All of us here at ESPN Sports Radio 1300 wanted to take a minute to say thank you to all of our followers and listeners, and say Happy Holidays! We hope while you sing Christmas songs and open gifts with friends and family, you’ll have some Christmas Day NBA games on the tube. The Bulls and Nets tip-off at 12:00 pm, Thunder and Knicks at 2:30 pm, Heat and Lakers at 5:00 pm, Rockets and Spurs at 8:00 pm, and the Warriors and Clippers close us out at 10:30 pm. So tune into ESPN or ABC and have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
It’s the most wonderful timeeeeeee, of the year. Excuse the tardiness of this edition of Benny’s Picks, but if we’re being honest here, it’s hard to motivate myself to put the time and research in for teams like Buffalo, Tulane and ECU. So forgive me for releasing these winners after a few of the bowl games have already been played.
Through the regular season, your boy went 41-33-2, ending the season with five straight winning weeks. I’ve won two games thus far into the bowls with Oregon State and Marshall kick-starting what I hope will be a strong finish to a great first season of picks against the spread (ATS). Note that these picks ATS do not necessarily deem my pick as the winning or losing the team, just the team that covers the spread. So scrounge up some pocket change and let ole’ Benny’s Picks make your money some money.
Wednesday, December 24, 2013
Hawaii Bowl: Oregon State -4 WIN
Friday, December 27, 2013
Military Bowl: Marshall -3 WIN
Texas Bowl: Syracuse +4 WIN
Fight Hunger Bowl: Washington -4 WIN
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers +15 WIN
Belk Bowl: Cincinnati +3 LOSS
Russell Athletic Bowl: Louisville -3.5 WIN
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Kansas State -4.5 WIN
Monday, December 30, 2013
Armed Forces Bowl: Navy -6 WIN
Music City Bowl: Ole Miss -3 WIN
Alamo Bowl: Oregon -14 WIN
Holiday Bowl: Texas Tech +14 WIN
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Advocare V100 Bowl: Boston College +7.5 LOSS
Sun Bowl: UCLA -7 WIN
Liberty Bowl: Rice +7 LOSS
Chick Fil-A Bowl: Duke +12.5 WIN
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Gator Bowl: Nebraska +9 WIN
Heart of Dallas Bowl: North Texas -6.5 WIN
Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin -1.5 LOSS
Outback Bowl: LSU -7 LOSS
Rose Bowl: Michigan State +6 WIN
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor -17 LOSS
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma +17 WIN
It seems as though this UK women’s basketball team cannot catch a break. After losing Kyvin-Goodin Rodgers (freshman) and Samantha Drake (senior) to illness and injury respectively, the Cat’s lost their star player, DeNesha Stallworth for 3-4 weeks after the win over Baylor. Stallworth is currently up for ever major Player of the Year award including the Wooden trophy.
Last night, freshman Makayla Epps was in a car accident on the Bluegrass Parkway. Kentucky was playing East Tennessee State today and many wondered if they would see Epps in action. Epps did play, posting 3 rebounds, 8 points, and two steals in 18 minutes. The Cat’s went on to win 73-56.
After the game Epps clarified that she was traveling back to Lexington from a friends funeral and was evaluated after the wreck, suffering only a neck strain. She said she was “really blessed to be here” after the accident.
The women’s team has been able to overcome adversity, however improving to 11-0 and tying the school record for best start to the season. The losses have affected this team, however. UK shot a season-low 44.8% from the free throw line and was just 2-9 from behind the arc, which was also a season low. UK also had a season-low 8 assists. They have scored a 3-pointer in 339 consecutive games now, however. All 10 dressed players played 10 or more minutes and three of them scored in double figures. Kentucky forced 25 ETSU turnovers and had 15 total steals this game. The Cats outrebounded ETSU 47-32 (they have outrebounded 9 of their 11 opponents this season). The Wildcats also outscored the Buccaneers in the plain 44-24.
The Cats take on #2 Duke Sunday in Rupp arena at 3:00. The game is televised on Fox Sports Network
Sophomore slump? Willie Cauley-Stein disagrees. After WCS had a standout performance in the Barclay’s Center for UK’s game against Providence. Kentucky went on to win the game, but fans took notice of Cauley-Stein coming into his own.
Cauley-Stein was just short of a triple-double. WCS shot 7-8 from the field, 1-1 from the free throw line for 15 total points, 8 total rebounds (3 offensive), 1 assist, 9 blocks and just 1 turnover in 36 minutes. He has 31 blocks through 8 games. In comparison, Anthony Davis had 36 and Nerlens Noel had 26. WCS tied Andre Reddick and Sam Bowie for second-most blocks in a single game at UK on Sunday as well (Anthony Davis is #1).
Cauley-Stein has stated that he is trying to assume a leadership role as a “vet” on an incredibly young team. While one year and no tournament experience hardly makes one a veteran, it’s the best Kentucky has at this point. Teammates and Calipari both have made comments about how he has grown as a player and attacks every practice and it shows.
Willie was credited for Stepping up when Julius Randle had an “off” game. “Off” is somewhat of a stretch since Randle still posted 12 points, 4 assists, 8 rebounds and 1 steal. It was Randle’s first game since being at UK where he did not post a double double, missing it by 2 rebounds. He did have 2 turnovers and shot 4-10 from the field and 4-7 from the line, however. This example of WCS stepping up when a teammate is having an off night is just one example of his new attitude and attacking of every minute on the court.
A new attitude isn’t the only thing Willie Cauley-Stein will be sporting at the Baylor game on Friday night. The Cat’s, both men’s and women’s will be wearing new uniforms as well as announced by Nike’s PR team this morning. Both teams traveled together and will be staying in the same hotel and dining together as well as watching each other’s games. Both coaches as well as players stated in the weekly press conference how excited they are for the opportunity. The women play first at 7:30 on ESPN3 followed by the men on ESPN at 10. All four teams are ranked top 10 and the court will be elevated to create a Final Four type atmosphere.
The Bulldogs gave the Cardinals all they could handle but Scott County swept Dunbar in this regular season finale doubleheader. Also, on this night a bit of history. With the Scott County Boys victory, coach Billy Hicks offically become the winningest coach all time in high school basketball with win number 857. Congrats to coach Hicks!