Sports rewind: Catching up with UK athletics

­­Men’s basketball

Hood, Harrellson travel to China

UK forward Josh Harrellson and guard Jon Hood recently returned from a two-week trip to China in which they, along with other collegiate basketball players, competed against local basketball clubs as part of the Sports Reach program.

The team took part in a cultural exchange program geared toward learning more about the Chinese culture and sharing some of its own. The program focused on expanding knowledge and appreciation of the Chinese civilization.

Sports Reach played against many of China’s top teams, including the Bayi Basketball Club. The team boasted a 6-3 record, while Harrellson led it for a majority of the trip with 13.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. He shot 58.7 percent from the field. Hood averaged 5.3 points and 4.3 boards per game.

— Chandler Howard

Jones, Vargas sign, help UK notch another top recruiting class

Terrence Jones and Eloy Vargas have each signed a financial aid agreement to play for UK in the upcoming season.

Jones ranks ninth on ESPNU’s Top 100 list, 13th overall by and eighth by Jones is 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 30 points, 14 rebounds and six assists his senior season at Jefferson High School in Portland, Ore. He is a former McDonald’s All-American and he played in the Jordan Brand Classic All-American game.

Vargas is a 6-foot-11 Dominican Republic native who averaged 25 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks as a sophomore last season at Miami-Dade Community College. He was ranked 41st on ESPNU’s Top 100 list and 26th overall by in 2008.

The duo helps UK and head coach John Calipari notch its second-consecutive top recruiting class as ranked by UK now has four five-star and two four-star athletes joining the team for next season, according to Rivals.

— Chandler Howard


Cats-Cards battle set for September 4

The date for the 2010 Battle for the Governor’s Cup is in ink. UK and Louisville will face off in each of the team’s opening games of the upcoming football season.

The game is set for September 4 at 3:30 p.m. in Louisville, Ky. The game will be shown on ABC Sports as part of a three-game regional telecast.

Included in the intrastate rivalry game will be new coaches for both teams: Joker Phillips at Kentucky and Charlie Strong at Louisville. It will be the 23rd meeting between the teams. UK won the last three and leads the overall series 13-9.

— Chandler Howard

Undrafted Maxwell signs with Saints

The defending world champion New Orleans Saints have signed former UK linebacker Sam Maxwell out of free agency.

Maxwell made a name for himself his final season with the Cats, earning second-team All-Southeastern Conference. He started all 12 games his senior season, compiling 80 tackles and six interceptions, among other notable statistics.

Maxwell was part of the first senior class to go to four consecutive bowl games for UK, but he was sidelined throughout the most recent game due to a shoulder injury.

Maxwell’s signing notches the 26th contract signed by a UK player in the last three seasons.

— Chandler Howard


Bat Cats fall short in final series

For the second year in a row, UK controlled its own destiny.

For the second year in a row, UK saw destiny fall through its clutches.

UK entered the last series of the season tied for seventh place in the Southeastern Conference, primed to make it into the SEC postseason tournament. To seemingly make their task easier, the Cats were facing last-place Georgia.

But UK lost the first game of the series, setting up a must-win second game.

The Cats, with the fate of their 56-game season now down to nine innings, lost 20-0. Georgia recorded 22 hits, all singles. It was the worst loss for UK since 1998.

The disappointing defeat dropped the Cats to 31-25 (13-17 SEC). While that was UK’s sixth consecutive winning season, it was not enough to extend the 2010 campaign. The Cats were officially out of the postseason.

UK continued to practice in hopes of being selected for the NCAA Tournament, but ultimately was not chosen to participate in national postseason play.

— Aaron Smith

Five Cats picked in MLB Draft

UK’s postseason has been an active one. Five players were selected on the first day of the MLB Draft: Second baseman Chris Bisson (fourth round, San Diego Padres), left-handed pitcher Logan Darnell (sixth round, Minnesota Twins), outfielder Lance Ray (eighth round, Minnesota Twins), shortstop Taylor Black (28th round, St. Louis Cardinals) and right-handed pitcher Matt Little (31st round, Detroit Tigers).

All five players are juniors, and have a year of eligibility left should they choose to return to UK.

— Aaron Smith


Softball concludes consecutive winning season, falls early in NCAAs

All the good things certainly came to an end for the UK softball team, perhaps too early in its eyes.

For clear reasons, the program had never anticipated a more successful season than it did entering its most recent campaign. After posting a UK-record 34-win season, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history and returning nearly every starter from the prior year, the Cats naturally had high hopes for 2010.

The Cats advanced to post-season play yet again, becoming one of 37 teams to qualify in back-to-back seasons.

But despite qualifying for NCAA Tournament play for the second consecutive year, UK could not perform to its likeness. The team saw its final outs during the Columbus Regional on May 22.

After defeating Ohio State 6-5 in its first game of the regional, the Cats had hopes of advancing to Super Regional play in Athens, Ga. However, the team then dropped a 1-0 contest to 11th-seed California in a game that saw seven UK runners stranded on base.

Still, the double-elimination format allowed it to again compete with OSU for a chance to play in the final. But with a 5-3 loss in their second match against the Buckeyes, the curtain closed on UK’s decorated season.

UK wrapped up its 2010 outing 32-27 (13-15 Southeastern Conference), only two wins shy of its 2009 mark. The combined 66 wins bests any back-to-back seasons posted by the program by more than 15 wins.

— Chandler Howard

Men’s tennis

Quigley-Cox fall in NCAAs

The UK men’s tennis tandem of sophomore Eric Quigley and junior Brad Cox were edged out of the NCAA Doubles Championships following a 6-3, 6-1 deficit to a duo from North Carolina. The 22nd-ranked Cats’ appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals was the first from UK since 1987. The duo earned All-American status following its Sweet 16 performance.

Quigley also earned All-American status in singles play, advancing to the Sweet 16.

The team finished with a school-record 25 wins and posted a final national position of 12th, with individuals earning impressive International Tennis Association rankings.

— Chandler Howard


Gym Cats’ 2011 schedule released, features top NCAA teams

The UK gymnastics team must fill a tall order in 2011.

According to schedules released early this week, the team will fight through a schedule containing nine teams that qualified for last season’s NCAA Tournament regional round. The Gym Cats will host five meets at Memorial Coliseum, including the January 7 opening night match against Illinois.

UK will face three Southeastern Conference opponents at home and three on the road as part of its six-meet conference schedule. The SEC Championship is March 19 in Birmingham, Ala.

— Chandler Howard