UK Beats Bosie St, 70-55 as a Blonde Cauley-Stein Unleashes
For the third time in four games, Kentucky sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein was one or two hot possessions away from the second triple-double in Kentucky’s history. He finished Tuesday’s game, a crucial bounce-back date at Rupp Arena with the Boise State Broncos, with six points, seven rebounds and nine blocks in the No. 11 Wildcats’ 70-55 win.
The win over an undersized-but-talented team—the Broncos, ranked at No. 60 in KenPom.com’s ratings, are the best team Kentucky has defeated this season—was one Kentucky needed badly on the heels of the meltdown in Arlington, Friday’s 67-62 loss to Baylor in Cowboys Stadium, and heading into this weekend’s trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on No. 18 North Carolina.
Kentucky (8-2) was slow to start, and Boise State took a 13-12 lead with 12:28 to play in the first half.
But oh, you’re wondering. You, the reader, may or may not have watched this game, and if you didn’t, you may see the man at the top of this screen wearing a No. 15 UK jersey with blonde hair. That is Cauley-Stein. He dyed his hair before Tuesday’s game. It is very bright, and it’s fitting for Cauley-Stein’s very bright personality. He fielded many questions about being a blond in the post-game news conference—to which he was only brought because he played so well—and answered the questions as he often does, with a sense of dry humor, trying to steer back toward basketball as soon as he felt the line of questioning had run its appropriate course.
“I love it,” he said of his new hairdo. “No, it’s just boredom. Spend a lot of time in a dorm room, being on curfew all the time, really gets you thinking a lot. You stare at the wall a lot, and you just a get a little crazy thought. It’s not bad. But I don’t know, I guess I like it.”
A reporter then asked if it turned out the way he had hoped.
“Yeah. I mean, you put blonde in your hair, it’s going to turn blonde.”
John Calipari said after the game hair is one thing he never tries to patrol with his players—”There’s two things I said I’m not: I’m not the tattoo police, and I’m not the hair police,” Calipari said—but with such an attention-grabbing hairdo, it was up to Cauley-Stein to play up to it.
“There was a guy that used to do that to his hair. He also wore wedding dresses,” Calipari said, referring to Dennis Rodman. “But he killed you. He would shut you out and get every rebound, play 40 minutes. Then I saw him on the treadmill after the game in our building. Who is on the treadmill in there? Coaching the Nets. It was (Dennis) Rodman.
“He played 40 minutes, had, like 18 rebounds, and he went on the treadmill. You can paint your hair all you want; just be like him,” Calipari said.
That’s enough about hair.
Boise State stayed within striking distance well into the second half—Kentucky had a 41-31 halftime lead but let the Broncos back in the game on the strength of Anthony Drmic’s 18 points, all of which came in the game’s first 26 minutes—until a 14-2 run midway through the second half gave the Wildcats enough of a cushion.
Cauley-Stein’s nine blocks tied a career high, which he previously set Dec. 1 against Providence, and it tied for the second-most blocks in a game by a UK player in school history. Nerlens Noel’s 12 blocks last season against Ole Miss hold the school record.
Cauley-Stein said the system Calipari puts his shot-blockers in helps with the block totals, which is true considering Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel both did all kinds of crazy things at UK in the previous two seasons. Still, Cauley-Stein said he understands it better than he did last year, and a system is nothing without its execution falling into place.
“I think I just found more—I just know what I have to do now,” Cauley-Stein said. “Last year, I was in between what I was trying to do. This year it’s just try to fly around and block every shot I can, or at least contest it.”
Photo: Willie Cauley-Stein, who dyed his hair blonde prior to Kentucky’s game Tuesday, finished with six points, seven rebounds and nine blocks in the Wildcats’ 70-55 win over Boise State. (Photo by James Pennington)