By KEITH TAYLOR
Sun Sports Editor
10:02 AM EDT, March 13, 2013
Since today is dedicated to the number 13 on the calendar, thought we could hit on 13 topics in 13 minutes.
Crunch time coach: Western Kentucky men’s basketball coach Ray Harper is undefeated (8-0) in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Harper guided the Hilltoppers to four straight victories to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and followed suit in his second appearance in the postseason event this year. The Hilltoppers won the tournament as a sixth seed, winning four games in a span of 96 hours.
Play it again? The last time the Southeastern Conference Tournament was in Nashville, it took a memorable tip-in by DeMarcus Cousins at the buzzer in regulation that sent that game into overtime and gave the Wildcats the SEC Tournament title in John Calipari’s first season as coach at Kentucky in 2010.
Cats need help: Although Kentucky’s win over Florida last Saturday kept the Cats’ NCAA Tournament hopes alive, I’m still thinking Kentucky will need to make an impressive showing in the SEC Tournament this week to solidify a berth in the Big Dance. Otherwise, a top five seed awaits in the NIT.
Cardinals seek top seed: Although Kentucky doesn’t know its postseason destination, Louisville is one of 10 teams in line for a top seed on Selection Sunday. If the Cardinals are granted one of the four coveted seeds, Rick Pitino’s tournament tour likely will begin at Rupp Arena. Coincidently, Kentucky’s drive to the national championship last season started at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.
Waiting game: Eastern Kentucky won a school-record 24 games this season but the impressive record may not be enough to earn a bid in the NIT, unless the OVC is granted more than one berth in the field. A¿possible destination for the Colonels is the lesser-known College Basketball Invitational. Belmont secured the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA, while Murray State is a lock for the NIT.
Belmont connection: Former George Rogers Clark High School standout Wes Burtner is Director of Athletic Fundraising at Belmont and will be glued to the tube on Selection Sunday.
Dunking Dandy: Eastern Kentucky’s Dr. Dunk, Marcus Lewis, is a finalist for the Geico Play of the Year. Lewis threw down the slam on an alley-oop pass from Glenn Cosey in the team’s win over Southeast Missouri State on¿Feb. 2. The list of finalists also includes Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, Butler’s Alex Barlow, Ball State’s Majok Majok, Bradley’s Walt Lemon Jr., Butler’s Roosevelt Jones, Arizona’s Nick Johnson and Tyler Griffey of Illinois.
Comeback for the ages: Madison Central’s 65-64 triumph over Ballard in the finals of the boys state tournament will go down as one of the best finishes in the history of the tournament. The top honor goes to Laurel County. Paul Andrews drained a half-court shot at the buzzer to give the Cardinals a 53-51 triumph over North Hardin in 1982. Madison Central’s Ken-Jah Bosley, who made the 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left that gave the Indians the title, averaged 18.8 points per game in the tournament.
Dynamite Dominique: Dominique Hawkins’ performance in the state tournament was enough to earn the Madison Central standout my vote for Mr. Basketball. It was a close race between Hawkins and Montgomery County’s Omar Prewitt. Hawkins, who drew the attention of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, scored 107 points during the five-day event. Prewitt tallied 55 points in his team’s three contests in the tournament. Prewitt will play his college basketball at William and Mary, while Hawkins will likely field offers from several teams, including Kentucky, over the next couple of weeks before making a final decision.
Happy Indians: Even though Montgomery County came up short in the state semifinals, it didn’t take away from the Indians’ 33-5 record and the feat of reaching the state tournament for the first time since 1995. It would have been fun to see to Montgomery County and Madison¿Central in the finals. Both teams have the same mascot and school colors.
Twice as fun: Two schools — Montgomery County and Madison Central — had each of the boys and girls teams reach the state tournament. The girls tournament begins today at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.
Set in stone? Because of a scheduling conflict with Rupp Arena due to Kentucky’s game against Florida Saturday, the boys state finals were on Sunday this year. I hope the association goes back to the Saturday morning semifinal, evening finals format.
Path to success: Although the Kentucky women’s basketball team lost to Texas A&M in the finals of the SEC Tournament, it didn’t take away from Matthew Mitchell’s impact as coach of the Wildcats. Because of his work ethic and what he stands for, Mitchell will reach the pinnacle sooner or later.