were told was a migraine. McKinney finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds. The red-shirt senior transfer Sabrina Haines took over late in the game and finished with 17 points and 5 rebounds. The Tigers led in almost every stat except turnovers and the Cats points off turnovers and late free throws capped the win. The win against the Tigers takes the Cats record to 10-0 in Memorial. Kentucky returns to action on Thursday, visiting Missouri in Columbia. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.

Kentucky holds off Georgia

Keion Brooks Jr. making his mark (photo credit Mont Dawson – SVA)

By Lukas Witt (11 years old)

#15 Kentucky pushed their record to 14-4 overall (5-1 in SEC) and grabbed a 89-79 win in their second meeting against the Georgia Bulldogs. Kentucky started out hot as they jumped to a 6-0 lead. Ashton Hagans continues to prove why he is one of the best point guards in the country, he finished with 23 points, 4 steals, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds as he ran the show for the Cats. Nick Richards had another solid and impressive outing finishing with 20 points, 3 blocks, and 8 rebounds. Immanuel Quickley finish with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists and another all-around solid game. Keion Brooks continues to get better each game, he finished with 8 points and 5 boards. EJ Montgomery is beginning to find his role and ended with 10 points, 1 steal, 2 blocks, and 6 rebounds. Kentucky was terrific from the free-throw line as the went 26-33 (78.8%). The Cats committed just 11 turnovers while dishing out 15 assists. The Cats will have to learn how to maintain their command late in games if they wanna make a run at another SEC title. Kentucky’s next game will be against Texas Tech at Lubbock Texas in the SEC Big 12 challenge, this game can be found on ESPN January 25th at 6 PM.

Kentucky stays perfect in SEC play

Celebrations (photo credit Mont Dawson)

By Lukas Witt (11 years old)

#14 Kentucky Basketball knocks off Alabama 76-67 at home to grab 1000th SEC victory and 4th win in a row in front of 20,407 at Rupp. Big man Nick Richards is still letting everyone know who owns the paint in Kentucky with 5 blocked shots. Richards finished with his seventh double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Ashton Hagans was near a triple-double with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals to boot. EJ Montgomery’s stat line isn’t super impressive but the Cats were most productive when he was on the floor. Montgomery finished with 8 points (4-6 from the floor) and 6 rebounds. All eyes were on Sophomore Immanuel Quickley as he continues to play off the bench and averaging 18.8 points per game during the win streak, this game was no different he finished with 19 points and 5-6 from behind the arch, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. It looks like the Cats took a lesson from the UK Women earlier in the week as they finished 9-15 from behind the arch a season best 60%, they will need that consistency as they get deeper into SEC play.

Kentucky plays at South Carolina on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., the game will be televised on the SEC Network. 

#14 Kentucky women set school 3-pt record in win over Alabama

Howard with career game (photo credit Kentucky WBB)

By Lukas Witt (11 years old)

#14 Kentucky Women’s Basketball was on the road at Alabama for SEC play and was able to pick up a win 81-71 with DOMINATE play by Rhyne Howard, we will talk about her more in a minute. The Cats trailed much of the first half before getting things going. Kentucky got hot from behind the arch hitting 16 of 31 and setting a new school record with most 3s in a game. Kentucky also came up big in the steal department finishing with 10 as a team. Sabrina Haines continues to be solid on both ends of the floor, she finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds. Amanda Paschal took care of business and finished with 10 points and 5 assists but all eyes were on Sophomore Rhyne Howard who was recently names Player of the Week. We could maybe already tag her Player of the Year, for the second straight game she set a career high with 43 points, tying a school record, following up her 37 against Tennessee at home. Howard’s stat line didn’t stop there she added 9 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, 3 steals and 5 rebounds. The win takes Kentucky to 13-2 overall and 2-1 in a tight SEC Conference. Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, visiting Gainesville to take on Florida. Tipoff is set for noon ET and the game can be seen on SEC Network Plus.

Rhyne Howard reaches another milestone in win over Tennessee

Howard drives to basket (photo credit Tonia Rice Witt)

By Lukas Witt (11 years old)

#13 Kentucky Women’s Basketball bounces back after a tough loss on the road at #4 South Carolina to win in front of a big crowd at Memorial against the #22 Tennessee Volunteers 80-76. This takes Kentucky to 12-2 overall and 1-1 in SEC play. The Cats shot 13 of 27 from the 3-point line (48.1%) which came up huge in the long run. KeKe McKinney had an all-around solid game before she fouled out late in the game and finished with 8 points, 2 of 2 from behind the arch, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist. Sabrina Haines had another great game as her leadership is valuable to Kentucky and she had 11 points, 5 rebounds, 50% from behind the arch, and 4 assists. Rhyne Howard had a milestone game finishing with a career-high 37 points and had 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, also was named ESPN’s Women’s Player of the Week. The Cats forced 21 turnovers to just their 13 turnovers. During the post game press conference KeKe McKinney and Rhyne Howard were both asked about their recruitment with Tennessee prior to choosing Kentucky, they both said they both got their last offers from Tennessee. KeKe also said even though it was a dream to attend Tennessee she is where she is supposed to be and loves her team. I guess you could say their loss was our gain, right? The Cats will face the Roll Tide in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Thursday at 8:00 PM ET and can be found on the SECNetwork.

The Big Man's Heart carries Kentucky past Missouri

Richards in control from start (photo credit Mike Cyrus)

By Lukas Witt (11 years old)

The Missouri Tigers came into Rupp Arena and a crowd of 20,396 to face #17 Kentucky. The Cats have had a week off since that huge rivalry win against the Louisville Cardinals back on December 28th. The Tigers jumped out to a 17-9 lead before the Kentucky got things rolling as Nick Richards scored the first 14/16 points for the Cats. Richards has come to play the past two games and we are beginning to see him take a new role on the floor coaching up his teammates during breaks in play. Today he finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 4 big blocks before fouling out late in the 2nd half. Ashton Hagans had another solid outing dishing out a game high 7 assists and adding 7 points and 5 rebounds. We heard about his improvement all summer and his has lived up to the hype, Immanuel Quickley finished the day with 23 points, 4/8 from behind the arch and 3 rebounds. The big take away from the game today was free throw shooting with 27/30 and Quickley on a 24 made streak. The road to March doesn’t get any easier as the Cats have a quick turnaround Tuesday game as they travel to Georgia, game time is 9 pm EST and can be seen on ESPN.